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Wang Yi Talks about Situation and Achievements of a Series of Foreign Ministers' Meetings on East Asian Cooperation

On July 26, 2016 local time, upon the conclusion of a series of Foreign Ministers' meetings on East Asian Cooperation in Vientiane of Laos, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, at enquiry,briefed the Chinese media on relevant situation and achievements of this series of Foreign Ministers' meetings.

Wang Yi said that the series of Foreign Ministers' meetings on East Asian cooperation every year is a big event, during which Foreign Ministers from 27 countries come together with possibly various thoughts in mind. I believe that most countries are here for cooperation, but I cannot deny that a few come to find faults, point fingers, or even intend to make a mess. However, under joint efforts of China and all countries, especially ASEAN countries, this series of Foreign Ministers' meetings is a success as it constantly sticks to the keynote of dialogue and cooperation.

Wang Yi expressed that China cares most about the China-ASEAN (10+1) cooperation as it is one of the most basic platforms for China to participate in regional cooperation. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of China-ASEAN dialogue relations and is a significant year of linking the past and the future. My colleagues from ASEAN countries and I have reviewed the great achievements obtained on bilateral relations in the past 25 years, summarized beneficial experiences from them, and jointly designed and planned the development prospects in the future. If the past 25 years can be seen as a "growth stage" of China-ASEAN relationship, the next 25 years will be a "mature stage" of bilateral relationship. The key concept of the "growth stage" is to develop from nothing. China and ASEAN countries have established a wide-ranging, all-dimensional and multi-layered cooperation pattern. During the future "mature stage", we will focus on improving the quality and upgrade. China and ASEAN countries all agreed that our goal is to build a closer China-ASEAN community of common destiny. This is the direction proposed by President Xi Jinping during his visit to Southeast Asia, which has gained approval from all ASEAN countries. We have set six priority areas in our cooperation proposals on the future development of China-ASEAN relations. An important one of these areas is to forge a new platform for China-ASEAN cooperation, this is people-to-people and cultural exchanges. So far political security and economic and trade cooperation have been the two pillars of China-ASEAN cooperation. For the next step, both sides will build people-to-people and cultural exchange into the third pillar, so as to consolidate the social foundation for China-ASEAN friendship through people-to-people exchanges in a wider range.

Wang Yi said that this series of Foreign Ministers' meetings, particularly the China-ASEAN (10+1) Foreign Ministers' Meeting, paved the way and made necessary preparation for the commemorative summit marking the 25th anniversary of China-ASEAN dialogue relations that will be held this September. It is believed that the commemorative summit in September will achieve a full success and open up good prospect for China-ASEAN relations.

Wang Yi said that while focusing on cooperation, these meetings also talked about problems, such as the South China Sea issue that has received extensive attention from the media. In fact, it is not a surprise as the South China Sea issue was discussed in every year's series of Foreign Ministers' meetings during the past few years. . The greatest achievement and the major consensus this year made by China and the ASEAN is that both sides agreed to pull it back on the track of resolving disputes through dialogue and consultation as soon as possible. As everyone knows, the so-called arbitration case unilaterally initiated by the Philippines more than 3 years ago not only fails to solve any problem and drags China-Philippines relations down to the lowest point, but also has affected regional stability and interfered with the process of jointly implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and advancing consultations on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea between China and the ASEAN. All parties agreed to return to normality. Foreign Ministers of ASEAN countries have made it clear that the ASEAN as a whole will hold no position, give no comment and choose no side regarding the so-called arbitration case as the ASEAN believes that it is a bilateral issue between the Philippines and China. We have proposed that the hype on the arbitration case should be cooled down as this unnecessary sensation solves no problem, but provides an excuse for extra-regional forces to intervene in the region. Meanwhile, we have also proposed that we should set things right for the solution of the South China Sea issue. That is to say, we should go back to the right track of solving the issue through bilateral dialogue and consultation. For that reason, China and ASEAN countries specially issued a joint statement on the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. As a matter of fact, China and ASEAN countries have signed the DOC for over a decade and both parties bear the responsibility. The DOC serves as a regional guideline agreed upon by us 11 countries. The core content of the DOC is that when it comes to the specific controversy over the South China Sea, parties directly concerned should peacefully solve the disputes through dialogue and consultation, namely bilateral negotiation. Meanwhile, China and ASEAN countries should jointly safeguard regional stability. With this common direction and foundation, while staunchly safeguarding its territorial sovereignty, China will work with the ASEAN to maintain regional peace and stability and well manage existing specific differences so as to continuously push forward China-ASEAN relations.

Wang Yi said that besides the "10+1" Foreign Ministers' Meeting, there are the Foreign Ministers' Meeting between ASEAN and China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (10+3), the East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers' Meeting, and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Foreign Ministers' Meeting. The "10+3" is the main channel of East Asian cooperation which China pays much attention to. The objective we have proposed is to build an East Asia Economic Community on the basis of the ASEAN Community and this vision is receiving more and more response and support. China has also put forward many ideas and proposals this time, including strengthening financial cooperation and building an alliance for small and medium-sized enterprises to cope with challenges brought by globalization. As for the EAS, China has explicitly stated that we should adhere to its nature as a leaders-led strategic forum and promote the joint development of political security dialogue and economic cooperation. It should be said that this keynote is still being maintained. As for the ARF with the largest scale, its 27 member states have much wider ranges of topics to discuss when gather together. As each country had its own concerns, the discussion lasted for a long time. The primary mission of the ARF is to engage in preventive diplomacy and China did well in it. The ARF, embracing its 23rd session this year, has launched about 120 cooperation projects so far. China itself has undertaken over 40 projects, or one third of the total projects. China will continue to well play its role to continuously promote the ARF to move forward along the healthy track.

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