by Xie Meihua, Zhao Qing
BANGKOK, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- The relations between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have reached a new high with the implementation of a blueprint to further advance their strategic partnership and forge wider mutual beneficial cooperation, Chinese Ambassador to ASEAN Huang Xilian said.
In an interview with Xinhua ahead of the 35th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits to be held here from Saturday to Monday, Huang Xilian said 2019 is the first year for the two sides to implement the China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership Vision 2030 which was adopted at the 21st China-ASEAN Summit in November last year in Singapore.
The vision is a new cooperation framework between China and ASEAN, underpinned by the three pillars of political and security cooperation, economic cooperation and people-to-people exchange, and supported by cooperation in mutually-agreed areas.
With the implementation of the vision, the development of China-ASEAN ties have been featured with deepened strategic mutual trust, a new breakthrough in two-way trade, closer cooperation in jointly building the Belt and Road, boosted people to people exchange and expanded cooperation in international and regional affairs, the ambassador noted.
China and ASEAN have quickened the pace in cooperation on politics and security by holding a joint naval exercise in April this year and properly handling differences by jointly accelerating the consultations on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, Huang said.
"Against the backdrop of rising unilateralism and protectionism, a breakthrough has been made in trade volume between China and ASEAN, with the latter overtaking the United States as China's second-largest trading partner in the first half of this year."
The two-way trade volume for the whole year of 2019 is expected to exceed 600 billion U.S. dollars. The upgraded protocol of China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement which fully took effect on Oct. 22 will inject new impetus to the trade between the two sides, he said.
All 10 ASEAN member states, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, have supported the Belt and Road Initiative by signing cooperative documents with China, with projects such as the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor yielding early results, and the construction of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway, the China-Laos railway and Hanoi's urban railway, among others, progressing smoothly, Huang said.
China has become the largest destination for ASEAN tourists and more and more people from ASEAN countries are coming to China for visit, work and study, with the number of people visiting between the two sides expected to reach 60 million by the end of this year, the ambassador said.
"2019 is the China-ASEAN Year of Media Exchanges and the two sides have carried out a series of exchange and cooperation activities, which have promoted the understanding and friendship between the media and the peoples of the two sides."
China and ASEAN have boosted cooperation in international and regional affairs by jointly pushing forward the negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, coordinating efforts to safeguard the rules-based multilateral trading system and strengthening communication on regional hotspot issues including the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, the ambassador noted.
On the future ties between China and the ASEAN, the Chinese ambassador said the two sides should make greater efforts to coordinate their strategic planning, cultivate new bright spots in cooperation, consolidate the pillar of people to people exchange, jointly uphold multilateralism and maintain regional peace and stability.