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Envoys reach consensus on growth, peace

By ZHANG YUNBI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-04-02 07:17
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State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi is in eastern China's Fujian province hosting visiting foreign minister of Singapore on March 31, 2021. [Photo/]

China, ASEAN member states enjoying closer relations, more shared objectives

Senior diplomats of China and its Southeast Asian neighbors are engaged in a slew of intensive talks, and fresh consensuses and outcomes are being reached regarding their joint fight against COVID-19, keeping their economies afloat and ensuring there is no interference in other nations' internal affairs.

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi is in eastern China's Fujian province hosting visiting foreign ministers of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines for a series of one-on-one meetings that started on Wednesday.

Observers said the lingering pandemic is bringing China and all 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations even closer, and their renewed commitment to common growth and the peaceful settlement of disputes and conflicts has further transcended geopolitical considerations.

As a part of frequent official contacts between China and ASEAN members, Wang paid official visits to Myanmar, Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines from Jan 11 to 16. In addition, Wang talked with Lao Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith via video link on Feb 3.

After his ongoing series of meetings are completed on Friday, Wang will have held bilateral ministerial-level talks this year-in person or via video link-with seven of the 10 ASEAN member countries.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, China and ASEAN countries have maintained frequent high-level contacts, and the fight against the virus has made constant progress, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Thursday.

She added that the series of exchanges between Wang and his Southeast Asian counterparts shows the "ever-increasing bond" among the neighbors.

ASEAN became China's largest trade partner last year, and this year marks the 30th anniversary of the start of the China-ASEAN dialogue partnership.

Beijing looks forward to strengthening strategic mutual trust, boosting the building of the Belt and Road and bringing China-ASEAN ties and bilateral ties with nations to a new level to further ensure regional peace and growth, Hua said.

"China is one of the Strategic Dialogue Partners with which ASEAN has the most substantial cooperation," Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan told Xinhua News Agency before his China trip.

Both sides are working to enhance the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement and are tackling new priorities resulting from the pandemic, such as the digital economy and public health, he added.

Advancing vaccination and reciprocal recognition of health certificate QR codes to deal with the protracted pandemic were among the topics of Wang's talks with the Singaporean minister on Wednesday.

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