PHNOM PENH, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- Cooperation between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is the most dynamic in the region, covering in all spheres, a Cambodian government official and experts said.
Kao Kim Hourn, a minister attached to the prime minister of Cambodia, said close China-ASEAN ties are essential to ensuring long-lasting peace, security, stability, sustainable and common development, and prosperity in the region.
"Between ASEAN and China, we have cooperation in all sectors," he told Xinhua in a recent exclusive interview. "China is one of the (ASEAN) dialogue partners that we have the most comprehensive level of cooperation."
China and ASEAN elevated their relations to the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2021.
Kim Hourn, who will take over the post of ASEAN Secretary General from January 2023, said China and ASEAN relations have been deepened in all areas, especially in politics, security, economy, trade, society and culture.
He added that both sides have enjoyed a steady rise in trade and investment under the free trade mechanisms such as the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
Kin Phea, director general of the International Relations Institute of Cambodia, a think tank under the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said amidst global uncertainties, pandemic, rising global inflation and climate change, closer China-ASEAN relations are even more important to ensuring regional peace, stability and food security.
"China and ASEAN are the guardians of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific," he told Xinhua.
"Closer China-ASEAN cooperation will contribute greater to increasing mutual understanding and trust, and promoting peace and stability in the region, which are the common aspirations of all people."
He said ASEAN and China have become the largest trading partners and their bilateral trade volume has kept the momentum of growth.
"China and ASEAN are important forces in boosting free trade and supporting multilateralism against the backdrop of protectionism and unilateralism," Phea said. "Their cooperation provides mutually beneficial and win-win results."
He said it is vital for both sides to maintain this relationship and prevent any external attempts to harm their relations.
"China-ASEAN ties have entered a new stage after the two sides established the comprehensive strategic partnership last year, and it is hoped that the relations will definitely move towards a community of shared future, where China and ASEAN and their peoples grow together in harmony," he said.
According to Joseph Matthews, a senior professor at the BELTEI International University in Phnom Penh, the China-ASEAN relationship has grown into the most successful and vibrant model for cooperation in the Asia-Pacific, and the two sides have made an exemplary effort in building a community with a shared future for mankind.
"China and ASEAN have joined hands to safeguard regional peace, security and stability, promote regional economic integration and enhance bilateral people-to-people exchanges," he told Xinhua.
He said the joint fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in the last two years has injected new momentum into the relations between the two sides.
"Continuing to maintain close ties between the two sides is crucial to ensuring regional peace, and stability and sustainable development against interference from certain Western countries," Matthews said. "Also, close ties between the two blocs are very important to boost a post-pandemic swift regional economic recovery."
He said the Belt and Road Initiative remains a key driving force in helping build infrastructure such as roads, railroads, highways, bridges, ports and airports, among others in ASEAN.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. ■