More than 450 representatives of parties across the political spectrum in 122 countries gathered in Beijing over the weekend in a three-day 'high-level' meeting called by the Communist Party of China (CPC).

They were joined by 151 leaders and officials of the CPC international department and associated state and party institutions to discuss the theme of 'Working Together for a Shared Future for Humanity'.

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It is reputedly the biggest-ever gathering of the word's political parties and follows decisions taken at the Chinese Communist Party's recent 19th congress for their country to play a leading role in the struggle for global peace, development and security.

Opening the meeting on Friday, Chinese president and CPC general secretary Xi Jinping said the world must turn its back on a history of war, conquest, disasters and plagues.

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'When the challenges confronting humanity are greater than ever, in a world increasingly interconnected through new technologies, we must seize this opportunity to work together to build a brighter future for mankind', he declared.

'Friendly cooperation between China and other countries is expanding and the concept of a community with a shared future for humanity is gaining support and endorsement from an increasing number of people', President Xi added.

In his 20 minute address, he also announced plans to invite 15,000 political party representatives from across the world to China over the next five years. While these would include right-wing and centre parties as well as social-democratic and communist ones, he reaffirmed his own party's commitment to building a modern, prosperous and harmonious socialist society 'with Chinese characteristics' in three stages by 2050.

'We remain guided by Marxism - the scientific truth we have learnt from other countries and which is now being applied to China's realities and updated', he insisted.

Other speakers in the opening session in Beijing included Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen, Ethiopia's Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen and Myanmar's National League for Democracy representative Aung Sang Suu Kyi.

Scores of social-democratic, socialist and communist parties are also taking part in the weekend of panel and plenary sessions, including Communist Party of Britain general secretary Robert Griffiths and the party's international secretary John Foster.

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