Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Building On China – ASEAN Synergy

Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Malaysia

Oftentimes, the mainstream media paints a story about a country that might not capture the full picture.

International Business Review goes above and beyond to present you with a new perspective to the politics, the business, the people, the culture, and the very essence of a country through the eyes of its diplomats, in The Diplomat.

In this issue, we bring you excerpts of the interview with H.E Ouyang Yujing – Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China – with Regional Powerhouses talk show on our sister platform VOICE OF ASEAN. Read on to find out more about the Belt and Road Initiative, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and how they have helped improve cooperation within the region.

“It was truly an honour to be appointed the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Malaysia. Since coming here at the end of 2020, the Malaysian government and its people have been supportive.

One day I remember in particular was 27 February 2021. This was a momentous occasion when 200 litres of the first batch of ready to fill vaccines developed by Beijing Sinovac Biotech arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. I was there with then Senior Minister of Defence Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (who is now the Prime Minister of Malaysia) to receive the much-awaited vaccines. This marked a significant milestone for China and Malaysia as we joined forces to work together to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. China has always viewed China-Malaysia and China-ASEAN relations as strategic and long term. This is evident by Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Malaysia and other ASEAN countries, where he had very productive and fruitful meeting with the Heads of Government in each country. Through joint efforts between both sides in many areas, bilateral relationship will continue to develop and reach great heights. This relationship that we have goes to show that China and ASEAN are not just good partners but good friends as well.

China-ASEAN Trade – Growing steadily

China has been ASEAN’s largest trading partner for 13 consecutive years since 2009. Conversely, ASEAN has been China’s largest trading partner for the last two years.

Agricultural products and mechanical & electrical products are the most traded goods between China and ASEAN. With the advent of digital economy since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, import and export of integrated circuits has continued to expand. There is also a very strong growth potential in renewables, new materials, artificial intelligence (AI) applications, data trading and others where both China and ASEAN countries have shown their strengths.

Strengthening China-ASEAN Relations

Aside from trade, there is also strong investment in ASEAN by China and vice-versa.

In view of the quantum of trade and investment between China and ASEAN, it is imperative that both sides continue to optimise and strengthen economic and trade cooperation. One major highlight of this cooperation is the investment by Chinese enterprises in ASEAN industrial parks particularly in Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, which has helped foster industrial development

Other industrial park landmarks include the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park and the “Two Countries, Twin Park” between China and Malaysia and China and Indonesia. Apart from that, the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 and the Belt and Road Initiative helps further strengthen strategic cooperation by promoting connectivity.

The Belt and Road Initiave – Boosting Economic Development

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a strategy initiated by the People’s Republic of China that seeks to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks with the aim of improving regional integration, increasing trade and stimulating economic growth.

Its name was coined in 2013 by China’s President Xi Jinping who drew inspiration from the concept of the Silk Road, which was an ancient network of trade routes that connected China to the Mediterranean for centuries.

The BRI aims to create a platform of openness among member countries, while also being an impetus for cooperation and development of countries along its routes. This cooperation has brought about infrastructure development such as railways, expressways, ports, airports, bridges and power grids amongst member countries.

Solidarity, Openness and Cooperation

China and ASEAN being neighbours and close partners hold dear to the tradition of mutual respect. We have a solid understanding to choose solidarity over division, openness over isolation and cooperation over confrontation.

“As long as China and ASEAN join hands to work together, there will be tremendous benefits for the people and the countries of the region, strengthening the community with a shared future to build a more prosperous and beautiful world.”  

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