By Xinhua writer Yan Jie
MANILA, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) elevated their relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership on Monday, a step forward towards building a closer community with a shared future.
This milestone development in bilateral ties, announced at the ASEAN-China Special Summit to Commemorate the 30th Anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations held virtually, is expected to promote peace, stability and prosperity not only in the region, but also across the world.
Since the establishment of the dialogue 30 years ago, China and ASEAN have embarked on a path of friendship and win-win cooperation with positive outcomes in various fields, becoming a model of dynamic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.
As Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the special summit via video link, the gains in China-ASEAN cooperation over the past 30 years are attributable to their unique geographical proximity and cultural affinity and, more importantly, to the fact that the two sides have actively embraced the development trend of our times and made the right historic choice.
Over the past three decades, China and ASEAN have supported each other to prosper. China and ASEAN became each other's largest trading partner for the first time in 2020 despite global trade being hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Chinese customs data, the two sides have seen bilateral trade skyrocket from 8.36 billion U.S. dollars in 1991 to 685.28 billion dollars in 2020, an average annual growth of 16.5 percent.
The two sides have jointly pushed for the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the world's largest free trade agreement. Expectations are high to tap the region's market potential and inject momentum into the global economy.
China and ASEAN have stuck together through thick and thin over the past three decades, demonstrating solid mutual trust and support.
The lifting of the relations comes as the world is tackling common challenges like the raging pandemic and ensuing economic recession. As seen early on in the COVID-19 pandemic fight, China and ASEAN will continue to be good neighbors, friends and partners to uphold mutual support and deepen cooperation.
The upgrading of the relations also comes at a time when the world confronts resurgent protectionism, hegemonism and unilateralism, which are posing grave threats to world peace and development. As standard-bearers of multilateralism, the two sides will continue to firmly stand together to guard against any attempt to create division, stoke confrontation, and undermine regional dialogue and cooperation.
The two sides share plenty of common pursuits. Both China and ASEAN will jointly drive forward the cause of guarding regional and global peace, stability and prosperity by fostering a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future. Enditem