NAY PYI TAW — Premier Li Keqiang said on Nov 13 that China and Southeast Asian countries will upgrade their partnership in the upcoming “diamond decade,” which would bring more benefits to their peoples and make further contribution to regional and world peace and development.
Li and President U Thein Sein of Myanmar, which holds the rotating chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this year, presided over the 17th China-ASEAN leaders’ meeting, during which the participating parties discussed the cooperation between the two sides and reached a wide range of consensus.
Li said the China-ASEAN friendly cooperation has maintained sustained and stable development, which is a good example of regional cooperation in East Asia. The strategic partnership between China and the ASEAN has entered a new historical stage which provides more treasured opportunities for their comprehensive cooperation.
The Chinese government always places the China-ASEAN relationship as a priority in its neighborhood diplomacy, Li said, adding that China will firmly support the building of the ASEAN community and support the ASEAN’s leading role in East Asian cooperation.
China is willing to expand pragmatic cooperation with ASEAN countries in various fields, continuously deepen integration of interests of both sides, and forge a closer China-ASEAN community with a common destiny, the premier said, make a six-point proposal to achieve the goal.
Firstly, Li said China is willing to outline the grand strategy for further developing China-ASEAN relations, speed up the drafting of the third Plan of Action to implement the joint declaration on the China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity (2016-2020), and actively negotiate for a good-neighborly cooperation treaty between China and ASEAN countries.
Secondly, China is going to work together with ASEAN to upgrade the China-ASEAN free trade zone and complete the related negotiation before the end of 2015, Li said.
The Chinese side is willing to adopt a more open attitude to discuss with the ASEAN the investment agreement negotiations based on the pre-establishment national treatment plus negative list management mode, as well as to push forward the construction of cross-border economic cooperation zones and industrial parks.
Thirdly, Li proposed to accelerate the building of basic connectivity network. Besides promoting land and maritime connection, China will provide finance support to strengthen planning and building of telecommunication, electric power and Internet sectors, as well as improve convenience of customs clearance, market supervision and standardization and regulation.
Fourthly, Li underlined maritime cooperation between China and ASEAN. With next year being the Year of Maritime Cooperation between China and ASEAN, the two sides should take this opportunity to strengthen the dialogue between their maritime law enforcement organs, set up a maritime cooperation center, well implement the pan-Beibu Gulf economic cooperation roadmap and the projects under the China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund, he noted.
Fifthly, Li said China will work with ASEAN to ensure both traditional security and non-traditional security, well prepare for the China-ASEAN defense ministers informal meeting next year, explore possibilities of building a China-ASEAN defense hotline, conduct joint exercises, deepen the law enforcement cooperation in the Mekong River Basin, and carry out cooperation projects for disaster management.
Lastly, Li also said China will actively explore new areas of cooperation in culture, people-to-people exchange, science and technology and environment, speed up the China-ASEAN cultural cooperation action plan, and strengthen cooperation in education, rural poverty reduction, public health personnel training, scientific research and environmental protection.
Building on the achievements of the past “gold decade” of China-ASEAN partnership, Li said there are more favorable conditions for both China and the ASEAN to upgrade their relationship in the upcoming “diamond decade.”
The ASEAN leaders welcomed Li’s proposal to strengthen China-ASEAN cooperation, saying that China, as one of the most important partners of ASEAN, has made positive contribution to regional peace, development, stability and prosperity. ASEAN believes a rising China would benefit the Asia Pacific and the world.
Thanking China for its support, the leaders said ASEAN is willing to increase mutual political trust, implement the 2+7 cooperation framework, deepen pragmatic cooperation, expand two-way trade and economic cooperation and investment, and facilitate regional interconnectivity with China.
They said ASEAN will also actively push forward a good-neighborly cooperation treaty with China and further upgrade the ASEAN-China strategic partnership, in a bid to safeguard regional peace, stability and development.
Li arrived on Nov 12 to attend a series of leaders’ meetings on East Asia cooperation and pay an official visit to Myanmar.