The meeting on East Asian Cooperation and the inauguration of Network of East Asian Think-tanks (NEAT) was held on 29-30 September 2003 in Beijing, China. Nearly one hundred scholars from the leading research institutions and universities of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam attended the conference. Mr. Tang Jiaxuan, State Councilor, PR. China gave a speech on the opening session and expressed the strong support to NEAT on behalf of the Chinese government.
The establishment of NEAT represents an important step for East Asian cooperation since this is the first intellectual network initiated and supported by the East Asian governments.
The building of NEAT was under the request of the Sixth ASEAN+3 Summit. On November 4th, 2002 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the leaders of ASEAN+3 countries endorsed the Final Report of the East Asia Study Group and requested that the 17 short-term measures in the Report be implemented as soon as possible. China volunteered to be the prime mover on the measure of building a Network of East Asian Think-tanks, which was well received by all countries concerned.
The function of NEAT is to pool together academic resources of East Asian countries to provide intellectual support for East Asia cooperation. It aims to set up a platform to promote communication and exchanges between East Asia and the rest of the world. It intends to promote study issues and initiatives brought forward by the 10+3 Summit meetings, as well as study major issues concerning East Asia cooperation in key areas.
NEAT will hold the annual meeting in rotation within East Asian countries, which will be attended by all institutional, and scholar members. NEAT will set up a system, which will facilitate mutual exchanges of research information among the member. An Internet homepage will be set up to publicize the developments on East Asia study and publish research achievements made by institutional and individual members, as well as documents relating to East Asian cooperation process. Virtual workshops and exchanges through the Internet may also be organized to build up the research constituent. NEAT may organize various kinds of activities such as exchange of scholars. NEAT will designate its institutional or individual members as representatives to participate in international conferences and other activities. Reports on joint researches will be published irregularly. Some theme reports will be submitted to the annual ASEAN+3 Summit taking into consideration the established procedures for reporting to the Summit.
During the conference, participants discussed many important subjects ranging from how to move towards East Asia cooperation, to key approaches on consolidating East Asia cooperation and the priority areas. Scholars made their recommendations to the forthcoming “10 + 3" leaders meeting held on October 7-8 in Bali, Indonesia on strengthening institutional building for East Asian cooperation process, issues like a secretariat for East Asia cooperation, East Asian Summit, East Asian FTA, as well as developing political and security cooperation.