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Thursday, September 8, 2016, 22:19

ASEAN, China reaffirm free navigation

By Xinhua

ASEAN, China reaffirm free navigation
VIENTIANE - The 28th and 29th summits of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and related summits on Thursday concluded here, with the 10-nation bloc and all its partners eyeing more concrete moves in the future to realize the ASEAN Community Vision 2025.

During the summits, the ASEAN leaders signed the ASEAN Declaration on One ASEAN, One Response: ASEAN Responding to Disasters as One in the Region and Outside the Region and other outcome documents aimed at implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025.

Meanwhile, ASEAN and its dialogue partners agreed to enhance cooperation in all areas to ensure more efficiency and effectiveness, particularly in cooperation in trade, investment, connectivity, tourism, people-to-people exchange and others, based on mutual benefit.

ASEAN and China, meanwhile, also issued their joint statements after their summit, reaffirming their respect of freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea under principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

During a closing ceremony of the summits, Laos handed over its ASEAN chairmanship to the Philippines, which will hold the summits in 2017, the 50th anniversary of the founding of the 10-nation bloc.

Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith said in a press conference after the ceremony that the ASEAN Community will continue to gain new achievements on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of ASEAN.


In his keynote address earlier in the day, Lao President Bounnhang Vorachith, whose country holds the ASEAN chairmanship this year, identified the challenges faced by the region.

"Regional and international environments have undergone rapid and complex challenges," he told leaders of his fellow ASEAN countries. "Although the global economy has gradually recovered, growth remains slow and fragile."

He urged ASEAN to enhance cooperation and collaboration with its dialogue partners and the larger international community "in order to be able to respond to and address the said challenges in a timely manner."

The weak global economic growth was aggregated by an emerging anti-globalization sentiment, notably in the Western countries, said Wang Jiangyu, associate professor at National University of Singapore.

The trend was caused by the imbalance in distribution as well as the lack of solution to the internal income gap and the failure to compensate those lose out in globalization in major economies, Wang told Xinhua.

It may lead to capital and industries reflow to the advanced economies, draining the benefit of globalization from Asia, he said.

"The best solution is to return to the prospect of Asian integration," he said. "Asian countries may come to realize the necessity to speed up the integration and to build a common market. "

Those countries which have pin their hope on the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are caught in a quandary as the trade pact may be blocked or shelved due to the rising populism and anti-globalization sentiment in the United State, Wang added.

Wang said China could uphold the regional economic integration by playing a leading role in free trade negotiation, including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and to build a common Asian market by reducing trade barriers and facilitating free movement of goods, services, capitals and people.

"This will be something that could benefit the future," he said.

Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow with S Rajaratnam School of Singapore Nanyang Technological University, said ASEAN countries hope the momentum of China's economic growth would boost regional development, therefore create the great opportunities for China-ASEAN cooperation.

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