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Remarks by Madame Jiang Qin at the ASEAN Studies Center, Gaja Mada University

(From Chinese Mission to ASEAN)

2017/12/27

(22 December 2017, Yogyakarta)

Dear faculty and students,

Good Morning!

It is a great pleasure to visit Yogyakarta, a great city known for its rich history and culture. It is also an honor to visit the ASEAN Studies Center of the Gaja Mada University, top of its kind in Indonesia. Over the past few years, our Mission has built good cooperative relations with your institute. Dr. Dafri Agussalim has been a frequent and most popular participants at our workshops and symposiums, contributing your wisdom on China-ASEAN relations. I wish to take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation to Dr. Dafri and the ASEAN Studies Center for your dedicated work to promote ASEAN and its relations with dialogue partners including China.

Now, since it is my first time here, I wish to take this opportunity to share some views on how we see ASEAN as a whole, how far our relationship has come and how China will develop itself both internally and externally.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of ASEAN. Over the past half a century, ASEAN has come a long way and accomplished so much that was unimaginable even for its founding fathers. Some scholars like Kishore Mahbubani call it "a miracle". Indeed, ASEAN has turned a sub-region once mired in war and turmoil into a land of peace and stability; it has transformed a once poor and under-developed region into one of the world's most dynamic and promising economic powerhouse. In an era of growing uncertainty and pessimism, ASEAN should claim the credit as a most important regional organization that contributes to peace and prosperity and a role model of seeking strength and harmony among differences and diversity.

ASEAN is China's close neighbor joined by land and sea. But ASEAN to us is more than its geographic proximity. We are neighbors that can not and will not move, and we are also centuries-old partners as well as brothers and sisters that see each other's growth as an opportunity.

ASEAN and the South-east Asia is high on China's diplomatic agenda, and also a priority region in the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative. There were some historic baggages in the development of our relations, which to some extent delayed the establishment of our dialogue relationship. But since the launch of the dialogue process in 1991, China-ASEAN relations have leapfroged by each passing day. It is fair to say that it has become one of the most vigorous and dynamic relationships for ASEAN with its dialogue partners. The achievements are for everyone to see. Let me just name a few.

First, on the political front. Our leaders have maintained constant dialogues at the annual ASEAN summit and related summits ever since 1997. They also pay frequent visits among each other like family members. Just within this year, heads of state and government of all the 10 ASEAN countries have visited China, and the Chinese President and Premier also visited a number of ASEAN countries. There have been over 10 ministerial-level meeting mechanisms and more than 20 senior-official-level meeting mechanisms across various sectors between China and ASEAN. Meanwhile, our joint efforts on upholding peace and stability of the South China Sea is also yielding progress. We have reached agreement on the framework of the COC and is moving onto the negotiations of the text itself. Our cooperation under the framework of the DOC has delivered concrete benefits, with the establishment of the hot-line among senior officials of MFAs in response to emergencies at sea and the first large-scale maritime rescue and research drill between China and ASEAN countries last October.

It is particularly worth mentioning that among ASEAN's dialogue partners, China was the first to sign the TAC, the first to establish strategic partnership with ASEAN, and the first to initiate free trade negotiations with ASEAN. This speaks volume of China's commitment to promoting friendship and amity with ASEAN, which has also energized other partners to pursue relations with ASEAN and drive the process of East Asia cooperation.

Second, on trade and economic links.You must know that we are each other's major trading partners, but our economic relationship is more than that. In the past five years, China's imports from ASEAN has surpassed US$1 trillion and its direct investment in ASEAN has reached US$36 billion. This has made China an important export market and source of investment for ASEAN countries. We have established the largest Free Trade Area among developing countries named CAFTA, with a market of nearly 2 billion people. Our trade volume topped US$ 452 billion in 2016, almost 56 times larger than that of 1991. China became ASEAN's biggest trading partner for eight consecutive years and ASEAN China's third largest trading partner for six years in a row. In the first ten months this year alone, the two-way trade reached US$ 410 billion, with a year-on-year increase of 14.2%, an impressive growth showing the strength of our trading relations.

Third, on the social-cultural front. We have hosted a number of theme years over the past few years, including the Year of Cultural Cooperation, the Year of Maritime Cooperation and the Year of Educational Exchange, etc. This year marks the Year of China-ASEAN Tourism Cooperation. Together, we issued the "China-ASEAN Joint Statement on Tourism Cooperation" at the China-ASEAN Summit in Manila last month and we will hold the first China-ASEAN Tourism Ministers' Meeting early next year. Last year, over 38 million visits were made between China and ASEAN countries, almost 10 times up from that of 2003. Every week, more than 2,700 flights shuttle between hundreds of cities in China and ASEAN. China is now the largest source of foreign tourists to ASEAN.

Now let me also take this opportunity to share some key messages from the recently concluded 19th CPC National Congress in China and its implications to the growth of China-ASEAN relations.

The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China was successfully concluded in October. The Congress marks a significant milestone for China's development. The report delivered by General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee and President Xi Jinping gave a comprehensive summary of the achievements in the past five years, and charted the course for China in the coming decades. He also made an assertion that China has entered a historic position of a new era.

A 3-stage development plan for China over the next 30 years and more has been laid out, i.e., building a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020, basically realizing socialist modernization by 2035, and developing China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful by the middle of the century. Such is the blueprint and vision that will guide China in the years and decades to come.

China will sustain a growth speed of about 6% while deepening the reform and opening-up. It is estimated that in the next 5 years, China will import 8 trillion U.S. dollars of goods, absorb 600 billion U.S. dollars of foreign investment, and invest around 750 billion U.S. dollars abroad. China's development will provide huge opportunities and broad space for cooperation. China cannot achieve the development without the support and cooperation with the rest of the world. We will work closely with other members of the international community, including ASEAN, to bring about common prosperity for all.

Besides elaborating on the thoughts on building Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and the basic policy guidelines, President Xi Jinping also outlined China's foreign policy and the ways and approaches it will engage with the rest of the world in the coming decades.

China will champion peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit and promote friendship and cooperation with other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. The overriding goal of China's foreign policy is to foster a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice, and win-win cooperation, and build a community with a shared future for mankind.

When it comes to China's policy towards neighboring countries, the principle of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness as well as the traditional policy of forging friendship and partnership with our neighbors will be the guiding philosophy, which also serves as the policy basis for China to pursue relations with ASEAN.

Dear friends,

China-ASEAN relations are now undergoing a new transformation, from speed-driven to quality-driven. At the APEC and ASEAN Informal Dialogue in Viet Nam last November, President Xi Jinping reiterated the goal of building a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future. And a few days later at the ASEAN-China Summit in Manila, Premier Li Keqiang proposed a "3 + X" cooperation framework, underpinned by the three pillars of political and security cooperation, economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges and supported by cooperation across multiple sectors. Not long ago, Vice Premier Liu Yandong visited the ASEAN Secretariat, met with ASEAN Secretary-General Lee Luong Minh, and held in-depth discussions with the Permanent Representatives of ASEAN member states, again a reflection of China's commitment to ASEAN and China-ASEAN cooperation.

With immense prospects for the future of China-ASEAN relations, both sides can further step up efforts in the following aspects:

First, continue to deepen political mutual trust. Political mutual trust is the precondition and guarantee of friendly cooperation. We shall focus on the big picture of peace and development. We shall always view each other as an opportunity, respect each other's national conditions and path of development, and accommodate each other's major concerns.China will continue to be a firm supporter of ASEAN communities, ASEAN centrality in regional cooperation, and a greater role by ASEAN in regional and international affairs. The two sides will continue to maintain close high-level exchanges, strengthen policy dialogue, deepen political security cooperation and continuously enhance mutual understanding and trust.

Second, develop a joint vision for China-ASEAN relations and form greater synergy among our developing strategies. Next year will mark the 15th anniversary of China-ASEAN strategic partnership, China and ASEAN countries will formulate a China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership Vision 2030, drawing a blueprint for the development of China-ASEAN relations over the next 15 years,and further synergizing the Belt and Road Initiative with ASEAN's developing strategies, especially the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025. There is a saying in China, "if we want to be rich, we must first build roads", which emphasizes the importance of infrastructure connectivity. Only when good connectivity is achieved, can we better carry out economic and trade cooperation.

Take my trip to Yogyakarta as an example. I would rather take the train from Jakarta to Yogyakarta instead of the flight as it could provide better knowledge of the country. However, I gave up this idea after I found out that it would take about 9 hours to finish this 500-kilometer-travel between the two cites. I believe that when the extension of the Jakarta-Badung High-speed Rail reaches Yogyakarta in the future, the travel time between the two places will be reduced to two to three hours, which I believe will greatly promote the economic development along the route.

Next year will be the Year of China-ASEAN Innovation Cooperation, which syncs well with the theme of ASEAN "Resilience and Innovation" as released by Singapore, the incoming Chair of ASEAN. China and ASEAN have a lot to share and work together in this regard, and may very likely open up new areas of cooperation such as the digital economy and e-commerce. Friends from Gadjah Mada University are also welcome to participate in these activities.

Third, raise the level of socio-cultural cooperation. Mutual understanding and trust among the people is both the source and drive for closer China-ASEAN relations. We should make full use of research institutions to study on China-ASEAN relations and promote closer cooperation among universities, think tanks and media organizations. China and ASEAN countries are implementing the Plan of Action for China-ASEAN Education Cooperation (2017-2020), and China will provide more than 20,000 government scholarships to ASEAN countries in the next three years. At the same time, we are also implementing the Upgraded Version of the China-ASEAN Double 100,000 Students Plan, and the China-ASEAN Human Resource Development Program, and will invite 3,000 more ASEAN visitors to China for study programs in 2018.

There are around 420,000 foreign students currently studying in China, including 14,000 from Indonesia. We hope that UGM will continue to play an active role in promoting China-ASEAN people-to-people exchanges and education cooperation. We Sincerely welcome students from UGM to study in China, and our Mission will provide all the assistance we can.

China and ASEAN countries are also vigorously promoting the mutual visits of tourists and striving to increase the number of Chinese tourists traveling to ASEAN by 30% to 50%. Yogyakarta, home to World Heritage Borobudur Temple and Prambanan Temple, is a city with a profound historical heritage. It has rich tourism resources and enjoys good reputation among Chinese tourists. With China-ASEAN relations deepening, more and more Chinese tourists will come to Indonesia and visit Yogyakarta in the future.

Dear teachers and students,

Young people are what our relationship is all about and working for. You represent the future of your nation, and the promise of our relationship. Only with the understanding and involvement of the young people in moving forward our relations, can the friendship be passed on from generation to generation.

As important is the role of teachers. As an ancient Chinese proverb reads, "there are numerous talents out there but few wise headhunters." It is both a glorious mission and heavy task to educate the young and inspire their minds. We sincerely hope that all the teachers and students present here will join us for the further growth of China-ASEAN relations. You are welcome to visit China either for study, academic exchanges, or just for tourism, which will all in their own way contribute to exchanges and mutual understanding between the two sides, and the goal of building a closer China-ASEAN community of shared future. My colleagues and I are always ready to support and assist your efforts in this regard.

Thank you!

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