MANILA — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Monday assured the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that his country will always see the region as a priority in neighborhood diplomacy.
“China always sees ASEAN as a priority in our neighborhood diplomacy. We are committed to working with ASEAN to be good neighbors, good friends, and good partners and always stand together rain or shine,” Li said in his speech.
Li made this remark during the 20th ASEAN-China Summit held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City.
He, meanwhile, expressed gratitude to the Philippine government for the efforts made for the summit; the Singapore, the coordinator of ASEAN-China relations; and other ASEAN countries for their own contributions.
The Chinese Premier pointed out that the ASEAN has made remarkable progress and achievements in the past 50 years and he expected “even greater (progress) in the decades to come.”
Among ASEAN’s dialogue partners, Li said that ASEAN-China relations are “the most dynamic and most substantive.”
He stressed that China was the first to accede to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia.
Moreover, he said China was also the first to establish a strategic partnership with ASEAN and the first to launch free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with the organization.
“It is fair to say that friendly relations between China and ASEAN is a concern of all ASEAN countries,” Li said.
President Rodrigo Duterte, for his part, noted that the summit would be another opportunity for ASEAN and China to assess the current status and chart the current direction of their partnership.
“I look forward to having a fruitful and productive meeting that shall demonstrate our common resolve of mutual understanding toward the realization of our shared goals and aspiration,” Duterte said.
He also expressed confidence that the meeting will “pave the way to even greater ASEAN-China cooperation.”