Asian and European leaders from over 40 nations met for the 7th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Beijing, China. Though generally filled with formalities and carefully worded statements, given the current international financial crisis, the two-day meeting set attainable goals.
At the summit’s conclusion, the leaders released a statement proposing sweeping global financial reform, which “expressed concern over the impact of the spreading international financial crisis on the global economy and in particular, the severe challenges it poses to financial stability and economic development of countries in Asia and Europe.”
The ASEM members, who meet every two years, also called for the International Monetary Fund to “play a critical role in assisting countries seriously affected by the crisis, upon their request.”
“The present gathering could not be more timely,” European Commission President José Barroso, told reporters in Beijing, adding that no one “in Europe or Asia can seriously pretend to be immune. We are living in unprecedented times, and we need unprecedented levels of global co-ordination.”
Mr. Barroso also said, “It’s very simple: We sink together or we swim together,” stating hopes that China would “make an important contribution to the solution to the financial crisis.”
During the ASEM, leaders consistently stressed increased ties between the two continents. At the opening ceremony, Chinese President Hu Jintao said, “As economic globalization is gaining momentum, the future of Asia and Europe has been increasingly tied to the future of the whole world, and cooperation between Asia and Europe for win-win progress is our best option.”
Given that the summit only proposed a greater effort to solve the crisis, with a thumbnail sketch of how to tackle the problem, leaders are now looking ahead to the Group of 20 summit, which will begin November 15 in Washington, D.C.
European Union President Nicolas Sarkozy said at a press conference after the event that the ASEM members see “the Washington summit to be a place where we make some decisions.”