BEIJING, July 28 – A Chinese top diplomat has pushed for a new era of collaboration between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries to boost further the China- ASEAN strategic partnership.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made his proposal last Wednesday in a working lunch he hosted for ambassadors to China from the 10 ASEAN countries.
”Foreign Minister Wang Yi raised a three-point proposal on developing China-ASEAN relations. The first is that China-ASEAN relations need to focus on the future and usher in a new period,” Lu said in a regular press conference Thursday.
With the concerted efforts of China and ASEAN countries, Lu said China-ASEAN relations have developed with a sound and stable momentum and maturing from a fast-growing period to an upgrading phase for the last 14 years.
”When it comes to China-ASEAN cooperation, our consensus is solid, the outcomes are plenty, and the prospect is bright,” Lu said.
Wang has also emphasized the need for East Asia countries to “seize opportunities and forge a new prospect” for more areas of cooperation towards progressive and stable Asian region.
Lu said Wang also urged the ASEAN ambassadors to sustain the positive momentum on the South China Sea issue and get rid of disturbances.
Last May, ASEAN-China senior officials completed a draft framework for the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC).
The draft will be submitted next month during the China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Conference in the Philippines.
The Philippines, a rotating chair of ASEAN this year, has improved its relations with China after President Rodrigo Duterte shelved an arbitral tribunal’s ruling in the South China Sea dispute.
Wang met the 10 ASEAN ambassadors and representatives a day after he returned from productive visits to Thailand and the Philippines.
Lu said China gives high importance to its relations with ASEAN countries that also include Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Brunei, Laos, Myanmar and Singapore.
”China always regards ASEAN as a priority of its neighborhood diplomacy,” he said.
ASEAN is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year while China and ASEAN will celebrate its 15th year of strategic partnership in 2018.