Chinese foreign minister hails country's ties with ASEAN

Sunday, Jul 24,2011, 10:16:18 PM

Bali, Indonesia, 23 July - Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi was jointly interviewed by Chinese media after attending the ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] Regional Forum's foreign ministers meeting on 23 July. The full text follows:

1. How would you appraise the current ASEAN Regional Forum foreign ministers serial meetings?

Answer: At the invitation of Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty, I attended the ASEAN-China (10+1) foreign ministers meeting, the ASEAN-China-Japan-ROK (10+3) foreign ministers meeting, the East Asian Summit foreign ministers meeting, and the 18th ASEAN Regional Forum foreign ministers meeting to exchange in-depth views with various countries' foreign ministers on China-ASEAN relations, East Asian cooperation, as well as international and regional issues of common concern. With regard to the 10+1 cooperation, ASEAN countries' foreign ministers and I highly appraised the achievements in China-ASEAN relations for the past 20 years. All of us expressed the need to constantly promote pragmatic cooperation and political mutual trust between each others' countries. The Chinese side put forth a series of new initiatives, which were welcomed by ASEAN countries. The foreign ministers of China and ASEAN countries adopted the guidelines on implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, thereby paving the way for implementing the declaration and promoting pragmatic cooperation in the South China Sea.

With regard to the 10+3 cooperation, the Chinese side emphasized the need to make 10+3 play the main role of channel in East Asian cooperation. All parties agreed to boost pragmatic cooperation in the sectors of finances, rice emergency storage, and think tank construction, take the 15th anniversary of cooperation next year as an opportunity to promote the 10+3 cooperation toward in-depth development.

At the East Asian Summit foreign ministers meeting, the participants discussed the future development direction of the summit. The Chinese side stressed the need to uphold the "leaders-led" nature of the strategic forum of the East Asian Summit. The participants conducted discussions on deepening cooperation in five major aspects and reached a positive consensus in this respect. Taken as a whole, the current serial foreign ministers meetings have achieved positive results in promoting East Asian pragmatic cooperation, increasing mutual trust between countries in this region, maintaining regional stability, promoting regional development, and making preparations for East Asian serial leaders meetings to be held by the end of this year.

2. How do you view the current China-ASEAN relations? Please provide a briefing on both sides' cooperation and the future development.

Answer: In the past 20 years since the establishment China-ASEAN dialogue relations, both sides have traversed the course of development from establishment, to good-neighborliness, to mutual trust, and to strategic partnership. Both sides have comprehensively established a free trade zone and China has become the first largest trade partner of ASEAN. Both sides have continually expanded and deepened pragmatic cooperation in various fields and attained fruitful results in this respect. In face of the Asian and international financial crises, the Indian Ocean tsunami, Wenchuan's earthquake, and other major challenges, both sides have sincerely helped each other and overcome the difficulties together. China-ASEAN all-dimensional, wide-sphere, and multi-tier cooperation has provided a good basis for various countries to materialize mutual benefit, win-win results, and common development.

Promoting regional economic integration and maintaining the momentum and vitality of the Asian economic growth are the common tasks of Asian countries. As strategic partners, China and ASEAN should continue to maintain regional stability, promote common prosperity and development, and take these as the main tasks, support each other, closely cooperate with each other, put into practic e the second action plan between both sides, build well the China-ASEAN free trade zone, push forward interconnections, beef up cooperation in the fields of agriculture, environmental protection, disaster alleviation, and health care, and stimulate social and humanistic exchanges.

In November this year, China and ASEAN will hold the 20th commemorative summit of the establishment of their dialogue relations. Both sides should make joint efforts for the success of the commemorative summit and elevate bilateral relations to a higher level.

3. With the participation of the United States and Russia, East Asian cooperation has experienced a change. How does the Chinese side view the development of East Asian cooperation?

Answer: In the past several years, East Asian countries, through the mechanisms of 10+1, 10+3, China-Japan-ROK Summit, and East Asian Summit, have conducted pragmatic cooperation in the sectors of economy, trade, finances, social relations, humanities, energy, and environmental protection, thereby making positive contributions to promoting mutual understanding and friendship between countries in this region and maintaining regional stability and development. These achievements are worthy of affirmation.

With regard to the future development of East Asian cooperation, the Chinese side has the following points to note:

First, the East Asian and Asia-Pacific regions should develop simultaneously. Each has its own advantages and has played a positive role in promoting regional peace, stability, and prosperity. These mechanisms should continue to supplement each other and promote each other.

Second, development is still the main task of East Asian countries. We should aim at common development and continue to strive for positive progress by strongly promoting pragmatic cooperation in various fields.

Third, East Asian cooperation should remain open and inclusive. The Chinese side welcomes the participation of Russia and the United States in the East Asian Summit. We hope that the enlarged East Asian Summit will play a better role as the strategic forum and make greater contributions to East Asia's peace, stability, and prosperity.

Fourth, East Asian cooperation should continue to proceed under the ASEAN-led principle. We believe that ASEAN can control well the development direction of regional cooperation, safeguard the common interests of East Asian countries, and maintain the situation of good cooperation acquired by East Asian countries through years of hard work.

4. What role do you think has the ASEAN Regional Forum played in maintaining regional security?

Answer: As an official security dialogue and cooperation platform with the longest history and broadest membership in the Asia-Pacific region, the ASEAN Regional Forum has played an important role in increasing mutual trust between member nations, strengthening security dialogue and cooperation, and promoting regional peace and stability. In the present situation, the forum should continue to uphold the effective principles of mutual respect for sovereignty, noninterference in each other's internal affairs, consultations for unanimity, and taking care of various parties' comfortableness; deepen, consolidate, and build measures for mutual trust; and in the meantime conduct cooperation in combating terrorism, cracking down on transnational crimes, providing disaster rescue, preventing proliferation, enforcing maritime security, and in other nontraditional security fields. China highly values the role of the ASEAN Regional Forum, is willing to work with its member nations to help perfect the forum's mechanism, improve its efficiency, broaden its influence, and make positive contributions to building a peaceful, stable, prosperous, and harmonious regional security environment.

5. Some countries commented on the South China Sea issue at the ASEAN Regional Forum foreign ministers meeting. What is your view on this?

Answer: The ASEAN Regional Forum foreign ministers meeting and the other relevant occasions are important platforms for various countries to increase mutual trust and boost cooperation. These are not the sites to discuss the South China Sea issue. With regard to some countries' mention of the South China Sea issue at such meetings, I expounded the Chinese Government's consistent stand and pointed out that navigation in the South China Sea is free and the sea routes are safe. Disputes on sovereignty over some reef islets and jurisdiction should be directly discussed and negotiated by the claimant parties in a friendly manner and resolved by peaceful means. This also conforms with the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. Navigation freedom and the South China Sea dispute are two problems under different categories.

China and ASEAN have reached a consensus on the guidelines to implement the declaration. In the next step, the relevant parties should make efforts to conduct pragmatic cooperation and further enhance mutual trust. This point has won general appreciation. Various parties believe that the agreement on the guidelines has an important bearing on maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Source: eXinhua news agency, Beijing, in Chinese 0948gmt 23 Jul 11

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