(Eagle News) — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang expressed China’s commitment to work with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), saying that China as well as the ASEAN want to promote peace, solidarity in a region once marked by uncertainty.
The South China Sea issue was not specifically raised in Li’s remarks, but he stressed that what his country wants with the ASEAN is “friendly relations” as well as a “strategic partnership.”
-Divide bridged by dialogue
With the United States led by President Trump also seeking warmer ties with China, the once imaginary divide between the two superpowers had been bridged by dialogue and the desire to help maintain peace in the region.
In Trump’s state visit to China, he had nothing but nice words for President Xi Jinping, and noted how the Chinese leader had also vowed to up sanctions against North Korea.
Trump himself had tweeted this, shortly after his visit to China: “President Xi of China has stated that he is upping the sanctions against #NoKo. Said he wants them to denuclearize. Progress is being made.”
He also praised China for its pledge to be more open to foreign firms.
China’s Premier Li, in his statements during the 20th China-ASEAN Summit, was also hopeful for peace in their regions.
-Treaty of Amity and Cooperation
The summit held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), the Chinese Premier also touted the relations between China and ASEAN, saying it is the most dynamic and the most substantive.
“Among ASEAN’s dialogue partners, China-ASEAN relations are the most dynamic and the most substantive,” he said, adding that China was the first to accede to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia.
The purpose of the Treaty is to promote perpetual peace, everlasting amity and cooperation among their peoples, which would contribute to their strength, solidarity and closer relationship.
“It is fair to say that friendly relations between China and ASEAN is a consensus of all ASEAN countries,” he said.
The Premier further noted that China is the first to establish strategic partnership with ASEAN and the first to launch FTA negotiations with the organization.
He also said China always sees ASEAN as a priority in their neighborhood diplomacy.
“We are committed to work with ASEAN to the good neighbors, good friends, and good partners that always stand together, rain or shine,” he said.
-A shared future
“We are also committed to working with ASEAN to build a community of shared future featuring common ideas, common prosperity and a common responsibility,” he explained.
In his brief remarks, the Premier also expressed his gratitude to the Philippines for its efforts made for the Summit.
He also thanked Singapore, the coordinator of China-ASEAN relations, and all the other ASEAN countries for the contribution made to China-ASEAN relations.
The Premier also noted that ASEAN has traversed a momentous journey and made remarkable progress and achievements in the past 50 years.
For his part, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte expressed hopes that the Summit would provide yet another opportunity for Asia and China to assess the current status and chart the future direction of their strategic partnership.
“I look forward to having a fruitful and productive meeting that shall demonstrate our common resolve of mutual understanding toward the realization of our shared goals and aspiration,” he said.
-War not an option
President Duterte also expressed confidence that the meeting would pave way to even greater ASEAN-China cooperation as China and the ASEAN reach another milestone in 2018, which is the 15th anniversary of the elevation of the ASEAN-China dialogue partnership into a strategic partnership.
Duterte, in his remarks at the ASEAN Summit and in his previous press briefings, said that no one among the ASEAN countries and the region’s dialogue partners wanted war. He stressed that China and the US would not want war erupting in the contested South China Sea region, and that even China’s President Xi had said war was not an option.
“Today China is the number one economic power and we have to be friends. The other hotheads would like us to confront China and the rest of the world for so many issues,” he said.
“(But) the South China Sea is better left untouched. Nobody can afford to go to war,” he said.
(Eagle News Service)