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Cover Stories Series 2013> Friendship First> Archive
UPDATED: June 24, 2013 NO. 26 JUNE 27, 2013
Linking China With Southeast Asia

Tong Yeu Tho (Member of the Central Committee of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party and Vice Chairman of the Central Committee of the Lao Front for National Construction): As the most populous country, China is a pivotal power in Asia. It has also played an important role in the development of Southeast Asian nations. Strengthening cooperation with China can bring Southeast Asian nations tangible benefits. For instance, most Southeast Asian nations are agricultural nations, and China can provide a huge market for their agricultural products. Take Laos for instance. China is the largest foreign investor in Laos. With the help of China, many policies of Laos have been implemented in a timely and productive manner.

China develops faster than most Southeast Asian countries. These countries, including Laos, can learn from China's experience in development. Laos is an underdeveloped country. The Laotian Government has made a plan to reduce its impoverished people to 10 percent by 2015, which needs comprehensive cooperation with China.

From the perspective of people-to-people exchanges, I hope China and Southeast Asian countries could carry out more cooperation. The China-Southeast Asia High-Level People-to-People Dialogue is of practical significance. China and Southeast Asian countries have established close intergovernmental and inter-party relations. People-to-people exchanges between the two sides really need to be enhanced. The dialogue undoubtedly will help promote these exchanges.

I know currently there is a Lao broadcasting channel in China Radio International (CRI). It is a good way for communication between China and Laos. CRI's Lao channel is very popular in Laos, especially in rural areas.

Friendship and cooperation are the mainstream of relations between China and Southeast Asia. Though there are maritime disputes between some Southeast Asian nations and China, they are not irresolvable. They are not the major concerns of the two sides, either. So long as there is willingness from the parties concerned to sit down to resolve the problem through peaceful dialogue, the disputes can be settled properly. The Sino-ASEAN relationship could also be further strengthened.

Ung Huot (Former First Prime Minister of Cambodia): China, as a big power, has played a vital role in the development of Southeast Asian countries. In recent years, China and ASEAN have carried out good cooperation in many areas. I believe that cooperation will not bring any negative impact to the situation of the Asia-Pacific region, but will make things better and add brilliance to the present splendor. Southeast Asian countries are willing to develop a friendly cooperative relationship of mutual benefits with China, which serves the best interests of peoples in the whole region. We believe cooperation will bring concrete benefits to Southeast Asian countries.

China's assistance to Southeast Asian countries has contributed effectively to rapid development. The mutual benefit and win-win policy advocated by China is to share the development dividend with Southeast Asian countries and achieve common prosperity. I want to give you an example, which is a true story. There are many poor people living near my home. They have no source of income but go begging. If we do not give them money or food, they might become burglars and cause social security problems, which we are not willing to see. If we offer them development aid and help them seize job opportunities, they may develop themselves well. It is the same with neighboring countries. The assistance will help them achieve a win-win outcome. Then, neighbors become partners to promote the prosperity of each other.

The high-level people-to-people dialogue, through people-to-people exchanges and dialogue of NGOs, will be conducive to regional peace and development. The activities of those NGOs involve human rights, poverty reduction, and the rights and interests of women and children. They also play an important role in the political lives of their own countries. Therefore, people-to-people and NGO exchanges are very necessary; they can help us learn more from each other.

Email us at: yulintao@bjreview.com

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