Op-Ed Contributors

For regional peace and prosperity

Updated: 2011-01-26 08:03

By Li Wen (China Daily)

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The meeting between foreign ministers of China and member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was held in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, from Jan 24 to 25 to deepen mutual political trust and strengthen bilateral partnership.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of China-ASEAN dialogue and the first anniversary of the China-ASEAN free trade area.

During the meeting, ASEAN member states' foreign ministers went on an inspection tour of Kunming-Bangkok Highway. The transnational highway that links China, Laos and Thailand was completed in 2008.

Though the central topic of the meeting was economic cooperation, the foreign ministers also discussed ways to boost China-ASEAN strategic cooperation, and jointly launched the "Year of China-ASEAN Friendly Exchanges".

Relations between China and some Southeast Asian countries showed signs of tension last year because of territorial disputes in the South China Sea, with some of the countries saying they were wary of China's "expansionary military actions and tough foreign policy". This gave the United States the chance to jump into the disputes.

Before the meeting, China's Ambassador to ASEAN Tong Xiaoling said the foreign ministers would not discuss the disputes in the South China Sea. China adheres to the principle of "setting aside differences and pursuing joint development". It pays more attention to cooperation. But some foreign media reported that the South China Sea disputes would be an important part of the agenda to stir trouble between China and the Southeast Asian countries involved in the disputes.

The fact is, there is a solid foundation and huge potential for China-ASEAN cooperation. The China-ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting will strengthen communication and coordination between the two sides in major international and regional issues, and enable them to make greater contributions to peace, development and stability in the region.

Asia still has the responsibility of leading the world out of economic recession. As strategic partners, China and ASEAN member states will continue to work for regional stability and common prosperity, maintain high-level bilateral and multilateral exchanges, and implement the second strategic partnership action plan.

The top priority of China and the Southeast Asian countries is economic development and regional cooperation. China is committed to creating a peaceful and stable environment in the region to ensure the economic development of the country and the region as a whole. It will continue to build good neighborly relationships and partnerships with countries in the region and endeavor to create an amicable, secure and prosperous neighborhood.

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