China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are adopting a strategic partnership guideline toward 2030, as leaders gathered for their annual meeting on Nov 14 in Singapore.
Premier Li Keqiang, attending the 21st China-ASEAN (10+1) leaders’ meeting, commended the strong partnership and deep economic cooperation between China and ASEAN countries.
Reflecting on the profound changes of global and regional situations, Premier Li said the political trust and cooperation between China and ASEAN countries have grown from strength to strength, and the two sides have become an important presence on the world stage.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the strategic partnership between China and ASEAN.
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who chaired the meeting, also commended the China-ASEAN cooperation.
Lee told the summit that China and ASEAN are expected to adopt the China-ASEAN strategic partnership vision 2030 statement, chartering the strategic direction of bilateral cooperation.
Lee said the bilateral ties are strong and mutually beneficial, and the two sides have deepened mutual trust and understanding and managed the differences peacefully and in the spirit of goodwill.
He also highlighted economic achievements. He said China has been ASEAN’s top trading partner for eight consecutive years. In 2017, the China-ASEAN merchandized trade volume reached $442 billion, representing 17 percent of ASEAN’s totally merchandized trade. The two sides inked a free-trade agreement in 2010, and it was upgraded in 2015.
Progress has been made this year, as Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiation is approaching the finishing line, Lee noted.
Echoing Lee’s remarks, the Premier announced that China and all ASEAN countries concluded the upgrade of the China-ASEAN FTA regarding all domestic producers on Nov 13, which means the economic and investment collaboration will scale new height.
Premier Li will also attend the 21st ASEAN-China, Japan and South Korea (10+3) leaders’ meeting later on Nov 14 and the 13th East Asia Summit in the following days.
Mutual development between the two sides
China and ASEAN have worked hard to ensure mutual development.
In January 2010, they launched a free trade area, driving down tariffs to nearly zero.
Chinese companies are actively involved in infrastructure construction in the region.
For example, China and Laos are working together to build a 414-kilometer high-speed rail network linking the two countries.
China’s Huawei has helped Brunei build its first 3G and 4G mobile networks, providing services to more than 400,000 people.
In Cambodia, China Datang Corporation has built a hydropower plant and invested in a power transmission project.
In terms of security, in August 2017, China and ASEAN countries inked a framework for a Code of Conduct, or COC, for the South China Sea — a milestone 15 years in the making.
The COC is a proposed set of regional norms and rules aimed at preventing disputes from devolving into a war.
Progress continued a year later in August 2018, with the agreement on negotiating the text of the COC framework.
Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said at the China-ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting that “this will be a living document, and it will be the basis for future COC negotiations.”
Foreign Minister Wang Yi called it a “breakthrough for the COC negotiations.”
“This also proves that China and ASEAN members have the capability to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea,” Wang said.