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East Asian cooperation constantly enriched, upgraded: senior Chinese diplomat

(Xinhua)    08:43, November 05, 2019

BANGKOK, Nov. 4 -- East Asian cooperation is constantly being enriched and upgraded, a senior Chinese diplomat said here on Monday.

All parties agree that the essence of East Asian cooperation is being enriched, with its value being improved, and its level being upgraded, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said at a press briefing on the sidelines of a series of regional leaders' meetings.

Noting the frameworks of the China-ASEAN (10+1) leaders' meeting and the ASEAN-China, Japan and South Korea (10+3) leaders' meeting had successfully responded to two financial crises, Le said regional countries agree that the East Asian cooperation mechanism is more important and more valuable as the world is facing new challenges and risks brought by protectionism, unilateralism and increasing downward pressure.

The regional countries agree to further expand cooperation to jointly uphold the international system with the United Nations at its core and the multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization at its center, according to Le.

"Regional economic integration is upgrading," Le said, adding that the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area Upgrade Protocol has taken full effect while China and New Zealand have concluded the negotiations on upgrading their bilateral free trade agreement, and China, Japan and South Korea have accelerated the trilateral free trade area construction process.

Stressing that 15 member states of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) concluded all text negotiations and essentially all market access negotiations on Sunday, Le said they have pledged to sign an agreement in 2020.

"This is a major breakthrough in regional economic integration, which would boast the largest population, most diversified membership and greatest potential for development. East Asian countries are moving towards the goal of building an East Asian community," he added.

Le said a reconnectivity statement has been issued at this year's 10+3 meeting, adding that the China-ASEAN Joint Statement on Synergizing the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025 has also been released by China and ASEAN countries. In addition, major projects, including the China-Thailand railway, the China-Laos railway and the Jakarta-Bandung high speed rail, have been smoothly promoted.

Noting that next year will be the year of China-ASEAN digital economy cooperation, Le said the two sides will strengthen cooperation in fields of big data, artificial intelligence, e-commerce, and smart cities to share opportunities for digital economic development, as well as actively build a partnership on blue economy to promote the sustainable development of the marine economy.

According to Le, China and ASEAN countries have also established 201 pairs of sister cities. There are nearly 100,000 international students from ASEAN countries studying in China. China and ASEAN countries become each other's most important tourist destinations.

Noting that the first reading of the single draft negotiating text of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea has been completed ahead of schedule and the second reading has been launched, Le said that the COC in the South China Sea is an upgraded version of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wen Ying, Du Mingming)

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