Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang (L) shakes hands with ASEAN Secretary-General Kao Kim Hourn during their meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Feb. 22, 2023. (Xinhua/Xu Qin)
JAKARTA, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- ASEAN Secretary-General Kao Kim Hourn on Wednesday called for joint efforts to push forward the ASEAN-China comprehensive strategic partnership to a new high.
At a meeting with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, he appreciated the longstanding, utmost importance China has attached to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its valuable support for ASEAN integration, saying that China is the first major country to join the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, and is also a vital strategic partner of ASEAN.
The relationship between the two sides has been strategically upgraded, and cooperation has been deepened with growing mutual trust, said the secretary-general.
Qin said during the meeting that ASEAN is one of the most successful regional cooperation organizations, and its position has become even more important against the background of profound changes on the global and regional landscape.
The China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership is developing at a sound momentum, he said, noting that this year marks the 10th anniversary of building a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future and the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as the 20th anniversary of China's accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia.
The Chinese foreign minister said China is willing to continue to promote the construction of the "five homes" with ASEAN, constantly enrich the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two sides, and keep supporting the ASEAN Secretariat in jointly promoting new achievements in China-ASEAN cooperation and East Asia cooperation.
As the world economic recovery is lackluster and the crisis in Ukraine has dragged on with growing geopolitical competition, the Asia-Pacific region faces a choice between peace and confrontation, cooperation and division, Qin noted.
China firmly supports maintaining the ASEAN centrality, he said, adding that the Chinese side is willing to join hands with ASEAN to face up to challenges, and reject "decoupling" and "erecting walls".
Both sides will accelerate the resumption of personnel exchanges in an orderly manner and promote closer people-to-people ties between China and ASEAN.
The two sides will work together to push for new progress in the consultation on the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, so as to provide institutional safeguards for maintaining peace and stability in the sea.
At a meeting between Qin and members of the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN on Wedensday, the two sides believe that China-ASEAN cooperation is mutually beneficial and dynamic, benefiting 2 billion people in 11 countries on both sides.
Such cooperation will also strengthen the synergy of regional sustainable development with the Global Development Initiative, expand cooperation in various fields such as tourism and transportation, digital economy, disaster response, clean energy, health care and capacity building, promote regional connectivity, and enhance the resilience of supply chains.
Qin stressed that China will continue to regard ASEAN as a priority in its neighborhood diplomacy, firmly support ASEAN unity and the bloc's community building, and consolidate the China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership. ■
Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang (C) meets with members of the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Feb. 22, 2023. (Xinhua/Xu Qin)