KUALA LUMPUR – The relations between China and Asean have grown from strength to strength since the two sides established dialogue relations 30 years ago, bringing about tangible results in all-round cooperation and recent joint efforts against the Covid-19 pandemic, said a former Malaysian ambassador to China.
“For the last 30 years, ASEAN-China relation has been a model for regional cooperation,” said Abdul Majid Ahmad Khan, Malaysia’s ambassador to China from 1998 to 2005.
When China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) established dialogue relations 30 years ago, the two sides had to explore ways of cooperation and build mutual trust in each other, recalled Majid, who was involved in the process as a seasoned diplomat.
“After 30 years, the mutual trust and confidence have gone up, which can be seen from the tangible effects from the cooperation between Asean and China,” he told Xinhua on Sunday.
He pointed out the frequent leaders’ visit between China and Asean countries, the close economic relations as Asean has become China’s largest trading partner last year, people-to-people connectivity, among others, as concrete proof of the dynamic and close relations between the two sides.
“China is one of the most active partners of Asean by coming up with many initiatives to advance the cooperation. China has also responded positively and signed up to various Asean policies and initiatives. China has always emphasized and respected Asean centrality in regional cooperation,” Majid said.
As a diplomat who has involved from the very beginning of the development of Asean-China relations, Majid said he was happy to see the foundation which was laid three decades ago had led to fruitful and concrete results.
The joint efforts between Asean and China against the Covid-19 pandemic, including the sending of medical assistance and expert teams by China to Asean countries, are also “very positive signs of the mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship,” Majid said.
China has made good of its pledge to offer its Covid-19 vaccines as a global public good by prioritizing the supply to Asean countries, not only providing finished vaccines but also willing to embark on the transfer of technology through joint manufacturing cooperation with countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, he said.
“China has delivered what it says on making its vaccines global public goods,” Majid said.
As China and Asean are holding a Special Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of dialogue relations on Monday, Majid expects that Asean and China will strengthen cooperation against Covid-19 and for the economic recovery, and that the relationship will emerge even stronger.
“The relations will become stronger as China is playing a bigger role in regional issues and the RCEP would further foster regional cooperation,” said Majid, referring to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership signed last year by 10 Asean members and Japan, China, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Asean members include Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. (Xinhua)