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Speech by Ambassador Xu Bu at the Reception to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations

(From Chinese Mission to ASEAN)

2016/07/12

To Vigorously Steer a Steady Course for China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership

Speech by Ambassador Xu Bu at the Reception to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations 

(11 July 2016, Jakarta)

Your Excellency Le Luong Minh, Secretary General of ASEAN,
Your Excellency Arief Yahya, Minister of Tourism of the Republic of Indonesia,
Your Excellency Yang Xiuping, Secretary General of China-ASEAN Center,
Members of the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN,
Excellencies,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Evening!

A warm welcome to the reception celebrating the 25th Anniversary of China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations. 25 years ago, our leaders and predecessors, with their wisdom and vision, ushered in a new chapter of partnership for China-ASEAN relations. Thanks to the concerted efforts from both sides, the partnership with China has become the most vigorous and dynamic one among the relations of ASEAN with its dialogue partners. The past 25 years witnessed rich fruits borne by China-ASEAN practical cooperation to mutual benefit.

First, our political relations deepened. High-level exchanges between both sides remained frequent, and dialogue mechanisms were established at all levels in various areas. Since the establishment of the China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership, China has been committed to enhancing good-neighborly friendship and cooperation with ASEAN as one of its diplomatic priorities. China was the first to sign the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, the first to establish a strategic partnership with ASEAN, and the first to express willingness to sign the protocol to Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty. These first's stand testimony to China's firm commitment in promoting China-ASEAN relations, invigorating ASEAN's efforts to develop relations with other dialogue partners and playing an exemplary role in advancing East Asia cooperation.

Second, our economic cooperation and trade leaped forward. China was the first dialogue partner to start negotiations with ASEAN on establishing the largest Free Trade Area (FTA) of developing countries. The protocol pronouncing the full conclusion of China-ASEAN negotiations on upgrading our FTA was signed in November 2015 and has entered into effect 10 days ago. Our trade volume topped US$ 472 billion in 2015, almost 60 times larger than that of 1991. China has been ASEAN's biggest trading partner for seven consecutive years while ASEAN ranked as China's third largest trading partner for five consecutive years. Our two-way investment in aggregate grew from US$ 500 million in 1991 to US$ 156.4 billion in 2015, more than 300 times larger.

Third, our people-to-people exchanges grew more interactive and productive. From 2014 to 2016, we have held and are holding activities and events to respectively highlight Cultural Cooperation Year, Maritime Cooperation Year and Educational Exchange Year between China and ASEAN. Both sides are considering possibility to designate 2017 as China-ASEAN Tourism Cooperation Year. In 2003, China-ASEAN people-to-people exchange volume stood at only 3.87 million person times. The figure rocketed to 23 million last year. At present, 180,000 exchange students are studying in China and ASEAN countries. Every week, more than a thousand flights are shuttling between hundreds of cities of China and ASEAN countries. China has become the largest source of foreign tourists to ASEAN countries.

Ladies and Gentleman,

Closer trade and capital links as well as personnel exchanges have bound the destiny of both China and ASEAN tighter than ever before and brought about tangible benefits to our peoples. China-ASEAN partnership has transcended the scope of bilateral relations and become the backbone force in promoting regional peace and stability. It's our shared mission to steer a steady course for China-ASEAN friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation.

The international and regional situations are undergoing profound changes. The global economy is still moving in slow lane and the countries around the world are facing challenges in national development. Non-traditional security threats such as terrorism, extremism and natural disasters are all raising their ugly heads, severely troubling the international community. Some forces still cling to the Cold War mentality and behave to undermine regional peace, stability and development. Against this back drop, it is more than necessary and important that China and ASEAN countries should further enhance unity and cooperation.

First, we should further nurture political and security mutual trust and enhance strategic communication. China stands ready to continue discussing about signing a China-ASEAN Treaty on Good Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation, so as to consolidate our friendship and mutual trust. As for the sensitive issues such as the South China Sea, China will keep on working with ASEAN countries toward a full and effective implementation of Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and actively promote the consultation on a code of conduct in the South China Sea (COC), so as to appropriately manage differences, promote practical cooperation and jointly maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea and our region at large.

Second, we should further synergize our development strategies for China-ASEAN cooperation to expand and excel. China is striving for the realization of Two Centennial Goals while ASEAN focuses on implementing ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together. Our development strategies do share complementarities in many ways. Looking forward, the next 5 years would be a period of crucial importance for both China and ASEAN countries to further synergize development strategies, level up national development and achieve the establishment of East Asian Economic Community by 2020.

Third, we should further tap on potential in production capacity cooperation to turn late-comer advantages of ASEAN into real drivers of economic growth. ASEAN is well poised to be the priority destination for China's outbound competitive production capacity. In this sense, China-ASEAN production capacity cooperation matches the need of development for ASEAN countries. Tomorrow morning, China's Mission to ASEAN would hold the 2nd High Level Forum on China-ASEAN Production Capacity Cooperation at JW Marriot Jakarta, to see to it that the related cooperation could reap early harvests as soon as possible.

Fourth, we should further develop sub-regional cooperation to complement the integrated cooperation between China and ASEAN. The Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Framework initiated by China is a newly established mechanism of sub-regional cooperation with relevant ASEAN countries. On 23 March 2016, the 1st LMC Leaders' Meeting was successfully held in Sanya, Hainan Province of China, rendering impetus to upgrading China-ASEAN cooperation in an all-round manner. The LMC also represents a fresh practice of South-South Cooperation, which demonstrates the determination of China and five Mekong River countries to jointly implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of United Nations.

As an old Chinese saying goes, "Close neighbors are dearer than distant relatives." China and ASEAN countries share mountains, waters and amicable sentiments. We should care, help and support each other. Cultural and artistic exchanges and tourism cooperation act as supporting pillars for China-ASEAN relations. With 2017 to be possibly designated as China-ASEAN Year of Tourism Cooperation, I am looking forward to more Chinese tourists visiting Southeast Asian countries, which will definitely help realize the goal set by H. E. Minister Arief Yahya to double the figure of Chinese tourists visiting Indonesia at an earliest date. Of course I am also expecting more tourists from ASEAN countries going to China, to feel more, experience more and understand more of China.

Ladies and gentlemen,

After the reception, I would like to invite all of you to Gala Performance to Celebrate 25 Years of Friendship and Cooperation, co-sponsored by China's Mission to ASEAN, China-ASEAN Center and ASEAN countries. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt appreciation to the Guangxi Arts Institute of China and ASEAN Finance Agency for their fantastic organization. My sincerest thanks also go to the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia, the Permanent Mission of Indonesia to ASEAN, the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to ASEAN, PT Semen Conch, Chamber of Commerce of Anhui in Indonesia, Indonesia Restoran Datang, Acrobatics Troupe of Guangxi Art Performance Group and China Anhui Cheongsan Association for their precious support and contribution.

I sure that all of you would be deeply impressed by the performances of both Chinese and ASEAN artists and I wish their performance a complete success.

On this note, may I propose a toast to the everlasting friendship between China and ASEAN countries, to the brighter future of China-ASEAN strategic partnership and to the good health of happiness of our guests here today. Cheers!

Thank you all.

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