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Asean & Global Updates
POSTED | 13:28 PM | 10-06-2016

ASEAN, China to discuss urgent regional issues

ASEAN foreign ministers will meet with their Chinese counterpart in a special meeting to be hosted by the East Asian country on June 13-14 in a bid to strengthen engagement and dialogue on pressing regional issues, The Jakarta Post reported on Friday (June 10, 2016). 

The Indonesian Foreign Ministry’s ASEAN dialogue partners and inter-regional cooperation director, Derry Aman, said the special meeting is coming at a crucial time and was purposefully planned ahead of the regular yearly ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM), an event which usually takes place in July.

“Certainly, it is hoped that the issue of the South China Sea will also be discussed,” Derry said on Thursday during a press briefing at the Foreign Ministry in Jakarta.

In regards to ongoing territorial disputes, Indonesia continues to stand by its basic principles, he said, namely to push for the full implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).

“Indonesia’s priority currently lies in the finalization of the code of conduct, which is part of the DOC itself,” Derry said, adding that the country’s stance was unlikely to change even in the next 20 years.

Unlike other meetings, Derry said the upcoming gathering, which coincides with the 25th anniversary of the cooperation partnership between ASEAN and China, would not produce any official documents whatsoever.

Derry said the push for the special meeting was initiated at an AMM Retreat in February earlier this year. All participants agreed on the necessity of a special engagement to conduct a dialogue on issues that were of common interest in the region, he added.

Laos, the current chair of ASEAN, along with Singapore, which oversees the organization’s cooperation relations with China, raised the idea of the meeting to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

On agreement, the meeting is to be held in the city of Kunming, in Yunnan province. ASEAN secretary-general Le Luong Minh will also attend in addition to the 11 foreign ministers, Derry added.

He said the gathering would be an opportunity for participants to discuss important regional issues.

Although there are no specified topics that have been set yet, Derry continued, each foreign minister would be free to raise his or her concerns.

At the meeting, Derry said Indonesia would focus on ensuring the partnership between the Southeast Asian countries with China could continue to produce concrete results for all stakeholders.

“We want the ongoing engagement and dialogue with China to be able to maintain the stability and development of the region,” Derry said.

Derry said many forms of cooperation had been conducted throughout the 25-year partnership between ASEAN and China in accordance with the three pillars of ASEAN, namely political-security, economic and socio-cultural.

The focus this year has been selected with the theme of “ASEAN-China education exchange year,” Derry added.

As such, he said, there will be more efforts to increase cooperation in the education sector, people-to-people exchanges and promoting awareness between the two peoples.

For 2017, it has been proposed that the cooperation between ASEAN and China will focus on tourism, he added, explaining that there would be a focus on increasing the number of tourists visiting Southeast Asia and China.

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