VIENTIANE — People to people exchange has become a bright spot in and an important part of the friendly cooperation between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China, said Korn Dabbaransi, former deputy prime minister of Thailand and chairman of the Thailand-China Friendship Association.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the China-ASEAN dialogue relations and the two sides are preparing to hold a commemorative summit during the 28th and 29th ASEAN summits to be held from Sept 6 to 8.
In a recent written interview with Xinhua, the former deputy prime minister said ASEAN members and China have differences in governance, development level and religion, among others, but these differences have never become problems or impediments in boosting people to people exchange and developing mutually beneficial economic and trade ties between the two sides.
China and ASEAN designated 2014 the China-ASEAN cultural exchange year, 2015 the China-ASEAN maritime cooperation year and 2016 the China-ASEAN education cooperation year.
Citing these examples, Korn Dabbaransi said, “In the past three years, the two sides have witnessed closer people to people exchange. To further boost the people to people exchange between the two sides, China is mulling over designating 2017 as the China-ASEAN tourism cooperation year.”
“Boosting people to people exchange will continue to push forward and deepen the friendly cooperation between China and ASEAN, especially in the sectors of culture, education, sport and tourism, among others.”
China and ASEAN, all through the years, have demonstrated to the world that they are dedicated to developing close and friendly bilateral ties and they are working together to achieve the common goals of developing economy and improve the well-being of their peoples, he said.
“The cooperation on economy and trade as well as investment between China and ASEAN under the framework of 10 Plus One (China and 10 ASEAN member states) in the past 25 years has achieved fruitful results and the cooperation mechanism between China and ASEAN has been at the forefront compared with those between ASEAN and other dialogue partners,” he added.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
With the establishment of the ASEAN Community by the end of last year, many trade and investment tariffs between the two sides have been removed. The former deputy prime minister said the continued development of the Chinese economy will provide ASEAN goods with easy assess to the Chinese market and the nongovernmental trade between the two sides will continue to enjoy reciprocal development.
While the economic development in Europe and the United States slows down, China and ASEAN have maintained stable development momentum. There are great potentials for reciprocal cooperation and common development between China and ASEAN as both rely heavily on food and tourism economy, he said.
On the territorial disputes between China and some member states of ASEAN, Korn Dabbaransi said the disputes can be solved through dialogue between neighbors and any country outside the region should not meddle in them.