ASEAN-China partnership timely

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday highlighted the timeliness of establishing a comprehensive strategic partnership between ASEAN and China this year, as ASEAN and China commemorate the 30th anniversary of the dialogue relations.

His Majesty, as Chair of ASEAN in 2021, co-chaired the special summit held virtually from Baitul Mesyuarah, Istana Nurul Iman.

Over the past three decades, ASEAN-China cooperation has gone from strength to strength and today it stands as one of the most comprehensive and substantive partnerships that span across and within the three Community Pillars of ASEAN.

His Majesty also highlighted the achievements attained in the ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations, including China being the first Dialogue Partner of ASEAN to accede to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC); the first Strategic Partner of ASEAN; and the first Dialogue Partner to establish a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with ASEAN.

His Majesty added that China has continued to be ASEAN’s top trading partner over the last
12 years.

The monarch stated that, in efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, China has assisted ASEAN member states by providing vaccines and medical supplies, and reinforcing ASEAN’s COVID-19 response.

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam during the summit. PHOTO: INFOFOTO

In this regard, His Majesty expressed appreciation for China’s continued commitment to ASEAN over the years and its support for ASEAN Centrality and ASEAN Community building efforts through ASEAN-led processes.

The strength of ASEAN-China relations was highlighted by His Majesty, in overcoming and adapting to new and emerging challenges, which has been witnessed with strengthened work in areas such as disaster management, digital technologies and public health emergencies.

Moving forward, His Majesty urged for a practical cooperation on sustainable development with its global development initiative.

His Majesty expressed satisfaction that ASEAN and China will advance their partnership with the launch of negotiations on an agreement to strengthen technical cooperation, which will help prepare the people with the right skills to address challenges and seize opportunities of the future.

His Majesty emphasised on the deepening of cooperation will bring about long-term confidence and trust towards reinforcing a rules-based regional architecture underpinned by international law, which will further ensure that the people of ASEAN and China are able to work together and prosper in a harmonious region.

In ending the titah, His Majesty expressed confidence that with peace, mutual respect and support for one another, ASEAN-China relations in the next 30 years and beyond will bring about a new era of prosperity and stability in the region.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping as Co-Chair of the special summit said over the past 30 years, ASEAN and China relations have seized opportunities in achieving leapfrogged development through the mutual respect of each other’s development paths; the exploration of win-win cooperation; as well as collective efforts towards mutual benefit and inclusiveness.

President Xi put forward five proposals to build ASEAN-China relations towards a peaceful, secure, prosperous, green and amicable future. This includes the need to engage in dialogue and multilateralism; the establishment of a regional health shield and a new international land and sea trade corridor; enhanced cooperation on climate change and blue economy; and promoting exchanges in areas such as culture, tourism and media.

At the summit, the leaders also commended China on its rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as its contributions of medical supplies and vaccines to ASEAN member states.

In moving forward, leaders supported further multilateral cooperation between ASEAN and China in promoting regional economic integration and cross-border flow of peoples and goods; balancing the climate change agenda with socio-economic development; as well as enhanced cooperation in digital transformation and connectivity.

At the end of the Special Summit, the leaders adopted the Joint Statement of the ASEAN-China Special Summit to Commemorate the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations: Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for Peace, Security, Prosperity and Sustainable Development.