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Wang Yi Reviews Five Successful Experiences of China-ASEAN Cooperation over the Past 30 Years
2021/06/08

On June 7, 2021, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that over the past 30 years, China and ASEAN have moved forward hand in hand with the strategic partnership constantly enriched and cooperation in political security, economy, trade, and social, cultural and people-to-people exchanges yielded fruitful results when chairing the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers' Meeting in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of dialogue relations between China and ASEAN.

Wang Yi said, we have established an in-depth dialogue mechanism at all levels, including state leaders, ministers and senior officials, to conduct strategic communication on major issues in a timely manner, laying a solid foundation for the development of bilateral relations. Our trade volume has jumped from less than 8 billion U.S. dollars to 684.6 billion U.S. dollars, an increase of more than 80 times. Our personnel exchanges had exceeded 65 million in 2019, and there were nearly 4,500 flights between China and Southeast Asia every week. The two sides exchanged more than 200,000 foreign students and formed more than 200 pairs of sister cities.

Wang Yi stressed that, in the past 30 years, through our joint efforts, we have become the largest trading partners, the most connotative partners, and the most dynamic strategic partners. These achievements are hard-won and the experience is precious. We can obtain the above achievements mainly attributed to the following:

First, we always give top priority to each other in our foreign relations. China pursues a good-neighborly and friendly policy with its neighbors. It is a tradition of China's diplomacy to build friendship and partnership with its neighbors. President Xi Jinping further put forward the concept of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness in neighborhood diplomacy, demonstrating China's sincerity. Among the ASEAN dialogue partners, China has created a number of "firsts": the first to join the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, the first to establish strategic partnership with ASEAN, the first to discuss with ASEAN to establish free trade zone, the first to express clear support of the ASEAN's central position in the regional cooperation, and the first to express its willingness publicly to sign the Protocol to the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-free Zone. The rapid development of China's relations with ASEAN has also spurred other major powers to increase their input in ASEAN, which enhanced ASEAN's international standing, promoted unity and cooperation among all parties, and multiplied the international influence of East Asia.

Second, we always put the people first and focus on pragmatic cooperation. We have been giving top priority to the fundamental interests of the two billion people of 11 ASEAN countries and China and advanced pragmatic cooperation in all fields. The alignment between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity has been accelerated, and a large number of key projects that are relevant to the two sides' development and benefit people's lives are implemented steadily. The platforms and mechanisms such as China-ASEAN Expo, China-ASEAN Education Cooperation Week, and China-ASEAN Young Leaders Scholarship have been playing more important roles. China has also set up the China-ASEAN Investment Cooperation Fund, the China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund and the Special Fund for Asian Regional Cooperation. All of these have brought tangible benefits to the two peoples.

Third, we always work together to face major challenges in the spirit of partnership. A friend in need is a friend indeed. We have stood together in times of difficulty and overcome such unexpected crises as the two financial crises, the Indian Ocean Tsunami and SARS. With our concrete actions, we have demonstrated the bond of brotherhood with close interdependence and the friendship between neighbors who help each other. In the fight against COVID-19, in particular, China and ASEAN countries offered each other a helping hand and supported each other. China has overcome its own difficulties and actively provided anti-pandemic materials and technical assistance to ASEAN countries. China has delivered more than 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to ASEAN countries. As we work together to overcome challenges, we have enhanced our friendship, mutual trust, and common interests.

Fourth, we adhere to open development for mutual benefit and win-win results. We have seized the opportunities brought about by the rapid development of economic globalization, remained open to the outside world at a high level, and worked together to promote the regional cooperation and economic globalization. We have taken an active part in the global industrial chain and value chain, established and upgraded the largest free trade area among developing countries, and built a regional production base that stands alongside North America and Europe, which created the miracle of prosperity and development in East Asia. We have established a platform for regional economic cooperation, vigorously promoted economic integration in East Asia, and successfully signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), becoming a leading force in upholding free trade, multilateralism and international cooperation.

Fifth, we always bear in mind the overall interests and put differences in proper place. It is natural for neighbors to run into problems. We have established multi-level communication and dialogue mechanisms in the principle of mutual respect to properly handle and manage differences through consultation, and maintained the general direction of friendly cooperation. We have actively expanded the scope of cooperation in our bilateral relations, expanded common interests from cooperation, and worked to build a model of interaction that transcends differences and leads to win-win results. We have earnestly implemented the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and actively advanced consultations on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. This has proved that China and ASEAN countries are capable of turning our existing differences into cooperation, and that both sides are willing to safeguard regional peace and stability.

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