Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in Jakarta on Monday that the development of China-ASEAN relations has entered the "fast lane" with fruitful results achieved in bilateral cooperation.
When delivering a speech at the Secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Wang said China and ASEAN are always good neighbors, good friends and good partners with a shared future.
Over the past 10 years, thanks to the strategic guidance and personal commitment of leaders of China and the ASEAN countries, China-ASEAN relations have entered the "fast lane" and made accelerating progress, he noted.
The most encouraging development was that China-ASEAN relations have stayed ahead in many areas, Wang said.
China was the first to forge a strategic partnership with ASEAN, the first to join the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, the first to start FTA negotiation with ASEAN, the first to give unequivocal support for ASEAN centrality in regional cooperation, and the first to publicly express its willingness to sign the Protocol to the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone.
"My ASEAN colleagues have told me that among ASEAN's dialogue partners, China has the most vibrant and productive ties with ASEAN," Wang said.
The most touching event was China and the ASEAN countries have been standing together in solidarity to fight COVID-19, he added.
When China was hit by the coronavirus, the ASEAN countries immediately expressed solidarity and support, and donated in cash and in kind to help China tide over the trying time.
When the ASEAN countries were affected by the pandemic, China did its best to help ASEAN nations fend off the virus, including sharing COVID-19 response experience without reservation and providing timely vaccine assistance.
"Our cooperation against COVID-19 was a vivid testament to our deep friendship through thick and thin. Together, we have set a good example of working together to beat the virus," Wang said.
The most heartening progress was the thriving economic cooperation and trade between China and ASEAN, he pointed out.
China and ASEAN are each other's largest trading partner. Bilateral trade volume has soared 100 times from 30 years ago and the two-way direct investment has exceeded 310 billion U.S. dollars.
The China-Laos Railway is operational. Good progress has been made in the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway, the China-Thailand Railway, the China-Malaysia and China-Indonesia "twin industrial parks", and a number of other Belt and Road projects, he noted.
The most gratifying achievement was that China-ASEAN security cooperation has been making steady progress, Wang said.
With full implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and positive progress in the consultations of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC), differences and disputes are being effectively managed.
The situation on the sea has remained stable on the whole, and there has been no problem with the freedom of navigation and overflight. Military and security exchanges have deepened, and fruitful cooperation has been carried out in non-traditional security areas, such as counter-terrorism, climate response, cybersecurity, combating transnational crime and disaster preparedness and reduction, he noted.