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Wang Yi Attends the ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting

2021-08-03

On August 3, 2021, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting via video link. Foreign Ministers of 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and ASEAN Secretary-General attended the meeting.

Wang Yi hailed ASEAN's key position in China's overall diplomacy, saying China always views ASEAN as a high priority in its neighborhood diplomacy. Since the foreign ministers' meeting last year, the leaders of the two sides have maintained strategic communication to provide political guidance for China-ASEAN relations. The friendly cooperation between the two sides has made new and important progress. First, solidarity in the fight against COVID-19 reflects friendship among neighbors. China regards ASEAN as its primary partner in anti-pandemic cooperation. China has provided more than 190 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the 10 ASEAN countries so far, along with other anti-pandemic supplies. The two sides have launched the China-ASEAN Public Health Cooperation Initiative, and continued to improve the "China-ASEAN vaccine friends" platform, to promote policy communication and information sharing on vaccines. Second, the trade and investment cooperation between China and ASEAN is remarkable. The two sides have maintained the safety, stability and unimpeded flow of regional industrial chains. The policy dividends of the upgraded Protocol of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area have continued to be released. The total volume of trade and investment between the two sides is in a leading position. Third, both sides have made steady progress in sustainable development cooperation. The two sides have organized social development and poverty reduction cooperation forum, environmental cooperation week and other activities. Both sides are actively preparing for the first China-ASEAN ministerial meeting on disaster management this year, and maintain close communication and coordination on the establishment of a blue economy partnership. Fourth, the consultation on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) has maintained momentum. The two sides agreed to resume consultations on the COC text, and intensively hold special video conferences and joint working group meetings, which demonstrates the firm will to fully implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), accelerate the consultation of the COC, and maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Wang Yi said that not long ago, the Chinese people solemnly celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The CPC is uniting and leading the Chinese people in continuing to build China into a great modern socialist country in all respects. The current pandemic situation in China is under effective control, the economy continues to improve, and the society is harmonious and stable, which strongly boosts confidence in global economic recovery. On the new journey, China will unswervingly expand its opening to the outside world, actively build a new development paradigm, and provide new opportunities for the world with its own new development, so as to bring new opportunities for and inject new momentum into China-ASEAN cooperation.

Wang Yi said this year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of dialogue relations between China and ASEAN. As bilateral relations become mature, we should join hands to usher in a new era of cooperation. China would like to send four clear messages:

First, we need to continue to deepen anti-pandemic cooperation. China is ready to stand firmly with ASEAN countries to fully meet their needs for vaccines and other anti-pandemic supplies, fully support ASEAN countries in building a regional vaccine production and distribution center, advance the implementation of the China-ASEAN Public Health Cooperation Initiative, and jointly improve the regional response to the public health crisis. China has been participating in international cooperation on the origin tracing of coronavirus in an open and transparent manner, and has received WHO experts for two joint studies in China. China supports scientists in carrying out the next step of origin tracing work in many countries where early cases have been detected based on the professional spirit and recommendations of the first-stage tracing report released by the WHO, so as to truly provide experience for coping with new epidemics. China stands ready to work with ASEAN countries to firmly oppose politicizing scientific issues, resolutely resist the ravages of the "political virus", and ensure the smooth and healthy development of international anti-pandemic cooperation.

Second, we need to vigorously promote economic recovery. China would like to work with ASEAN to build a new pattern of recovery cooperation between the two sides on all fronts, taking the implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework as the main line, regarding trade and investment cooperation as the basis and seeing the digital economy and green development as new growth points. We should implement the upgraded Protocol of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area and work for the early entry into force and implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. We will deepen synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, and promote high-quality infrastructure cooperation. The two sides should finalize the digital economy partnership action plan at an early date and work together to promote equitable and accessible digital infrastructure. The two sides should vigorously promote cooperation in science, technology and innovation, speed up technology transfer and build a platform for cooperation on innovation and entrepreneurship. China looks forward to the early institutionalization of the China-ASEAN Science and Technology Ministerial Meeting. China proposes that the Year of Sustainable Development Cooperation be extended to 2022 and continue to be the theme of bilateral cooperation to enhance cooperation in green development and low-carbon transition. China looks forward to holding the second China-ASEAN blue economy seminar at an early date. China is ready to negotiate and sign a memorandum of understanding on international development cooperation with ASEAN, and actively consider setting up a development cooperation agency in ASEAN countries. China will continue to increase funding to the China-ASEAN Cooperation Fund and support the expansion of flagship programs for people-to-people exchanges such as the Elite Scholarship, so as to further strengthen social and cultural cooperation between the two sides.

Third, we need to consolidate the existing regional cooperation frameworks. China firmly supports ASEAN centrality in regional cooperation and ASEAN's greater role in international and regional issues. China understands ASEAN's original intention to put forward its own outlook and vision on regional architecture, and is ready to explore concrete cooperation with ASEAN in areas of consensus. At the same time, any new cooperation ideas should be conducive to maintaining the existing open and inclusive architecture, to ensure the right direction of regional cooperation. China does not approve or participate in any cooperation mechanism that undermines ASEAN centrality.

Fourth, we need to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea. China will continue to honor its commitments regarding the DOC. China is committed to peaceful settlement of disputes by countries directly concerned through consultation and negotiation, and will continue to refrain from unilateral actions that aggravate tensions and widen differences, and deepen practical maritime cooperation. The COC is being further interpreted online, and its foreword has been basically agreed by all parties concerned, which once again proves that as long as we maintain the common political will to advance the consultation, no matter the pandemic or external interference, no difficulty can stop us. China's sovereign rights and interests in the South China Sea conform to international laws, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. China has never raised any new claim, but we will stick to our consistent position. With the joint efforts of China and ASEAN, the South China Sea has maintained a stable situation in general and the freedom of navigation and overflight have been protected by the law. However, we should be vigilant that some countries outside the region have become the biggest disruptors of peace and stability in the South China Sea. The South China Sea is not and should not become a wrestling ground for great powers.

The foreign ministers of ASEAN countries once again congratulated on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC and spoke highly of China's substantial achievements in the pandemic response and economic and social development. They fully acknowledged the positive progress made in ASEAN-China relations, especially the results of the joint fight against the pandemic. They thanked China for being the earliest and the fastest to offer vital assistance with vaccines and other supplies to ASEAN countries, appreciated China's solid support for the ASEAN integration and regional connectivity. They believe that China and the ASEAN are the most substantive and vigorous partners, and agreed to build a strategic partnership of a higher level. They said that as a reasonable, wise and reliable power, China has no fear of power politics to safeguard international fairness and justice. China's further development will bring greater opportunities for the development of all ASEAN countries.

The foreign ministers said that ASEAN countries are ready to make the series of East Asia leaders' meetings and the meeting commemorating the 30th anniversary of China-ASEAN dialogue relations a full success. They will continue solidarity and cooperation with China, resolve the two issues of pandemic response and economic development, and deepen cooperation and capacity-building in the fields of connectivity, disaster prevention and relief, sustainable development and digital transformation. ASEAN is committed to upholding a rules-based free trade system, and is willing to promote regional economic integration with China. The two sides need to maintain the momentum of the COC consultations, enhance mutual trust, avoid any escalation of the situation, jointly safeguard the peace, stability and security of the South China Sea, and bolster regional development and prosperity.

Wang Yi concluded that the meeting today is a success, full of friendship, mutual trust and harmony. I thank friends from all countries for their congratulations on the CPC's centennial anniversary. I would like to reiterate that a growing China means greater strength for peace and regional stability. China will always be a reliable, good neighbor, good friend and good partner of ASEAN countries. China is willing to maintain communication with the ASEAN, ensure the complete success of the series of the East Asia leaders' meetings and the meeting commemorating the 30th anniversary of China-ASEAN dialogue relations, and promote the building of China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership.

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