China, ASEAN to embrace brighter future through cooperation

A China-Europe freight train carrying 70 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of machinery parts, textiles, and photovoltaic products departs Hai'an, east China's Jiangsu province for ASEAN countries, May 26. It is the first international freight train traveling from the Yangtze River Delta region to ASEAN countries. People's Daily Online/Jiang Ming

A series of Senior Officials’ Meetings (SOM) on East Asia cooperation, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-China, Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK) SOM, the East Asia Summit (EAS) SOM, and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) SOM, were held on July 20 and 21 via video link.

As countries are still at a key stage in combating COVID-19 and resuming development, the SOMs were of positive significance for regional countries to coordinate epidemic control and development, build political consensus, promote pragmatic cooperation, and push for regional peace, stability, development and prosperity.

China and ASEAN countries are linked by the same mountains and rivers and live alongside each other like members in one big family. China has always taken ASEAN as a priority in its neighborhood diplomacy and a key area for the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

In recent years, the China-ASEAN (10+1) Cooperation Mechanism and the ASEAN plus China, Japan, ROK (10+3) cooperation mechanism embraced constant achievements and significant progress in regional cooperation. After the COVID-19 epidemic broke out, regional countries successfully held a special meeting of leaders of the ASEAN plus China, Japan and the ROK on responding to COVID-19, the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Coronavirus Disease, and the Special ASEAN Plus Three Economic Ministers’ Virtual Conference Meeting on COVID-19 Response. These meetings strengthened the awareness for cooperation, revitalized confidence for cooperation, and chart the course for cooperation. They demonstrated China’s firm resolution to offer mutual assistance during the hard time and its profound friendship with regional countries.

True friendship stands out in difficult times, and countries shall join each other to fight the epidemic. During the past days, the voice of China-ASEAN solidarity and cooperation has become even louder.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha recorded a video clip to promote China-Thailand solidarity amid the COVID-19 epidemic, and Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen’s trip to China amid the epidemic explained the sincere friendship and mutual assistance between China and Cambodia. People from ASEAN countries donated money and supplies to China to root for the Chinese people, and Chinese government, enterprises, and non-government organizations also offered anti-epidemic materials to ASEAN countries and sent medical expert teams to Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, Myanmar and Malaysia. Besides, China has also held video seminars over COVID-19 response with ASEAN countries, sharing its experience without reservation and actively promoting cooperation on drug and vaccine development.

Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN Kung Phoak noted that China’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 epidemic, as well as the valuable support offered by the Chinese government to countries and regions around the world deserve to be praised.

Under regular epidemic prevention and control and orderly work resumption, China and ASEAN countries enjoy even broader prospect for cooperation. China and Singapore established a green channel for personnel exchanges, in an effort to jointly straighten the regional supply and industrial chains. The ASEAN-China Transport Ministers’ Special Meeting on COVID-19 was held recently, during which the two sides agreed to enhance cooperation, jointly safeguard the unimpeded logistics and transportation between China and the ASEAN, and protect the stability of global industrial and supply chains.

In the first half of this year, China’s trade volume with the ASEAN rose 5.6 percent and accounted for 14.7 percent of China’s total foreign trade. The ASEAN is now the largest trading partner of China. The launching of the 2020 China-ASEAN Year of Digital Economy Cooperation will created stronger driving force for the two sides’ economic and social development, and inject new energy into the long-term stability and prosperity of the region.

Standing together against challenges again and again, China and ASEAN countries enjoy increasingly closer ties and greater momentum for cooperation. China is committed to pursuing partnership with its neighbors and a neighborhood diplomacy of amity, sincerity, mutual-benefit and inclusiveness and fostering a harmonious, secure and prosperous neighborhood. China champions a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security in Asia, and is always promoting regional cooperation with an open mind and active attitude.

The joint construction of the BRI by China and ASEAN countries will benefit regional employment and livelihood, and build a closer people-to-people bond. The constant upgrading China-ASEAN strategic partnership, as well as the efforts to sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership are expected to further improve open regional cooperation and depict a new future of common development.

“A partnership forged with the right approach defies geographical distance; it is thicker than glue and stronger than metal and stone.” The joint efforts made by China and ASEAN countries have started a symphony of peace, development, cooperation and win-win results, and a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future is destined to shine brightly.

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