Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Thursday, October 09, 2003

China joins Treaty of Amity, Cooperation in Southeast Asia

China formally joins the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) on Wednesday after foreign ministers of China and 10 ASEAN members signed a document on China's accession to the treaty.


ASEAN, China forge strategic partnership
China and its Southeast Asian summit partners agreed Wednesday to speed up their efforts to unify their huge trade markets, and pledged to resolve any future conflicts through dialogue.

The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), signed Wednesday by China at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit on the Indonesian island of Bali, renounces the use of force and calls for greater economic and political cooperation.

ASEAN, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, has expressed its hope that China joins the treaty as a non-Southeast Asian country in recent years, according to a press release from the Chinese delegation, which is attending a series of ASEAN-related meetings.

In June 2003, the Chinese National People's Congress (NPC) approved the country's accession to he treaty.

Principles and purpose of the TAC conform to the five principles of peaceful co-existence upheld by China.

"It's good for the region. It's good for the rest of the world,'' Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said.

"In today's world that is under going complex and profound changes, the enhanced cooperation between ASEAN and China, as two important partners in the Asia-Pacific region, will serve the immediate and long term interests of both sides and is conducive to peace and prosperity in the region," the declaration said.

"To this end, we agree that ASEAN and China establish 'a strategic partnership for peace and prosperity.'"

The purpose of the establishment of a strategic partnership forpeace and prosperity is "to foster friendly relations, mutually beneficial cooperation and good neighborliness" between ASEAN and China by deepening and expanding ASEAN-China cooperative relationsin a comprehensive manner in the 21st century, the leaders declared.

"This strategic partnership is non-aligned, non-military, and non-exclusive, and does not prevent the participants from developing their all-directional ties of friendship and cooperation with others," the leaders affirmed.

The two sides signed an additional partnership accord calling for speeded-up talks on a free-trade area, which China and ASEAN already are committed to by 2010.

Such an agreement would make the region the world's most populous market, with 1.7 billion consumers.

The regional summit also was attended by leaders of India, Japan and South Korea.

ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

ASEAN's 1976 Treaty of Amity and Cooperation is the grouping's founding nonaggression pact aimed at promoting regional stability.

India also was scheduled to sign the same treaty on Wednesday, and ASEAN leaders want South Korea and Japan to accede to it soon.

The additional ASEAN-China accord emphasizes the principle of nonaggression. It does not bar signatories from forging separate treaties with other countries.

"We highlight the strategic importance of ASEAN-China relations to peace, development and cooperation in our region,'' the document said, adding that it "demonstrated that political trust between the two sides has been notably enhanced.''

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has enthusiastically promoted closer ties during his visit to Bali, saying China should be seen as an opportunity rather than an economic threat.

ASEAN-China trade amounted to US$55.4 billion in 2001, with trade growing by an average of 25.7 percent annually between 1993 and 2001, according to the latest ASEAN statistics.

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