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Wang Yi: China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership Enters New Stage of Comprehensive Development

On August 6, 2017 local time, after attending the China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Manila, the Philippines, Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a briefing for Chinese and foreign media.

Wang Yi said that I just had in-depth discussions with 10 ASEAN Foreign Ministers on how to strengthen the China-ASEAN strategic partnership and reached broad consensus, making full preparations for the China-ASEAN Leaders' Meetings in November this year. The atmosphere of the meeting was fairly positive and friendly. The meeting was a success.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the ASEAN. Next year will be the 15th anniversary of the establishment of China-ASEAN strategic partnership. China-ASEAN relations face major opportunities of upgrade and improvement. We unanimously agree that China and ASEAN should forge the higher level of strategic partnership and build a closer China-ASEAN community of common destiny.

China has always regarded ASEAN as a priority of its neighboring diplomacy and a key region in promoting the "Belt and Road" construction, firmly supported the building of the ASEAN community, supported ASEAN's central position in regional cooperation and backed up ASEAN's greater role in international and regional affairs. For the next phase of China-ASEAN cooperation, the Chinese side put forward seven initiatives which were actively responded by the ASEAN side.

First, formulate 2030 Vision for China-ASEAN strategic partnership to jointly draw a blueprint for bilateral relations. Second, realize the integration between the "Belt and Road" initiative and connectivity plans of the ASEAN to expand bilateral cooperation fields and space. Third, designate 2018 as China-ASEAN Year of Innovation, and initiate the mutual promotion between China's innovation-driven development and ASEAN's innovation-driven growth and launch the upgrading of China-ASEAN cooperation. Fourth, accelerate the implementation of the outcome on upgrading of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area and jointly safeguard global free trade system. Fifth, comprehensively implement the Joint Statement between China and ASEAN on Production Capacity Cooperation to promote respective industrialization process. Sixth, build new pillars of people-to-people and cultural exchanges, make the China-ASEAN Year of Tourism Cooperation a success and propose the Joint Declaration on Tourism Cooperation so as to enhance the social and public opinion foundation of bilateral relations. Seventh, speed up the negotiation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership to jointly lead the process of regional integration.

We also discussed the South China Sea issue. All parties gave full recognition to the current positive momentum of the South China Sea situation. All parties were quite satisfied with the framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) and believed that it lays a solid foundation for substantial consultation of future COC. We spoke highly of the early achievements like the launch of Hotline Communications among Senior Officials of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of China and ASEAN Member States in Response to Maritime Emergencies. The above results fully show that China and ASEAN countries have wisdom and ability to properly control differences and set up regional rules approved by us to safeguard the peace and stability in the South China Sea. Meanwhile, we also hope the two wheels of the consultation on the COC and maritime practical cooperation can function well and complement each other.

China puts forward the "three-step" idea for advancing the COC consultation. In the first step, 11 Foreign Ministers jointly confirm the framework of the COC and announce that the next substantive consultations should be initiated in due course within the year when the necessary preparations are completed. The second step is to implement the ideas, principles and promotion plans of the COC discussed on the joint working group meeting for the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea at the end of August. In the third step, leaders of China and ASEAN countries officially announce the draft consultation on the COC for the next step at the China-ASEAN Leaders' Meetings in November after the basic completion of the preparation, and without significant interference from the outside world and on the basically stable situation in the South China Sea. The "three-step" idea was warmly welcomed and supported by the ASEAN side, once again demonstrating the common aspiration and firm faith of China and ASEAN countries to properly handle their differences through dialogue and consultation and maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Before the meeting, the 11 Foreign Ministers signed a revised version of the Memorandum of Understanding on Establishing the China-ASEAN Center, hoping China-ASEAN Center to make greater contributions to deepening bilateral cooperation.

Wang Yi said that China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' meeting this time will further deepen the consensus of all sides and enhance mutual understanding, mutual trust and friendship. China-ASEAN relations have entered into a mature stage of upgrade and improvement from a growing stage featuring rapid development. China-ASEAN strategic partnership has also entered a new stage of comprehensive and sustainable development.

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