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BAKER SAYS REFORM ULTIMATELY WILL SUCCEED

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Secretary of State James A. Baker III is taking a long-range view of the repression in China, saying the reform movement had passed a painful threshold on a path to ultimate success.

"In Asia, as in Europe, a new order is taking shape," Baker said Monday in a speech summarizing Bush administration policy on Asia. "While the rites of passage will be painful - China proves that - it is an order full of promise and hope."We and some other nations have suspended business as usual," Baker said. "But we and the rest of the world must not let our revulsion at this repression blind us to pressure for reform."

Baker spoke for 25 minutes before 1,000 guests at a black-tie dinner of the Asia Society, a private group dedicated to improving American understanding of Asia. He outlined a proposal for a new association of Asian countries to increase trade and investment and handle other regional issues ranging from cultural affairs to the environment.

Baker said he plans to seek input on the form such an organization might take during a trip to Asia that starts July 3.

Baker will stop in Tokyo to help plan multinational economic aid for the Philippines. In Brunei, he will attend the annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, an economic organization of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

Japan's new foreign minister, Hiroshi Mitsuzuka, who met with President Bush earlier Monday, spoke before Baker. He stressed the need for America "to maintain a strong political, economic and military presence and commitment to the region."

Baker, meanwhile, called for "a more creative sharing of global responsibilities," and praised Japan for shouldering 40 percent of the cost of keeping U.S. troops there. He said Japan soon will be the largest donor in the world of overseas development assistance.

Mitsuzuka also called China's "path toward isolation" regrettable and appealed to China's leaders to "govern in a spirit of reconciliation and restraint."