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Asean must keep a firm hold on its role: Chinese envoy
Publication Date : 25-09-2013
Asean must keep a firm hold on its leading role in the region, scrutinise international situations, and focus on practical ways to solve regional issues, in order to be effective, said a Chinese envoy.
Speaking to The Brunei Times, Chinese Ambassador to Brunei Zheng Xianglin said that there were many ways Asean could improve its international standing.
"If Asean can maintain its role in the various summits, such as 10+1, 10+3, 10+6, 10+8, I believe its future will be very bright," he said.
Zheng said that despite some regional instability, Asean was overall heading in a positive direction.
"There are people who want to harp on the instabilities the region is facing, while there are others who simply want to muddy the waters. But in the midst of this, Asean must clearly map out its direction.
"China has always stood firm on one principle - maintain cordial relations with our neighbours, because only through good relationships can neighbours work together for the benefit of all. This is why China has always preferred negotiating and discussing matters together, no matter how big or small the issue.
"Disputes are sometimes unavoidable. The sea is so large, and we all have a part of it. It is OK to disagree, but we must sit down and talk about our issues," he said.
On the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea, Zheng said that it was crucial for the issues to be solved through diplomatic negotiations.
"We can always talk about cooperation, and at the same time clearly spell out the Code of Conduct for all parties involved (in the South China Sea). We must put aside the mindset that all differences will turn into disputes, as there are sure to be areas where mutual consensus can be reached.
"We must first work on reaching this consensus, and then deal with other differences. From there we can expand the consensus, narrow down the differences and work towards something we can all agree on."
He added that the Asean-China 10+1 grouping must stand firm in the face of "temptation".
"We (as part of the 10+1) grouping cannot succumb to 'external enticements', but rather pay no heed to whatever is said by the 'outside parties', and progress at our own pace, and in accordance with our own procedures and policies.
"I believe that after the past decade of cooperation and development, the Asean countries have by now realised that by working together we can have a bright future ahead of us. Just as (Chinese) Premier Li (Kequiang) said: we've already have a 'golden decade' together, and now we are moving towards a 'diamond decade'."
Zheng said that with the implementation of the Asean Economic Community in 2015, cooperation between member countries will become a lot smoother.
"If China and Asean can work together towards improving the flow of funds, and not just personnel, trade volume will definitely increase."
Commenting on Brunei's holding of the Asean chairman position, Zheng said that the most recent summit hosted by the Sultanate was a success because it had addressed the various issues faced by the group.
"The point is that Asean countries understand that they need to stay united, in order to have effective dialogues and cooperation with other countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, the United States and India," he said.