It gives me great pleasure today to have the opportunity of exchanging views with ASEAN leaders on how to deepen and expand the 21st century oriented China-ASEAN partnership of mutual trust.
Friendship, good-neighborliness and mutually beneficial cooperation have always been the mainstream of the relations between China and ASEAN countries. We are pleased and satisfied with the progress and achievements scored in this regard over the past year.
According to the China-ASEAN Joint Statement signed in 1997, China signed or issued 21st century-oriented bilateral cooperation plans or joint statements with Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei and Viet Nam respectively, thus substantiating and enriching the content of the China-ASEAN partnership of good-neighborliness and mutual trust.
Our mutually beneficial cooperation in the economic, trade, scientific and technological fields has expanded continuously and our trade volume is gradually rebounding. From January to September this year, the total trade volume between China and ASEAN countries stood at US $18.98 billions up by 14.1% over the same period of last year. The mechanism such as the Joint Committee on Economic and Trade Cooperation, the Joint Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation and the Joint Cooperation Committee within the framework of China-ASEAN dialogue and cooperation are working smoothly.
In regional and international affairs, we have supported each other and Worked closely together to strengthen dialogue and cooperation, maintain regional peace and stability, mid vigorously facilitate the establishment of a new peaceful, stable, just and reasonable international political, economic and security order.
As friendly neighbors and developing countries, China and ASEAN countries share the need to consolidate and develop the good-neighborly and friendly relations and cooperation. This also conforms to the fundamental interests of us and our people.
As we are about to ring in a new millennium, I wish to reiterate, our fixed foreign policy to Continue, to develop the partnership of good-neighborliness and mutual trust with ASEAN countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence. China will maintain and increase friendly contacts with ASEAN countries at various levels and through various channels to enhance mutual understanding and trust. We will make vigorous explorative efforts together with all of them for new approaches and channels to bolster mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation within the framework of partnership of good-neighborliness and mutual trust.
China will, in accordance with the principle of “equality and mutual benefit, stress on results, long-term cooperation and common development”, expand and deepen its mutually beneficial cooperation with ASEAN countries in various fields, especially in the economic, trade, scientific, technological, agricultural and financial fields; further strengthen the role of China-ASEAN Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation in boosting hi-tech exchanges and cooperation between the two sides; intensify the development cooperation in the areas of agriculture and agricultural machinery; and expand exchanges and cooperation between private enterprises of the two sides and constantly upgrade, the level of their economic cooperation and trade through various channels such as increasing the variety of commodities for trade, looking into the possibilities of barter trade, counter trade and other flexible trading methods and encouraging two-way investment.
China attaches great importance to the ASEAN Vision 2020 mid the Hanoi Action Plan, welcomes and supports the acceleration of the integration process of ASEAN economies and stands ready to strengthen its links with the ASEAN Free Trade Area and ASEAN Free Investment Area. China supports the development of the Mekong River Basin and is ready to make contribution to the regional and sub-regional cooperation.
China and ASEAN countries will continue to render support to and Cooperation with each other in regional and international organizations such as ARF, APEC, ASEM Summit, and the UN; increase coordination and cooperation in reforming the international financial system and international economic order; increase multilateral and bilateral security dialogues and consultations and make joint efforts for the establishment of a new just and reasonable international political, economic and security order.
China will, as always, adhere to the principles and spirit of the China-ASEAN Joint Statement signed in 1997 and resolve its differences and disputes with ASEAN countries through friendly consultation and peaceful means. China appreciates the purposes and spirit of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia and will continue to support ASEAN in its efforts to establish a zone of peace, freedom and neutrality (ZOPFAN) and a Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone.
We rejoice at the realization of ASEAN’s long-awaited dream of “ASEAN 10″ early this year and at greater unity and closer coordination of ASEAN. ASEAN has made remarkable progress in overcoming the adverse impact of the Asian financial crisis and restoring economic growth. Despite all the difficulties and challenges it still faces, ASEAN, which has withstood the test of 30 years and more, has grown into an important force in regional, and even international arena. We believe that ASEAN will maintain its characteristic self-respect, self-improvement and independence, strengthen its internal unity and cooperation in accordance with such effective principles as equality and mutual benefit and decision by consensus, and play a more active and constructive, role in promoting regional multipolarity and peace and development.
Like Southeast Asian countries, China has experienced earth-shaking changes in the 20th century. Through the hard work of the past 50 years, especially of the last 20 years since the reform and opening-up, China’s overall national strength and social productivity have grown substantially and its people’s living standards have improved markedly. Now, the Chinese people are working hard for the general realization of modernization in the middle of the next century. China has pursued an independent foreign policy of peace and conducted diplomacy accordingly. As a result, more and more countries, the ASEAN countries included, have seen more clearly that a developed China will not pose threat to any country, but rather it will contribute to regional and world peace and prosperity. The Chinese Government and people have long made the solemn commitment: China will never seek hegemony. China will forever share weal and woe with the vast number of developing countries. China has been, still is and will always be an important force for world and regional peace and stability.