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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

China: A good partner of the ASEAN

Zhang Lei
The 45th Asean Foreign Ministers' Meeting and its related meetings came to a conclusion in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on July 13. The Asean related meetings, which aim to chalk out the policies for the Asean and promote cooperation between Asean countries and their partners, have achieved positive results and deepened the understanding among participating members. Ministers and their representatives from Asean countries have reached wide consensus on achieving Asean Community.
China also had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on China-Asean relations with participating members. Foreign ministers from Asean countries also expressed their appreciation for the efforts and contribution that China has made for closer China-Asean cooperation. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi attended relevant meetings and made a keynote speech at the 2nd East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers' Meeting. On the Summit and other related meetings, Yang stressed that the Chinese government always put China's relations with the Asean high on China's diplomatic agenda and would continue to promote good-neighbourly relationship with the Asean. Yang particularly raised three areas as the priority for the sound and steady development of the region, i.e. "focus on development," "focus on cooperation" and "work together to uphold regional peace and stability." Yang also elaborated on China's position on South China Sea, the Korean nuclear issue, Myanmar, etc on different occasions during the Asean meetings.
As the Asean meetings wrapped up, much attention has been drawn to the failure of the meetings to issue a Joint Communiqué. But just like Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong put it: "The meeting of the Asean foreign ministers is not a court, nor a place to give a verdict on disputes." The Asean meetings should be used as a platform to seek cooperation and development. We should bear in mind that as the international financial crisis is spreading, the Asia-Pacific region has maintained the momentum of robust growth and become an important driving force for world economic recovery and growth. The achievements of the region are attributable to the generally peaceful and stable environment over the past few decades and the concerted efforts of all countries in the region, which should be cherished by us all. China and Asean have forged a community of destiny, contributing to and benefiting from Asia's development. The two sides need to continue promoting practical cooperation for mutual benefit and win-win development.
Recently, there has been much discussion about the South China Sea, which is also reflected in the Asean meetings. What I want to point out is that China's sovereignty over the Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters is supported by ample historical and legal evidence. Yet given the complexity of the South China Sea issue, China has always called for shelving disputes and seeking joint development.
China and Asean countries signed the "Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea" (DOC) in Phnom Penh ten years ago. What is essential is that all parties exercise self-restraint in keeping with the spirit of the DOC, and refrain from taking moves that will escalate and complicate the disputes and affect peace and stability. Some Asean countries proposed to start discussions on a Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea The Chinese side is willing to consider the proposal seriously and hopes to be able to start discussion on COC when conditions are ripe.
China's commitment to the path of peaceful development and the win-win strategy of opening-up is borne out first and foremost in the Asia-Pacific, which is home to China. China has long upheld the policy of fostering friendship and partnership with its neighbours and sticks to developing friendship and cooperation with all the neighbouring countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. China's Asia-Pacific policy follows the following principles:
* Uphold cooperation: Asia-Pacific countries face the common mission of maintaining peace and stability and the common task of promoting growth and eradicating poverty. Countries should abandon the Cold War mentality and ideological prejudices, uphold a new concept of solidarity and win-win cooperation, and open up a new prospect of an Asia-Pacific enjoying peace, cooperation and mutual benefit;
* Seek development: The Asia-Pacific has on the whole maintained a sound momentum of growth. But the region also faces many uncertainties and destabilising factors. Countries in this region should seize the overriding trend of development, promote better and faster development of the region, make the pie of common interests bigger, let the people in this region enjoy the dividends of development;
* Implement the new security concept: International security threats are more complex and diverse today. To effectively meet various security threats, China upholds the new security concept featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination, and seeks integrated security, common security and cooperation-based security;
* Respect diversity: The Asia-Pacific is remarkably diverse and complex. Countries are different in political and economic system, historical and cultural background and social development model. Countries in this region should respect the realities in the Asia-Pacific, carry on the spirit of openness, inclusiveness, seeking common ground while shelving differences and mutual accommodation, and promote diverse and parallel forms of development.
Since the turn of the century, China's development and the development of the Asia-Pacific region as a whole have accompanied and reinforced each other. In the course of working through the crisis together, mutual trust between China and other regional countries has become a deeply ingrained belief and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides has grown in a steady and comprehensive way, ushering in a new era of Asia-Pacific development.
China and other Asia-Pacific countries have conducted close political contacts, established partnerships in various forms and maintained frequent high-level visits and exchanges. In the first half of this year alone, there were over 50 high-level mutual visits between China and other Asian countries.
China has been actively involved in mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries in the region in trade, investment, finance, hi-tech, new energy, energy conservation, environmental protection, infrastructure connectivity and FTA building. This has injected strong impetus into regional economic development and presented enormous business opportunities to all countries. China is the largest export market for other Asian countries, the biggest trading partner of Asean, Japan, the ROK, India and Australia, and has become the largest source of investment for many countries in the region.
China has played an active part in advancing regional cooperation. In the first half of this year, China successfully hosted the China-Japan-ROK leaders' meeting and the first China-Japan-ROK consultation on Asian policies, promoting new progress in the trilateral cooperation. China sticks to the East Asian cooperation architecture with Asean playing a central role, 10+1 as the basis, 10+3 as the main channel and the EAS as an important supplement. China has worked for new headway in 10+1 and 10+3 cooperation in economy, trade, finance, food security and people-to-people exchanges.
China has taken an active part in regional security cooperation, worked hard to facilitate peaceful resolution of regional hotspot issues, actively participated in efforts to meet non-traditional security challenges and played an important role in upholding regional peace and stability. China has played an active role in advancing the Six-Party Talks process for the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, and made unremitting efforts to maintain peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and to promote long-term peace and stability in Northeast Asia. China has been actively involved in Afghanistan's reconstruction and supported the country in achieving stability and development. As to the disputes over the sovereignty of some islands and delimitation of some waters in the South China Sea, just as I have mentioned above, it is China's consistent position that the disputes should be peacefully settled by the parties directly concerned through negotiations.
Facts have shown that China has been committed to promoting enduring peace, mutually beneficial cooperation and common prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. China will always be a good neighbour, good friend and good partner for other Asia-Pacific countries, and contribute more to building a peaceful, growing, prosperous and harmonious Asia-Pacific region.
The writer is Chief of Political Section, Embassy of China in Bangladesh.
Source:  The Daily Star, 01 August 2012