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Start of 'diamond decade'

Updated: 2013-09-04 07:31
( China Daily)

For those who are keen to know how China's new leadership will steer the country's relations with neighboring countries, they should heed the message sent by Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday. Speaking at the 10th ASEAN-China Expo in Nanning, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, Li said China's commitment to maintaining good neighborly relations is not expediency but a long-term strategic choice.

Li said that China gives top priority to developing ties with the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and supports its community building and leading role in East Asia cooperation.

Li's remarks, a tone-setter for the next decade of China-ASEAN ties, should help dispel any misgivings about how China will project its influence in the region.

To further demonstrate China's sincerity in deepening its strategic partnership with ASEAN, Li put forward multiple suggestions and initiatives to expand the mutually beneficial cooperation that already exists, including upgrading the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area, which is the biggest FTA among developing countries.

Li also pledged to link China's development strategy with those of its close neighbors, which is a clear sign that China is willing to join hands with ASEAN countries to achieve common development and contribute to regional development and growth.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of China-ASEAN strategic partnership, and it has been described as a "golden decade", one in which both China and the members of ASEAN reaped impressive rewards from their all-round cooperation. And looking confidently to the future, Li said China and ASEAN can now build a "diamond decade".

Obviously, to ensure that the diamond decade shines even more brightly than the last decade, those few members of ASEAN with territorial disputes with China should not allow the disputes to overshadow the greater picture of friendly ties.

Li called on the two sides to conduct maritime cooperation and properly resolve their differences, so as to push for greater development of China-ASEAN ties over the next 10 years.

And he reiterated that China is actively pushing for negotiations on a code of conduct to implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which was signed 10 years ago.

As a meeting in this regard is due to be held in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, on Sept 14 and 15, China's determination to seek peaceful solutions to the disputes is beyond question.

(China Daily 09/04/2013 page8)