Crucial for China, ASEAN to plan for future development

James Kon

Chinese Ambassador to ASEAN Deng Xijun highlighted the importance for China and ASEAN to synergise development strategies and to plan for the future, with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also putting forward point proposal for China-ASEAN cooperation.

Deng Xijun noted this during a recent online briefing on 24th ASEAN-China Summit, 24th ASEAN Plus Three Summit, and the 16th East Asia Summit, chaired by 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.

“Our leaders exchanged views on the tremendous progress in ASEAN-China cooperation and the way forward, and they reached an important consensus. In particular, the leaders jointly confirmed China and ASEAN’s shared commitment to cooperation for win-win results and our shared will of beating the virus and recovering the economy, which will further unlock the potential of cooperation and boost upgrading of our relations,” he said.

He quoted Premier Li Keqiang as stating that China has always seen ASEAN as a priority in its neighbourhood diplomacy and will firmly support ASEAN’s community-building, ASEAN’s centrality in the regional architecture, and playing a bigger role in regional and international affairs.

China hopes to take the opportunity of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations to ensure the giant ship of China-ASEAN friendship and cooperation sails ahead steadily, and contribute more to peace, stability, development and prosperity of Asia.

He said the six-point proposal put forward for China-ASEAN cooperation are, “Firstly, we need to jointly build a line of defence for health. China stands ready to further increase assistance in vaccines and anti-COVID supplies for ASEAN member countries and proposes establishing a China-ASEAN Public Health R&D Collaborating Centre.

“Secondly, we need to deepen economic integration. We need to hasten work for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to take effect as early as possible. China is ready to officially launch the joint feasibility study to identify other areas for possible inclusion in the upgraded China-ASEAN free trade agreement (FTA).

Chinese Ambassador to ASEAN Deng Xijun during an online briefing on 2021 ASEAN-China Leaders’ Meeting

“The third proposal is we need to promote inclusive development. We need to speed up the building of the Partnership on Blue Economy. China is ready to set up dedicated offices in ASEAN member countries and build demonstration areas of development cooperation.

“Fourth, we need to uphold an innovation-driven approach. We need to deliver on the plan of action on a partnership of science, technology and innovation for the next five years and finalise the plan of action on the Implementation of the China-ASEAN Digital Economy Partnership (2021-2025) as quickly as possible.

“Next, we need to expand green cooperation. We need to properly implement the framework of China-ASEAN Environmental Cooperation Strategy and Action Plan (2021-2025) to tackle climate change together, and push for the transition and upgrading of energy industries and economic structures as appropriate.

“Lastly, we need to cement the foundation of popular support. We should manage the return of ASEAN students to China for school in a phased manner while ensuring COVID-related safety. China will make an additional contribution to the China-ASEAN Cooperation Fund,” he said.

Deng Xijun reiterated that Premier Li had emphasised that China is firm in its commitment to the path of peaceful development, to safeguarding world peace and regional stability, and to promoting common development. Peace in the South China Sea serves the common interest of China and ASEAN member countries. Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). China hopes to work with ASEAN member countries to use it as an opportunity to actively expand maritime practical cooperation, expedite the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea (COC)negotiations and strive for early conclusion of the COC to make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation.

Leaders of ASEAN member countries attending the meeting, he said, “expressed appreciation on the positive progress of ASEAN-China cooperation and looked forward to holding a summit with China to commemorate the 30th anniversary of China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations. ASEAN member countries stand ready to work with China to expand practical cooperation across the board, to implement the DOC and reach an effective and substantive COC as soon as possible. ASEAN member countries also hope the RCEP will come into force as soon as possible,” he said.

The two sides also agreed to establish a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between ASEAN and China that is meaningful, substantive and mutually beneficial. Two joint statements were released at the meeting, namely the China-ASEAN Joint Statement on Cooperation in Support of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and the China-ASEAN Joint Statement on Enhancing Green and Sustainable Development Cooperation.

The ASEAN Plus Three (APT) countries “are the backbone of East Asia cooperation. During the meeting, the leaders applauded the APT cooperation achievements, especially its contribution to anti-COVID response, and economic recovery and inclusive growth in the region. The leaders agreed to expand cooperation on public health, digital economy, connectivity, finance and climate change, among other areas, and maintain the stability of regional industrial and supply chains. APT countries agreed to take the 25th anniversary of the establishment of APT cooperation next year as an opportunity to promote development and contribute to building the East Asian community, promoting common development and prosperity in East Asia and beyond, and building a sustainable future.”

“China will keep to the overall direction of cooperation, continue to promote regional economic integration, and take joint efforts to address the ongoing pandemic and other challenges concerning energy, food and finance. China will promote the implementation of the vision for building a community with a shared future with neighbours, which will help build a more open, inclusive and sustainable East Asia.

“China is willing to work together with all parties to enhance public health governance, deepen regional economic integration, strengthen industrial cooperation, promote digital economy, stimulate vigour for financial cooperation, and promote green and sustainable growth”, Deng Xijun said.

Meanwhile, for the East Asia Summit (EAS), he said, discussions that leaders had on major regional issues at the summit were expected to promote regional stability and development.

“China believes the EAS should stay committed to its status, stick to the right direction that is oriented with regional cooperation and strike a proper balance between political security cooperation on the one hand and economic and social development on the other.

“As East Asia remains a key engine of global economic growth, efforts should be made to move forward the twin wheels of the fight against COVID and economic recovery, so as to maintain regional peace and stability and promote development and prosperity.

“President Xi Jinping proposed the Global Development Initiative recently. Under this guidance, China stands ready to work with all parties to beat the virus, resume the economy, pursue green development while upholding the ASEAN centrality,” Deng Xijun said.