On 29 October, SOM leaders of ASEAN and China met in Pattaya, Thailand for a retreat to prepare for the 15th ASEAN-China Summit, the ASEAN Plus Three Commemorative Summit, and the 7th East Asia Summit to be held next month in Phnom Penh. They also had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on regional developments, ASEAN-China relations and other matters.

SOM leaders spoke highly of the remarkable progress made in ASEAN-China cooperation over the past 20 plus years since the beginning of the dialogue relations. The completion of ASEAN-China FTA, in particular, has strengthened the links between the two sides. Good-neighbourly relationship and mutually beneficial cooperation has not only boosted development of ASEAN and China, but also contributed to peace, stability, prosperity and development of the region as a whole.

SOM leaders shared the view that against the current backdrop of complex and profound changes in global and regional landscape, it is essential that ASEAN and China strengthen communication, enhance trust and work together to tackle challenges for common development. Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership. The two sides should make it an opportunity to advance cooperation across the board, from political exchanges to trade and investment, from connectivity to culture and people-to-people exchanges, in an effort to enrich the strategic partnership and move the relationship forward.

SOM leaders agreed that the upcoming East Asia Summit will be an important gathering for leaders of this region. With the lingering impact of the international financial crisis and growing downside risks in the global economy, it has become a shared aspiration that the leaders meetings focus on development, unity and cooperation to bolster the confidence of the region in a trying time and drive  regional economy forward. China attaches importance to the centrality of ASEAN in advancing East Asian cooperation.

SOM leaders also discussed the implementation of the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). They agreed that it is important to ensure that stability prevails in the South China Sea and that ASEAN and China have maintained smooth and effective dialogue on the issue. All parties have reached important agreement on and have major interests in upholding peace and stability in the South China Sea. ASEAN and China expressed their commitment to the full and effective implementation of the DOC and support to Cambodia in hosting a joint workshop in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the DOC in early November. SOM leaders also agreed to keep the momentum of dialogue and consultation and work together to create mutual trust and confidence for the eventual adoption of a code of conduct in the South China Sea on the basis of consensus.