B&R can complement ASEAN 2025

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/18 21:28:40

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Editor's Note:

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of ASEAN, and its cooperation with China has been outstanding these years. What should be done to boost cooperation between Beijing's Belt and Road initiative (B&R) and ASEAN 2025, a forward-looking roadmap that articulates ASEAN aspirations and goals as a community? What are prospects of China-ASEAN relations? Scholars exchange their views on these issues at a seminar hosted by Mission of the People's Republic of China to ASEAN, Beijing Review and Pangoal Institution in Beijing recently.

Yu Hongjun, former vice minister of International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, honorary president of Academic Committee, Pangoal Institution

The Belt and Road initiative is China's effort to further expand, participate and mobilize economic globalization while moving China closer to the center of the international stage. It is also a declaration seeking common development and achieving mutually beneficial cooperation among neighboring countries. The Southeast Asian region, where ASEAN countries are located, had been an area hit hard in history by plunder, slavery, exploitation and oppression in the colonial era.

Entering a new century in the context of a multi-polar world, economic globalization, regional integration, power balancing, and an accelerating shift of world development toward the Asia-Pacific region, the relationship between China and ASEAN has achieved rapid development.

In 2002, China signed a Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation with ASEAN. In 2003, the two sides signed a joint declaration on strategic partnership for peace and prosperity; China became the first ASEAN foreign strategic partner, and also became the first non-ASEAN country to join the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia.

However, there are still challenges such as the declining trade volume between China and ASEAN, far from our expectation of $1 trillion by 2020. More Chinese investment in ASEAN is needed. The socio-economic development strategy of ASEAN countries is not always in accordance with each other. To fully realize political communication, infrastructure linkage, trade freedom, financial communication, and cultural understanding proposed by the Belt and Road initiative, we need to work together in a detailed and consistent manner.

AKP Mochtan, deputy secretary-general of ASEAN for Community & Corporate Affairs

What we have achieved in the last 50 years are the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC), ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC).

The APSC is dedicated to addressing non-traditional security challenges, such as terrorism and extremism while striving for a peaceful resolution to conflicts through trust building and preventative diplomacy. The AEC aims to establish an integrated market boosting seamless regional trade and investment. As the sixth largest economy in the world and third largest in Asia, ASEAN is a high-powered engine within the global economy. Meanwhile, China-proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnerships (RCEP) will spur ASEAN development. The ASCC strives for inclusive human development encompassing education, health, women's rights, children, youth and people with disabilities, sustainable development in renewable energy, climate change and so forth.

There are vast new opportunities in China-ASEAN relations. Initiatives including the Framework for South China Sea Code of Conduct and the RCEP are being finalized. Both sides are putting in more effort to enhance local regional cooperation as well. Through nearly 5,000 direct flights weekly, 37 cities in ASEAN are connected with 52 cities in China. Implementation of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area means both sides are on track to achieving the total trade target of $1 trillion by 2020. China's Belt and Road initiative and the Chinese Dream are in line with ASEAN 2025. The two sides should find the nexus of our aspirations.

Li Yafang, president of Beijing Review

ASEAN's location and long-standing trade ties with China have made it vital to the Belt and Road initiative. On November 7, 2015, President Xi Jinping gave a speech at the National University of Singapore where he said China's neighbors are the main partners in the Belt and Road initiative and they will be the first to benefit from it. He also said China welcomes its neighbors to get involved in the initiative and join hands to realize the vision of peace, development and win-win cooperation.

The China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor is an important tool for this purpose. This land bridge links China with the Indochina Peninsula, passing through Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia. When this landmark project is implemented, it will serve as an example for future cooperation.

ASEAN's growth blueprint, ASEAN Community Vision 2025, can be aligned with China's Belt and Road initiative. Media cooperation between China and ASEAN can also strengthen and deepen bilateral relations and contribute to greater exchanges and cooperation.

Zhao Xiyuan, secretary-general of China Public Diplomacy Association

ASEAN countries are China's neighbors and important friends. ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations started at the opening session of the 24th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Kuala Lumpur in July 1991.

China's then foreign minister Qian Qichen attended the meeting and five years later, China was accorded full dialogue partner status in Jakarta. Qian passed away recently but his legacy will continue. China-ASEAN relations will flourish based on the foundations laid by our predecessors. 

Today, under the framework of the Belt and Road initiative, there are boundless opportunities for China and ASEAN to tap into. One of the flagship projects is the high-speed railway between Jakarta and Bandung, which is set to be built by Indonesian and Chinese companies.


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