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Cover Stories Series 2013> Asia-Pacific Partnership> Archive
UPDATED: October 13, 2013 NO. 41 OCTOBER 10, 2013
The Good Neighbors
China's diplomatic policy aims to strengthen relationships with ASEAN member nations
By Ding Ying

China has been Malaysia's largest trading partner for the last four years, and Malaysia has been China's largest trading partner among the ASEAN member nations for five years in a row. Two-way trade totaled $94.8 billion last year and is expected to hit a record high of $100 billion this year.

Large-scale joint projects such as the Qinzhou Industrial Park in southwest China and the Kuantan Industrial Park in Malaysia have set a precedent for establishing similar joint venture industrial parks between China and other nations. China and Malaysia also enjoy ample contributions to one another's tourism industries, with China now being the largest source of travellers to Malaysia.

While attending the opening of the Fifth World Chinese Economic Forum in Kuala Lumpur on October 4, Wan Jifei, Chairman of the China Council for Promotion of International Trade, said that the world economy is undergoing rebalancing and restructuring across different economies so as to sustain growth. The Chinese economy has been a stabilizer during the global economic recovery. In the next five years, China's imports will exceed $10 trillion and its outward investment will total $500 billion, which will provide economic vigor to the rest of the world. China's economic restructuring, after 30 years of high-speed growth, is necessary and will have more potential after the process is finished.

China needs the region surrounding it to be stable and cooperative in order to continue its development. This makes for one reason that the ASEAN is important to China, Ruan Zongze, Vice President of CIIS, pointed out.

Chinese President Xi Jinping outlined China's ASEAN policy in his speech at the Indonesian Parliament on October 3. China-ASEAN relations are closely linked to relations between ASEAN member states, according the Chinese President, who urged both sides to bring out their respective strengths and realize diversity, harmony, inclusiveness and common progress. Xi emphasized that China is fully committed to a path of peaceful development. A stronger China will present development opportunities, rather than posing a threat, to both Asia and the world.

"President Xi's speech conveyed that China is a partner that will cooperate," said Ruan, adding that China showed a strong desire to promote mutually beneficial cooperation with ASEAN countries. He pointed out that China and the ASEAN members are economies that have maintained continuous economic growth in recent years. Now both economies are at a historic junction in their development: China is going through its economic transformation, while the ASEAN nations are at a crucial period of integration.

Chinese observers believe that disputes between China and ASEAN members will not stop increased cooperation. During his visits, President Xi stressed that differences and disputes should be handled through dialogue and friendly consultation in the interest of preserving friendly ties and regional stability.

In a joint statement titled The Future Direction of China-Indonesia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, China and Indonesia agreed that it is the common responsibility of all countries in the region to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea. The document urged China, Indonesia and other ASEAN countries to work together to implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), signed in Phnom Penh in November 2002, to enhance mutual trust, promote cooperation, and ensure the region remains stable. The two sides also agreed to work toward the adoption of a code of conduct for the South China Sea in line with the principles and spirit of the DOC.

Disputes will not be an obstacle in China-ASEAN ties, said Zhang Yunling from the CASS. The way disputes have been dealt with proves that China-ASEAN relations are continuing to mature.

Email us at: dingying@bjreview.com

Strengthening China-ASEAN Ties

Chinese President Xi Jinping confirmed China's desire to build closer relationships with all ASEAN members. He made the statements when addressing the Indonesian Parliament on October 3 in Jakarta, where he made a five-point proposal:

- Both sides should build and develop cooperation with one another. China is committed to a sincere and friendly relationship with ASEAN countries and enhancing mutual political and strategic trust. China will continue to support ASEAN countries in building up their strength and in the process to construct a stronger ASEAN community that will play a central role in regional cooperation.

- China and ASEAN countries should work together toward mutually beneficial cooperation. China is ready to open itself up further to ASEAN countries so as to enable ASEAN members to benefit more from its development.

- Both sides should stand together and assist each other, championing the new comprehensive security strategy, promoting common security and cooperative security, which will uphold regional peace and stability.

- China and ASEAN countries should enhance mutual understanding and friendship to increase social support for bilateral ties. China is ready to send more volunteers to ASEAN countries to support their cultural, educational and medical development.

- China and ASEAN members should adhere to openness and inclusiveness. The two sides should welcome countries from outside the region to have a constructive role in regional development and stability.

(Source: Xinhua News Agency)

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