Overview

Introduction

  1. ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations commenced when H.E. Qian Qichen, the then Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China, attended the opening session of the 24th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in July 1991 in Kuala Lumpur as a guest of the Malaysian Government in which he expressed China’s keen interest to cooperate with ASEAN for mutual benefit. Subsequently, China was accorded full Dialogue Partner status at the 29th AMM in July 1996 in Jakarta, Indonesia.
  2. The relationship between ASEAN and China was elevated to a higher plane with the signing of the Joint Declaration of the Heads of State/Government on Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity at the 7th ASEAN-China Summit in October 2003 in Bali, Indonesia. ASEAN and China are currently implementing the Plan of Action (POA) 2016-2020 to implement the Joint Declaration, which was adopted ad-referendum by the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN and China in November 2015.
  3. ASEAN and China commemorated the 10th Anniversary of the ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership in 2013. A Joint Statement of the 16th ASEAN-China Summit on Commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of the ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership was adopted which expresses ASEAN and China’s collective commitment in further strengthening the ASEAN-China relations.
  4. ASEAN and China agreed on eleven priority areas of cooperation, namely agriculture, information and communication technology, human resource development, Mekong Basin Development, investment, energy, transport, culture, public health, tourism and environment.
  5. China appointed its first resident Ambassador to ASEAN and established its Mission to ASEAN in Jakarta in September 2012.
  6. The ASEAN-China Centre in Beijing was launched at the 14th ASEAN-China Summit in November 2011 in Bali. The Centre is a one-stop information centre to promote ASEAN-China cooperation in trade, investment, tourism, education, and culture. The virtual centre can be accessed at http://www.asean-china-center.org/. Five Meetings of the Joint Council of the ASEAN-China Centre (ACC) had been held in Beijing, China since 2011.

Political and Security Cooperation

  1. ASEAN and China continue to enhance political-security dialogue and cooperation through various ASEAN Plus One mechanisms including summit, ministerial and senior officials meetings, as well as in broader ASEAN-led frameworks such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN Plus Three (APT), the East Asia Summit (EAS) and ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus).
  2. China was the first Dialogue Partner of ASEAN to accede to the TAC in October China’s accession to the TAC has contributed to the stature of the TAC as the code of conduct for inter-state relations in the region. China was also the first Nuclear Weapon State (NWS) which expressed its intention to accede to the Protocol to the SEANWFZ.
  3. With the desire to promote peaceful, friendly and harmonious environment in the South China Sea, ASEAN and China signed the Declaration on the Conducts of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in November 2002 in Phnom Penh. After a series of discussions, ASEAN and China adopted the Guidelines to implement the DOC on 21 July 2011 in Bali, Indonesia.
  4. The 18th ASEAN-China Summit on 21 November 2015 reaffirmed the commitment to ensure the full and effective implementation of the DOC in its entirety: to build, maintain and enhance mutual trust and confidence; to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities; to not resort to threat or use of force; and for the sovereign states directly concerned to resolve their differences and disputes through peaceful means, including through friendly consultations and negotiations, in accordance with international law including United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982. The Leaders also welcomed the outcomes of the 15th ASEAN-China JWG on DOC and the 10th ASEAN-China SOM on DOC held on 19-20 October 2015 in Chengdu, China and agreed to maintain the momentum of regular official consultations and work towards the early conclusion of a COC on the basis of consensus.
  5. ASEAN and China has been cooperating under the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) since it was established in 2010. An ASEAN-China Defence Ministers’ Informal Meeting was held on 15-16 October 2015 in Beijing. At the Meeting, the Ministers explored avenues of practical cooperation and welcomed the forging of closer ties, to be carried out within the existing ADMM-Plus framework.
  6. Annual consultations are held between ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC) and China, while biannual consultations are held between the ASEAN Ministers Meeting on Transnational Crime (AMMTC) and China to promote their cooperation in combating transnational crimes and other non-traditional security issues. The 13th SOMTC+China was held on 10 June 2015 in Siem Reap, Cambodia and the 4th AMMTC+China was held on 30 September 2015 in Kuala Lumpur. At the 4th AMMTC+China, the Ministers noted the significant progress of ASEAN and China cooperation in the field of non-traditional security issues such as combating terrorism, illicit drug trafficking, trafficking in persons, arms smuggling, sea piracy, money laundering, international economic crime and cybercrime; and law enforcement capacity building under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between ASEAN and China in the Field of Non-Traditional Security Issues signed in 2004 and renewed in 2009.

Economic Cooperation

  1. Trade and economic ties between ASEAN and China have been growing rapidly over the past years, especially after the signing of the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation in November 2002 to establish the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA). The ACFTA was realised on 1 January 2010 and took full effect on 1 January 2015.
  2. In implementing the ACFTA, ASEAN and China established an ACFTA Joint Committee (ACFTA-JC) in 2011, which met for the first time in April 2012 in Nanning, China. The ACFTA-JC’s main tasks include overseeing, supervising, coordinating and reviewing the implementation of the Agreement. In order to provide the ACFTA-JC with a legal standing, the Third Protocol to Amend the ASEAN-China Framework Agreement of Comprehensive Economic Cooperation was signed at the sidelines of the 15th ASEAN-China Summit in November 2012 in Phnom Penh. The ACFTA-JC has met 9 times with the 9th ACFTA JC Meeting held in Beijing from 26-30 October 2015.
  3. The 18th ASEAN-China Summit on 21 November 2015 welcomed the successful conclusion of negotiations to upgrade the ACFTA and the signing of the Protocol to Amend the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Certain Agreements between ASEAN and China and looked forward to its early entry into force. The Leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to complete the Future Work Programme expeditiously in order to achieve the twin goals of two-way trade and investment of US$1 trillion and US$150 billion respectively by 2020. The Leaders instructed the officials to address the remaining technical issues as soon as possible as well as the issue of strengthening production capacity cooperation for mutual benefit.
  4. China continues to be ASEAN’s largest trading partner since 2009 while ASEAN has remained China’s third largest trading partner since 2011. The two-way trade reached USD 366.5 billion in 2014, accounting for 14.5 per cent of ASEAN’s total trade. ASEAN received USD 8.9 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows from China, accounting for 7.1 per cent of total inflows to ASEAN in the same year.[1]
  5. The ASEAN-China EXPO (CAEXPO), an event which showcases products from ASEAN and China, has been organised and hosted by China on an annual basis in Nanning, China since 2004. At the margin of the CAEXPO, an ASEAN-China Business and Investment Summit (CABIS) was established to bring government and the private sector together to exchange views on matters affecting the economy and businesses of ASEAN Member States and China. The 11th CAEXPO was convened on 16-19 September 2014 in Nanning, China. The 12th CAEXPO was convened in Nanning City, Guangxi Province of China on 18-21 September 2015 with the theme Maritime Cooperation. The 12th CABIS and a series of sideline meetings and events were also held.
  6. On connectivity, the ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee (ACCC) and the Chinese Working Committee on Connectivity convened their first meeting on 7 November 2012 at the ASEAN Secretariat. At the 15th ASEAN-China Summit on 19 November 2012, the Leaders reaffirmed that ASEAN Connectivity is considered as priority and fundamental in the development of an enhanced connectivity between ASEAN and the wider region, including ASEAN with China and tasked the ACCC and the Chinese Working Committee on Connectivity to identify key areas for connectivity cooperation and work out a list of prioritised projects, and coordinate technical and financial resource mobilisation from both ASEAN and China to better support financing for connectivity cooperation projects. The 2nd Meeting between the ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee (ACCC) and the Chinese Working Committee on China-ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee (CWC-CACCC) was held on 28 August 2013 in Bandar Seri Begawan.
  7. At the 18th ASEAN-China Summit in November 2015, the ASEAN Leaders appreciated China’s continued support for the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) and looked forward to the imminent establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The Leaders looked forward to its role in facilitating regional connectivity, along with China’s continuing support for the implementation of the Initiatives for ASEAN Integration and its post-2015 agenda.
  8. On agriculture, ASEAN and China focus on enhancing cooperation in human resource development through a series of training courses on agricultural technologies to help train agricultural technicians and officials of ASEAN Member States. Upon the expiry of the MOU between the ASEAN Secretariat and the Ministry of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China on Agricultural Cooperation (2007-2011), the MOU was renewed on 27 September 2013 for a period of five years.
  9. On information and communication technology (ICT), ASEAN and China have concluded the implementation of the Action Plan to Implement the Beijing Declaration on ASEAN-China ICT Cooperative Partnership for Common Development (2007-2012). The succeeding Action Plan for the period of 2012-2016 was adopted at the 7th Meeting of the Ministers responsible for Telecommunications and Information Technology of the ASEAN Member States and China (TELMIN+China) on 16 November 2012 in Mactan, Cebu, the Philippines. ASEAN and China signed an MOU on cooperation in ICT in November 2013. The MOU covers the areas such as promoting industry, human resources and infrastructure development, as well as cooperation in new technologies and information exchange.
  10. At the 9th TELMIN+China held on 23 January 2015 in Bangkok, the Ministers acknowledged China’s assistance in the successful conclusion of several ICT related activities in 2014 in relation to broadband for driving economic social development, Internet of Things (IoT) technology application in smart city, network security, and telecom interconnection in a converged environment. The Ministers endorsed the ASEAN-China 2015 ICT Work Plan and supported in principle China’s proposal for establishing an ASEAN-China Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) Cooperative Mechanism as an important platform for strengthening cybersecurity cooperation between CERTs of the two sides and tasked their senior officials to finalise the Cooperative Mechanism.
  11. ASEAN and China signed the MOU on Transport Cooperation in November 2004 in Vientiane. The MOU aims to promote cooperation in the areas of medium and long-term cooperation: i) transport infrastructure construction; ii) transport facilitation; iii) maritime safety and security; iv) air transport; v) human resources development; and vi) information exchange. ASEAN and China signed two agreements on transport, namely  i) ASEAN-China Maritime Transport Agreement (AC-MTA) signed on 2 November 2007 and ii) ASEAN-China Air Transport Agreement (AC-ATA) signed on 12 November 2010.
  12. At the 14th ASEAN and China Transport Ministers Meeting (ATM+China) held on 5 November 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, the Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to enhance transport connectivity between and among ASEAN Member States and China and urged their senior officials to continue their effort to move forward the priority areas and major projects/activities in railway, highway, civil aviation and waterway transport cooperation in order to facilitate regional trade and investment flows. The Ministers adopted the ASEAN-China Maritime Training and Education Development Strategy and acknowledged the importance of this initiative to improve the quality of human resources for the development of regional and global shipping industry.
  13. On tourism, China has become a major source of tourists for ASEAN. According to ASEAN Statistics, ASEAN received around 12.65 million tourists from China in 2013 or a growth of 36.3% compared with 9.28 million in 2012. Meanwhile, the number of ASEAN tourist arrivals to China was more than 5.89 million in 2012 and increased to 5.99 million in 2013.
  14. On cooperation in quality inspection, two MOUs on Strengthening Sanitary and Phytosanitary Cooperation (SPS) and Strengthening Cooperation in the Field of Standards, Technical Regulations and Conformity Assessment (TBT) between ASEAN and China were signed on 20 November 2007 and 24 October 2009, respectively. In order to implement the MOUs, ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting on Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine on SPS and TBT was established and held alternately every year. The latest Meeting on quality inspection was the 4th ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting on Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine on SPS cooperation, which was held on 25 September 2014 in Nay Pyi Taw. At the Meeting, the Ministers reiterated the commitment to strengthen SPS cooperation between ASEAN and China and endorsed the new Plan of Action 2015 – 2016, covering cooperation in: (i) establishment of information notification and communication system; (ii) exchange of visits of relevant personnel of the Parties; (iii) organize training, seminar, conference and similar activities for narrowing the development gap within ASEAN and China; (iv) collaborative research in the areas of mutual interest; and (v) establishment of mechanism for consultation.

Socio-Cultural Cooperation

  1. On socio-cultural cooperation, a number of activities have been carried out in the areas of public health, science and technology, education, culture, labour and social security, local government and people-to-people exchanges, environment, media, youth, social development, and poverty reduction.
  2. On public health, the Ministers on Health of ASEAN and China signed an MOU on Health Cooperation at the Fourth ASEAN-China Health Ministers Meeting on 6 July 2012 in Phuket, Thailand. At the Fifth ASEAN-China Health Ministers Meeting on 19 September 2015 in Ha Noi, the Ministers welcomed the ASEAN-China cooperation in communicable diseases prevention and control, especially the collaboration on malaria, dengue fever, HIV and AIDS, and plague prevention and control in border areas. The Ministers committed to strengthen the ASEAN-China cooperation in capacity building for public health personnel in the region and in traditional medicine and its contribution to universal health care, where applicable. The Ministers welcome the sharing of experiences on using traditional medicine in strengthening primary health care.
  3. The year 2012 was designated as the ASEAN-China Year of Cooperation in Science and Technology. A series of activities were implemented to mark the year, including among others the ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting on Science and Technology Cooperation and launching of the ASEAN-China Science and Technology Partnership (STEP) Programme. Notable progress has been made in implementing STEP including building ASEAN-China joint laboratories, ASEAN-China Remote Sensing Satelite Data Sharing and Service Platform, ASEAN-China technology Transfer Centre, and Talented Young Scientists Visiting China.
  4. ASEAN-China cooperation on education made good progress. The Eight China-ASEAN Education Cooperation Week was held August 2015 in Guiyang, Guizhou Province, China. With the theme of learning for each other for the wellbeing of the future, the event provided the opportunity for the participants to strengthen exchanges and cooperation in scientific research as well as provided a platform for universities, colleges and schools to establish long-term partnership.
  5. On youth cooperation, programmes and activities to strengthen youth exchanges and cooperation between ASEAN and China continues to be held regularly. These include China-ASEAN Youth Camp, GMS Youth Friendship Programme and the ASEAN Young Leaders Training Program. The activities aim to promote the mutual trust and understanding between the Chinese and ASEAN young people and contribute to the regional economic development and social cooperation.
  6. On cultural cooperation, a Plan of Action on China-ASEAN Cultural Cooperation (2014-2016) was adopted at the 2nd AMCA+China Meeting on 20 April 2014 in Hue, Viet Nam. The year 2014 was designated as the ASEAN-China Cultural Exchange Year with various activities undertaken in ASEAN Member States and China. The 10th ASEAN-China Cultural Forum was held on 16-17 September 2015 in Nanning, China. The Forum discussed new cultural partnerships in relation to the establishment of the ASEAN Community, and shared views towards a closer ASEAN-China community of common destiny through new initiatives.
  7. On environmental cooperation, the ASEAN-China Environmental Protection Cooperation Strategy 2009-2015 was adopted by the Environment Ministers of ASEAN Member States and China at the 8th ASEAN Plus Three Environment Ministers Meeting in October 2009 to serve as a guiding document for enhancing ASEAN-China cooperation in common priority areas of environmental protection up to 2015. Subsequently, the China-ASEAN Environmental Cooperation Centre (CAEC) was established in Beijing on 17 March 2010 and officially inaugurated on 24 May 2011 to implement the ASEAN-China Environmental Protection Cooperation Strategy 2009-2015. Activities and programmes implemented under the Cooperation Strategy include ASEAN-China Environmental Cooperation Forum, China-ASEAN Green Envoys Program, Biodiversity and Ecological Protection Cooperation, Environmental Technology and Industry Cooperation, and Joint Research.
  8. On disaster management, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Disaster Management Cooperation was signed on 6 October 2014. China is providing RMB 50 million of grant assistance to ASEAN for a total of three years to support the implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) Work Programme, the operationalisation of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre), and the ASEAN Secretariat’s capacity building programmes on disaster management.
  9. ASEAN and China have continued to organise exchange visits for media personnel. On 16-18 September 2015, Thailand hosted the Visit of Broadcasting Personnel to Thailand with the funding under the ASEAN-China Cooperation Fund. The visit had helped the participant to broaden their perspective of ASEAN and China broadcasting personnel and enhance their media capability by learning new knowledge and practices, and by sharing their skills and experiences among ASEAN and China media practitioners through the visit.
  10. The 1st Country Coordinators Meeting of the Network of ASEAN-China Think-Tanks (NACT) was held on 3 July 2014 in Beijing, China. NACT aims at promoting academic exchange between ASEAN and China./.

As of 18 January 2016.

[1] Chairman’s Statement of the 18th ASEAN-China Summit, 21 November 2015