ASEAN foreign ministers commend China's regional role
ASEAN Foreign Ministers link hands "The ASEAN Way" at the opening ceremony of the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting at the Philippine International Convention Center Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017. [Photo: AP/Mohd Rasfan]
The foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) commended on Sunday the growing role of China in this region, saying the region continues to reap the fruits of China's strong economic growth.
In a joint communique of the 50th ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting, the ministers also stressed the need for more economic integration between ASEAN and China and the need to have more high-level dialogues and exchanges.
"We acknowledged China's growing role in the region and highlighted that China's economic growth continues to benefit the region," the ministers said.
"We called on both sides to continue promoting economic integration. We looked forward to more high-level dialogues and exchanges between ASEAN and China," the ministers said.
The ministers also welcomed the entry into force of the Protocol to Amend the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Certain Agreements thereunder between ASEAN and China (ACFTA Upgrade Protocol) and looked forward to the early ratification of the protocol by the remaining parties.
"This will help support the twin goals to reach a two-way trade and investment of 1 trillion U.S. dollars and 150 billion U.S. dollars respectively by 2020," the communique said.
The ministers also noted "with satisfaction" the progress made in the implementation of the ASEAN-China Air Transport Agreement (AC-ATA).
"We looked forward to working toward full liberalization of the AC-ATA and the full implementation of the upgraded ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement," they said.
The ministers also welcomed the various activities held in ASEAN member states and in China this year to celebrate the ASEAN-China Year of Tourism Cooperation to promote people-to-people exchanges, mutual trust and understanding.
"We noted that the ASEAN-China Year of Tourism Cooperation coincides with the Visit ASEAN@50 campaign, which seeks to promote ASEAN as a single unified travel destination," the ministers said, adding these mutually reinforcing events will further promote tourism cooperation between the two sides.
The ministers also noted the signing of the revised Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of the ASEAN-China Center, which will further enhance the role of the ASEAN -China Center in Beijing in promoting trade, investment, tourism, equation and culture between ASEAN and China for mutual benefit.
"We agreed to work on the joint statement between ASEAN and China on Tourism Cooperation to be issued at the 20th ASEAN-China Summit in November 2017," the ministers said.
They said they also agreed "to work together to enhance cross-pillar cooperation in other areas of mutual interest, such as anti-corruption, and infrastructure and environmental protection."
The ministers said they look forward to the commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership in 2018 and agreed that both sides would issue an ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership Vision Statement at the 21st ASEAN-China Summit next year.
"We also look forward to the designation of 2018 as the ASEAN-China Year of Innovation Cooperation," the ministers said.
The ASEAN ministers held their meeting on Saturday. But they failed to issue the joint communique at the close of their meeting and instead release them to the media on Sunday.
China is one of the dialogue partners of ASEAN that groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.