BEIJING — As this year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of dialogue relations between China and ASEAN, it is a common task for the two sides to advance bilateral cooperation into a new stage, said Chinese diplomat Yang Xiuping.
In the past 25 years, the two sides have deepened political mutual trust, tightened economic cooperation, and achieved fruitful results in people-to-people exchanges, said Yang, who is the secretary-general of the ASEAN-China Center.
She noted that in 2015, China-ASEAN trade exceeded $472 billion, with more than 23 million person-times of exchange visits and over 190,000 exchange students.
Yang said the Belt and Road Initiative (B&R), which consists of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road proposed by China in 2013, has benefited the development of China-ASEAN relations.
Many ASEAN countries strongly support B&R and have made important progress in cooperation in fields like infrastructure construction, interconnectivity, energy and finance, Yang said.
The interconnection and energy projects would be the priority of China and ASEAN when implementing the B&R, Yang said, noting that more pilot programs would be developed for financial cooperation.
She added that more opportunities have been created along with the upgrading of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area, the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), as well as the operation of Lancang-Mekong cooperation mechanism.
Yang said the all-around and multi-level China-ASEAN partnership has become the broadest, most fruitful and closest ties among ASEAN’s dialogue partners.
“The bilateral relationship has enhanced the economic and social development of both sides, promoted the integration of East Asia, reinforced the regional stability and prosperity,” Yang said.
As a series of East Asian leaders’ meetings are being held in Lao capital Vientiane, Yang expected the 19th China-ASEAN (10+1) leaders’ meeting to give new impetus to the development of bilateral strategic partnership.
The secretary-general hoped China and ASEAN would forge a tighter community of common destiny by speeding up the integration of development strategies and promoting pragmatic trade and economic cooperation.
Both China and ASEAN would enjoy practical development by enhancing cooperation under the frameworks of the B&R, AIIB and the New Silk Road Fund, Yang said.
Subregional cooperation within systems like the Lancang-Mekong cooperation mechanism would also be strengthened in order to push forward the building of an ASEAN community, she noted.
More people-to-people exchanges would be carried out in fields like culture and tourism as well as between the youth. In particular, a series of events would be held in 2016, the Year of China-ASEAN Educational Exchange, Yang said.
The ASEAN-China Center would keep advancing the friendly communication and pragmatic cooperation in light of the consensus reached by leaders of China and ASEAN, the secretary-general said.
Meanwhile, the center will also help further mutual trade and investment, build up platforms for exchanges in economy, education, culture and tourism, as well as to strengthen media cooperation between China and ASEAN, Yang added.