Your Excellency Foreign Minister Hor Nam Hong
Your Excellency Director General Dr. N. Hassan Wirajuda
As mankind enters the new century, the relations between China and ASEAN are growing steadier and more mature, and a new chapter has been opened for bilateral good-neighborly partnership of mutual trust.
Reviewing the course of development of China-ASEAN relations, we are gratified to see that in recent years, our bilateral relations have developed in several epoch-making phases. The year of 1996 witnessed the upgrading of our relations from Sectoral Dialogue partnership to Full Dialogue partnership. In 1997, President Jiang Zemin of China and leaders of ASEAN issued the Joint Statement, proclaiming the establishment of the good-neighborly partnership of mutual trust oriented towards the 21st century, which chartered the course of overall and long-range development of our bilateral relations. After that, China and the ten ASEAN members respectively signed or issued the cooperation plans oriented towards the new century, further advancing the bilateral relations. These landmark developments have led to the constant growth of mutual trust, gradual reduction of differences and evident enhancement of cooperation between China and ASEAN. It can be said that our bilateral relations have embarked on the fast track of sound and comprehensive development.
China-ASEAN friendly relations and cooperation maintained the good momentum of development last year.
--- There have been frequent exchanges of high-level uisits between leaders of our two sides, and the friendly and good-neighborly relations have continued to grow. Chinese leaders President Jiang Zemin, Chairman Li Peng of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, Premier Zhu Rongji of the State Council and Vice President Hu Jintao of China respectively visited some of the ASEAN countries, while 10 and more leaders of ASEAN members also paid visits to China. These exchanges of visits forcefully advanced the dialogue and cooperation between China and ASEAN at all levels, enhanced the mutual understanding and trust between their peoples, thus creating a favorable environment of cooperation in all areas.
--- The economic cooperation and trade reached a new high. Having shaken off the impact of the financial crisis, China and ASEAN realized a record high US$ 39.52 billion trade volume in 2000, doubling that of the year 1996 when China became a full dialogue partner of ASEAN. In the first quarter of 2001, the trade volume between China and ASEAN reached US$ 9.666 billion, up 21.8% over the same period last year. More brisk bilateral cooperation has taken place in such realms as investment, banking science and technology, agriculture, industry and commerce, fishing, education, tourism and culture. Last year, China made the 10 ASEAN members its tourist destinations. In the same year the number of Chinese tourists to Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia alone reached 1.3 million, more than the total number of tourists from the 10 ASEAN countries to China.
--- The cooperative mechanism between the two sides has kept improving. At the Leadership Meeting Between ASEAN and China (10+1) last year, Premier Zhu Rongji announced that China would add a sum of US$ 5 million to ASEAN-China Cooperation Fund, which greatly facilitated the cooperation projects between the two sides. At the third meeting of ASEAN-China Joint Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation last March, the ASEAN-China Expert Group on Economic Cooperation was formally established for active exploration of stronger bilateral economic ties, in particular, the feasibility of establishing ASEAN-China Free Trade Area. At the Third Meeting of ASEAN-China Joint Cooperation Committee held in Chengdu, China last March, measures were adopted to streamline project approval procedures and improve working efficiency. The Seventh ASEAN-China Senior Officials Consultations was successfully concluded in Hainan, China last June, and lively discussions were held concerning principal sectors of further bilateral cooperation in the new century.
In addition, the two sides have stepped up cooperation and mutual support on some major regional and international issues. The two sides have maintained close coordination and cooperation in international forums and organizations, such as APEC, ASEM, 10+3 Meeting, ASEAN Regional Forum, East Asia and Latin America Cooperation Forum, and the UN. ASEAN supports China's entry into the WTO. China supports the purposes and principles of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, and ASEAN's endeavor to put in place a Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone. The two sides have worked hard to settle their differences through peaceful means. At the end of last year, China and Viet Nam succeeded in signing the Beibu Bay delimitation Agreement. Now China and ASEAN are engaged in consultations with a view to formulating the "Code of Conduct in the South China Sea" so as to further stabilize the situation in the area.
The developments of last few years are indicative of the solid foundation and huge potential of the friendly relations and cooperation between China and ASEAN. The new century has brought with it some new complicated factors to the international situation. The challenges of globalization to both China and ASEAN have become more evident. China has to deal with a series of challenges after its accession to the WTO. ASEAN, on its part, shoulders the gigantic task of quickening the integration process and narrowing the gap of development among its members. Our two sides need to further strengthen unity and cooperation for the long-term common development. Now I would like to put forth some ideas on bilateral cooperation between China and ASEAN for the first few years of the new century.
To substantiate the good-neighborly partnership of mutual trust and further upgrade the level of political relations between our two sides. The Chinese side supports ASEAN's pursuance of the policies of peace, freedom and neutrality, and takes a positive attitude towards accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia. The Chinese side supports ASEAN's effort to build a Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone, and hopes that ASEAN and the five nuclear states will reach agreemeent through consultation at an early date so as to make it possible for China to sign the Protocol of Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone as soon as possible.
To intensify the all-round cooperation of mutual benefit. The Chinese side suggests that on the basis of bilateral cooperation and in light of the objectives of development and respective advantages of China and ASEAN, the five major sectors, namely, agriculture, human resources development, cooperative development of the Mekong River Basin, ICT(information and communications technologies) and mutual investment be identified as priority sectors for bilateral cooperation in the
First few years of the new century, so as to make an effective and concentrated use of the resources and strengths of the two sides. In sectors such as agriculture that offer better conditions and foundation for cooperation, the two sides may consider working out mid-term or long-term plans for action.
To strengthen coordination and cooperation in regional and international affairs. The two sides should, in particular, step up cooperation among the 10+3 to promote the steady growth of cooperation in East Asia. China is ready to carry out cooperation of various forms with ASEAN and make its positive contribution in non-traditional security sectors, such as the fight against drug-trafficking, smuggling and illegal immigration. In August this year, China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand will get together in Beijing for a drug-control meeting at the ministerial level. There is also a broad prospect of cooperation between our two sides in such sectors as culture and the media.
I would like to reiterate on this occasion that the Chinese Government has attached great importance to the development of relations with ASEAN. Though ASEAN faces some difficulties and is under certain pressure at present, we have full confidence in its future. China hopes to see a still more united, stable and prosperous ASEAN and will do all it can to support ASEAN in its endeavor to quicken the integration process and narrow the gap of development among its members. It will also support ASEAN in playing a bigger role in both regional and international affairs.
As the biggest developing country in Asia and the world, China is working hard to achieve self-development. Only when it develops further and grows stronger, can China make greater contribution to the world and Asia in particular. I am glad to see that more and more ASEAN countries have come to realize that China's accession to the WTO will bring more development opportunities to ASEAN. I am convinced that following China's membership in the WTO, the economic relations and trade between China and ASEAN will proceed in a more orderly way, China will open its market wider to ASEAN countries and it will be more convenient for mutual investment. Besides, China will work together with ASEAN countries to defend the legitimate rights and interests of the developing countries more effectively. We hope that ASEAN will seize the rare opportunity of China's accession to the WTO to promote all-round cooperation with China and work for a win-win situation for development.
Closer friendly relations and cooperation between China and ASEAN comply with the demands of the times and serve the fundamental interests of the two sides and also conduce to peace, stability and prosperity of the region and the world at large. As long as we seize opportunities and cooperate sincerely, the good neighborly partnership of mutual trust between China and ASEAN will continue to develop on a sound basis.