Asean, China pledge to deepen economic cooperation, enhance peace and stability

Singapore's Permanent Representative to Asean Tan Hung Seng delivers his speech during the 25th Annivesary of  Asean-China Dialogue Relation in Jakarta on July 11, 2016.
Singapore's Permanent Representative to Asean Tan Hung Seng delivers his speech during the 25th Annivesary of Asean-China Dialogue Relation in Jakarta on July 11, 2016.PHOTO: B.B. HALIM
China's Ambassador to Asean Xu Bu delivers his speech during the 25th Annivesary of Asean-China Dialogue Relation in Jakarta on July 11, 2016.
China's Ambassador to Asean Xu Bu delivers his speech during the 25th Annivesary of Asean-China Dialogue Relation in Jakarta on July 11, 2016.PHOTO: B.B. HALIM
 Asean Secretary-General Le Luong Minh delivers his speech during the 25th Annivesary of Asean-China Dialogue Relation in Jakarta on July 11, 2016.
Asean Secretary-General Le Luong Minh delivers his speech during the 25th Annivesary of Asean-China Dialogue Relation in Jakarta on July 11, 2016.PHOTO: B.B. HALIM

JAKARTA - Asean and China on Monday (July 11) pledged to deepen economic cooperation and enhance peace and stability in the region and the world.

Speaking at a reception to celebrate the 25th anniversary of China-Asean dialogue relations in Jakarta, the Chinese Ambassador to Asean Xu Bu hailed the partnership as "vigorous and dynamic".

The event coincidentally falls on the eve of a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague on a case brought by the Philippines against China's claims in the South China Sea .

China claims almost all of the South China Sea while Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei have overlapping claims.

Beijing's land reclamation works on the disputed islands and reefs in the waterway as well as activities by its fishermen have also escalated tensions in the region over the past year.

Mr Xu and two other speakers at the event stressed their commitment to promote peace and stability, and forge stronger strategic ties. But they made no mention of the ruling expected on Tuesday in the case against China's claims.

Instead, Mr Xu cautioned that while political relations have deepened and economic cooperation and trade have flourished, international and regional situations are undergoing "profound changes".

Countries around the world are facing sluggish global economy, challenges in national development as well as non-traditional security threats such as terrorism, extremism and natural disasters, he added.

"Against this backdrop, it is more than necessary and important that China and Asean countries should further enhance unity and cooperation," he said.

Mr Xu also urged China and Asean countries to "care, help and support" each other as they "share mountains, waters and amicable sentiments".

"As an old Chinese saying goes: 'Close neighbours are dearer than distant relatives'," he said.

Asean Secretary-General Le Luong Minh acknowledged the "significant progress" in wide-ranging areas of political security, economic and socio-cultural cooperation.

Singapore's Permanent Representative to Asean Tan Hung Seng said the longstanding and multi-faceted cooperation between the two parties "has been built on the basis of mutual benefit and mutual respect".

Both sides pursue mutually beneficial economic cooperation and enjoy close people-to-people ties. As country coordinator, Singapore will work closely with China to broaden and deepen relations, he said.

"We will work together to ensure Asean-China cooperation continue to be dynamic and substantive," he added.

aarlina@sph.com.sg