With China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations both entering a new phase of development and the bilateral relations stepping into a maturity stage from a growth stage, China and ASEAN are now entering a new era and will surely usher in more opportunities for development and more cooperation space.
What is the substance of China-ASEAN relations in this new era?
First, to strengthen strategic trust and safeguard common security. The world is undergoing profound change. Faced with global and regional challenges, no single country could handle well on its own. Building great political mutual trust as well as a community of shared future for win-win cooperation, common security and shared development is the only way to shoulder the responsibility and face the challenges of the times. Currently, China and ASEAN maintain close exchange of high-level visits, frequent strategic communications and burgeoning political and security cooperation. China is working with ASEAN countries to steadily move forward the Code of Conduct consultation, and the situation in the South China Sea has stabilized and shown a positive momentum. China and ASEAN share similar outlook on security in this region.
Second, to enhance synergy of development strategies to lead regional economic growth. China will work with ASEAN to better align the Belt and Road Initiative with the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, particularly the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, continue to deepen our all-round cooperation. China and ASEAN share a giant market of 2 billion population and enjoy complementary advantages. With enhanced synergy of development strategies of both sides, China and ASEAN will become a pair of strong wings for leading the regional economic boom in this new era.
Third, to revitalize regional cooperation and create a new model for South-South cooperation. At the China-ASEAN Summit in Manila last year, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang proposed formulating the China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership Vision 2030 and put forward dozens of initiatives. He also proposed upgrading the “2+7” cooperation framework into a new “3+X” framework underpinned by the three pillars of political and security cooperation, economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges. Meanwhile, China-ASEAN sub-regional cooperation mechanisms are developing rapidly. The booming development of Lancang-Mekong Cooperation framework accelerates the synergy of the Belt and Road Initiative to the development strategies of six Mekong River countries. China is also willing to actively explore with ASEAN to further participate in the construction of the East ASEAN Growth Area to make greater contributions for ASEAN integration and ASEAN community building. We also propose to work with ASEAN to build an East Asian Economic Community at an early date.
Fourth, to enhance the people-to-people exchanges and foster the common value of community of shared future. As we implement the Joint Statement between China and ASEAN on Tourism Cooperation and Action Plan for Education, it is a great opportunity to upgrade tourism cooperation and education cooperation to a new level.
These are excerpts from remarks of Huang Xilian, Chinese ambassador to ASEAN, at a roundtable discussion with local think tanks and media on Feb 9, in Jakarta.