Enhance pragmatic China-ASEAN cooperation

08:06, July 26, 2011      

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Cooperation decides the depth and width of regional trade, and moreover, the peace and stability in the region. At the 20th anniversary of the dialogue mechanism between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, cooperation between the two sides is in a crucial stage. It is the trend of the times and the desire of the people that China and ASEAN deepen and enhance overall development of bilateral ties.

At the recently concluded ASEAN Regional Forum Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Bali, Indonesia, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and his 10 ASEAN counterparts reached consensus on furthering pragmatic cooperation. China and 10 ASEAN countries, with a total population of 1.9 billion, make up a key area in the Asia-Pacific region and will display more and more economic vitality.

But there are noises, and some of them require our early attention. The misunderstanding resulting from the excessive exaggerations about China made by some media and people from the West tends to make people neglect the political influence that the deepening of China-ASEAN cooperation could have on the Asia-Pacific region as well as ASEAN's internal integration.

As a matter of fact, some Western media intentionally magnify the so-called "China economic threat" and attempt to give others an impression that China extends railways to Southeast Asia and transports the resources with railway cars back to China. A cartoon carried in the Economist early this year showed a panda was sitting on the front row of a train heading from China to Southeast Asia, but there were little tigers behind the lively creature.

The cartoon is not creative. Similar exaggeration has become cliché for Western media when describing China's efforts to go global. Those who have visited Southeast Asian countries must have a deep understanding of the old and shabby railway system there. Infrastructure construction means development for Southeast Asian countries and tallies with the actual situation.

The railway disconnections in Southeast Asia hamper economic development and are regarded as an epitome of the political reality in the region. Meanwhile, it also shows how important it is to enhance communications in the region by connecting all the railways in different countries and forming a crisscross railway network.

Because it is a win-win scenario, China does not deny the interests it has gained form bilateral cooperation with ASEAN countries. Common prosperity attracts people together and boosts mutual understanding and intimacy.

The heart of the matter is that mutual benefit through pragmatic cooperation brought not only applies to economy and trade but also politics, society and human culture. It will also facilitate the integration process within ASEAN, particularly the communications among the people, which will help solve internal disputes and problems.

Asia is facing a rare opportunity for development and the momentum for China-ASEAN cooperation remains strong. Let's imagine Southeast Asia and China linked together by the networks of railways, roads, trade and investment. The region will doubtlessly be the source of vitality of economic growth and the backbone of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. That is what pragmatic cooperation means. By then, who will still remember the cartoon carried in the Economist?

The author is People's Daily senior editor Ding Gang and the article is translated by PD Online editor Zhang Xinyi
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