Written by The Editorial Department / Translated by Zhong Fangjie
Since the establishment of China-ASEAN dialogue relations in 1991, the tree of cooperation between the two sides has been lush and fruitful. It is with strategic mutual trust as the soil and win-win cooperation as the nutrient that the China-ASEAN relations can take root stably, grow well and bear sweet fruits.
From trees to forests, building a higher level of China-ASEAN strategic partnership requires mutual trust. In 2020, President Xi Jinping addressed the opening ceremony of the 17th China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) via video and pointed out that China and ASEAN should enhance strategic mutual trust and synergize development plans of both sides.
Plans are made from the macro level and take measures based on reality. The 18th CAEXPO will continue to provide a high-level and pragmatic platform, cultivate the soil of strategic mutual trust, and deliver new nutrients for the tree of China-ASEAN cooperation.
The light of mutual trust shining at the 30th anniversary
Looking back at the past three decades since the establishment of China-ASEAN dialogue relations, from dialogue relations, consultation partners, comprehensive dialogue partners to the strategic partnership, China and ASEAN work together to build a closer community with a shared future and the upgrading relationship between the two sides is the most important achievement of strategic mutual trust.
There is sincerity in this achievement. Among the ASEAN dialogue partners, China has created a number of firsts: the first to join the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, the first to establish a strategic partnership with ASEAN, the first to negotiate with ASEAN to build a free trade zone, and the first to clearly support the ASEAN Centrality in East Asia regional cooperation. China looks forward to full trust with full sincerity.
There is a test of crisis in this achievement. The development of the China-ASEAN relationship has experienced the turmoil of the financial crisis, the storm of SARS, and the surging waves of COVID-19. However, the two sides have always worked together and helped each other with the consensus of advocating multilateralism and cooperation on fighting against the epidemic, thus promoting mutual trust.
There is a guarantee of mechanisms in this achievement. At present, China and ASEAN have established cooperation mechanisms at various levels, including China-ASEAN Summit, Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, Senior Officials’ Consultation, and Joint Cooperation Committee, which have provided a guarantee for promoting high-level dialogue and enhancing mutual trust between the two sides.
There is a sublimation of action in this achievement. In recent years, China and ASEAN have successively adopted outcome documents including the China-ASEAN Joint Statement on Synergizing the Belt and Road Initiative and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, and the Action Plan for Implementing the Joint Declaration on China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership (2021-2025), in order to promote practical cooperation in various fields. Especially since the “Belt and Road” Initiative was put forward, China and ASEAN countries have accelerated the synergizing of their development plans on the basis of strategic mutual trust. At present, all ten ASEAN countries have signed bilateral cooperation documents with China to jointly build the “Belt and Road”. When the Belt and Road Initiative synergized the development blueprints such as the “Global Maritime Fulcrum” Strategy of Indonesia, “Turning a Landlocked Country into a Land-linked Country” Strategy of Laos, and Thailand 4.0 Development Strategy, the China-Laos railway, Jakarta-Bandung high speed railway, China-Thailand railway, and many other major projects that aim to improve people’s livelihood have been implemented, bringing a great sense of gain to the local people and planting the seed of trust in the hearts of more people.
The light of mutual trust shining at the 30th anniversary. Today, China-ASEAN relations have become the most successful and dynamic model of Asia-Pacific regional cooperation, and a vivid example of promoting the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
The platform of the China-ASEAN Expo cultivates fertile soil of mutual trust
How can China and ASEAN enhance strategic mutual trust and further synergize their development plans? It is inseparable from high-level guidance, exchanges and project cooperation, all of which can be achieved at the CAEXPO, an effective public platform for China-ASEAN cooperation.
“Enhancing strategic mutual trust and synergizing with development plans,” President Xi Jinping said on the opening ceremony of the 17th CAEXPO. He also pointed out the development path for the CAEXPO to promote China-ASEAN strategic mutual trust.
In November 2020, a special dialogue made the 17th CAEXPO even more dazzling. On November 26, the Communist Party of China (CPC) and political parties of Southeast Asian countries held their first dialogue meeting in Nanning, Guangxi. Nearly 40 political parties from Southeast Asia, more than 20 party leaders, five speakers and representatives of the CPC gathered together. At the meeting, the Joint Initiative of the Communist Party of China and Political Parties of Southeast Asian Countries on Promoting China-ASEAN Cooperation in the New Era was adopted. Through the platform of the CAEXPO, the influence of China-ASEAN cooperation can spread all over the world.
Hu Zhaoming, spokesman of the International Department, Central Committee of CPC, said the dialogue marked an important step forward in the relations between China and Southeast Asian countries and a new level of mutual political trust. Datuk Lim Ban Hong, Vice Minister of International Trade and Industry of Malaysia, said that political parties are involved in the governance of the country, as well as in policy-making, so communication among parties can play an important role in policy communication and coordination in international relations. As a 100-year-old party and the leader of China’s development, the CPC will strengthen the dialogue and exchange with the political parties in Southeast Asian countries, which will undoubtedly strengthen the core power of China-ASEAN strategic mutual trust.
Dialogue is the precondition for trust. In addition to facilitating dialogue among political parties, the CAEXPO has become an important platform for China-ASEAN high-level dialogues. A total of 97 Chinese and foreign leaders and more than 3,400 ministerial guests attended the first 17 sessions of the CAEXPO. Through keynote speeches, leaders’ meetings, and ministerial consultations, the “Belt and Road” construction will be more effectively linked up with the developmental strategies and plans of ASEAN countries.
Mutual benefit is the foundation of mutual trust. How do we achieve a win-win situation? This requires us to find the greatest common divisor of cooperation in our development strategies, to explore a mutually beneficial and win-win solution around issues of mutual interest, and to work closely for implementation after synergizing strategies.
Through holding high-level conferences and forums, CAEXPO has built up an effective and pragmatic exchange platform for China-ASEAN cooperation in specific fields around the strategic development priorities. Over the past 17 years, a total of 282 high-level forums have blossomed, covering more than 40 fields such as connectivity, production capacity, customs, health and finance, which contribute to the implementation of major projects including the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, China-ASEAN Information Harbor, and China-ASEAN Multimodal Transport Alliance.
Sailing from the CAEXPO, these fruitful cooperation projects are becoming the most valuable nourishment for cultivating the fertile soil of China-ASEAN mutual trust.
Focus on the event and respond to the topics of the times
The profound changes we face, on a scale unseen in a century, and the raging Covid-19 pandemic are interlinked, which brought forward two parallel topics of the times, “Economic and social development” and “Epidemic prevention and control”. On several important occasions, Wang Yi, State Councilor of China and Foreign Minister, said that China is ready to synergize ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and conduct pragmatic cooperation with ASEAN in the major fields identified in the Framework in order to promote economic recovery. It has never been more urgent for China and ASEAN to enhance strategic mutual trust and synergize development plans.
Around the theme of “Enhancing Strategic Mutual Trust”, the 18th CAEXPO will be held from September 10 to 13, 2021, including several important events such as the Economic and Trade Cooperation Achievements Exhibition and Forum on the 30th anniversary of China-ASEAN dialogue relations, the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of China-Laos diplomatic relations and 2021 China-Laos Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum, the 30th anniversary of the establishment of
China-Brunei diplomatic relations, the 70th anniversary of the establishment of China-Pakistan diplomatic relations and 2021 China-Pakistan Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum. In particular, Chinese and foreign leaders will attend the opening ceremony on a high standard, and many countries will issue relevant economic policies and plans, therefore, letting the world hear of China-ASEAN's confidence in answering the call of the times.
In addition, 27 high-level forums are planned to be held under the framework of the 18th CAEXPO, of which 19 will be held in duration, covering areas such as RCEP, industrial chains, medicine, digital economy, and connectivity. With the innovative activities online and offline, the CAEXPO will facilitate the formation and improvement of more cooperation mechanisms, promote the implementation of major projects, and strengthen China-ASEAN relations through deepening cooperation in various fields.
Over the past 30 years, we have accumulated developments into great achievements. Inside the giant tree of China-ASEAN relations, the annual rings of mutual trust are both clear and deep. It has cast the perfect medal for the fruitful cooperation of the CAEXPO, and it is also the proof of the energy and vitality of the China-ASEAN relations!