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Introduction
A virtual seminar on ASEAN Media’s View on Digital China was held on Dec 7.
Colombian vlogger: China's digital economy the key to future success
Colombian vlogger: China's expanding digital economy holds great promise
SMEs expanding on back of platforms: Deputy director of AliResearch

Relying on cross-border e-commerce platforms, small and medium-sized enterprises in RCEP members and ASEAN countries are accelerating their expansion into global markets and releasing digital dividends, said Ouyang Cheng, deputy director of AliResearch and director of the Alibaba Cross-Border E-Commerce Research Center.

China-Laos Railway take digital solution onboard: Project leader

The digitalization construction of the Lao section of the China-Laos Railway has adopted the solution put forward by the China Academy of Railway Science, which is a successful application of China's railway information technology standard in international railway construction, said Yang Yongjie, project leader of the ITDS of the China-Laos Railway and head of the Dispatch Business Department of the China Academy of Railway Sciences.

Shenzhen, ASEAN speeding up digital economy: Official

In recent years, Shenzhen and ASEAN countries carried out a large number of cooperations in the digital economy and smart city construction, promoting cross-border e-commerce and bilateral trade development, said Wang Chuhong, deputy director of the Publicity Department of Shenzhen and director of the Cyberspace Administration of Shenzhen.

Digital economy key to ASEAN-China ties: Thai ambassador

Arthayudh Srisamoot, Thailand's ambassador to China, highlighted digital economy as a key field of ASEAN-China cooperation.

"In 2021, digital economy accounted for 14.1 percent of Thailand's GDP," he said at an online seminar on ASEAN media's views on digital China.

From the installation of 5G stations to smart hospitals and a digital currency trial, these are concrete outcomes from the beneficial cooperation between Thailand and China, he said.

Malaysia Digital a new national strategic initiative: Chief digital investment officer of MDEC

"Malaysia Digital is a new national strategic initiative to encourage and attract companies, talents and investment while enabling Malaysian businesses and rakyat (people) to play a leading part in the global digital revolution and digital economy," said Raymond Siva, chief digital investment officer of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation.

Through various initiatives carried out, such as constant state engagements and summits, the MDEC continues to actively pursue and facilitate digital investment opportunities, he said at an online seminar on ASEAN media's views on digital China.

China welcomes ASEAN to Digital Silk Road: Official

ASEAN partners are welcomed to share the new development opportunities with Beijing and build the Digital Silk Road at a higher level, jointly promoting high-quality opening-up and development of China-ASEAN digital economy, said Tong Haiwei, chief engineer of Beijing Municipal Bureau of Economy and Information Technology, at an online seminar on ASEAN media's views on digital China.

Digital economy to alleviate economies woes: Secretary-general of ACC

"Promoting the ASEAN-China digital economy partnership will help the two sides overcome current economic difficulties caused by COVID-19, gain greater growth momentum and achieve common development and prosperity," said Shi Zhongjun, secretary-general of the ASEAN-China Centre.

"The ACC will continue playing its role as a bridge between ASEAN and China to promote policy communication, expand consensus and deepen cooperation in the digital field, and make new contributions to the growth of ASEAN-China relations,” he said at an online seminar on ASEAN media's views on digital China.

Digital transformation key in strength of China-ASEAN friendship
A seminar on ASEAN media's views on digital China is held online on Dec 7, 2022. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]

A seminar on ASEAN media's views on digital China was held online on Wednesday, where experts, diplomatic envoys, entrepreneurs and media professionals from China and ASEAN countries discussed the development and cooperation prospects of the digital economy and smart cities.

The year 2022 is special for China-ASEAN relations. It is the first year of the China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership. This year also marks the entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement.

Wang Hao, deputy editor-in-chief of China Daily, said the digital economy and smart cities have become key cooperation areas between China and ASEAN in recent years, and cooperation achievements are constantly emerging.

"With the vigorous development of the digital economy and the wide application of digital technologies, the media is embracing new development opportunities," Wang said at the seminar titled "Digital Economy Ties, A New Chapter in Smart City", organized by China Daily and the ASEAN-China Centre.

In his opening remarks, Wang called for concerted efforts by China Daily and the media of ASEAN countries to tell the stories of China-ASEAN friendship well, as well as stories of China-ASEAN digital economy development and smart city construction.

Zhang Yong, deputy director of the Cyber Communications Bureau of the Cyberspace Administration of China, said the digital economy in China and ASEAN countries has already pressed the accelerator button, which is becoming a key force to promote economic recovery and the healthy development of the global economy.

He called for promoting further cooperation between China and ASEAN media, enterprises, and think tanks, which injects continuous vitality into the development of China-ASEAN digital economy, and high-quality construction of the Digital Silk Road.

Arthayudh Srisamoot, Thailand's ambassador to China, also highlighted digital economy as a key field of bilateral cooperation.

"In 2021, digital economy accounted for 14.1 percent of Thailand's GDP," he said.

From the installation of 5G stations to smart hospitals and a digital currency trial, these are concrete outcomes from the beneficial cooperation between Thailand and China, he said.

"Promoting the ASEAN-China digital economy partnership will help the two sides overcome current economic difficulties caused by COVID-19, gain greater growth momentum and achieve common development and prosperity," said Shi Zhongjun, secretary-general of the ASEAN-China Centre (ACC).

"The ACC will continue playing its role as a bridge between ASEAN and China to promote policy communication, expand consensus and deepen cooperation in the digital field, and make new contributions to the growth of ASEAN-China relations", he said.

Beijing and Shenzhen are among the top five cities in the digital economy, according to the 2022 China Digital Economy Development Research Report.

In recent years, Shenzhen and ASEAN countries carried out a large number of cooperations in the digital economy and smart city construction, promoting cross-border e-commerce and bilateral trade development, said Wang Chuhong, deputy director of the Publicity Department of Shenzhen and director of the Cyberspace Administration of Shenzhen.

ASEAN partners are welcomed to share the new development opportunities with Beijing and build the Digital Silk Road at a higher level, jointly promoting high-quality opening-up and development of China-ASEAN digital economy, said Tong Haiwei, chief engineer of Beijing Municipal Bureau of Economy and Information Technology.

A seminar on ASEAN media's views on digital China is held online on Dec 7, 2022. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]

Experts and entrepreneurs from China and ASEAN countries delivered keynote speeches, sharing experiences and professional opinions on digital economy and smart cities from their respective fields.

"Malaysia Digital is a new national strategic initiative to encourage and attract companies, talents and investment while enabling Malaysian businesses and Rakyat (people) to play a leading part in the global digital revolution and digital economy," said Raymond Siva, chief digital investment officer of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).

Through various initiatives carried out, such as constant state engagements and summits, the MDEC continues to actively pursue and facilitate digital investment opportunities, he said.

In 2021, the added value of core industries of Shenzhen's digital economy has exceeded 900 billion yuan ($129 billion), accounting for more than 30 percent of the city's GDP, ranking first in China, said Tao Yitao, professor and former deputy secretary of the Party Committee of Shenzhen University and dean of the Belt and Road Research Institute of Shenzhen University.

The solid and rapid development of Shenzhen's digital economy stems from the driving force of institutional innovation, she added.

The digitalization construction of the Lao section of the China-Laos Railway has adopted the solution put forward by the China Academy of Railway Science, which is a successful application of China's railway information technology standard in international railway construction, said Yang Yongjie, project leader of the ITDS of the China-Laos Railway and head of the Dispatch Business Department of the China Academy of Railway Sciences.

Some of the core elements of building new communities in the metaverse are digital people, digital twins, human-computer interaction, blockchain, artificial intelligence and the internet of things, said Luo Jun, executive chairman of the Metaverse Industry Special Committee of the China Computer Industry Association and adjunct professor at Jiangsu University.

Relying on cross-border e-commerce platforms, small and medium-sized enterprises in RCEP members and ASEAN countries are accelerating their expansion into global markets and releasing digital dividends, said Ouyang Cheng, deputy director of AliResearch and director of the Alibaba Cross-Border E-Commerce Research Center.

The success of Smile Shop in Cambodia is due to the advanced business model, the outstanding international team and the excellent localization operation, said Jack Lee, founder and CEO of Smile Shop, the leading e-commerce platform in Cambodia.

Lazada is committed to further promote sustainable digital ecosystems in Southeast Asia, building the digital service capability with logistics, technology and payment as the core, said Xu Yinghai, cross border government affairs director of Lazada, Southeast Asia's flagship e-commerce platform.

China and ASEAN countries join hands to promote connectivity in the digital age, strengthen in-depth cooperation in the digitization of industries and digital industrialization and strive to bridge the digital divide, which will help build a new digital economy, said Huang Runzhong, chief supervisor of One Connect, Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China.

Seminar agenda for ASEAN Media's View on Digital China

 

Asia moves to center stage
By ZHAI KUN and XIONG LAN
SHI YU/CHINA DAILY

Recent series of summits showed Asia is stepping to the fore in global governance

Asia has just experienced a summit season. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, a series of leaders' meetings on East Asia Cooperation, the G20 summit and the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting were all hosted by Asian countries. On Asia's stage, the spotlight naturally fell on China.

Multilateral summits are platforms for countries to discuss their differences and seek the greatest common divisor in order to build consensus. Therefore, the phenomenon of crowed multilateral summits at the end of the year appeared. In fact, since September, Chinese leaders have participated in person in offline summits including the SCO summit, the G20 summit, APEC meeting, and the series of leaders' meetings on East Asia cooperation, to form a consensus on securing a negotiated end to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and hoping that China and the United States can move toward more positive and effective communication. It is suggested that the most urgent issues of cooperation can be summarized as "five-color cooperation". For example, gold cooperation is food security cooperation, green cooperation is green, low-carbon and ecological climate cooperation, white cooperation is public health and anti-pandemic cooperation, and blue cooperation is maritime economic cooperation. There is also a special color, which is colorless cooperation — the ubiquitous digital transformation and digital economy cooperation.

The summit season reflected Asia's approach to integration and hospitality. The summits were hosted by Indonesia (the G20 summit), Uzbekistan (the SCO summit), Thailand (the APEC meeting), and Cambodia (the series of East Asia cooperation meetings). These Asian countries were able to overcome the difficulties to host the summits, which is a great achievement in itself.

This Asian moment indicates the following elements.

First, Asian-style coordination. Although the summits were held one after another, thanks to the coordination between Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia, the timing was perfectly staggered, and the sequence of summits became seamless.

Second, Asian-style balance. Nowadays, the political logic and security logic of the world are suppressing the economic logic and development logic, but Asian countries prefer balanced development. Therefore, the summits hosted by Asian countries put more emphasis on development and cooperation, such as emphasizing cooperation between Asia and Europe, further implementing East Asia cooperation, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, advancing the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Digital Economic Partnership Agreement, advocating open regionalism.

Third, Asian-style power. In the context of the strategic competition between China and the US, Asian diplomacy was highlighted. For example, the Indonesian president visited several member countries of the G20 before the summit in Bali, and actively contributed to the formation of consensus and innovative ways of cooperation in the course of the meeting. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations used the East Asia meetings as an opportunity to strengthen and upgrade its comprehensive strategic partnership with China, the US and other major powers, trying to correct the imbalance in the relationship between major powers to a certain extent.

Fourth, Asian-style cognition. The peace, security, development, governance and trust deficits have all been intensifying at the same time. Due to the lack of face-to-face communication between leaders during the pandemic, the "cognitive deficit" between countries soared. Those summits organized by Asian countries have been pragmatic and efficient, making good use of the short summit time to form a consensus, alleviating the "perception deficit" to a certain extent.

China, as a member of Asia, was not only a guest of the summit season, but also one of the leading actors. President Xi Jinping first attended the SCO Summit in September, which did not include the US, and then attended the G20 and APEC in November, which included the US, and realized the dialogue between Chinese and US leaders ahead of the G20 Summit, realizing the "China-US-China's neighborhood "summit link. At the summit, President Xi expressed China's world view and its view of the Asia-Pacific in the post-pandemic era, and proposed specific cooperation initiatives. The speech energized world development, boosted confidence and led future development. Moreover, China's initiatives have been widely endorsed and supported.

Looking back at the Asian summit season, there are three important takeaways.

First, the summit season reflected true multilateralism, in which international affairs were handled together, and the recognition that the international community should be governed by consensus and universally accepted rules, rather than by one or a few countries giving orders, was reinforced.

Second, the summit season showed that to realize common development, countries must actively implement related policies, especially jointly confronting trade protectionism, promote the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Digital Economic Partnership Agreement, and all parties should do what they say, reflecting the sincerity of cooperation and development.

Third, Asia should assume a more proper role in global governance. The new drive of the world's economic development, peaceful development and green development comes from Asia. Asia should take up the burden of global governance, linking East and West, North and South, running through the tangible infrastructure and the invisible digital economy, and integrating global development as a whole.

Zhai Kun is a professor at the School of International Studies at Peking University and a senior research fellow at the Institute of International and Strategic Studies. Xiong Lan is a research fellow at the Center for ASEAN Studies of Peking University. The authors contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily.

Contact the editor at editor@chinawatch.cn

China, ASEAN move toward greater digital cooperation
The 19th China-ASEAN Expo, or CAEXPO, is held from Sept 16-19 in Nanning in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. [Photo/VCG]

As three major global summits concluded in Southeast Asia, digital economy governance has become an international focus. In this encouraging environment, four "great waves" are pushing China and ASEAN toward greater digital cooperation, South China Morning Post reported Wednesday.

On the back of the 20-year global digital economy development miracle, ASEAN has made phenomenal achievements.

Last year, the digital economy of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations reached $174 billion and is expected to grow to $1 trillion by 2030.

The first wave is the region's huge and attractive market. Southeast Asia has a population of more than 680 million people with a median age of just 30.2 years, and over 440 million are internet users.

Since the pandemic began in 2020, more than 60 million digital consumers have been added.

Last year, ASEAN's six major digital economies - Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia - grew by 49 percent.

This vast market has attracted investments from China's digital giants. Tencent, for example, has been investing in Sea Limited, Southeast Asia's most prominent digital company, since 2010.

Alibaba also acquired shopping platform Lazada in 2016 and has made two investments so far this year of $1.3 billion in total. Lazada now has grown into a popular shopping platform with more than 150 million users among six Southeast Asian markets.

ASEAN's social needs are the second great wave of propelling digital cooperation with China. As the world leader in digital economy applications, with experience in capital investment and operation management, China is an ideal partner for ASEAN.

The country also has an innate "closeness" with ASEAN members due to geographical and cultural reasons.

Positive government policies are the third wave promoting China-ASEAN digital cooperation. China expressed interest in deepening digital cooperation through the China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership 2030 Vision.

By the end of 2020, China had launched an initiative to formally establish a digital economy partnership with ASEAN. Both sides adopted the joint statement on strengthening common sustainable development at the 25th China-ASEAN Leaders' Meeting,

ASEAN governments, such as Singapore and Malaysia, have also embraced the digital economy and rolled out their own development blueprints in the sector.

The emergence of a new regional and global digital governance order is the fourth wave that boosts China-ASEAN digital cooperation. ASEAN may be a latecomer to the digital economy, but it comes with its unique style.

ASEAN members constructed digital cooperation networks with different countries to ensure the full use of global digital resources.

Integrating these waves to form a synergy is very important, not only to the success of China-Asean digital cooperation but also to how global digital governance can achieve the goal of technology for good, digital for good.

China-ASEAN bond gets stronger
By Shi Zhongjun, Amitendu Palit, Chang Chak-yan
Aerial photo taken on May 26, 2021 shows the Yangpu international container port at Yangpu economic development zone in South China's Hainan province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Editor's note: Despite the complex international environment and rising global uncertainties, trade between China and ASEAN continues to grow, reflecting the strong bond between the two sides and facilitating regional economic and social development. Three experts share their views on the issue with China Daily.

Bright prospects ahead for ASEAN, China

The year 2022 is special for ASEAN-China relations. It is the first year for building the ASEAN-China comprehensive strategic partnership, established exactly one year ago by the leaders of ASEAN member states and President Xi Jinping at the special summit to commemorate the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-China dialogue relations.

This year also marks the entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement. Looking back over the years, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China have managed to overcome various challenges both within and beyond the region. We are pleased to see that the ASEAN-China comprehensive strategic partnership has got off to a good start, and ASEAN-China relations have entered the "fast lane".

Since the establishment of dialogue relations, the two sides have developed all-round, multi-level and wide-ranging cooperation.

The Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence

The two sides adhere to the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, continue to uphold ASEAN centrality and practice open regionalism. They persist on solving differences and problems through friendly consultation and dialogue on an equal footing. In such a spirit, they have maintained peace and stability in the region. Especially on the South China Sea issue, ASEAN member states and China have followed the principles underlined by the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, implemented it over the past 20 years, and continued their efforts to make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation.

The two sides have also bolstered economic ties and expedited regional economic integration. While two-way trade has grown by 85 times from 1991 to 2021, maintaining a robust growth momentum, China has been ASEAN's largest trading partner for 13 consecutive years, and ASEAN's position as China's largest trading partner has further consolidated.

Also, bilateral trade increased by 15.8 percent year-on-year in the first 10 months of this year to 5.26 trillion yuan ($737.6 billion), accounting for 15.2 percent of China's foreign trade. And China has become the second-largest investor in ASEAN, with its investment in 2021 touching $14 billion, up 96 percent year-on-year.

The two sides have also maintained frequent people-to-people exchanges. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, ASEAN and China were important sources of inbound tourists and travel destinations for each other, with mutual visits exceeding 65 million and the total number of flights between the two sides being more than 4,500 a week in 2019.

Besides, Chinese universities are offering majors in the official languages of all the ASEAN member states, and the two-way flow of students was more than 200,000 a year before the pandemic broke out.

At the just-concluded 25th ASEAN-China Summit in Phnom Penh, the leaders of the ASEAN members and China met face-to-face for the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak, and applauded the achievements made by ASEAN and China over the past more than 30 years. They also discussed ways to expand cooperation in areas such as trade, the digital economy, infrastructure building, the environment and ecology, and education and culture.

Among other things, the summit declared 2023 as the ASEAN-China year of agriculture and food security cooperation, and approved the action plan on advancing the ASEAN-China comprehensive strategic partnership, in an effort to jointly build a peaceful, secure, prosperous, beautiful and amicable home.

The RCEP and the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement 3.0 have given the region another chance to boost economic development. So the two sides should use the advantage to further raise the two-way trade and investment, as well as strengthen the industry and supply chains.

Moreover, since ensuring food security is a challenge for all countries, ASEAN and China should enhance cooperation on agricultural studies, digital agriculture and eco-agriculture, and present to the world our solutions to the problems faced on the road to agricultural modernization and food security.

And we should work together to increase people-to-people exchanges. For example, we should use the increase in the number of direct flights between the two sides to help the tourism industry recover faster, and enable more students to resume classes in universities in China as well as ASEAN states.

Eleven years ago, leaders of all the 10 ASEAN member states and China, as well as the then ASEAN secretary-general inaugurated the ASEAN-China Centre in Beijing as an international organization, setting a mission to work as a one-stop information and activity center to promote ASEAN-China cooperation in trade, investment, education, culture, tourism and the media. The establishment of the ACC reflects the importance the two sides attach to their relations and their eagerness to deepen cooperation.

Over the years, the ACC participated in the process of the ASEAN-China relationship growing from strategic partnership to comprehensive strategic partnership, during which the all-round, multi-level and wide-range cooperation has become deeper and more substantial. The positive role the ACC has played was highlighted in the joint statement issued at the special commemorative summit last year and in the speech Premier Li Keqiang gave at the ASEAN-China Summit earlier this month. This also reflects the two sides are satisfied with the ACC's work in the six priority cooperation areas.

Under the guidance of the governments, the ACC will focus on implementing the action plan to advance the ASEAN-China comprehensive strategic partnership, including deepening policy exchanges and coordination to meet the needs of both sides; promoting the Belt and Road Initiative, the RCEP, the CAFTA 3.0 and synergizing the governments' development policies; helping Chinese enterprises to fulfill their "going ASEAN" policy and ASEAN companies to invest in China; organizing more visits and business-matching activities for local governments and enterprises from the two sides; harnessing the advantages of networking in facilitating lectures, training programs, workshops and exchanges in education, culture and tourism; and strengthening practical cooperation and mechanism building to prepare for the rebound of the travel and people-to-people exchanges.

I am confident that ASEAN-China relations have a brighter future. The leaders of the ASEAN member states have committed to working with China to further unleash the cooperation potential and bolster two-way ties. China, on its part, has made its relations with neighboring countries a top priority of its overall diplomacy, with ASEAN being high on that agenda.

China stands ready to work with ASEAN to deepen mutual trust and friendship, achieve high-level development and stride toward modernization together. The stable ties between the two sides have become the stabilizer, ballast and propeller for the region and the world, as they have set a fine example of common development and international collaboration.

The author Shi Zhongjun is secretary-general of the ASEAN-China Centre.

Need to boost ties between China and Southeast Asia

The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China took place at a time when the regional and global communities are experiencing extreme turbulence due to rapid developments, some good and some bad.

And the frequent interactions between China and ASEAN countries after the 20th Party Congress have indicated the warming up of ties between China and its Southeast Asian neighbors.

The most significant development in recent years has been the gradual replacement of a unipolar world order by multipolarism. Since the beginning of the 1990s and the end of the Cold War, the world order had been built around a structure that had the United States as the global superpower. That, however, is beginning to change.

The new world order is reorganizing around the US-China competition. This distinct bipolarity might lead to more prominent multipolarism as more geopolitical conflicts, such as the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, spread to other parts of the world, creating geopolitical divisions in the world order.

At a time when the world order is facing such significant disruptions, it has become imperative for countries and regional bodies to work together for maintaining regional and global stability.

China and Southeast Asia have a long history of cooperation, which has progressed on the basis of mutually beneficial exchanges. These exchanges have significantly been in the area of trade in goods. But China and several Southeast Asian countries are also parts of several major global supply chains.

China's ability to assemble both high-tech and low-cost, labor-intensive manufacturing items on large scales has enabled Southeast Asian economies to supply large amounts of intermediate and semi-finished products to it for final production.

This integration through supply chains is reflected in China being the largest trade partner of several Southeast Asian countries. It is also visible through the cross-border capital flows and investments that have brought production networks across China and Southeast Asia closer to each other over the years.

China-Southeast Asia economic ties have, however, extended well beyond trade into other areas. One of the most important of these is people-to-people connectivity. And strong and expanding business ties have facilitated rapid movements of people between China and Southeast Asia.

Robust cultural exchanges, too, have multiplied over the years with the increase in transport connectivity between China and Southeast Asia. Also, air and sea connectivity between China and Southeast Asia has expanded manifold, increasing tourist flow between the two sides, as well as facilitating family reunions.

People-to-people exchanges have grown rapidly also because of the movement of students between the two sides. Students from Southeast Asia have been travelling in large numbers to study in China. At the same time, Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore and Malaysia, which are the region's main higher education hubs, have been attracting large numbers of Chinese students.

However, the shifts in the global political and economic landscapes have raised some concerns over whether China and Southeast Asia will be able to maintain their exchanges as smoothly as they have in the past. Geopolitical flare-ups in different parts of the world give rise to questions over whether maritime territorial differences between China and some Southeast Asian countries can create awkward conditions for deepening their cooperation.

One of the best ways of overcoming these concerns is to work through established institutional mechanisms that have bound China and Southeast Asia. One of these is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. Established as an ASEAN-plus economic architecture, the RCEP came into force on Jan 1, 2022.

As a matter of fact, the RCEP can help China and Southeast Asia take forward their existing cooperation to the next level. It is a modern and contemporary trade and investment cooperation agreement, which all sides can use to engage in new areas of economic cooperation, such as in digital trade, infrastructure and a variety of services.

The RCEP has several provisions that have been introduced specifically for addressing the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises. This would enable SMEs from both China and Southeast Asian countries to explore various new prospects as collaborative startups. The RCEP may also be the best option for China and Southeast Asia to work together for reorganizing and/or bolstering some of the major supply chains that have been heavily disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The conclusion of the 20th Party Congress gives both China and Southeast Asia the opportunity to reflect on the trajectories of their past association and how they can continue to engage closely in view of the challenges that have emerged. In the light of these challenges, they can look afresh at mechanisms such as the RCEP for new collaborations. China's latest moves to fine-tune the "dynamic clearing" anti-pandemic policy might mark a new beginning in this regard, by facilitating greater trade and travel.

The author Amitendu Palit is a senior research fellow and research lead (trade and economics) at the Institute of South Asian Studies in the National University of Singapore.

Regional success through peace, development

The three high-level meetings, the East Asian Summit, the G20 Summit and the APEC meeting, held within a week or so in Phnom Penh, Bali and Bangkok respectively, signify the success of economic policy in countering geopolitical issues. Western powers had used the Southeast Asian region to apply their geopolitical strategy against China for centuries before the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

The value of Southeast Asia as a region to sharpen the West's geopolitical strategies gradually started fading after that. But when the United States emerged as the only superpower after the end of the Cold War, Southeast Asia again became important for the West to contain China's rise.

In the first half of the past century, Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and South Vietnam were turned into US military bases, from where they launched their assault on China. But after the PRC and the US established diplomatic relations in 1979, the US-led West's policy toward China changed. The situation remained somewhat normal till the end of the 20th century.

But at the turn of the century, Washington changed tack again. It has now labeled China as a "threat" to the US and the other Western powers — and even Western values. And US presidents, from Barack Obama and Donald Trump to Joe Biden, have tried to force or coerce Southeast Asian countries to join the US-led anti-China bloc.

However, to prevent being used as a pawn in the US' geopolitical game against China, the Southeast Asian countries have focused on economic development to overcome Western pressure to target China. The establishment of a regional organization, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, was the first step the region took to exercise collective, and thus stronger, bargaining power.

That's why the fundamental principles of ASEAN are to maintain political neutrality, not to have any military alliance with any country from outside the region, open up their economies and promote trade and investment. After more than half a century of pursuing economic development, ASEAN has become the only true regional economic organization in the world.

As a result, while the world faces more troubles due to geopolitics, ASEAN has been attracting more and more trade partners from across the world. Even the US and the EU have begun to worry about the possibility of being isolated from regional trade if they ignore ASEAN. And the fact that the region has drawn top world leaders to the three meetings shows that the international community has realized the importance of the region in terms of global development and peace.

First, both Russia and Ukraine were invited to the meetings despite being engaged in a conflict since February. While Russia demanded that the US-led West lift the sanctions they imposed following the Ukraine conflict, some countries urged Russia not to restrict its energy and food exports to other countries, in order to ease the energy and food crises. And all sides called for an end to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Second, the hyping up of the "China threat" theory by the US has intensified differences between the two sides. But the G20 Summit provided a platform for President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Joe Biden to hold face-to-face talks, the first since Biden entered the White House in January 2021, and ease some of the bilateral tensions.

As widely expected, the Chinese side said Washington should stop its provocative moves, including interfering in the Taiwan question and worsening China's security environment.

As far as ASEAN is concerned, the meeting provided an opportunity to show the security concerns of all the countries in the region. In order to get the US to engage in more dialogues with ASEAN, Biden was invited to establish a "strategic partnership" with the regional bloc. If the US does so, it can have another platform to engage with China because the latter is already a strategic partner of ASEAN.

Third, the three meetings also called for deepening regional economic cooperation. To this end, China was urged to increase investments in ASEAN member states, especially in Belt and Road infrastructure projects. In response, the Chinese side said it would try to do so. And since the commitment was made in front of US delegates, ASEAN expected a positive response from Biden to its proposal.

In fact, Biden promised billions of dollars of investment in ASEAN. As a consequence of this promotion of trade and investment, economic development will get a much-needed shot in the arm.

And fourth, at the East Asian Summit in Phnom Penh, the Chinese delegates led by Premier Li Keqiang urged all stakeholders to enhance cooperation to promote joint development and uphold the "Code of Conduct" in the South China Sea. And if all countries around the South China Sea work together, ASEAN's hopes of keeping geopolitics at bay from this part of the world will become reality.

The author Chang Chak-yan is the dean of Taima Journalism and Information Academy, Malaysia.

If you have a specific expertise, or would like to share your thought about our stories, then send us your writings at opinion@chinadaily.com.cn, and comment@chinadaily.com.cn.

 

Countries set course to shared future
By CAO DESHENG
President Xi Jinping (center) and his wife, Peng Liyuan, meet with Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua and Queen Suthida Bajrasudhabimalalakshana at the Grand Palace in Bangkok on Friday. XINHUA

China, Thailand to further enhance mutual trust and understanding

China and Thailand have agreed to build a community with a shared future for enhanced stability, prosperity and sustainability to chart the future development of their relations.

President Xi Jinping and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha made the announcement on Saturday during their talks in Bangkok before Xi concluded his three-day stay in the Thai capital, where he attended the 29th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting and visited Thailand.

The two leaders also witnessed the signing of a joint action plan on the countries' strategic cooperation from 2022 to 2026, a plan to cooperate on the joint building of the Belt and Road as well as other agreements on bilateral cooperation in investment, e-commerce and technological innovation.

A joint statement was issued after the leaders' meeting, saying "China and Thailand are as close as one family", and that both countries are committed to further enhancing mutual trust, understanding and support on major issues concerning national sovereignty, unification and territorial integrity.

The statement highlighted both countries' commitment to realize the China-Thailand-Laos Connectivity Development Corridor Outlook, which connects the China-Laos railway system with Thailand's railway system. The project will improve logistics networks to promote trade and investment as well as subregional development.

Both countries place importance on promoting synergies between Thailand's Eastern Economic Corridor and China's Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area as well as the Yangtze River Delta, particularly in industrial cooperation in industries with high potential, including electric vehicles, the statement said.

They also pledged to cooperate in the post-COVID-19 social and economic recovery, alleviating the impacts from global economic downturns and disruption of supply chains, and securing energy and food security through expansion of bilateral trade volume and facilitation of trade, including agricultural products and in other fields, it added.

During their talks, Xi hailed the development of the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership over the past decade, and underlined the need for both countries to strengthen cooperation in traditional fields including investment, trade, tourism, infrastructure and industrial parks.

In the meantime, he said, efforts should be made to foster new growth drivers and advance the partnership in new fields of cooperation, such as the digital economy, new energy vehicles and technological innovation, to make fresh progress.

China is willing to work with other parties, including Thailand, on the high-quality implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership to make the world's largest free-trade area unleash greater dividends, Xi said.

He said that China stands ready to work with Thailand to strengthen coordination in international affairs to make active efforts to promote long-lasting world peace and development.

He also expressed China's readiness to strengthen unity and cooperation with ASEAN countries, including Thailand, to create new drivers for the growth of the China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership.

Prayut said that Thailand is willing to intensify high-level exchanges with China, and continue to trust and respect in promoting bilateral ties. It also welcomes more Chinese investment.

He said that China is leading the post-pandemic recovery in the region, demonstrating the responsibility of a major country and promoting stability, security and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

Thailand stands ready to work with China to implement the RCEP, and supports the China-proposed Global Development Initiative and Global Security Initiative as well as its greater role in regional and international affairs, said the Thai prime minister.

On Friday night, Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, met with Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua and Queen Suthida Bajrasudhabimalalakshana at the Grand Palace in Bangkok.

Xi underscored the long-standing support and attention the king and the Royal Household of Thailand have given to China-Thailand friendship and their special and important role in carrying forward the friendship and advancing the relations between the two countries, and expressed his appreciation for that.

The king said that Thailand and China are one family, and Thailand stands ready to forge a closer bond of friendship and cooperation with China.

Dynamic China-ASEAN ties
By Song Qingrun
SONG CHEN/CHINA DAILY

China and ASEAN member states are close neighbors bound by traditional friendship and a shared future. China sees the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as vital to its neighborhood diplomacy and high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, which can be gauged from the fact that Nguyen Phu Trong, general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee, became the first foreign leader to visit China after the conclusion of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

Xi Jinping, too, chose to visit Southeast Asia on his first foreign trip after being re-elected general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. Xi attended the 17th G20 Summit and paid a visit to Indonesia from Monday to Thursday before flying to Bangkok to take part in the 29th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting as well as visit Thailand from Thursday to Saturday.

Before that, Premier Li Keqiang attended the 25th China-ASEAN Leaders' Meeting, the ASEAN+3(China, Japan and the Republic of Korea) meeting, and the 17th East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, while also visiting Cambodia.

These visits demonstrate China is committed to pursuing friendship and partnerships with its neighbors following a policy of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness toward its neighbors. As a matter of fact, leaders of China and ASEAN states have been paying frequent visits to each other's countries, writing a new chapter in China-ASEAN cooperation.

Over the past three decades, China-ASEAN relations have developed by leaps and bounds. The two sides established a dialogue mechanism in 1991, and formed a strategic partnership for peace and prosperity in 2003, elevating it to a comprehensive strategic partnership that is meaningful, substantive and mutually beneficial in 2021.

China-ASEAN ties are among the most dynamic, substantive and mutually beneficial partnerships between ASEAN and its dialogue partners. Indeed, the relationship has become an apt example of healthy regional cooperation, and contributes to peace, stability, development and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific.

To further strengthen their ties, the two sides issued the China-ASEAN Joint Statement on Strengthening Common and Sustainable Development on Nov 11, which, together with the "Joint Statement of the ASEAN-China Special Summit to Commemorate the 30th Anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations: Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for Peace, Security, Prosperity and Sustainable Development" issued in 2021, will guide future China-ASEAN ties.

Chinese and ASEAN leaders have time and again emphasized their common vision of building a China-ASEAN community with a shared future, realizing modernization and improving the lives and livelihoods of the people on both sides. They have also vowed to deepen cooperation, uphold multilateralism, jointly respond to global challenges and promote inclusive and sustainable development. And with their relations reaching a new historical starting point, China and ASEAN are expected to make new achievements through deepening cooperation in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Besides, China and the ASEAN states have built a network of "fast tracks" and "green lanes" to facilitate the flow of goods and people, promote cross-border e-commerce in order to boost cooperation on the digital economy, and keep industry and supply chains stable amid increasing global challenges and uncertainties.

The strengthening of China-ASEAN economic ties is reflected in ASEAN maintaining its position as China's largest trading partner for two consecutive years. In the first 10 months of this year alone, two-way trade reached a record $798.4 billion, up 13.8 percent year-on-year. For the record, China-ASEAN trade hit $878.2 billion last year. Trade, in fact, is likely to expand further since Chinese and ASEAN leaders have agreed, at recent meetings, to deepen cooperation and boost trade and investment.

On the other hand, China has remained ASEAN's largest trading partner for 13 consecutive years. While two-way investments exceeded $340 billion at the end of July, China's investment in ASEAN in 2021 was $14.35 billion and ASEAN's in China $10.58 billion. The two sides have also been expanding mutual investment areas, with industries such as e-commerce and new energy vehicles in ASEAN states attracting more Chinese investment.

Furthermore, China and ASEAN have started talks on China-ASEAN Free Trade Area 3.0, in a bid to raise the quality and level of trade and investment, and strengthen their industry, supply and value chains. They will also continue to promote the high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative, by further liberalizing trade and investment, facilitating a new type of industrialization, intensifying digitalization, and boosting green development and agriculture modernization.

The two sides have also vowed to strengthen cooperation in health and education to further promote development. With their efforts to improve connectivity paying rich dividends, they have also agreed to increase input in fields such as Lancang-Mekong Cooperation, China-Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asia Growth Area, and the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor.

China and ASEAN are comprehensive strategic partners with a shared future, and have stood together through thick and thin. And they are likely to establish a more effective, mature cooperative mechanism to ensure better political, economic and security development, with the ultimate aim of bolstering regional and global economic development.

The author is an associate professor at the School of Asian Studies, Beijing Foreign Studies University. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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