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Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying Briefs on the China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting

At the conclusion of the China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on 11 July, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying briefed the press about the meeting.

Fu Ying said that the meeting was held in a good atmosphere. Ministers and the representatives of ministers from ASEAN countries had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on China-ASEAN relations. Foreign Ministers or their representatives from ASEAN countries expressed appreciation to the efforts and contribution China has made for closer China-ASEAN cooperation.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi spoke highly of ASEAN's achievements, especially the new progress made in building political-security, economic and socio-cultural communities.

Minister Yang stressed that the Chinese government has put China's relations with its neighbors, including ASEAN, high on China's diplomatic agenda and will continue to promote good-neighborly relationship with ASEAN. China will adjust the priority areas of cooperation with ASEAN in response to the needs of ASEAN's community-building efforts and ensure that China-ASEAN cooperation will complement ASEAN community-building efforts.

Minister Yang said with the dynamic growth of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA) over the past five years, the two-way trade has grown to over 360 billion dollars and personnel flow exceeded 13.64 million in 2011. The initiatives proposed by Premier Wen Jiabao at the commemorative summit last year are under good implementation. In May 2012, the two sides held the first 10+1 Cultural Ministers' meeting. In September, the first 10+1 Science Ministers' meeting will be launched. China has set up ten vocational training centers for ASEAN covering agriculture, new energy, exhibition, traditional medicine, culture and arts in 6 provinces in China.

The rise of Asia marks the most important change in the international landscape over the past two decades. Especially as the underlying impact of the international financial crisis is still spreading, Asia has enjoyed overall stability and a dynamic economy, and has become an important driver for global economic recovery and growth. At the same time, Asia countries also face major challenges in pursuing sustainable development. China and ASEAN have forged a community of destiny, contributing to and benefiting from Asia's development. China is implementing the 12th Five-Year Program. China's development represents an opportunity for ASEAN, and ASEAN's development is also an opportunity for China. The two sides need to continue promote practical cooperation for mutual benefit and win-win development.

Minister Yang raised the following areas as the priority for China-ASEAN cooperation.

First, expand business and financial cooperation. China will boost the growth of CAFTA through the CAFTA Committee. China and ASEAN should enhance cooperation between financial institutions and exchanges between financial professionals, and promote the development of the China-ASEAN Inter-bank Association.

Second, promote multi-dimensional connectivity. China is ready to work with ASEAN to establish a committee on cooperation in connectivity at an early date and draw up plans for such cooperation. China proposes to hold a China-ASEAN strategic symposium on maritime connectivity in the second half of this year, and looks forward to the participation of all ASEAN countries. In carrying out specific cooperation, China will consider more favorably under-developed countries in ASEAN and help ASEAN narrow development gaps.

Third, deepen social, cultural and people-to-people exchanges. We need the young people to carry forward and promote China-ASEAN friendship. In this connection, we propose organizing more youth exchange activities. The two sides may consider setting up a new platform for tourism cooperation at an appropriate time.

Fourth, expand maritime cooperation. the two sides need to make good use of the 3 billion RMB maritime cooperation fund and carry out maritime cooperation in multiple areas.

Minister Yang made it clear that China's resolve to promote peace and development will remain unchanged, China's policy of forging good neighborly relationship and partnership will remain unchanged, and China's commitment to strengthen mutually beneficially cooperation with ASEAN will remain unchanged. China is ready to step up cooperation with ASEAN countries to jointly work for sustained and sound growth of China-ASEAN relations to the benefit of people in China and ASEAN.

Fu Ying said that Foreign Ministers from China and ASEAN reviewed the progress in implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and agreed to continue the implementation of the DOC and cooperation projects under its framework, and through this process, promote mutual understanding and trust.

The Chinese side stressed that the DOC was jointly signed by China and ASEAN countries, and should be complied by all members concerned. Otherwise, it will undermine mutual trust.

Some ASEAN countries proposed to start discussion on a code of conduct in the South China Sea. The Chinese side expressed willingness to consider the proposal seriously and hopes to be able to start discussion on COC when conditions are ripe.

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