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Demonstrably good neighbors

By OUYANG YUJING | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-08-10 07:27
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Li Min/China Daily

China and ASEAN countries have worked together to lift bilateral cooperation to new highs and are heading toward a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future

This year marks the 55th anniversary of the founding of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Over the past 55 years, ASEAN has kept growing and made remarkable progress in ASEAN community building, leading East Asia to foster an open and inclusive regional cooperation architecture with ASEAN at the center, and making important contributions to maintaining regional peace, stability, development and prosperity. As the Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia, I would like to congratulate ASEAN on its 55th birthday.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has recently visited Malaysia, setting new goals for bilateral relations, clarifying new priorities, and pushing bilateral cooperation to a new height. The two sides have agreed on the general direction of jointly building a China-Malaysia community with a shared future and enriched the connotations of their bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership which is bound to open up broader prospects for their cooperation.

China-Malaysia ties are a vivid epitome of the development of China-ASEAN relations. China and ASEAN have geographical proximity and an everlasting friendship. They have always been good neighbors, friends and partners sharing a common destiny and have maintained dialogue for 31 years, and bilateral relations have moved forward in leaps and bounds. In particular, the past decade has witnessed the speedy growth of China-ASEAN relations under the strategic guidance of Chinese President Xi Jinping and the heads of ASEAN countries.

China and ASEAN countries have helped and supported each other in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. When the pandemic hit China, ASEAN countries actively donated money, supplies and offered moral support to the Chinese people. China unreservedly shared its anti-pandemic experience and provided timely vaccine assistance after the virus appeared in the ASEAN countries. By December 2021, China had provided about 600 million doses of vaccines to ASEAN countries. At the Special Summit to Commemorate the 30th Anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations, President Xi announced that China would donate an additional 150 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to ASEAN countries and contribute an additional $5 million to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund. The anti-COVID-19 cooperation between the two sides reflects their profound friendship and their sharing of weal and woe.

We have achieved fruitful results in economic and trade cooperation through common development. China and ASEAN have become each other's largest trading partner, with the bilateral trade volume 100 times higher than that of 30 years ago and the cumulative direct investment exceeding $310 billion. The China-Laos Railway has opened to traffic, and progress has been made in a number of joint Belt and Road Initiative infrastructure projects such as the Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Railway, the China-Thailand Railway, Malaysia's East Coast Rail Link, and the "Two Countries, Twin Parks "between China and Malaysia, and between China and Indonesia.

Thanks to the joint efforts to safeguard stability, the two sides have been promoting cooperation on security at a steady pace. The Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea has been fully implemented, and consultations on a code of conduct in the South China Sea are being actively promoted. Divergences in views and disputes have been managed properly, and the maritime situation has remained generally stable. Exchanges between China and ASEAN countries on military security have deepened, and cooperation in combating nonconventional security areas such as terrorism, climate change, cybersecurity, transnational crimes, and disaster prevention and mitigation, has yielded fruitful results.

Nowadays, we are facing not only natural challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, but also geopolitical tensions such as the resurgence of the Cold War mentality and confrontation of bloc politics. We are all in the same boat and should be seeking to tide over the difficulties together, but some country is recklessly giving priority to its own interests, and pursuing its own security at the cost of others' security. The world is in danger of returning to an era of the law of the jungle. Just a few days ago, despite strong opposition from the Chinese side, the United States insisted on arranging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, its third-highest ranking political figure, to recklessly visit China's Taiwan region, grossly infringing on China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and brazenly inflating tensions and stoking confrontation in the region. It is their point of view that self-interest is always right, and power can override justice. What should countries in the region do?

Peace and justice should be the compass. The current frequent international security crises remind us that the hard-won peace and stability in the region need to be well cared for. Only by standing on the right side of history, upholding peace and justice can we get out of the current predicament. Not long ago, President Xi put forward the Global Security Initiative, which offers a Chinese solution to bridge the global peace deficit and solve the global security dilemma. China is willing to work with ASEAN to practice genuine multilateralism, adhere to open regionalism, jointly safeguard the interests of developing countries and maintain regional peace and stability.

Solidarity and cooperation should be the foundation. No matter whether it is economic recovery in the post-pandemic era or climate change, food security or the energy crisis, it is necessary for countries in the region to "climb the hill together and go down the ravine together". China and ASEAN have cooperated to good effect to cope with the challenges of the Asian financial crisis, the global financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. It has become our common tradition to help each other. China will unswervingly support ASEAN's solidarity and its building of the ASEAN community, resolutely uphold the ASEAN-centered regional cooperation architecture, and has never and will not ask ASEAN to take sides. China appreciates ASEAN's stance of adhering to openness and inclusiveness, emphasizing dialogue and cooperation, focusing on economic development, and not relying on or targeting at third parties. The Chinese side is willing to deepen practical cooperation in the four priority areas of the "ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific" and work for the implementation of cooperation outcomes.

Development and win-win results should be the engine. Both China and ASEAN countries are developing countries. Only through continuous development can we realize the people's dreams of a healthy and peaceful life. President Xi proposed the Global Development Initiative, which aims to promote the international community to form a joint force and focus on development, and contribute China's solutions and wisdom to solving development problems and achieving the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development on schedule. The Chinese side is willing to work with ASEAN to better dock the development strategies of both sides, promote the implementation of the Global Development Initiative in ASEAN, and achieve a higher level of mutual benefit and win-win results. China and ASEAN should work together to advance the high-quality joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, implement the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement with high quality, accelerate the launch of version 3.0 of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, expand cooperation in the digital economy, green development, and to maintain the stability of the regional supply chains, promote open regional economic integration, and create a model for common development.

On the 30th anniversary of the establishment of dialogue relations between China and ASEAN, President Xi and heads of ASEAN countries jointly announced the launch of the China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership, and proposed building a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, beautiful and amicable home together, setting the direction for the development of bilateral relations. The year 2022 marks the first year of the China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership. China is looking forward to focusing on the implementation of President Xi's five proposals on building a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, beautiful and amicable home together with ASEAN, deepening the comprehensive strategic partnership, and building a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future.

The author is Chinese ambassador to Malaysia. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily. Contact the editor at editor@chinawatch.cn.

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