|Position Paper of the People’s Republic of China on Supporting ASEAN Centrality in the Evolving Regional Architecture|
This year marks the 55th anniversary of ASEAN. The past five and a half decades have seen continued growth of ASEAN and remarkable progress in ASEAN Community building. ASEAN has led East Asia in fostering an open and inclusive regional cooperation architecture with ASEAN at the center, and made important contribution to peace, stability, development and prosperity in the region. As ASEAN’s close neighbor and Comprehensive Strategic Partner, China wishes to see a united, independent, strong and growing ASEAN.
At the Special Summit to Commemorate the 30th Anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations in November 2021, President Xi Jinping reaffirmed that China will unswervingly take ASEAN as a high priority in its neighborhood diplomacy, unswervingly support ASEAN unity and ASEAN Community building, unswervingly support ASEAN centrality in the evolving regional architecture, and unswervingly support ASEAN in playing a bigger role in regional and international affairs.
Chinese leaders have attended the ASEAN-China Summit and ASEAN Plus Three Summit for 24 consecutive years and the East Asia Summit for 16 years running. China was the first to join the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), the first to establish a free trade area with ASEAN, the first to establish a Strategic Partnership with ASEAN, and one of the first to establish a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with ASEAN. China is also the first Dialogue Partner to ratify and implement the ASEAN-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
China’s commitment to and support for ASEAN centrality in the evolving regional architecture has been consistent and clear-cut. It hereby reaffirms the following policy position:
1. China supports the continued centrality and leadership of ASEAN in the evolving regional architecture, and supports strengthening the ASEAN-led mechanisms including ASEAN’s Plus One mechanisms, ASEAN Plus Three cooperation, East Asia Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum, ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus, and Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum. China commits to the ASEAN way of mutual respect, non-interference in others’ internal affairs, consultation and consensus, accommodating the comfort levels of all sides, and properly addressing differences through dialogue and consultation, in an effort to enhance mutual trust, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation among regional countries.
2. Participants in East Asian cooperation should uphold peace, development, independence and inclusiveness, and practice open regionalism on the basis of the TAC, the East Asia Summit Declaration on the Principles for Mutually Beneficial Relations and other commonly-recognized documents. China recognizes and respects ASEAN as a zone of peace, freedom and neutrality. It has never asked ASEAN to take sides, nor will it ever do so in the future. ASEAN-China relations are not targeted against any third party or subject to disruption and provocation by any third party.
3. China supports ASEAN in developing the ASEAN Community’s Post-2025 Vision and the Initiative for ASEAN Integration, and will increase its input in Lancang-Mekong Cooperation and BIMP-EAGA-China cooperation to help narrow the development gap in the region.
4. China supports ASEAN’s efforts for regional economic integration, and stands ready to work with ASEAN to advance this process. China will work for common development in the region through a new round of upgrade of the ASEAN-China FTA and high-quality implementation of the RCEP.
5. China is ready to be the first to sign the Protocol to the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone to support ASEAN’s efforts to keep Southeast Asia a region free of nuclear weapon and other weapons of mass destruction.
6. The ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP), as ASEAN’s independent initiative, upholds openness and inclusiveness, and aims to enhance ASEAN Community building process instead of creating new mechanisms or replacing the existing ones. China is ready to work with ASEAN to uphold openness, inclusiveness, and win-win cooperation, advance practical cooperation in the four priority areas of the AOIP, and promote post-COVID recovery and sustainable development in the region.
7. China welcomes and supports the Joint Press Release of the Foreign Ministries of the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Republic of Indonesia and the Kingdom of Thailand in May this year, and will fully support the three countries in hosting the ASEAN Summit and Related Summits, the G20 Summit and the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in 2022, to jointly practice true multilateralism and contribute Asian wisdom and strength to addressing global challenges.
8. The over two billion people of China and ASEAN live in one and the same home. China and ASEAN have shared goals and responsibilities in maintaining peace, security and prosperity in the region. Focusing on building a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, beautiful and amicable homeland together, China looks forward to working with ASEAN to advance the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, and build an even closer ASEAN-China community with a shared future.