Closing Remarks by Ambassador Deng Xijun at the Opening Ceremony of ASEAN-China Young Leaders Scholarship 2020

Excellency Luo Zhaohui, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of China,

Excellency Elizebeth P. Buensuceso, ASEAN SOM Leader of the Philippines,

Excellency Mr. Kung Phoak, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN,

Ambassador Noel and all the ambassadors of the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN,

Members of the National Focal Points of ASEAN Member States for ACYLS,

Friends and colleagues,

Faculties and students,

It is my great pleasure to join you today at the opening ceremony of the 2020 ASEAN-China Young Leaders Scholarship(ACYLS). On behalf of the Chinese Mission to ASEAN, which is the leading agency for the implementation of ACYLS, I would like to express my sincere thanks to colleagues and friends from China and ASEAN for your strong support of the scholarship as well as my warmest greetings to all ACYLS awardees!

ACYLS is a flagship program announced by and implemented with the guidance of leaders of China and ASEAN countries. It aims to enhance people-to-people exchange and connectivity in the new era. It is also the only government-funded scholarship co-designed and implemented by ASEAN and its dialogue partner through the Jakarta Channel, which speaks volume of the pioneering and leading role of ASEAN-China relations. Since its launch last year, nearly 100 young people from ASEAN countries have participated in master’s and PhD programs as well as short-term exchange and training workshops in China.

Since the beginning of this year, the COVID-19 pandemic has been gravely threatening people’s life and health in our region and cutting off travel between countries. In this context, China and ASEAN countries have stood side by side and offered each other timely and strong support. Our collective response has been significant to the containment of the virus in our region and led by example in global anti-pandemic cooperation.

I am glad that in this process, ACYLS students are also contributing to this joint endeavor in your own way. Some of you are personally involved in China’s battle with the pandemic by choosing to stay on campus while following the rigorous rules of containment. Some of you still followed the situation closely after returning to your home countries and cheered and prayed for your teachers, fellow students and friends in China. Some of you wrote to me, expressing support for China’s efforts and gratitude to China’s assistance of ASEAN countries against the pandemic. I was truly touched by your kind words. It is through you that I see for myself once again the close bond, deep friendship and good neighborliness between the Chinese and ASEAN peoples.

Friends, colleagues and students,

The COVID-19 has made the implementation of ACYLS all the more challenging this year. However, we have worked hard to overcome the difficulties and managed to finish the recruitment of new awardees with the joint efforts of partner institutions and universities in China and ASEAN. Today, more than 30 outstanding young people from ASEAN countries join the ACYLS family. Let me extend my warmest congratulations to the 2020 freshmen! And my heartfelt thanks go to our partner institutions and universities for your cooperation!

Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of China-ASEAN dialogue relations. After three decades of fruitful development, China-ASEAN relations will embark on a new journey with greater promises. The 23rd ASEAN-China Summit will be held through video conference next month. Leaders from both sides will exchange views on how to jointly combat the pandemic and realize comprehensive recovery in our region, mapping out blueprints for China-ASEAN relations over next year and beyond. We wish this meeting a full success.

Friends, students,

Young people represent the future of China-ASEAN relations. ACYLS students, as young elites of ASEAN countries, will be the backbone of economic and social development in the near future. I hope you will seize the time, study hard, take on the mission of our times and contribute to the lofty goals of ASEAN community building and the ever-growing China-ASEAN relationship!

Last but not least, I hope and believe that the pandemic will soon be over and ACYLS students can return to campus, make more friends and achieve greater progress in your academic studies. I also look forward to meet you face to face in the future and listen to your stories of China-ASEAN friendship.

I wish you all the best! Thank you all.

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