China and ASEAN contribute to further deepening East Asia cooperation

By Yang Chao, Tian Guangqiang (People's Daily Online) 15:46, August 11, 2022

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended ASEAN-China, ASEAN Plus Three, East Asia Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum Foreign Ministers’ Meetings in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from August 4 to 5. It is the first series of foreign ministers' meetings on East Asia cooperation held offline since the COVID-19 outbreak. It has advanced the process of East Asia cooperation by deepening cooperation on post-pandemic recovery, enhancing regional peace and stability, and injecting new impetus and vitality into East Asia's peaceful development. Over the past 30 years, China has maintained a friendly relationship with ASEAN countries while supporting ASEAN’s centrality in the regional architecture.

The friendly cooperation between China and ASEAN is both an important component and driving force for East Asia cooperation. Since the establishment of ASEAN-China dialogue relations, it has evolved from dialogue relations, comprehensive dialogue partners, and strategic partners to comprehensive strategic partners. At the Special Summit to Commemorate the 30th Anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations, President Xi Jinping proposed to build a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, beautiful and amicable homeland together with ASEAN countries, which pointed out a new direction for expanding and deepening ASEAN-China cooperation.

The year 2022 marks the first year of the ASEAN-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Substantial progress has already been made on building a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, beautiful and amicable homeland. For example, China has stepped up vaccine joint production and technology transfer, and has helped ASEAN to increase self-reliance by collaborating with them on the research and development of essential medicines; military security exchanges have kept deepening while cooperation in non-traditional security fields such as counter-terrorism, cyber security, combating transnational crimes, and disaster prevention and mitigation have been strengthened; the RCEP Agreement was fully implemented, upgrade of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area is accelerated, and more cooperation is expected in the blue economy; China and ASEAN countries have committed to strengthening cooperation in green development, ecological environment protection, and energy transformation, and jointly address climate change; China and ASEAN countries also steadily increase two-way flights to facilitate people-to-people exchange and promote culture, tourism, media, sports cooperation.

Over the past several decades, ASEAN has contributed to strengthening mutual trust, mutual benefit and achieving win-win cooperation. In the meantime, it has formed an important feature of the “ASEAN way”, which is characterized by mutual respect, non-interference in others’ internal affairs, consultation and consensus, accommodating the comfort levels of all sides, and properly addressing differences through dialogue and consultation. China’s commitment to and support for ASEAN centrality in the evolving regional architecture has always been consistent and clear-cut. In this regard, China has matched her words with deeds. For example, Chinese leaders have attended the ASEAN-China Summit and the ASEAN Plus Three Summit for 24 consecutive years, and attended the East Asia Summit for 16 consecutive years; China took the lead in signing FTA with ASEAN, and was among the first to ratify and implement the RCEP; China recognizes and respects ASEAN as a zone of peace, freedom and neutrality, and has never asked ASEAN to take sides.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict have a devastating effect on the international market and world economy. The IMF warns that the world may be heading toward recession as major economies slow more sharply than expected. As one of the most dynamic regions in the world, regional cooperation in East Asia is vital to ensure economic recovery, stability of the supply chain and national economic security of East Asian economies. However, East Asia cooperation is vulnerable to strategic competition between major powers. Some countries outside the region have used various means to try to create division, provoke conflict and confrontation in East Asia, and deliberately undermine the process of East Asian cooperation. In this regard, East Asian countries should be highly vigilant. We should uphold open regionalism, consider the needs and concerns of all parties, and prevent “exclusive small circles” from impacting the regional architecture.

The authors are researchers of the National Institute of International Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

The opinions expressed in this article reflect those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of People's Daily Online.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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