Yearender: China, ASEAN usher in new era for deeper strategic partnership, wider pragmatic cooperation

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HONG KONG, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) — The year 2018 marks the 15th anniversary of the establishment of strategic partnership between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) featured with political trust, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.

The two sides have pledged to further develop their relations to a new high by adopting the China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership Vision 2030 last month, which is widely seen as a role model for cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

CHINA-ASEAN STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP A BOON TO ASIA-PACIFIC

In 2003, China and ASEAN decided to establish their strategic partnership, ringing in a new chapter in their relations. Over the past 15 years, the partnership has endured a changing international landscape and their cooperation has continued to deliver real benefits to the countries and the peoples of the region.

China and ASEAN are firmly committed to good-neighborliness and friendship while enhancing political and security ties to create stability across the Asia-Pacific.

Under this partnership, the two sides have properly managed sensitive issues and disputes through dialogue and negotiation in order to keep their relationship on track.

After earnestly implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), China and ASEAN arrived at a single draft negotiating text of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea in August this year. Tensions in the South China Sea have significantly cooled down, generating positive regional momentum.

Breakthroughs have also been made in maritime cooperation. The two sides held their first ever large-scale joint exercises on maritime search and rescue in October 2017 and first-ever maritime drills in October this year.

China and ASEAN have promoted trade and investment liberalization, an approach that has provided the backbone and engine for development and prosperity in the region.

The China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (FTA), the largest regional FTA in the world in terms of population, went into effect in 2010, removing tariffs on more than 90 percent of goods traded between China and 10 ASEAN members – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Moreover, an updated FTA was hammered out late in 2015, further facilitating trade, scaling up bilateral investment and encouraging technological cooperation.

China and ASEAN are now working together to speed up negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a proposed free trade area made up of the 10 ASEAN member states and its six FTA partners — China, Australia, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, in order to further facilitate trade and investment in the region.

Based on the principle of collaboration, China and ASEAN have worked to align the former’s Belt and Road Initiative with the latter’s development plans. Connectivity projects include the China-Laos Railway, the China-Thailand high-speed railway, and Indonesia’s Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway.

China and ASEAN have also advocated people-to-people exchanges and mutual learning among their different and numerous civilizations. Ties have rapidly developed in the areas of culture, education, tourism, media, science and technology, environmental protection, disaster relief, poverty reduction and youth, among others.

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-12/26/c_137699593.htm

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