VIENTIANE — The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and related summits are scheduled here in the Lao capital on Sept 6, with the main theme of “Turning Vision into Reality for a Dynamic ASEAN Community.”
Community building efforts, ASEAN’s cooperation with dialogue partners, as well as a commemorative summit of the 25th anniversary of ASEAN’s dialogue relations with China will be on the agenda of the three-day meetings.
According to the Foreign Ministry of Laos, which is holding the rotating ASEAN chairmanship, the meetings will include the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits, ASEAN+1 Summits, the Summit on Commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations, ASEAN+3 (China, Japan, and Republic of Korea) Summit, as well as the East Asia Summit.
The 28th ASEAN Summit will discuss ASEAN Community building efforts, especially the implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, while the 29th ASEAN Summit will focus on ASEAN’s external relations and future direction as well as exchange of views on regional and international issues of common concern.
The ASEAN+1 Summits and ASEAN+3 Summit will review cooperation between the ten-member bloc and its dialogue partners. The East Asia Summit, a forum of leaders from 18 countries (10 ASEAN members, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and the United States) will review and discuss future direction of cooperation as well as exchange views on regional and international issues.
ASEAN, which groups Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, established at the end of 2015 the ASEAN Community which comprises the Political and Security Community, the Economic Community and the Socio-Cultural Community.
Community building efforts, especially integration measures in specific fields, would be addressed by ASEAN leaders at the summits, according to Soukthavy Keola, a former counselor at the Lao Embassy in China.
As for the hot regional issues that captured media attention in previous months, Soukthavy said a consensus had been reached during ASEAN foreign ministers’ meetings and such topics were expected to be downplayed during the upcoming summits.
As this year marks the 25th anniversary of the ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations, the two sides will hold a commemorative summit on Sept 7. Cooperation with China, ASEAN’s most active cooperation partner, will take center stage then.
China is the largest trading partner of ASEAN, while ASEAN is China’s third largest trade partner. Trade volume between the two sides reached $209 billion in the first half of 2016.
Stronger cooperation between China and ASEAN will contribute to regional peace, growth and prosperity and benefits both sides, as well as the region as a whole, Director-General for ASEAN Cooperation of Indonesia Foreign Ministry Jose Antonio Morato Tavares told Xinhua prior to the summits.
China, as the biggest market in terms of population in the world, brings a lot of opportunities for ASEAN economies, Tavares said.
Apart from the economic sphere, people-to-people exchange has also become a bright spot in and an important part of the friendly cooperation between ASEAN and China, said Korn Dabbaransi, former deputy prime minister of Thailand.
During commemoration of the 25th anniversary for dialogue relations, people-to-people exchanges would be suggested by the Chinese side as a new pillar for China-ASEAN cooperation, according to Liu Zhenmin, China’s vice foreign minister.
Cooperation between China and ASEAN in the past 25 years has yielded significant achievements in various fields. Bilateral cooperation has entered into a period of maturity and needs to be upgraded.
The upcoming summits are expected to add new vigor to China-ASEAN cooperation.