ASEAN representatives vow to strengthen cooperation with China amid complex situation at forum

Hu Yuwei, Global Times, August 6, 2022 — Envoys and representatives of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Friday spoke highly of the achievements delivered through China-ASEAN cooperation and pledged to build a closer community with a shared future. They expect a bigger role of China-ASEAN cooperation mechanism in safeguarding regional peace and security amid rising risks, challenges and global upheavals, as ties between two sides reached a new high after ASEAN-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership was established in 2021.

The pledge came at the 2022 ASEAN-China Media and Thinktank Forum, an important platform for promoting people-to-people exchange, held in Beijing on Friday gathering representatives from China and ASEAN countries to discuss more ways in advancing the building of a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, and amicable home together.

Representatives urged more efforts to work together to meet the challenges from various spillovers, and jointly maintain the hard-won peace and stability in the region, against the backdrop of some Western countries continually stirring up regional disputes and undermining unity.

“ASEAN and China have very good cooperation in all areas and in many levels. Actively attending and participating in various mechanisms that promote dialogue and cooperation in a frank and open manner allows for all countries to exchange ideas and generate international cooperation in order to promote peace and security in the region and the world at large,” Natthira Krasaesarn, Minister Counsellor at the Embassy of Thailand in China, told the Global Times at the forum.

Various mechanisms have progressed with noteworthy achievements in economic, health, environmental projects, in addition to an array of other areas between two sides. Both ASEAN and China have continued to be each other’s largest trading partners over the past two years. Both sides showed solidarity in fighting the pandemic and strengthened cooperation in emergency management and vaccine accessibility.

Both sides also jointly implemented the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and accelerated connectivity, creating “a highland for development.”

“I have been personally engaging with ASEAN for more than one decade. Through my travels and engagements, I am keenly aware of the rapid and phenomenal development of China-ASEAN relations. Over the past 10 years in particular, China-ASEAN relations have entered the ‘fast lane’ and made accelerating progress. Through a coordinated effort to build trust and confidence among its members, RCEP’s success has the potential to lead not only to opportunities for regional economic cooperation and integration, but also to a more peaceful and stable region,” Djauhari Oratmangun, the Indonesian Ambassador to China, told the Global Times on Friday.

The year of 2021 marks 30 years of China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations, and the relations have delivered significant benefits over the years to more than 2 billion people across 11 countries and become an important pillar for regional peace, stability, development and prosperity, said the delegates. But the challenges should not be ignored, they noted.

“As the North-South development gap widens and the world enters a new period of turbulence and change, peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region are also facing more challenges. Some Western countries have maliciously manipulated political issues, deliberately stirred up confrontation and undermined peace across the Taiwan Straits. They run counter to regional common wish to seek peace, stability, development and win-win outcomes, and have added new risks and uncertainties to the economic development of the Asia-Pacific region,” Du Zhanyuan, President of China International Communications Group, addressed at the forum.

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reckless visit to Taiwan island on Tuesday not only raised tensions across the Taiwan Straits, but also kept Southeast Asian countries on tenterhooks as several regional countries expressed concerns right after her arrival.

The ASEAN foreign ministers on Thursday issued a statement on the cross-Straits situation, reiterating their countries’ firm adherence to the one-China principle at the 55th ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting held in Phnom Penh. The ministers said ASEAN centrality, credibility and relevance are essential to maintain peace, stability, and prosperity in the region and in the world, Xinhua News Agency reported.

“ASEAN countries cherish the peace and stability across the region. The regional media should be good record makers, build a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future, and refute some irresponsible media reports which try to stir up trouble and disrupt the sound situation of regional cooperation and development,” Ding Zi, deputy chief of the international department at People’s Daily, said at the forum.

Representatives attending the meeting spoke highly of the dynamic ASEAN-China cooperation with rich substance and remarkable achievements since the establishment of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two sides, appreciated China’s consistent support for ASEAN’s central position, and thanked China for providing COVID-19 vaccines to ASEAN countries.

Sok Prasith, secretary of state of the Ministry of Information of Cambodia, expressed thanks for China’s vaccine aid to Cambodia at the forum, saying that “free accessibility to the shots enables Cambodian people to quickly recover the economy and to lay a solid foundation for the reopening of the country.

In the future, China-ASEAN cooperation is expected to expand into more new areas, such as cooperation on innovation, the digital economy, clean energy and green development, according to representatives.

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