Nav Search

China, ASEAN embark on new journey with closer partnership

Source: Xinhua Updated: 2021-07-20

BEIJING -- As China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are commemorating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of their dialogue relations, both sides have vowed to strengthen cooperation to promote regional and global progress and prosperity.

For a world still in the throes of a ravaging pandemic and ensuing economic challenges, a closer China-ASEAN relationship will continue to become an important pillar of peace, stability and prosperity.

In early June, a special foreign ministers' meeting was held in southwest China to mark this milestone in the development of bilateral ties. In a joint statement afterwards, both sides reaffirmed their commitment to promoting China-ASEAN relations to new heights, adhering to multilateralism, and underscored the importance of promoting common development and prosperity.

In fact, since the beginning of the year, the two sides have maintained close in-person communication despite travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the importance of each other in the other side's foreign policies.

Over the 30 years, China-ASEAN cooperation has thrived as the two sides helped each other succeed. Among ASEAN's dialogue partners, China has been number one on many fronts. China was the first to join the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, the first to forge a strategic partnership with ASEAN, the first to start negotiations on a free trade area with ASEAN, and the first to give unequivocal support for ASEAN centrality in East Asian regional cooperation.

Fast growing economic and trade cooperation further consolidate and bolster the partnership. Facing the continuous global trade and economic recession amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the two sides became each other's largest trading partner for the first time in 2020. The two sides also jointly pushed for the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which gave birth to the world's most promising free trade area with the largest population and biggest economic aggregate.

Most importantly, the two sides have always demonstrated a deep mutual trust and commitment in tackling major challenges.

Over the 30 years, China and ASEAN countries have stuck together through thick and thin and supported each other in coping with the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, the 2003 SARS pandemic, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, the two sides have worked closely and helped each other fight against the pandemic, promote economic growth and safeguard people's livelihood, turning East Asia into a stellar exemplar in the global fight against the virus and an early bird in achieving economic recovery.

The two sides have also handled differences and disagreements through communication and negotiation based on mutual respect and consultation.

At a time when the world is confronted with resurgent protectionism, unilateralism and hegemonism, which are posing a grave threat to world peace and development, China and ASEAN, both as staunch supporters of multilateralism and an open world economy, can become a powerful catalyst of global peace and prosperity.

Standing at a historical juncture, the world can expect an even closer China-ASEAN bond in their joint quest for regional and global stability and development.