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China Advocates Multilateral Talks to Resolve International Conflicts - 2002-08-01

China outlines its vision of security for the world and calls on Asian countries to put aside their differences to fight global threats. The statement came at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum.

China's new position paper on security urges Asian nations to discard their old, unilateral ways of thinking, and cooperate more to achieve peace and unity. The paper, released Thursday during meetings after the annual ASEAN forum in Brunei, repeats what Beijing has advocated for years: that global conflicts are best resolved through multilateral talks.

Security analysts say the statement reflects China's discomfort with the growing influence of the United States in the post-Cold War period.

"It doesn't like the idea of what it calls a unipolar world, doesn't like the indications of unilateral action that the current administration in Washington has shown inclinations toward," said Robert Karniol, Asia editor of Jane's Defense Weekly in Hong Kong.

Mr. Karniol said China is trying to craft an alternate view of world diplomacy that is not dominated by the United States.

Beijing's security paper was released amid much discussion of the fight against terrorism, as 10 Southeast Asian foreign ministers met with their counterparts from 13 other countries, including the United States.

During the meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and foreign ministers from Southeast Asia agreed on a plan to fight terrorism in the region. China has pledged its support for the U.S. war on terror, but it is uneasy about the large American military presence on its western borders.

Beijing's statement urges that disputes be resolved through negotiation rather than force, which it says can not bring about lasting peace. It says all countries, big or small, are equal. But the statement also emphasizes the fight against terrorism, calling on nations to cooperate in accordance with the United Nations charter.