The relations between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have developed rapidly since the establishment of regular dialogue between the two sides 15 years ago, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has said recently.
In an interview with Xinhua, Badawi said that continuous and significant progress had been made in the development of China-ASEAN relations in various fields over that time period.
China had become a close friend of ASEAN and the cooperation between the two sides had been fruitful, said the prime minister.
He stressed that in the security field, China and some ASEAN countries had reached mutual understanding on some issues, including the South China Sea issue, which, to a certain extent, had increased the mutual understanding between the two sides and made contributions to the stability of the South China Sea region.
Badawi said that China had been working at developing economic and trade ties with ASEAN, and had given it significant support in this field. ASEAN countries were grateful for China's support, he added.
He said that ASEAN would never forget China's contribution in helping its member nations conquer the financial crisis of 1997 by promising not to devalue its currency, the Renminbi.
The Malaysian leader also praised the development of Sino-Malaysian relations.
The trade ties between the two sides were more active than in the past, and the trade volume was continuing to increase, he noted.
Badawi stressed that China was Malaysia's friend and Malaysia had maintained close consultation and cooperation with China in many fields.
His country was looking forward to deepening and broadening its relations with China, he said.
Badawi rejected the so-called "China threat" opinion held by some.
China's economic development had benefited Malaysia in many ways and China's success had made contributions to Malaysia's success and the stability of South-East Asia, he noted.
As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, China was playing an important role in the Asia-Pacific region, especially in resolving the Korean Peninsula nuclear crisis, the Malaysian leader said.
He said he believed that China would play a much more active role in the regional, as well as the global economic and political arena in the future.
As to the East Asia Summit, Badawi said the prospects for the summit were good but more time was needed to perfect it.
He pointed out that some countries like Pakistan and Mongolia, which attach great importance to developing relations with ASEAN and which maintained close relations with the bloc, were hopeful of becoming part of the East Asia summit.
In a bid to overcome differences in the levels of development between the ASEAN member states, Badawi said that the bloc had worked out plans to help new ASEAN members Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam consolidate their national stability and many plans were to be implemented by 2015.
Badawi pointed out that ASEAN member countries were actively cooperating in their economic relations with each other.
He believed that such economic cooperation would accelerate the reduction of the differences in the levels of development between the member states.