Final Communiqué
Joint Meeting of the Asia and Pacific Regional Groups
11-16 November 2000

16 November 2000

We, the members of the Asia and the Pacific Regional Groups of the WCC met in Shanghai and Nanjing in the People's Republic of China from 11 to 16 November 2000 and reaffirmed our earlier commitments expressed through our joint meetings in 1993 (Suva), 1995 (Bali) and 1997 (Tahiti). We continue to work towards strengthening our ecumenical commitment to work together for the peoples of Asia and the Pacific Regions.

The peoples of Asia and the Pacific regions are largely bypassed by the benefits and progress that exist on the periphery of the developed countries. We believe that the primary bond that links the countries and peoples in Asia and the Pacific is their desire to escape from poverty, underdevelopment and marginalisation and secure a better life.

We believe that this shared aspiration in Christ is a foundation for this solidarity as these two regions are deeply involved in developing a sustainable and qualitative living standard of their peoples, culture of peace and effective models of political governance.

During the course of joint meetings and discussions the members of the two regional groups addressed critical challenges that confront our respective regions and the role of the church and the ecumenical community in addressing these challenges together.

Globalisation and its negative impact
The Asia and the Pacific regions are experiencing the negative impact of globalisation that has been taking place for the past two decades. The globalisation of the economy, market, trade and culture; the role of international companies; and the explosive growth of international private financial flows to the countries of Asia and Pacific are negatively affecting the economies of their countries and leading to a situation of increasingly unequal distribution of wealth.

While recognising the development progress of some segments of society in some countries, the positive financial activities taking place in the name of globalisation contribute to the marginalisation of a large number of people in Asia and Pacific from a people-centred development process. Most countries in Asia and Pacific face an increasingly explosive social, economic and political situation, as globalisation brings new forms of exploitation, dependence and greater impoverishment of a larger number of people.

We, the representatives of Churches in Asia and the Pacific, therefore, challenge and encourage the churches in Asia and in Pacific to take up our prophetic role of speaking against disastrous policies (such as Structural Adjustment Programmes, International Monetary Fund/World Bank policies) and engage in educational campaigns to raise awareness and equip people to overcome the negative impacts of globalisation.

The Plurality of Religious Activism
Religious plurality has always characterized our regions. Rapidly changing social, economic, and political conditions, however, have raised the challenge of increasing religious activism. Such activism by the world religions is not just about propagating the faith, but also part of the struggle for political and economic power and a reaction to the insecurity in people's lives.

Religious intolerance, violation of the rights of religious minorities, increasing violence, destruction of places of worship, and the attempts to establish theocratic states, have become tragic trends.

In the struggle for economic and political power, the politicisation of religion has resulted in highly volatile situations.

The causes and consequences of this trend are complex and require ongoing research and analysis. The Church must respond urgently to these situations. The Church needs to also speak decisively and together on the root causes of these tensions in the social, political and religious spheres.

People of all faiths need to engage in a dialogue of life to join together in building up communities of peace and harmony in our local, national, regional and international levels.

Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution
Conflicts and violence are increasing in the regions. These conflicts are often centred around ethnicity, religion and culture and, specifically in the Pacific, land rights and modes of governance. If allowed to escalate, their destructive energy in our society will be phenomenal.

The churches in the regions must urgently take on the task of peacemaking and conflict resolution and engage themselves in building up communities of peace, starting with local congregations.

Culture and Identity
Current struggles and problems in the Pacific region have challenged the fundamental social structures of Pacific societies. Traditional values which were instrumental in maintaining peace and harmony in communities are being gradually eroded. In response, Churches need to revisit their role in society and to reflect on its mission to the Pacific communities of today in light of the struggles for culture and identity in society.

Crises of national proportions have questioned the fundamental governance structures of Pacific Island Nations. National identities of the Pacific Island Countries and the viability of democratic institutions have been challenged. As part of its role in civil society, the Church needs to support initiatives that raise awareness of the principles of good governance and promote civic education in its congregations.

Meeting in the People's Republic of China gave us the opportunity to experience the life and witness of the Church in China through the warm welcome and generous hospitality of the China Christian Council and the Amity Foundation. It also made us very aware of the dramatic pace of social and economic transformation taking place here and in our regions.

We recognise that vast challenges face us as we seek to be faithful in the midst of such rapidly changing societies. We stand together with a commitment to a common vision of justice, peace and unity. We invite others to join us in fulfilling the mission of the church as an agent of peace, hope and fullness of life.

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