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China-ASEAN strategic partnership enter a new stage of development: Chinese FM

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Saturday that China-ASEAN strategic partnership has entered a new stage of higher-level development after experiencing a golden decade of development.

Wang made the remarks when he attended the China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Myanmar's capital of Nay Pyi Taw Saturday,

He said last year, the two sides marked the 10th anniversary of the China-ASEAN strategic partnership. President Xi Jinping had championed joint efforts to build an even closer China-ASEAN community of common destiny, charting the course for long-term development of China-ASEAN relations.

Premier Li Keqiang further proposed the 2+7 cooperation framework, mapping out practical cooperation in various areas.

Wang Yi stated that China and ASEAN share common interests as well as a common destiny. No matter how the international situation may evolve, China will continue to take ASEAN as a priority in its neighborhood diplomacy.

China firmly supports a more prosperous and stronger ASEAN and ASEAN's centrality in regional cooperation, as well as the conclusion of ASEAN community building in 2015.

Wang Yi stressed that China is committed to the path of peaceful development and pursues a policy of good-neighborliness and friendship with its neighbors. China has maintained steady and sound economic growth, reform in various sectors has deepened and its opening-up and cooperation with the rest of the world has continuously expanded.

China will continue to offer more development opportunities and cooperation space for ASEAN countries and other countries in the region.

China stands ready to work with ASEAN to pursue good- neighborliness and friendship, strengthen solidarity and mutual assistance and realize common development, in order to make greater contribution to peace, development and prosperity of the region and beyond.

Wang Yi put forward 12 specific initiatives on three fronts for the purpose of advancing China-ASEAN relations through cooperation under the 2+7 cooperation framework.

On the political front, he stressed making sure that leaders have even closer interactions to build up trust, strengthen communication and lead cooperation between the two sides; holding of a China-ASEAN informal leaders' meeting in conjunction with the China-ASEAN Expo and the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference; pushing forward conclusion of a China-ASEAN treaty on good- neighborliness, friendship and cooperation; signing with ASEAN the Protocol to the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone at an early date; strengthening strategic planning and kick- start the formulation of the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on the ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity (2016-2020).

On the regional front, he emphasized acceleration of the negotiation on an upgraded version of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area; jointly building the 21st century maritime Silk Road; establishing the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank at an early date; enhancing dialogue and cooperation between China and countries along the Mekong river; expanding security cooperation and inviting ASEAN defense ministers to attend the first informal China-ASEAN defense ministers' meeting in China in 2015.

On the maritime cooperation front, he also stressed designation of the year 2015 as the China-ASEAN maritime cooperation year; advancing dialogue and cooperation among coastal countries of the South China Sea; and promoting joint development at sea through dialogue and negotiation.

On the South China Sea issue, Wang Yi said that full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) is the truly effective approach to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea. Thanks to joint efforts of China and ASEAN, positive progress has been made in implementing the DOC. China is ready to strengthen dialogue and cooperation with ASEAN to deepen practical cooperation within the framework of the DOC and push for the early conclusion of a code of conduct of the parties in the South China Sea (COC) through consensus. A China-ASEAN special SOM will be held in China this coming September, and the 8th SOM and the 12th Joint Working Group Meeting on the implementation of the DOC will be held in Thailand this October, in order to reach agreement on sorting out previous documents of commonalities and identifying the terms of reference of the Eminent Persons and Experts Group ( EPEG) by the end of the year as the early harvest of COC consultations.

Wang Yi emphasized that China and ASEAN countries have the ability and wisdom to make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation.

ASEAN foreign ministers stated that ASEAN and China have built a high level of mutual trust and deepened their partnership for peace and prosperity in the past decade. ASEAN-China relations have contributed significantly to peace, stability and prosperity of the region and China has become an irreplaceable strategic partner of ASEAN. ASEAN countries support China's peaceful development, and China's constructive role is an important guarantee to upholding peace, stability and common development of the region.

The 2+7 cooperation initiative proposed by China has demonstrated China's sincerity and determination to advance ASEAN- China relations and has become the foundation on which to deepen relations between the two sides.

ASEAN countries attach great importance to relations with China and stand ready to build a new diamond decade of ASEAN-China relations.

ASEAN countries are ready to discuss with China conclusion of a treaty of good-neighborliness, friendship and cooperation and launch the action plan for the next five years.

The two sides will work to promote an upgraded version of the ACFTA and RCEP negotiation, deepen connectivity, and jointly build the 21st century maritime Silk Road.

ASEAN supports and is willing to take an active part in the building of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. ASEAN will expand exchanges with China in culture, tourism and education to increase the friendly sentiments between people of the two sides. ASEAN wants to work with China to address traditional and non- traditional security challenges and enhance disaster reduction and relief capacity.

ASEAN countries voiced their readiness to work together with China to fully implement the DOC and move forward COC consultations to jointly uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea.

[Source: Xinhua, Nay Pyi Taw, 09Aug14]

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