The city of Nanning is no stranger to the ASEAN – China Dialogue Relations. This capital of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in China, known as the Forest City of China, has played host to the “China-ASEAN Expo” (CAEXPO) since 2004, as well as the “China-ASEAN Business Investment Summit”.

This time around, the beautiful city also plays host for the inaugural “China – Southeast Asia People to People High-Level Dialogue”. With the theme of “Peace for Development and Cooperation for Win-Win – Common Dream and Aspiration of the People”, the Dialogue brought together government officials, political leaders, former senior politicians, first ladies, academies, business leaders, and representatives from non-governmental organisations, as well as the media from 10 ASEAN Member States (AMS), China, and Timor-Leste.

The heads of delegations had a courtesy call on Mr Liu Qibao, Member of Political Bureau and Secretary of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC). In his Keynote Speech, Mr Liu highlighted the long term exchanges between China and ASEAN, elaborated the theme of the new Chinese leadership, which centres around the realisation of the Chinese dream. This also includes a win-win element of peaceful coexistence, development and cooperation, and to advance the strategic relations between China and ASEAN.

The Dialogue is organised by China NGO Network for International Exchanges (CNIE). In his remark, Mr Li Jinjun, Executive Vice-President of CNIE, introduced the Network to the participants of the Dialogue, as well as the outline of the of the thematic discussions. “The objective is to strengthen the platform and mechanism for people-to-people and/or NGO exchanges amongst China and Southeast Asia,” he said.

Speaking as the local host, Mr Peng Qinghua, the CPC Chief of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, said Guangxi is a perfect setting to host the Dialogue. “Located in the South of China, the Guangxi shares a border with the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam. Situated at the juncture of South China Economic Rim, Southwest China Economic Rim and ASEAN Economic Rim, Guangxi is the only region in China that has both land and sea accesses to ASEAN, an international passage connecting China with ASEAN and the forefront for China’s cooperation with ASEAN,” said Mr Peng, adding that Guangxi is committed to supporting and implementing the China – ASEAN Dialogue Relations, and deepen cooperation with the people to bring benefit for the peoples of China and Southeast Asia.

At the Dialogue, the ASEAN Secretariat delegation also met Mr Liang Sheng Li, Vice-Chairman of Guangxi CPPCC, for discussions. Mr Liang outlined three areas which Guangxi could help enhance China-ASEAN relations.

“I have three areas of focus: to organise a better CAEXPO; to utilise the platform of the Dialogue to enhance the connections at the people to people level for better communication and understanding; to expand communications in the fields of culture, tourism, sports, and many others,” said Mr Liang.

In reply, Mr Danny Lee, Director for Community Affairs Development said ASEAN and China are important partners in almost every way. “ASEAN and China are both focused on raising the living standards of our people. For this to succeed, a peaceful and stable environment is important for every player in the Asia-Pacific,” said Mr Lee.

Referring to Mr Liu’s remarks, Mr Lee agreed that people-to-people contacts will form the foundation of the strategic relationship between ASEAN and China, and he also hopes to enhance the publicity and outreach efforts of the CAEXPO, which is the flagship event for our relations.

The Dialogue participants will also visit Fangchenggang City, a coastal city of Guangxi that serves as one of the main transportation hub and connection between ASEAN and China.

By:

Danny Lee, Director for Community Affairs Development, and
Rif’at Syauqi Fachir, Division for AICHR, AIPA, ASEAN Foundation and Other Entities at the ASEAN Secretariat