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Xi advocates closer China-ASEAN cooperation

Pub Date:2021-11-23 08:22 Source:China Daily

He pledges to offer bloc another 150 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines

President Xi Jinping and leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations jointly mapped out a new vision for future cooperation on Monday, as the two sides elevated bilateral relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

At a virtual summit commemorating the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-China dialogue relations, Xi announced a number of measures to further bilateral ties, pledging to offer another 150 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the bloc, as well as $1.5 billion in development aid over the next three years.

During his first group meeting with leaders from the 10-member bloc, Xi reiterated that China will unswervingly regard ASEAN as a high priority in its neighborhood diplomacy, support the bloc's unity and community building, its centrality in the regional architecture and it playing a bigger role in regional and international affairs.

He said the elevation of bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership, a new milestone in bilateral relations, will inject fresh impetus into regional and global peace, stability, prosperity and growth.

The president summed up the experience from bilateral relations over the past 30 years in four respects, saying that the gains from bilateral cooperation can be attributed to geographical proximity, cultural affinity and, more importantly, the fact that both sides have embraced the development trend of the times and "made the right historical choice".

ASEAN became China's largest trading partner in 2020, and bilateral trade continued to maintain strong growth momentum this year, with bilateral trade reaching 4.08 trillion yuan ($639 billion) in the first three quarters, up 21.1 percent.

The president made a five-point proposal for China-ASEAN relations to go forward, highlighting the need for the two sides to jointly build a peaceful, safe, secure, prosperous, beautiful and amicable home together.

"We need to pursue dialogue instead of confrontation, build partnerships instead of alliances, and make concerted efforts to address the various negative factors that might threaten or undermine peace," he said.

He went on to say that China will never seek hegemony, still less bully smaller countries, and the nation supports ASEAN's efforts to build a nuclear weapon-free zone.

He unveiled a China-ASEAN health shield initiative, which, in addition to vaccine donations, includes an additional $5 million donation to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund, joint vaccine production and technology transfer and helping the bloc build a primary-level public health system and talent training.

He reiterated the importance of safeguarding stability in the South China Sea and making it a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation.

The nation is ready to import more quality products from ASEAN, including buying up to $150 billion worth of agricultural products from ASEAN in the next five years, he said, adding that cooperation between the Belt and Road Initiative and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific should be stepped up.

China will provide 1,000 items of advanced and applicable technology to ASEAN and launch a program for 300 young scientists from ASEAN to come to China for exchanges in the next five years, he said.

Xi stressed the need to actively consider the resumption of international travel in the post-pandemic period, saying that China will enhance cooperation with ASEAN in vocational education and mutual recognition of diplomas and increase the number of recipients of the China-ASEAN Young Leaders Scholarship.

The two sides also issued a joint statement after the summit, which reaffirmed bilateral cooperation in areas including politics, the economy, society, culture and regional and international affairs.

Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Jianghao said the summit between Xi and ASEAN leaders opened a new chapter for the growth of bilateral relations.

The ASEAN leaders expressed their readiness to work with China to develop a meaningful, substantive and mutually beneficial comprehensive strategic partnership, he said.


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