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Seizing the New Opportunity of Development of China-ASEAN Relations

Submit Time:15-09-2017 | Zoom In | Zoom Out

Author:Xu Bu | Source:People's Daily (August 7, 2017)

Abstract:

Practice has proved that the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and the "Code of Conduct in the South China Sea" set up by China and ASEAN countries are right ways to properly control conflicts, promote pragmatic cooperation, and maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea. 

From August 6 to 7, the annual East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers' Meeting was convened in Manila, Philippines assuming Rotating Presidency of ASEAN. China's foreign minister and ASEAN countries' foreign ministers discussed how to deepen China-ASEAN cooperation and promote the peaceful development of East Asia, in order to get things ready for the East Asian leaders' meetings to be convened in November this year. On August 8 marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of ASEAN, foreign ministers attended the celebration activities held by Philippines. 

For half a century, ASEAN has strived to strengthen internal solidarity and resolve regional disputes, helping Southeast Asia go from turmoil to stability, from confrontation to cooperation, and from poverty to prosperity. ASEAN has become the most important regional organization in Asia, setting an example of association of countries having different social systems and development levels. At the end of 2015, the ASEAN Community announced its establishment as a new milestone in the regional integration agenda in East Asia. 

Since the 1990s, China-ASEAN relations have developed rapidly. China initiated a dialogue with ASEAN in 1991, and established a strategic partnership for peace and prosperity in 2003. In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Indonesia and proposed to build the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and establish a closer China-ASEAN community of common destiny together with ASEAN countries. President Xi Jinping's initiative is of profound historical and practical significance and outlines a promising blueprint for the development of China-ASEAN relations. 

In recent years, China has launched fruitful cooperation with ASEAN countries in various fields. China and ASEAN have maintained frequent high-level exchanges, and the two sides have established more than 10 ministerial meeting schemes and more than 20 senior official working-level cooperation schemes. In 2016, trade between the two sides amounted to 452.2 billion US dollars, and the two sides' accumulated investment totaled 177.9 billion US dollars. China has been the largest trading partner of ASEAN for eight consecutive years, and ASEAN has been China's third largest trading partner for six consecutive years. Last year, personnel exchanges between the two sides exceeded 38 million, and there were 2,700 flights between China and ASEAN countries every week. China has become the largest source of overseas tourists for ASEAN. 

At present, China and ASEAN have constantly strengthened cooperation on the promotion of regional peace and stability. China and ASEAN countries agree that disputes over the South China Sea should be resolved peacefully through dialogue and negotiation between the parties concerned, and that they should safeguard the stability of the South China Sea together. The joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries including Philippines have cooled the intense situation in the South China Sea which starts to turn positive. The Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea is being implemented effectively, and agreement on the framework of the "Code of Conduct in the South China Sea" has been reached. Practice has proved that the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and the "Code of Conduct in the South China Sea" set up by China and ASEAN countries are right ways to properly control conflicts, promote pragmatic cooperation, and maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea. 

Next year, China and ASEAN will celebrate the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the strategic partnership between them. The two sides should, based on the present and with focus on the future, overcome challenges and work together to build a closer China-ASEAN community of common destiny. 

The first is to focus on the general direction of peace and development. The two sides should always treat each other with a positive view, seek development opportunities from each other, respect each other's national conditions and development paths, and pay attention to each other's major concerns. With regard to the problems that cannot be resolved temporarily, the two sides should seek common ground while reserving differences and carry out amicable negotiations, thereby establishing mature and rational bilateral relations. 

The second is to map a cooperation and win-win blueprint. The two sides should, in consideration of their respective advantages and development needs, strengthen the integration between the "Belt and Road" Initiative and the "ASEAN Community Vision 2025", and deepen interconnection and capacity cooperation. China is willing to participate in and propel Lancang–Mekong Cooperation, the East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMPT-EAGA), and other sub-regional cooperation schemes, help ASEAN narrow the internal development gap, and support the construction of the ASEAN Community. 

The third is to enhance people-to-people bonds. The two sides should further strengthen cooperation in the fields of culture, science and technology, environmental protection, and tourism, and enhance exchanges of youths, media, think tanks, and local places, in a bid to build cultural cooperation into the third pillar of the bilateral relations. China will send more volunteers to support ASEAN countries in the development of education, medical care, health and so on. 

(Author: Chinese Ambassador to ASEAN) 


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