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Accession of ASEAN treaty marks trust
( 2003-10-09 01:29) (China Daily)

China yesterday acceded to the Treaty of Amity and Co-peration (TAC), which demonstrates stronger political trust between China and Southeast Asian nations.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (2nd L) and Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri (R) sign an agreement in Nusa Dua, Bali October 8, 2003. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and ASEAN leaders signed agreements to foster trust. [Reuters]
To deepen co-operation between the two sides, China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) also signed the Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity here yesterday.

The declaration, reviewing their fruitful collaboration since 1997 and outlining future development perspectives, described such a strategic partnership as "non-aligned, non-military, and non-exclusive.''

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing said that China has become the first strategic partner of the association.

Besides China, India yesterday also acceded to the TAC. The two nations became the first foreign powers to join the treaty at the summit of ASEAN.

Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, ASEAN's chairperson, said the accession would contribute to the region's long-term peace and stability.

"It is yet another testimony to our deeper political trust and higher level of co-operation,'' said Megawati yesterday.

The Southeast Asian nation group includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam.

The key principles of the TAC, adopted in 1976 by the core Southeast Asian countries, include respect among member nations for their sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in each other's affairs and peaceful settlement of disputes.

Before the two documents were signed, Premier Wen Jiabao attended the summit meeting with 10 member leaders, also known as the 10+1 Summit.

Wen described the declaration as "milestone in bilateral relations'' and promised to strengthen political dialogue to enhance mutual trust.

"China is ready to work closely with ASEAN to speed up the negotiations and complete the Free Trade Area (FTA) as schedule (by 2010),'' said Wen, calling for joint efforts to break the US$100 billion trade volume mark by 2005.

He added that China will implement the joint declaration on teamwork in the fields of non-traditional security issues as well as the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which were signed last year.

Wen said that China supports the Initiative for ASEAN Integration and will increase the resources put into the development of the Mekong Basin.

China will commence the contracted construction of the Laotian section of the Kunming-Bangkok Highway early next year, and finance the feasibility study of the missing link of the Pan-Asia Railway inside Cambodia, according to Wen.

He also called for a mechanism for exchanges between different sectors including youth, public health, science and technology, culture and education.

"These practical measures have shown China's sincere wish of pushing regional co-operation,'' said Foreign Minister Li.

Wen yesterday also held a separate meeting with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Wen said that the population of East Asia, as well as South Asian countries like India, will top over 3 billion, accounting for over half of the world's total.

The stability, development and rejuvenation of Asia is of great importance to the world, Wen said in the meeting, according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman.

Vajpayee said that India will resolve problems with China through friendly dialogue and negotiations.

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