ASEAN is the key direction and important participant in the BRI. In the past 5 years,a large number of cooperation projects between China and ASEAN countries have been incorporated into the BRI cooperation framework. More and more practical cooperation plans are being actively explored. As a diplomat in Southeast Asian affairs for many years, I would like to share my views on the advantages of China and ASEAN’s cooperation under the BRI.
The first is a political advantage. Belt and Road cooperation requires solid political mutual trust. The political relationship between China and ASEAN is very strong. China is the first dialogue partner of ASEAN to accede to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia and forge a strategic partnership with ASEAN. Last year, both sides issued the China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership Vision 2030,which has laid out a medium-and long-term blueprint.
Leaders from China and ASEAN countries have maintained close exchanges. At the China-ASEAN Summit held every year, the leaders will hold candid discussions on major issues of common concerns and make political decisions to ensure that bilateral cooperation is proceeding on the right path. Strengthening synergy between the ASEAN development strategy and the BRI has become the consensus of leaders of both sides.
The second is the institutional system advantage. Under the China ASEAN cooperation mechanism, the two sides have developed effective cooperation in more than 20 fields such as connectivity,finance, agriculture, information and communication technology, human resources development, investment,energy, culture, tourism, public health,environment, and sub-regional development. China and ASEAN should strengthen the Belt and Road initiative cooperation to bring these dialogue mechanisms into full play.
China has established a mechanism of dialogue at the Vice-Premier level or at the ministerial level with several ASEAN countries. Any bilateral cooperation under the BRI can be fully coordinated and promoted through intergovernmental dialogue. China has also signed bilateral investment agreements with several ASEAN countries. There are multiple insurance mechanisms for bilateral cooperation, and there are no so-called traps said by the West. Everything runs under the sun, and conspiracy theory is untenable.
The third is the geographical advantage. China and ASEAN countries are close neighbors linked by mountains, rivers, and seas. We are a community with a shared future, and share weal and woe on the road to common development and prosperity. This has been fully verified by the handling of the two financial crises in 1997 and 2008 with joint efforts of China and ASEAN. In a world with an increasing trend of unilateralism and trade protectionism, China and ASEAN need to work together to seek common development. It is of overriding importance for us to seek self-development, mutually beneficial cooperation and maintain regional sustainable development and prosperity. The Belt and Road cooperation have built a new platform and point out a new direction for China-ASEAN future comprehensive and pragmatic cooperation.
ASEAN is committed to promoting the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025, which is consistent with the goal of the BRI to promote regional connectivity. If the two initiatives are successfully synergized,the ASEAN connectivity project will get more support from China and the rest of the world, which will improve its commercial value and meet its long-term development goals. >>> By An article by H. E. HU Zhengyue, former Chinese Vice Foreign Minister in charge of Asian affairs.