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China joins treaty on regional co-operation
( 2003-06-30 07:00) (China Daily)

China's top legislature, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), unanimously passed the State Council's motion of joining the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation in Southeast Asia and its two amending protocols on Saturday.

The approval will make China the first to join the treaty among all of the major countries outside of Southeast Asia and it will also further co-operative relations between China and the ASEAN member countries, lawmakers said.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said in the State Council's motion that the treaty and its two amending protocols do not contradict with Chinese laws and the country's entry will help boost the full development of China-ASEAN relations.

The Treaty was signed by the then members of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Bali, Indonesia on February 24, 1976. The treaty has been amended twice respectively in 1987 and 1998, making it open to membership for countries outside of Southeast Asia.

It says that member parties shall deal with one another by the following fundamental principles:

* Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identity of all nations;

* The right of every state to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion;

* Non-interference in the internal affairs of one another;

* Settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful means;

* Renunciation of the threat or use of force;

* Effective co-operation among member nations.

The Treaty requests the member parties to settle disputes among themselves through friendly negotiations.

"To settle disputes through regional processes, the High Contracting Parties shall constitute, as a continuing body, a High Council comprising a Representative at ministerial level from each of the High Contracting Parties to take cognizance of the existence of disputes or situations likely to disturb regional peace and harmony," the Treaty reads.

It also says each member party shall not in any way participate in any activity which constitutes a threat to the political and economic stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of another member nation.

Each member party shall strive to achieve the closest co-operation on the widest scale, the Treaty says.

So far those who have joined the Treaty include the governments of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the Viet Nam and Papua New Guinea.

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