Speech by Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China at the Special ASEAN summit, 22/11/20121. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional grouping that promotes economic, political, and security cooperation among its ten members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. He promised more aid and not to bully them. This, as the USA has promised the ASEAN to expand the US-ASAEAN strategic partnership. US wants to maintain its position as a security guarantor against rising Chinese ambition in that region. The US lags behind China in terms of economic ties with the ASEAN.
It gives me great pleasure to meet you virtually to jointly celebrate the 30th anniversary of China-ASEAN dialogue relations, to review what we have accomplished together, summarize past experience and draw up a blueprint for the future.
China-ASEAN dialogue relations have gone through an extraordinary journey over the past three decades. These 30 years have witnessed intensive development of economic globalization and profound changes in the international landscape. These 30 years have also seen China and ASEAN seizing opportunities of the times and achieving leapfrog development in our relations. We have cast away the shadow of the Cold War and jointly upheld stability in our region. We have spearheaded economic integration in East Asia, promoted common development and prosperity, and delivered better lives to the over two billion people. We have explored a bright path of good-neighborliness and win-win cooperation, taken strides toward building a closer community with a shared future and made important contribution to the cause of human progress.
Today, we jointly announce the establishment of a China-ASEAN Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. This is a new milestone in the history of our relations and will inject new impetus into peace, stability, prosperity and development of our region and the world.
The gains in China-ASEAN cooperation over the past 30 years are attributable to our unique geographical proximity and cultural affinity and, more importantly, to the fact that we have actively embraced the development trend of our times and made the right historic choice.
First, we have respected each other and acted by the basic norms of international relations. Oriental culture believes in “not doing to others what we do not desire ourselves”. Equality and harmonious coexistence are our common pursuit. We were the first to advocate the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and the Bandung Spirit. China was the first among ASEAN’s dialogue partners to join the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia. The two sides have accommodated each other’s major concerns, respected each other’s development paths, increased understanding and trust through sincere communication, and properly handled disagreements and problems by seeking common ground while shelving differences, thus jointly upholding and promoting Asian values.
Second, we have cooperated for win-win results and followed a path of peaceful development. China and ASEAN countries have similar historical experiences and share the same goal of securing stability for our countries and happiness for our people. We have firmly upheld regional peace and stability, stayed focused on development, taken the lead in establishing free trade areas, promoted high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, and jointly concluded and signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), thus promoting integrated development of the region and well-being of our people.
Third, we have looked out for each other and honored the principle of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness. China and ASEAN are neighbors, and mutual assistance is our shared tradition. Both Chinese and Bruneian proverbs have expressions of “sharing bliss and misfortune together”. Our exchanges are as frequent as those between relatives. We value friendship and credibility. We rejoice together in good times, and help each other out in hard times. We have stood with each other through the Asian financial crisis, international financial crisis, COVID-19 and other challenges, thus forging a stronger sense of being a community with a shared future.
Fourth, we have upheld inclusiveness and mutual learning and jointly contributed to open regionalism. China and ASEAN are home to diverse ethnicities, cultures and religions. Diversity and inclusiveness are in our DNA. Drawing wisdom from East Asian civilization, we have steered regional economic integration with an open mind, advanced ASEAN-led regional cooperation through equal-footed consultation, and forged friendships that are open, not exclusionary, with an inclusive attitude, thus honoring the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits.
The valuable experience we have gained over the past 30 years is the shared asset of China and ASEAN. It lays the foundation and provides guidelines for developing our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. We need to doubly cherish the experience, uphold it over the long run, and keep enriching and expanding it as we go forward.
A Chinese proverb has it that “Distance tests a horse’s strength, and time reveals a person’s integrity”. China was, is, and will always be ASEAN’s good neighbor, good friend and good partner. I wish to reaffirm that China will unswervingly take ASEAN as a high priority in its neighborhood diplomacy, unswervingly support ASEAN unity and ASEAN Community building, unswervingly support ASEAN centrality in the regional architecture, and unswervingly support ASEAN in playing a bigger role in regional and international affairs.
Not long ago, the Communist Party of China convened the Sixth Plenary Session of its 19th Central Committee and comprehensively reviewed the major achievements and historical experience of the Party over the past century. Full of confidence, the Chinese people are marching forward on the new journey to build China into a modern socialist country in all respects. China’s development will provide more opportunities for and inject strong impetus into the region and the wider world. China stands ready to work with ASEAN to grasp the overriding trend, remove interference, share opportunities and promote shared prosperity. We will implement in earnest our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, and make new strides toward building a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future.
Regarding the future relations between China and ASEAN, I wish to make the following five proposals:
First, we can build a peaceful home together. Without peace, nothing would be possible. Maintaining peace is our greatest common interest and the most cherished aspiration of people of all countries. We need to serve as the builders and guardians of peace in the region. We need to pursue dialogue instead of confrontation, build partnerships instead of alliances, and make concerted efforts to address the various negative factors that might threaten or undermine peace. We need to practice true multilateralism and stick to the principle that international and regional affairs be handled through discussion among us all. China firmly opposes hegemonism and power politics. China pursues long-term, friendly coexistence with neighboring countries, and is part of the common efforts for durable peace in the region. China will never seek hegemony, still less bully smaller countries. China supports ASEAN’s efforts to build a nuclear weapon-free zone, and is prepared to sign the Protocol to the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone as early as possible.
Second, we can build a safe and secure home together. The COVID-19 pandemic has once again proved that no place on Earth is an insulated island enjoying absolute security, and only universal security brings genuine security. China is ready to work with ASEAN countries to jointly build a “health shield” for the region. Under this initiative, China is ready to donate an additional 150 million doses of COVID vaccines to ASEAN countries to support higher vaccination rates in countries in the region. China will contribute an additional US$5 million to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund, step up vaccine joint production and technology transfer, and collaborate on research and development of essential medicines, so as to help ASEAN increase self-reliance. China will support ASEAN in strengthening primary-level public health systems and cultivating human capital for ASEAN to build stronger capacity in response to major public health emergencies. Apart from COVID, our region faces various types of traditional and non-traditional security challenges. In addressing these challenges, it is important to pursue common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and deepen cooperation in areas such as defense, counter-terrorism, joint maritime search, rescue and exercise, countering transnational crime, and disaster management. Joint efforts are needed to safeguard stability in the South China Sea and make it a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation.
Third, we can build a prosperous home together. I recently put forth the Global Development Initiative to call for collective efforts of the international community to meet challenges, drive global economic recovery and accelerate implementation of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This initiative has much to contribute to ASEAN countries’ efforts to meet their development needs, and can be mutually reinforcing with ASEAN Community Vision 2025. China is ready to provide ASEAN with another US$1.5 billion of development assistance in the next three years to support ASEAN countries’ fight against COVID-19 and economic recovery. China is ready to engage in international development cooperation with ASEAN and launch negotiations on an agreement in this area. We support establishment of a China-ASEAN Knowledge Network for Development. China is also ready to strengthen exchange and cooperation with ASEAN on poverty reduction to promote balanced and inclusive development.
We need to fully harness the role of the RCEP, begin work toward a new round of upgrade of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area at an early date, and enhance the level of trade and investment liberalization and facilitation. We need to expand cooperation in new areas like digital and green economy and build joint demonstration zones for economic innovative development. China has a vast domestic market that will always be open to ASEAN countries. China is ready to import more quality products from ASEAN countries, including buying up to US$150 billion worth of agricultural products from ASEAN in the next five years. We seek high-quality Belt and Road cooperation with ASEAN and cooperation between the Belt and Road Initiative and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. China will continue to develop demonstration zones for high-quality Belt and Road international industrial capacity cooperation, and welcomes ASEAN countries’ participation in the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor. China will launch the China-ASEAN Science, Technology and Innovation Enhancing Program, and will provide 1,000 items of advanced and applicable technology to ASEAN and support a program for 300 young scientists from ASEAN to come to China for exchanges in the next five years. We propose a China-ASEAN Digital Governance Dialogue to deepen innovative application of digital technology.
Fourth, we can build a beautiful home together. Harmony with Nature is the basis for humanity’s sustained development. China is ready to open a dialogue with ASEAN on climate response, increase policy communication and experience sharing, and synergize our plans for sustainable development. We may jointly promote a regional energy transition, discuss establishment of a China-ASEAN clean energy cooperation center, and enhance technology sharing in renewable energies. We may intensify cooperation on green finance and investment to support regional low-carbon and sustainable development. China is ready to launch the Action Plan on China-ASEAN Green Agriculture to make our countries’ agricultural sector more resilient and sustainable. We may also energize the China-ASEAN Countries Joint Research and Development Center of Marine Science and Technology, build the Partnership on Blue Economy, and promote marine sustainable development.
Fifth, we can build an amicable home together. We need to advocate peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom, which are common values of humanity, deepen exchanges and mutual learning between civilizations, and fully capitalize on our region’s unique strength of cultural diversity. We need to actively consider orderly resumption of flow of people post the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to promote exchanges in areas such as culture, tourism, think tanks, media and women to build better understanding, bring hearts closer together and form one big family between our peoples. The young people represent the future of China and ASEAN. China will enhance cooperation with ASEAN in vocational education and mutual recognition of diplomas, increase the number of recipients of China-ASEAN Young Leaders Scholarship, and organize events like youth camps. Next year, China will host the Beijing Winter Olympics and the Hangzhou Asian Games, which offer good opportunities for deepening sports exchanges and cooperation between China and ASEAN countries.
As an ancient Chinese statesman observed, “Designs for justice prevail, and acts for people’s benefit succeed.” Let us keep close to our hearts people’s aspiration for a better life, and put on our shoulders the mission of our times to safeguard peace and promote development. Let us work hand in hand to build on what has been achieved and work toward a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future, and make our region and the world even more prosperous and beautiful.