WASHINGTON - The White House said on Wednesday that the upcoming summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) scheduled to take place in Beijing this weekend was "critically important." "I think it is critically important for so many leaders to go to China for the meeting," White House Spokesman Tony Fratto told reporters. Launched in 1996 as an informal dialogue mechanism, the ASEM now includes 45 members, including Pakistan, representing more than 50 percent of the world's gross domestic product. The two day summit will open in Beijing on Friday. "I hope this summit will have the chance to raise some ideas, and consider some options" to deal with the current financial crisis, said Fratto. He also spoke highly of China's contribution to the world amid the crisis. "I hope China will play a stabilizing role," said the White House spokesman, noting the growth of China helped promote the world economy's expansion in the past years. China has economic challenges as well, but "certainly" China will overcome the difficulties and continue its expansion, he added.