KUALA LUMPUR — Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 4 that the forthcoming establishment of ASEAN Community by the end of this year will give fresh impetus to China’s “Belt and Road” initiative.
In an interview during the 48th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, Wang said that as a developing country, China congratulated the Southeast Asian countries on the establishment of ASEAN Community by the year-end, which will strengthen the force of the developing countries.
China and the Southeast Asian countries were linked with each other by the ancient maritime Silk Road in history, and he hoped that the construction of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road could be aligned with the forthcoming establishment of ASEAN Community, he said.
The ASEAN countries and China should negotiate with each other and jointly build the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, whose interests will also be shared among all the participating countries. The priorities of the cooperation between ASEAN and China in the construction of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road should be the interconnection and the international cooperation in production capacity, he added.
The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, are aimed at reviving the ancient trade routes that span Asia, Africa and Europe.
Wang said he also discussed with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak about the latest development in the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. Plane debris was discovered on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean late last month, which might belong to the ill-fated airliner. Malaysia, the United States, China, France and Boeing will send representatives to participate in further verification of the flaperon in Toulouse on Aug 5.
The Chinese minister said the next-of-kins of the passengers aboard MH370 have suffered great pains and sorrow for over one year, and he hoped a final closure to the incident could be reached as soon as possible. However, no matter what the result of the verification will be, China and Malaysia will continue to shoulder their due responsibilities.
He said that they will responsibly give further instruction and explanation to the next-of-kins according to the result of the verification, and will also urge and instruct related authorities to carry out works in the next phase, including dealing with the aftermath of the accident.
When asked about the recent reports on a hotline to be set up between China and ASEAN to tackle emergencies in the South China Sea, Wang reiterated that the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting is not the platform to discuss the South China Sea issue. As to the hotline, he said it is one of a series of achievements made during the 9th China-ASEAN senior officials’ meeting in China’s northern port city of Tianjin days ago.
During the Tianjin meeting, China and ASEAN countries agreed to cooperate in such areas as combating transnational crimes to implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and bring the Code of Conduct (COC) consultation into a new phase of discussing crucial and complex issues.
Not only have China and ASEAN countries reached an agreement on setting up a hotline between senior officials in Foreign Ministries to tackle emergencies, but also they have agreed to create another hotline as the platform of maritime search and rescue, Wang said, adding that they were working on the operation procedure of the two hotlines before they could be put into practice.
Wang said the hotlines will play a positive role in ensuring peace and stability of the South China Sea.