Deng Xijun (Jakarta Post)
Wed 3 Aug 2022
The ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on East Asia Cooperation is being held in Phnom Penh in the first in-person meeting since the COVID-19 pandemic. An important part of the ASEAN Plus One meetings, this meeting of foreign ministers was highly anticipated.
The year 2022 marks the first year of the China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership. Looking at the progress of friendly cooperation between China and ASEAN, I feel the rapid development of our bilateral relations.
Even amid the difficulties caused by the pandemic, the two sides have maintained close high-level exchanges. Chinese President Xi Jinping has maintained in-depth strategic communication with the leaders of ASEAN countries in various ways. Some ASEAN leaders attended the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics earlier this year, and Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has just wrapped up a successful visit to China.
Foreign ministers from a number of ASEAN countries also visited China in the first half of this year, and last month Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi s visited five ASEAN countries and delivered an important policy speech at the ASEAN Secretariat. In addition, the Communist Party of China has also deepened its cooperation with political parties of ASEAN countries through multilateral and bilateral exchanges.
Both parties have worked together to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. At the critical juncture of China’s anti-pandemic battle, ASEAN countries stood with the Chinese people without hesitation. When the pandemic broke out in Southeast Asia, China shared its anti-pandemic experience and provided vaccine assistance to ASEAN countries, helping them build a barrier against the virus. Our joint efforts have set a good example of global cooperation against the pandemic.
Bilateral economic and trade cooperation has reached new heights. China and ASEAN have become each other’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade volume 100 times that of 30 years ago and cumulative direct investment exceeding $310 billion.
The China-Laos railway has been opened and progress has been made on a number of joint Belt and Road infrastructure projects, such as the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway, the China-Thailand Railway, the “Two Countries, Twin Parks” projects between China and Malaysia, and between China and Indonesia.
Security cooperation between the two sides is also progressing well. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). Thanks to the joint efforts of all parties, the DOC has been fully and effectively implemented, and consultations on a code of conduct (COC) are actively encouraged.
The maritime situation remained generally stable. Our exchanges on military security have deepened, and cooperation in countering non-traditional security threats such as terrorism, climate change, cybersecurity, transnational crimes, and disaster prevention and mitigation has yielded fruitful results. .
China-ASEAN relations have entered a rapid development track and are strengthening at an accelerated pace. The two parties move steadily together towards the goal of building a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, beautiful and friendly home.
China has always followed the path of peaceful development and a win-win strategy of opening up, pursuing a friendly, safe and prosperous neighborhood, and following a neighborhood policy that emphasizes friendship, sincerity, positive mutuals and inclusion. China stands ready to uphold open regionalism with ASEAN, deepen our comprehensive strategic partnership, and ensure stable and lasting friendly cooperation between China and ASEAN.
China and ASEAN have deepened their mutual political trust. We adhere to the high-level strategic guidance and give strong impetus to promoting a meaningful, substantial and mutually beneficial China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership and building a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future.
We practice open regionalism and preserve true multilateralism. China will continue to support ASEAN’s centrality in regional cooperation, building the ASEAN community, ASEAN-centric regional cooperation architecture, and enhancing regional unity and coordination. China firmly opposes any country bringing Cold War mentality, geographical disputes and bloc confrontation to the region.
Both sides will seek common development. China will continue to firmly pursue its strategy of open development and promote regional economic integration. Both sides should make continuous efforts to boost the region’s economic recovery in the post-pandemic era, strengthen the resilience of regional production and supply chains, and ensure smooth cross-border trade.
We should accelerate the launch of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area Version 3.0, fully implement and promote the upgrade of the regional comprehensive economic partnership in a timely manner. Cooperation in scientific and technological innovation must be constantly promoted in order to stimulate a new impetus for the development of the region.
The two sides should increase investment in the region’s digital infrastructure and digital transformation, deepen their practical cooperation in e-commerce and enhance digital connectivity, as well as actively cooperate in the development of a green, circular and sustainable regional economy. low-carbon and joint construction of a clean energy science and technology cooperation platform.
Both sides should strengthen interpersonal and cultural cooperation. The great “leap forward” in the development of bilateral relations cannot be achieved without the strong support of more than 2 billion people in 11 countries. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, annual exchanges and visits between China and ASEAN had reached 60 million people. At present, the two sides should strengthen planning and preparation for the resumption of personnel exchanges as soon as the pandemic is under control, and promote closer interaction and exchanges in the fields of culture, tourism, groups think tanks, media, women, sports, local affairs and other areas.
We should give full play to China-ASEAN cooperation funds, deliberately organize key cultural and people-to-people exchange projects such as the ASEAN-China Fellowship for Young Leaders, the ASEAN-China Friendship and Cooperation Short Video Contest China and the voice of young people. for the ASEAN-China Cooperation Writing Contest, and further enhance mutual understanding and affinity between the peoples of the two sides.
Standing at a new and historic starting point, the Chinese side is willing to work with ASEAN countries to uphold peace, independence, development and inclusiveness, renew its firm commitment to open up regionalism, build a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, beautiful and friendly environment to live together and write a new chapter of regional cooperation and development.
The author is the Chinese Ambassador to ASEAN.