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Thursday, September 8, 2016, 09:54

China vows shared future with ASEAN

By Xinhua

China vows shared future with ASEAN
Li Keqiang delivers a speech at the 19th China- ASEAN Leaders' Meeting at Laos National Convention Center, Sept 7, 2016 in Vie ntiane. (Photo / Xinhua)
VIENTIANE - China has vowed to form a closer community of shared future with Southeast Asian nations while commemorating the 25th anniversary of their dialogue relationship.

"If we say the past 25 years were a period of growth for the China-ASEAN relations, the upcoming 25 years will be a period of maturity, facing new opportunities as well as new challenges," Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told the 19th summit between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the Laotian capital of Vientiane.

China, which established a dialogue relationship with ASEAN in 1991, was the first to ink the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia and the first to become ASEAN's strategic partner.

In addition, China was the first country to voice support for the protocol of the treaty of Southeast Asia nuclear weapon free zone, while being the first to start free trade area negotiations with ASEAN.

"All these showcase China's steady resolution to develop relations with ASEAN" and "the two sides' strong will of cooperation and their vision to lead regional cooperation," Li said.

The Chinese premier lauded the development of the China-ASEAN relations in the past 25 years.

Mutual respect for each other's development path, consideration of each other's major concern, joint efforts to cope with difficulties and challenges, reciprocal trade relationship, principle of inclusiveness and disputes settlement through dialogue and consultation are experience and treasury the two sides have gained and should continue to cherish and carry forward, Li suggested.


The premier put forward a five-point proposal to further enhance China-ASEAN relations:

First, to better coordinate development strategies between the two sides, deepen cooperation in all areas within the 2+7 Cooperation Framework and in accordance with the third action plan for their strategic partnership, Li said.

Second, to establish a new platform for political and security cooperation.

China is willing to discuss to sign a treaty of good-neighborly friendship and cooperation as early as possible, so as to provide legal protection for a long-term friendship, Li said, adding that China supports ASEAN's efforts to establish a nuclear weapon-free zone in Southeast Asia.

The two sides should also have regular unofficial meetings between defense ministers to promote defense cooperation and promote a more substantial progress in the ministerial dialogue mechanism on law enforcement and security, he said.

Third, to further enhance and facilitate free trade and investment, jointly promote the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative and interconnectivity, and deepen industrial cooperation.

Fourth, to make cultural and people-to-people exchanges a third pillar for China-ASEAN cooperation, further enhance cooperation in this regard with education and tourism as two priority areas, said Li.

China hopes the total number of exchange students could reach 300,000 in 2025 through a student exchange plan, he added.

Fifth, to jointly enhance regional cooperation, Li said, noting that the special fund for Lancang-Mekong Cooperation, which involves China, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar, has been launched to support cooperation projects among sub-regional countries.

The Chinese premier also said that China stands ready to work with ASEAN to promote the comprehensive and in-depth development of their bilateral relations, and to make greater contribution to the lasting peace and common prosperity of the region and the world.

Calling China the most important cooperative partner, ASEAN leaders expressed gratitude for the positive role China has played in building ASEAN community and managing international affairs.

They voiced support for China's proposals in Belt and Road Initiative construction, production capacity cooperation and interconnection.

The leaders also hoped to speed up the implementation of an upgraded China-ASEAN free trade agreement and the negotiation process of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

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