ASEAN and China: Promoter of common security and prosperity
Updated 18:26, 11-Aug-2022
H.E. Robert Matheus Michael Tene

Editor's note: Decision Makers is a global platform for decision makers to share their insights on events shaping today's world. H.E. Robert Matheus Michael Tene is the Deputy Secretary-General (DSG) of ASEAN for Political-Security Community. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

The ASEAN Political-Security Community is one of the pillars of the ASEAN community. There are three pillars under the ASEAN community, namely the political-security pillar, the economic pillar and socio-cultural pillar. The political-security pillar emphasizes ASEAN as a rules-based community with shared values and norms.

At the same time, these norms and values are reflected in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia as well as in the ASEAN Charter. These two important documents, as well as other ASEAN documents, play an important role in providing the guidelines and code of conduct in terms of inter-state relations among countries in Southeast Asia.

Throughout the years, ASEAN has developed several regional mechanisms in which we engage our partners, such as the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit, and the ASEAN Plus Three mechanism. All these ASEAN mechanisms allow us to engage with our partners to ensure peace and stability in our region.

We have had a rather beneficial cooperation in the political and security area with China. China is a partner of ASEAN, and has led mechanisms such as the East Asia Summit, the ASEAN-China Summit and minister level meetings in various sectors. ASEAN and China are also partners in terms of defense, China being a member of ASEAN Defense Minister's Meeting-Plus mechanisms. ASEAN and China also conduct transnational cooperation in non-traditional security areas.

Hence the security and political cooperation between ASEAN and China covers wide-ranging areas. On this good basis, we will continue to strengthen cooperation with China through various mechanisms. The cooperation between China and ASEAN in the area of political security will become more important, not only in our region but also in the wider region of East Asia and the Pacific.

China and ASEAN now are each other's largest trading partner, with trade volume soaring a hundred times from 30 years ago and two-way direct investment exceeding $300 billion. Our relationship, especially in terms of trade between ASEAN and China, has been beneficial for both sides.

Going forward, we have to make sure that these beneficial trade relations continue to bring prosperity to people in ASEAN and in China so that all parties can benefit from this relationship. The closer trading relationship between China and ASEAN has a significant impact in terms of strengthening the foundation for closer political and security cooperation.

China and ASEAN are becoming increasingly interconnected. We both share a common interest in creating prosperity for our peoples. At the same time, this prosperity can only be realized if we have a peaceful and stable relationship as well as a peaceful and stable region.

The first international cargo train to a RCEP member country after the RCEP agreement came into force at Nanning International Railway Port, January 1, 2022. /CFP

The first international cargo train to a RCEP member country after the RCEP agreement came into force at Nanning International Railway Port, January 1, 2022. /CFP

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) entered into force in the beginning of this year. It is a significant milestone in terms of economic cooperation. A recent report mentioned that the RCEP is projected to result in trade creation of about $45 billion. The RCEP covers about 30 percent of the world's population, 30 percent of global GDP, a quarter of global trade in goods and services and 31 percent of global FDI inflows. 

We are looking at an arrangement which will bring greater prosperity to our region, not only for ASEAN and China, but also for the other RCEP participants. More importantly, the RCEP reflects the commitment of its members to strengthen multilateralism and inclusive arrangement and to bring greater prosperity.

It is not an exclusive arrangement, and it will be open for other countries to join. In the past few years, we have seen great challenges in trade relations among many important global players and the difficulties of making progress in multilateral forums. The RCEP sends a strong signal of the commitment of its members to continue strengthening the multilateral trade system which is also open and inclusive.

ASEAN will continue to play a central role in managing the relationship of the various countries engaged in Southeast Asia through the existing ASEAN-led mechanism, allow our partners to work together with ASEAN to make sure that Southeast Asia and the regions surrounding Southeast Asia, such as the Asia-Pacific, remain peaceful, stable, prosperous, and that all parties benefit.

The year 2022 is not only an important year for ASEAN, but also for China. The Communist Party of China (CPC) has been successful in the past decades to bring prosperity to its people and has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. China has made remarkable contributions to global governance with "Asian wisdom."

For China's upcoming 20th CPC National Congress, I wish the CPC continuing success in realizing the aspiration of the Chinese people for a better life. And I believe that China's prosperity will also have a big impact on the prosperity of our great region, as well as on the global community.

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