Kunming—ASEAN Foreign Ministers and delegations
from ten ASEAN member countries and ASEAN Secretary-General have completed ‘the
ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Road Trip to China on R3A’ program on Monday, 24
January 2011. The trip was made by bus along the highway spanning from Chiang Rai, Thailand, to China. The program was joined by the Foreign
Ministers from Thailand, Singapore, Laos and Myanmar, Deputy Prime Minister of
Cambodia, Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Brunei Darussalam,
Vice-Minister of Malaysia and the Philippines, SOM Leader of Vietnam and ASEAN
Secretary-General. Indonesian delegation was led by the Director of Dialogue
Partners and Inter-Regional Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the
Republic of Indonesia.
The Ministers and delegates departed from Chiang Rai at 6 AM, took the course along R3A to Lao PDR, across the
Mekong river, passed through Lao PDR-China border, took
a flight from Jinhong, and finally reached Kunming at
11 PM. This long and strenuous trip was made as a part of ASEAN’s activities
aimed at instituting the awareness on the importance of regional connectivity. The
infrastructure projects, particularly in completing the highway connecting
ASEAN and China via land is one of the items stipulated in the Master Plan on
ASEAN Connectivity adopted by Heads of ASEAN countries.
On the following day (25/01/2011), the delegations
and the Foreign Minister of China, Yang Jiechi,
launched the ASEAN-China Friendship and Exchange Year in Kunming, the capital
city of Yunnan Province. The launching was in conjunction with the 20th
anniversary of ASEAN-China dialogue relations and is meant to further deepen
and widen the partnership for peace and prosperity between the two sides. The
development of land connectivity is ASEAN’s strategic and potential project to
increase the flow of goods, services, and people as an effort to foster the
economic advancement in the region.
After the launching, ASEAN Foreign Ministers and
delegations held an exchange of views with the Chinese Foreign Minister on
issues of common interests, such as on connectivity, East Asia Cooperation,
non-traditional security, food security, ACFTA, Social and Cultural
cooperation, and EAS.
ASEAN and China shared the view that their strong
and beneficial cooperation has provided the foundation for the partnership.
Both also acknowledged the growing role of ASEAN and China in the region as
well as in the international stage and hence they concurred to enhance
dialogue, to support each other on issues of common interests and to step up
their commitment to take bigger responsibility in maintaining the regional and
global peace, stability and prosperity.
The meeting has also come up with a year-round
working plan for the 20th year commemorative activities with
prioritized programs in social, cultural as well as people-to-people interactions.
This year will see more exchanges of arts troupes, media, youth, students and
scholars, medical experts, complementing the intensive communications between
the officials of all levels. Receptions for the commemoration will be organized
respectively in Beijing and Jakarta in July 2011.
In the efforts to beef up the regional
competitiveness and productivity, both ASEAN and China are aware that
connectivity, both intra and inter-regions, is vital and needs to be developed
without delay. Connectivity is to be promoted in ICT and physical
infrastructures referring to the development of transportation to ensure freer
flow of goods and people. While the undergoing development is mainly on land
connectivity, both envisioned more complete and comprehensive links, covering
all modes of transportations that include sea transportation for maritime
connectivity, accomplishing ‘the missing links’ of highways and railways, and
other initiatives in the context of sub-regional cooperation, including GMS, BIMP-EAGA,
and IMT-GT frameworks.
In the meantime, to boost trade and investment,
especially to achieve the target of bilateral trade value of US$500 billion in
2015, ASEAN and China will continue to promote the effective implementation of
ACFTA, to sustain the financial swap arrangement, and to improve measures and
policies in free trade facilitation.
Social and cultural exchanges will be further
deepened and enhanced, covering collaboration in eradicating communicable
diseases, natural disaster management, and tourism industry improvement. ASEAN
and China expect to achieve target of 50 million tourist arrivals in 2015.
Cooperation in non-traditional security issues
including cyber crimes, money laundering, and terrorism is also highlighted
during the talks. Security-wise, both ASEAN and China see eye-to-eye in the
maintenance of regional and global peace and stability and in increasing their
constructive roles in multilateral platforms, such as in the UN and G20.
During the meeting, Indonesia has also made use of
the occasion to push forward the signing of ASEAN Plus
Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR), which will be benefitting the wide
community in the region. APTERR is an ASEAN Plus Three
(China, Japan, RoK) mechanism with the objective of
providing food supply should any member country(s) are confronted with food