By Li Yang in Nanning | China Daily
People-to-people contacts are the way to boost regional cooperation and promote peace, participants in the China-Southeast Asia High-level People-to-People Dialogue agreed.
The two-day event, hosted by the China Network for International Exchanges, opened in Nanning, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, on Monday, attracting about 200 participants from 11 countries.
The dialogue's theme is "Peace for Development, Cooperation for Win-Win: A Common Dream and Aspiration for People".
Liu Qibao, head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said in his keynote speech at the opening ceremony: "China and Southeast Asia have become an integral whole with a common destiny. The strategic concept of the 'China Dream' proposed by China's new leadership will bring more opportunities to China's neighbors".
Li Jinjun, vice-chairman of the CNIE, said that China's social organizations play increasingly important roles in China's development and contacts with the world.
Communication and cooperation between social organizations in China and Southeast Asia not only promote regional peace and development but also makes developing countries' voices better heard in the world, he added.
During seminars, participants shared their thoughts on the sea and island disputes in the South China Sea. Roland Simbulan, professor of politics at the University of Philippines, argued that all small nations should unite while dealing with China.
Pan Wei, professor of international studies at Peking University, responded, "Dialogue is the only way to 'survive' - if not solve - some knotty issues. Non-violence, or non-confrontation, should be the number one principle for neighbors in dispute with each other. All developing countries must unite together and be vigilant to so-called strategists and arm dealers, whose jobs are to create and spread a sense of fear and lack of security."
Ferdinand Marcos Jr., a senator of the Philippines, admitted that the disputes are only small problems compared with regional stability and peace, and vowed to do more to enact these concepts.
"It is a very timely dialogue", said Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, a former member of Singapore's Parliament. "When the East catches up with the West, people from different countries need to strengthen contact with each other through various means more than before.
"As China contributes a lot to regional connectivity through investment and cooperation, China should speak more for developing countries and strengthen people-to-people dialogue with Southeast Asian countries," she said.
Liu Qibao said good relations among countries are based on people-to-people ties, which lie in their understanding with each other. His observation was warmly echoed by the participants, who proposed to make the dialogue an annual event and build it as a flexible and efficient platform for communication between China and Southeast Asia.
Peng Qinghua, Party chief of Guangxi, also hoped the dialogue can become the next serial event after the China-ASEAN Expo for Guangxi to promote China's ties with Southeast Asia and boost local economic growth.