Progress in China-ASEAN ties hailed

Lead­ers agree on guide­lines for hot­line, state­ment on code for en­coun­ters at sea

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By HU YONGQI in Vientiane and WANG QINGYUN

in Beijing

China and South­east Asian coun­tries have agreed to guide­lines for a se­nior diplo­mats’ hot­line to ad­dress mar­itime emer­gen­cies and is­sued a state­ment on ap­ply­ing the Code for Un­planned En­coun­ters at Sea in the South China Sea.

The doc­u­ments were im­por­tant progress by China and ASEAN over the South China Sea is­sue, said ob­servers.

The joint state­ment on the ap­pli­ca­tion of the Code for Un­planned En­coun­ters at Sea in the South China Sea, and the guide­lines for hot­line com­mu­ni­ca­tions among se­nior diplo­matic of­fi­cials be­tween the two sides, were re­leased by China and mem­bers of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions af­ter Premier Li Ke­qiang at­tended the 19th ASEAN-China Lead­ers Meeting.

The meeting was held on Wed­nes­day in Vientiane, the cap­i­tal of Laos.

Li said he be­lieved the doc­u­ments will be of great sig­nif­i­cance in boost­ing mu­tual trust, re­duc­ing mar­itime risks and safe­guard­ing peace and sta­bil­ity in the South China Sea.

The joint state­ment reaf­firmed all par­ties’ com­mit­ment to im­prov­ing the op­er­a­tional safety of naval ships and air­craft and en­sur­ing mu­tual trust among all par­ties, while uphold­ing the China-ASEAN com­mit­ment to the 2002 Dec­la­ra­tion on the Con­duct of Par­ties in the South China Sea.

The fi­nal ap­proval comes one month af­ter the 13th se­nior of­fi­cials’ meeting on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Dec­la­ra­tion on the Con­duct of Par­ties in the South China Sea, which was held in the In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

At that meeting, se­nior diplo­mats from China and the ASEAN coun­tries ap­proved a guide­line for a hot­line to use dur­ing mar­itime emer­gen­cies as well as a joint dec­la­ra­tion that the Con­duct for Un­planned En­coun­ters at Sea, signed in 2014 by more than 20 Pa­cific na­tions, ap­plies to the South China Sea.

Vice-For­eign Min­is­ter Liu Zhen­min told a news con­fer­ence af­ter the meeting that doc­u­ments about the hot­line and the con­duct for un­planned en­coun­ters would be pre­sented to the ASEANChina Lead­ers Meeting for fi­nal ap­proval.

“China and the ASEAN coun­tries have the de­sire to co­op­er­ate, which is most im­por­tant. Mu­tual trust is still be­ing strength­ened af­ter the South China Sea is­sue and other is­sues, which is good news,” said Zhou Fangye, a re­searcher of South­east Asian stud­ies at the Chi­nese Acad­emy of So­cial Sciences.

Ruan Zongze, ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent of the China In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, said the agree­ment made on Wed­nes­day is a step for­ward by China and its South­east Asian neigh­bors on co­op­er­a­tion and mu­tual trust.

Premier Li ar­rived in Vientiane on Tues­day to start his four-day trip to Laos, which is the ASEAN chair this year and hosts all ASEAN and East Asian sum­mits.

Li also vowed to en­hance prac­ti­cal co­op­er­a­tion with ASEAN coun­tries while meeting with the lead­ers of the 10 ASEAN mem­bers, in­clud­ing Lao­tian Prime Min­is­ter Thon­gloun Sisoulith and Sin­ga­porean Prime Min­is­ter Lee Hsien Loong.

Be­fore the meeting, Thon­gloun and Lee joined Li and other lead­ers to slice a cake in a cer­e­mony to mark the 25th an­niver­sary of China-ASEAN di­a­logue re­la­tions.

Since 1991, China has pro­moted bi­lat­eral re­la­tions and strength­ened re­gional peace, sta­bil­ity and pros­per­ity while stick­ing to win-win co­op­er­a­tion based on mu­tual re­spect, un­der­stand­ing, trust and sup­port, Li said.

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Premier Li Ke­qiang (fourth from left) joins other lead­ers at the 19th ASEAN China Lead­ers Meeting in Vientiane, Laos, on Wed­nes­day to mark the 25th an­niver­sary of the two sides’ re­la­tions.

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