ASEAN envoys call for closer ties with China

2023-08-10 10:27:50China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Envoys from countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have called for enhancing China-ASEAN cooperation amid complex changes in the global political and economic landscape, and emphasized the need to resolve disputes through dialogue and consultation.

As ASEAN commemorated the 56th anniversary of its founding on Tuesday, Southeast Asian diplomatic envoys in China gathered in the Malaysian embassy in Beijing for celebrations, pledging to reinforce unity and solidarity to maintain regional stability and prosperity. China's Assistant Foreign Minister Nong Rong attended the event.

Sanmugan Subramaniam, the charge d'affaires of the Malaysian embassy in China, spoke of the challenges the world is facing, such as climate change, economic disparity and security. "In times like this, it is crucial that we work closely with our dialogue partners, especially China, to strengthen our foundations of ASEAN and to meet the demands and expectations of our people."

Subramaniam hailed the achievements of economic cooperation between ASEAN and China, saying that both sides could explore cooperation in emerging fields, especially in the digital economy. "As a country, we can learn a lot from China in terms of digital economy, because China has made remarkable progress in this field," he said.

China and ASEAN upgraded their ties to comprehensive strategic partnership in October 2021.China has remained the largest trading partner of ASEAN for 13 consecutive years. ASEAN became China's largest trading partner in 2020. Trade between China and ASEAN reached 6.52 trillion yuan ($905 billion) in 2022, up 15 percent year-on-year.

The two sides have also joined hands to safeguard regional peace and stability, promote regional economic integration and enhance bilateral people-to-people exchanges.

Arthayudh Srisamoot, Thailand's ambassador to China, said there are many areas for the expansion of cooperation between ASEAN and China under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

The RCEP, initiated by ASEAN, is the largest free trade agreement in the world. It came into force on Jan 1, 2022. "China, as the largest economy among the RCEP members, is the most powerful engine to drive forward this RCEP cooperation," said Srisamoot.

Speaking of disputes among the regional countries, especially the South China Sea issue, the ambassador called for dialogue and consultation to address them.

"I think the role of ASEAN, including Thailand, is to foster more cooperation and consultation between the major powers, even though each major power might have a different position, different outlook on the international environment," he said, adding global countries should foster an environment for more regional cooperation.

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