Asean, China ties at new high
By Azlan Othman

Her Royal Highness Princess Hjh Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said relations between Asean and China have grown rapidly over the years in all fronts and the ties have been elevated to a higher plane with our leaders' emphasis on an enhanced strategic partnership for peace and prosperity.

In her keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the second conference on Asean-China People-to-People Friendship Organisations yesterday at the International Convention Centre, Her Royal Highness commended China for being the first Asean Dialogue Partner to accede to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia.

The conference was attended by Madame Gu Xiulian, Vice Chairperson of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China, President of All China Women's Federation and President of the China-Asean Association.

"Economically, our trade volume has increased from around US$130 billion in 2005 to around US$160 billion in 2006. Our Free Trade Area is progressing well and we have a comprehensive cooperation focusing on ICT, transport, energy, culture, as well as addressing natural disasters, emergencies and health issues.

"These are the important developments and achievements in our dialogue relations which will surely benefit our people. This year, Asean celebrates its 40th anniversary and we are working towards establishing an Asean Community through the three pillars of political and security, economic and socio-cultural communities," HRH added.

HRH also said that this conference takes place against the backdrop of two recent successful summits, the Commemorative Summit in Nanning and the Asean-China Summit in Cebu. Our leaders have reaffirmed the excellent state of cooperation and the mutual trust, understanding and strong friendship that have existed between Asean and China.

HRH said China has surged onto the world stage and also made tremendous progress, especially in the socio-economic sphere. With Asean's own impressive progress, I am optimistic that the deeper friendship and greater cooperation between our people will bring about a more prosperous and peaceful region.

"This is where I feel this conference can play its part and contribute to the overall objective of a strategic partnership between Asean and China," said HRH.

Speaking on the theme, HRH said "Harmonious and Neighbourliness Friendship between Asean-China" augurs well in the pursuit of the pledge last year to collaborate and work together towards the creation of "a Zone of Friendship, Solidarity and Peace".

The conference is organised by the Brunei-China Friendship Association.

Meanwhile, Madame Gu in her speech earlier said, in recent years, political and bilateral ties, as well as exchange of dialogue between China and Asean have deepened. Last year marked an important year as China and Asean celebrated the 15th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral ties.

For the celebration, one of the activities organised was the first Conference on Asean-China People-to-People Friendship Organisations on May 17, 2006. The representatives from Asean friendship organisations signed the Declaration on Asean-China People-to-People Friendship and Cooperation and established the 10+1 people-to-people cooperation mechanism.

Mdm Gu added that this year marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of Asean and the meeting will be an important event.

"I hope that this meeting would further enhance the cooperation and bilateral relationship with each other, as well as to push forward the China-Asean strategic partner relationship," she said.

The three-day conference will see seminar topics on "How to grasp the opportunities and make new achievements in our work", "How to enlarge our influence and gain more recognition in the society", "How to organise 10+1 activities which are more practical and popular" and "What are the expectations of each organisation for better coordination among each other". A declaration will also be signed at the end of the conference. - Borneo Bulletin (21st June 2007)