Remarks by Ambassador Deng Xijun at the Launching Ceremony of the ASEAN-China Survey 2021 Report
Jakarta, 22 October 2021
2021-10-28 17:51

Excellency FPCI Founder Ambassador Dino,

Excellency DSG Michael Tene,

Distinguished panelists,

Friends from the media,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon! It gives me great pleasure to attend the launching of the ASEAN-China Survey 2021 Report. First and foremost, I would like to extend, on behalf of the Chinese Mission to ASEAN, warm congratulations to FPCI on the completion of the Report. I also wish to thank those colleagues and friends who have long been dedicated to growing China-ASEAN relations over the years.

On this special occasion when China-ASEAN relations are once again the focal point of discussion, I am happy to share with my colleagues and friends some of my thoughts on what happened to China-ASEAN relations and what is expected to come next.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of China-ASEAN dialogue relations. We may be surprised to recall that thirty years ago, regional landscape was actually undergoing changes as profound and fundamental as they are today. It was against such a backdrop that the then visionary statesmen and diplomats in China and ASEAN countries started the dialogue process with great vigor and courage.

Since then, China and ASEAN have embraced the opportunities of the times and focused on common development. Together we have found a path of progress in solidarity and cooperation for win-win. Thirty years on, our two sides have become each other’s largest trading partner, most vibrant cooperation partner, and most substantive strategic partner. We have delivered significant benefits to the two billion people of the 11 countries, and made important contributions to peace, stability, development and prosperity in the region and beyond. Just as President Xi Jinping said, the China-ASEAN relationship has grown into the most successful and vibrant model for cooperation in the Asia-Pacific and an exemplary effort in building a community with a shared future for mankind.

The history of China-ASEAN dialogue relations might not be the longest one, compared with that of other dialogue partners. Yet the tremendous progress made in just three decades stands out phenomenally and is in no way coincidental. And I believe several factors have the most decisive shaping power.

The first would be our shared pursuit of development. Both as developing countries, China and ASEAN Member States are committed to giving the utmost priority to economic development and a better life for the people.

China and ASEAN have long been deeply engaged in strengthening practical cooperation, especially in trade and the synergizing of the Belt and Road Initiative with ASEAN’s development plans. Together we have fostered integrated and interconnected development, with our trade volume up by 85 times and two-way investment exceeding US$310 billion in thirty years.

The second factor, I believe, is our shared aspiration for peace. Both China and ASEAN cherish deeply regional peace and stability, a long-awaited reality that hadn’t been with us three decades ago. Guided by this shared aspiration, China and ASEAN are dedicated to fostering good neighborliness and friendship, properly managing differences and disputes, and jointly responding to traditional and non-traditional security challenges. Together we have set an exemplary model of relations featuring peaceful coexistence and common development.

The shift of China-ASEAN relations from foes to partners is the fundamental determinant that brings the whole region onto the course of peace, stability, development and prosperity.

The third factor would be our shared values of East Asia, featuring harmony without uniformity, treating each other as equals, mutual respect and accommodation and mutual assistance in times of difficulties.

Guided by the principle of non-interference in others’ internal affairs, China and ASEAN respect our respective development paths and governance approaches independently chosen by ourselves. We pursue cooperation that is win-win, accommodate the other’s concerns and properly manage hiccups that may occur in our relations. Whenever a crisis strikes, we always stand by each other’s side and offer big help. It is these shared values that have bonded China and ASEAN ever closer.

The fourth factor would be our shared people-centered philosophy. Both governments of China and ASEAN countries uphold the people-centered and people-oriented approach of governance. Our cooperation aims for one thing, that is to benefit the people. And in turn the ever-stronger popular support is the inexhaustible engine that propels China-ASEAN relations.

For instance, nowadays, fruit growers in Vietnam and Thailand that export products to the Chinese market witness an exciting rise of income. Indonesia is exporting to China large quantities of coal, a much-needed source of energy in the upcoming winter season in the northern hemisphere. Meanwhile, Chinese vaccines give an enormous number of population in Southeast Asia effective protection against the coronavirus. ASEAN-China Education Cooperation Week and ASEAN-China Young Leaders Scholarship, among other flagship projects, are deepening people-to-people connectivity.

Ladies and gentlemen,


At this crucial moment of the 30th anniversary, China stands ready to work with ASEAN countries to further unlock the potential of cooperation, build a higher-level strategic partnership, and forge a stronger community with a shared future, in an effort to create a more conducive strategic environment for development and the long-term peace and prosperity in our region. Toward this end, there are several priorities that China wishes to highlight.

First, we need to continue to deepen political mutual trust. China remains committed to the neighborhood diplomacy of fostering good neighborliness and partnership. China always views ASEAN as a high priority in its neighborhood diplomacy, upholds the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, and firmly supports ASEAN centrality in regional cooperation. It is now all the more important for us to follow the guidance from the top level and actively facilitate the establishment of a China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership, demonstrating the will for solidarity and cooperation, and setting a new benchmark for our relations.

To some of my ASEAN friends who are concerned about China-US relations, let me say a few words. China understands the importance of China-US relations for the region and beyond, has a deep understanding of the mutually beneficial nature of China-US relations and opposes defining China-US bilateral ties as “competitive”. Rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is the request of the 1.4 billion Chinese people, and it is being achieved with an unstoppable momentum.

China has no intention to replace or defeat some other country or to vie for the so-called regional hegemonic influence. And our rationale is simple: China knows too well that any such attempt would disrupt or even derail our own course of development. I hope my ASEAN friends would find these words rassuring and thus could be more fair-minded about China-US relations.

There are some people in the West that have gotten used to accusing China of the so-called bullying or coercion. As a matter of fact, what they have been attacking is China’s legitimate and justified response to challenges against China’s core national interests. However, bullying is not in the blood of our Chinese nation and will never be.

Second, we need to deepen development-oriented cooperation. China stands ready to focus cooperation with ASEAN on two fronts, response to the pandemic and economic recovery. China wishes to highlight cooperation in trade, investment, digital economy and green growth, follow through on the upgraded protocol of China-ASEAN FTA, work for the early entry-into-force and implementation of RCEP and conduct high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.

Last month President Xi Jinping proposed the “Global Development Initiative” at the 76th session of the UNGA and called for efforts to speed up the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development so as to make global development more robust, greener and healthier and build a global community of development with a shared future. China is willing to work with ASEAN to lead sustainable development, and there is so much we could do together in the China-ASEAN Year of Sustainable Development Cooperation both in 2021 and 2022.

Some ASEAN countries have expressed support of China’s decision to apply for the CPTPP membership, reflecting our shared commitment to free trade. It’s much appreciated. China will enhance communication and cooperation with ASEAN upon our application and remove those unjustifiable hurdles, in an effort to advance regional economic integration and trade and investment liberalization and facilitation.

Third, we need to strengthen the regional security architecture. Two security arrangements prevail in our region today. One is the US-led alliance together with its bilateral and trilateral arrangements, the other is the ASEAN-led security mechanism of dialogue and cooperation.

In recent months the United States is reshuffling its regional alliance under its Indo-Pacific framework, including through AUKUS and QUAD, yet still in an attempt to contain China. Unfortunately, the US has opened the Pandora’s box of nuclear proliferation in the region, which will greatly undermine the ASEAN-led regional security mechanism and sabotage regional efforts toward an open, inclusive, cooperative and win-win security architecture. I believe regional countries have every reason to reject the latest moves of the US by making their voice heard, loud and clear. To be frank, colleagues, obsession with the tactic of balance between major powers and reticence over big questions may lead to the gradual, yet eventual loss of power and centrality.

How shall our regional security architecture be envisioned? On a personal note, I believe it shall be one that takes common security and common development as its mission, that is based on the international law rather than rules made by a few countries, and that is realized through inclusive partnerships, rather than exclusive blocs.

On the South China Sea issue, China will continue to properly manage differences and disputes through dialogue and consultation with parties directly concerned and speed up the COC consultation with ASEAN countries, with the aim of better rules-setting and order-building in the South China Sea.

Last but not least, I look forward to the fruitful discussions of our distinguished speakers and panelists, and I wish the launch event a full success. I hope a more active and productive FPCI will contribute more wisdom for the ever-growing China-ASEAN relations in the future.

Thank you!

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