Your Excellency Foreign Minister Dato’ Seri Syed Hamid Bin Syed Jaafar Albar,
Your Excellency Foreign Minister Ali Alatas,
As mankind has come to the threshold of the new century, we will soon be closing the annals of China-ASEAN relations in the 20th century and opening a new chapter in the 21st century.
Looking back at the course of China-ASEAN relations, especially their development in the past decade, we are pleased to note that China, which was a consultative dialogue partner of ASEAN, has become a full dialogue partner in only a few years, and that President Jiang Zemin and ASEAN leaders held their first-ever summit and issued a Joint Statement, in which they announced their decision to establish a 21st century-oriented partnership of good-neighbourliness and mutual trust between China and ASEAN. The Joint Statement charts the future course and sets a framework for the all-round and in-depth development of relations between our two sides.
Over the past year, a favourable momentum of development has been maintained in our friendly relations and cooperation. We have had frequent exchanges at various levels in the political field. On the basis of the cooperation framework for China-ASEAN full dialogue, China has signed a Joint Statement on a Plan of Action for the 21st Century with Thailand and a Joint Statement on Framework for Future Bilateral Cooperation with Malaysia, and issued a Joint Statement with Vietnam. These documents have fleshed out China-ASEAN partnership of good-neighbourliness and mutual trust. In the economic, scientific and technological fields, mutually beneficial cooperation has grown continuously, and the trade volume between our two sides has picked up markedly. In the security area, we have not only coordinated with and supported each other at ARF and other multi-lateral dialogue fora, but also successfully launched the bilateral security consultations between China and ASEAN countries recently.
It can be said safely that the evolution of China-ASEAN relations is a process of enhancing understanding and friendship, strengthening mutual trust and cooperation, and expanding good-neighbourly friendship.
Facts have proven, and will continue to prove that China-ASEAN friendly relations and cooperation based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence are firmly founded and widely endorsed, and promise tremendous potentials and broad prospects. There are big and small countries in the world. And they may vary from one another in historical background, social systems, level of development, cultural traditions, and values. However, so long as they respect each other, treat each other as equals, seek common ground while shelving differences and conduct mutually beneficial cooperation, they will be able to coexist in harmony and achieve common development. This is useful experience gained in the ever-growing China-ASEAN relations, and it serves the fundamental interests of people of all countries, contributes to regional peace and stability, and can facilitate the establishment of a new, just and rational order of peace and cooperation. Observance of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, the purposes and spirit of the UN Charter as well as the principles enshrined in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia is the soul of China-ASEAN relations. It is also of vital significance to the international relations and international order in the 21st century.
Our main purpose of coming to attend this dialogue is to build on what the two sides have achieved and strive for greater progress in the future. After many years of joint endeavour and continuous explorations, I think we now have a clearer idea on how our two sides should consolidate and develop our friendly relations and cooperation and on how we can bring such relations forward. To sum up, the general approach to be adopted is outlined as follows:
Firstly, to further generate concrete contents into the partnership of good-neighbourliness and mutual trust. In this regard, efforts are to be made to strengthen the full dialogue cooperation mechanism and maintain the friendly exchanges between the two sides at all levels, in all fields and through all channels so as to enhance mutual trust and friendship. Within the overall framework of partnership of good-neighbourliness and mutual trust, and in light of the specific features of relations between China and various ASEAN countries, further efforts have to be made to explore and identify options for the bilateral cooperation in the new century.
Secondly, to open up multiple channels and employ multiple ways and means to deepen and broaden the mutually-beneficial cooperation in various fields with the focus on economic, trade, scientific and technological cooperation. As China and ASEAN countries are fairly complementary economically, there is huge potential for the two sides to tap each other’s markets. China on its part will reinforce its cooperation with ASEAN in economic relations and trade, science and technology, natural resources, banking and financing, information, agriculture, tourism, private sector, human resource development, personnel exchange and other areas according to the principles of “equality, mutual benefit, efficiency, long-term cooperation and common development”.
Thirdly, to expand regional and international cooperation. This includes efforts to increase regional and sub-regional economic cooperation such as Fast Asia dialogue and cooperation and Mekong Basin development cooperation, enhance coordination and cooperation in the reform of international financial and economic order, reinforce regional multi-lateral and bilateral security dialogue and cooperation, and strengthen mutual support in the United Nations and other international organizations. I am pleased to inform you that Chinese Premier of the State Council Zhu Rongji has accepted the invitation and will attend the third ASEAN plus China, Japan and ROK informal summit to be held in Manila in November this year so as to exchange views and ideas with Heads of State or Government of East Asian countries on the strengthening of cooperation in this region. I would like to reiterate as well that China will take concrete measures to support Southeast Asian countries’ effort to establish a nuclear weapon free zone.
Fourthly, to proceed from the overall interests of regional peace and stability, strictly abide by the political consensus reached between China and ASEAN at the top level, persist in the approach of seeking common ground while shelving differences, and handle differences and disputes between our two sides by peaceful means and through bilateral friendly consultations and refrain from letting these disputes affect the vital interest of our good-neighbourly friendship.
The successful Practice over the years shows that the general approach our two sides have adopted to our friendly relations and cooperation and the way forward we have identified meet the needs of our times and represents the will of our people. So long as we continue to pursue the objectives and implement the principles and tasks set out in China-ASEAN Joint Statement with immense ardour and through concrete actions, our cooperation in various fields will surely expand and deepen guided by the principles of reciprocity, mutual benefit and complementarity, and our partnership of good-neighbourliness and mutual trust will surely grow in a more steady and sound manner.
As a good neighbour, good friend and good partner of ASEAN, the Chinese people have witnessed with joy and admiration that the long-cherished vision of the founders of ASEAN for “ASEAN-10″ has been realized, and that positive progress has been made by ASEAN in tiding over the Asian financial crisis and achieving economic recovery. Although there are still many difficulties and challenges facing ASEAN, it has already emerged as an important force in the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large after more than 30 years’ development. In our view, the expansion of ASEAN tallies with the trend of global multi-polarization. An ASEAN that is united and prosperous and strives for development through its own efforts is instrumental to lasting peace and development of the Asia-Pacific region. China will, as always, support ASEAN in its effort to play an active role in regional and international affairs.
This year is of special significance for China since it will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of New China and Macao’s return to the motherland. Looking back at the past five decades’ development, we keenly feel that since China is the largest developing country in Asia and the world, the biggest contribution it may make to Asian and world peace and development is to maintain its own political stability, check any force that attempts to split up China, and continuously promote economic development and social progress. No matter how the international situation may change, the Chinese Government and people will unswervingly safeguard its sovereignty and independence, firmly pursue the set policy of reform and opening-up, and develop friendly relations and cooperation with all nations in the rest of the world, its neighbouring countries in particular, on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. China was, is and will remain a staunch force for world peace and stability.