by Bambang Purwanto, Liang Hui
JAKARTA, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- With the size of its economy and population, China plays a very important role in strengthening multilateralism, and provides benefits for more countries, said a senior official of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
"We believe that China can provide more benefits to the world by working very closely with all the countries on many issues," ASEAN's Deputy Secretary-General Kung Phoak told Xinhua in a video interview here Monday.
Kung Phoak expressed his confidence about China's role in upholding multilateralism, as it is the world's second largest economy and a populous nation having many countries as its cooperation partners.
He said that promoting multilateral cooperation depends on the efforts of all countries, and it is important for them to work together, especially during a time when the world is facing many challenges.
"And now we are in the midst of COVID-19. We can see how vulnerable we are. This is not just being public health problems that we are encountering, but also we are facing many other transnational problems just like climate change, inequality, disasters. It means that nobody can address all of these problems alone," Kung Phoak noted.
According to him, such a situation is something that urges countries to pool their resources and commitments together and to address problems together.
He strongly believes that it is in the common interest of all countries to care for one another.
The culture of multilateral cooperation should be something that all countries embrace because it is not just in the interests of one individual country, but also for a better world, the deputy ASEAN secretary general said.
For the present time in particular, he pointed out that the spirit of close cooperation can help all parties tackle challenges more effectively.
"Let me give an example of our response to COVID-19 in ASEAN, and one of the key successes that ASEAN members work closely in response to the COVID-19. And it is not just close cooperation among the member states. ASEAN has been working very closely with partners as well. And China is of course one of our strong partners in our fight against COVID-19 and this is a clear example," Kung Phoak explained.
"So I think this is something that our countries around the world should look at and if we fail to do it, the consequences would be very severe and it is not just affecting one individual country, but also many other countries around the world as well," he said.
On the cooperation between ASEAN and China, he said the two sides have taken comprehensive actions, and their cooperation spreads across many sectors, and that in terms of the trade relations, ASEAN has become the largest trading partner for China.
There is also strong economic cooperation between China and ASEAN members at different levels, and at the regional level there are also a lot of projects such as in the sectors of housing, environment, education and justice, Kung Phoak added.
"We can say that we are progressing very well and our cooperation is getting stronger and more comprehensive. Next year will be the year of sustainable development, ASEAN and China look forward to working together in many other areas," said the senior ASEAN official.
He is confident that the ASEAN-China cooperation will continue to grow stronger not just in the economic area but also in the socio-cultural development area, including people-to-people exchanges.
"The people-to-people connectivity is the foundation of a strong partnership or strong friendship. Given the strategic position of this collaboration and cooperation, we can work closer to address problems the region and world face," he said. Enditem