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China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) marks here Wednesday their 25th anniversary of the establishment of the dialogue relationship, which has been featured with good-neighborliness, equal treatment and common development, thus setting a good example for forging relations between developing countries.
China and 10 ASEAN member states, different in size and economic development levels, are linked by mountains and rivers. As a regional bloc, ASEAN, grouping Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, is the focal point for China's diplomacy as China's development depends to an extent on a stable and economically vibrant Southeast Asia. At the same time, China's strategic importance for ASEAN is obvious given its economic influence and proximity to ASEAN countries.
The year of 1991 served the tuning point in the relations between China and ASEAN which started the dialogue process between the two sides.
China was accorded the full Dialogue Partner status in 1996.
The year 1997 was seen as a watershed in the history of China-ASEAN ties during which China, in spite of its own financial difficulties, made the decision not to devalue its currency in a bid to help Southeast Asian countries to achieve economic recovery.
China and ASEAN established good-neighborly partnership of mutual trust.
In 2003, with the deepening of the all-round cooperation, China and ASEAN elevated their relations to the strategic partnership for peace and prosperity.
China and ASEAN, all through these years, have remained committed to the spirits of mutual respect, understanding, trust and support amid the changes in international situation.
The relations between the two sides have withstood various tests with two-way cooperation harvesting plentiful fruits, bringing tangible benefits to the peoples of both sides. Thanks to the concerted efforts from both sides, the China-ASEAN relations has become the most dynamic one among ASEAN's ties with its dialogue partners.
On the political-security front, China and ASEAN have maintained frequent high-level dialogues and exchange of visits at all levels, with five parallel frameworks for dialogue established so far.
China and ASEAN have enhanced cooperation in regional and international affairs, with both enjoying good cooperation in regional and international organizations such as the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Euro-Asia meeting and the United Nations, among others, contributing significantly to upholding the rights and interests of the developing countries.
The two sides have also collaborated to address transnational and non-traditional security threats such as drug and human trafficking, piracy and terrorism.
To better manage the South China Sea issue, China and ASEAN have continued to work toward the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and the conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC).
To further implement the DOC, China and ASEAN reaffirmed at a meeting of senior officials in China last month to solve disputes via negotiations, manage differences with a regional framework of regulations, deepen maritime cooperation and move forward negotiations on COC.
They also agreed on the importance of the China-ASEAN senior diplomats' hotline in addressing maritime emergencies and a joint statement on the application of rules about accidental encounters between the two sides in the South China Sea.
Economic and trade ties between China and ASEAN have been featured with mutual benefit and win-win outcomes. China is currently ASEAN's largest trade partner, while ASEAN is China's third largest.
Bilateral trade reached 472 billion U.S. dollars last year, up from 7.96 billion dollars in 1991, with an annual growth rate of 18.5 percent. By the end of May this year, the two-way investment exceeded 160 billion U.S. dollars, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. The two sides are targeting bilateral trade at 1 trillion dollars by 2020.
The China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement signed by the two sides in 2010 has a very large growth potential. It comprises a market of almost 2 billion people. They agreed last year to upgrade the China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement which will further deepen and broadened the economic and trade ties between the two.
It is noteworthy that trade relations between China and ASEAN are now reciprocal. China is now an important consumer market of ASEAN, which in turn is growing in importance to China's manufacturing sector.
Cooperation in social-cultural sectors between China and ASEAN have also made substantial and pragmatic progresses, covering education, culture, public health, science and technology, labor, local government and people to people exchanges, media, youth and social development.
On Education, the two sides have made efforts to the "Double 100,000 Goal of students Mobility" that envisaged the number of exchange students from ASEAN countries to China to reach 100,000 by 2020 and vice versa.
ASEAN-China designated 2014 as ASEAN-China Cultural Exchange Year, and an ASEAN-China Center has been set up in Beijing to promote ASEAN-China cooperation in trade, investment, tourism, education and culture.
China and ASEAN have attached importance to and strengthened youth exchange and cooperation. The Beijing Declaration on China-ASEAN Cooperation on Youth in 2004 has served as a blueprint for fostering the partnership between the two sides for peace and prosperity.
On science and technology, China and ASEAN had established the China-ASEAN Joint Science and Technology Center as a body to plan, approve, coordinate, monitor and evaluate joint cooperative programs and activities.
China has continued to support ASEAN's efforts to narrow the development gap in the region through the implementation of projects and programs under the initiative such as the ASEAN-Mekong Basin Development Cooperation and the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area, among others.
The introduction of new initiatives, such as the Belt and Road Initiative and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank have further boosted China-ASEAN economic integration through intra-regional infrastructure connectivity, trade and investment facilitation, tourism promotion and educational and cultural exchanges.
As China and ASEAN commemorate the 25th anniversary of their dialogue relationship this year, they are also mulling over new approaches on further developing their ties. With the consolidated unity and concerted efforts from both sides, the development of China-ASEAN relations will have new impetus and reach a new high in the future.