JAKARTA (VOA) —
Respect for international law, maintaining trust and concrete cooperation were the three main things emphasized by President Joko Widodo when speaking at the ASEAN-China Summit on Wednesday (6/9). If this is implemented, according to Jokowi, then all parties can feel the benefits.
“One of them is by respecting international law. “This trust and concrete cooperation can be a positive force for regional stability and peace,” said Jokowi.
2023 marks the twenty anniversary of China’s accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), an agreement of friendship and cooperation agreed to realize the universal principle of peaceful coexistence and cooperation between countries in Southeast Asia. TAC is a kind of “code of ethics” that is legally binding in relations between countries in the region and beyond.
Jokowi encouraged all parties to be able to interpret the agreement by realizing concrete cooperation that is mutually beneficial, especially as China is one of four ASEAN dialogue partners that has comprehensive strategic partner status.
President Joko Widodo welcomed Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang before the 26th ASEAN-China Summit on Wednesday (6/9) in Jakarta. (Photo: Courtesy/ASEAN Summit 2023)
China: There have been major changes, but relations between countries are on the right track
On the same occasion, Chinese National Defense Minister Li Qiang said that in the last ten years, China and ASEAN have developed powers that work hand in hand, and have contributed to each other’s success.
“Facing unprecedented major changes in the past century, we have achieved the right path by realizing long-standing good relations and mutual progress and prosperity,” said Prime Minister Li Qiang.
Furthermore, Li Qiang said that China-ASEAN cooperation was developing quite rapidly. This proves that both parties have the same understanding regarding the existing difficulties and continue to strive to achieve peace, have strong aspirations for development, and take concrete actions to maintain regional stability.
“As long as we stay on the right track, whatever storms may occur, China-ASEAN cooperation will remain firm and continue to advance in the face of all obstacles and will achieve greater development and progress through this cooperation,” he stressed.
Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Explains ACFTA 3.0
On another occasion, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi revealed that at the ASEAN-China meeting, the leaders agreed to strengthen economic cooperation by increasing the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area or ACFTA to 3.0.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno LP Marsudi in Labuan Bajo, West Manggarai, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), 11 May 2023. (Indonesian Presidential Secretariat Bureau)
“Why 3.0? “Because it includes new collaborations, for example in the fields of digital economy, green economy and supply chains,” said Retno.
ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA) 3.0 is an expansion of similar agreements in 2010 (ACFTA version 1.0 which focuses on imposing zero tariffs on more than 90 percent of both parties’ goods) and 2019 (ACFTA version 2.0 which focuses on expanding market access) . ACFTA 3.0 – which is based on current needs and ASEAN-China cooperation – places greater emphasis on a digital economy driven by innovation, and a green economy driven by sustainable development.
Speaking to journalists in Jakarta, Retno said the leaders of ASEAN and China welcomed the acceleration of negotiations on the Code of Conduct (CoC) in the South China Sea.
Several Cooperation Agreements
The ASEAN-China Summit this time resulted in several cooperation agreements contained in six documents.
The first document adopted was the ASEAN-China Joint Statement on Mutually Beneficial Cooperation on ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP), which contained an agreement to encourage concrete cooperation in implementing AOIP, including in the maritime sector, energy transition, infrastructure, smart cities. , e-commerce and MSMEs.
Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang gave a welcoming speech to the leaders of ASEAN countries at the 26th ASEAN-China Summit on Wednesday (6/9) in Jakarta. (Photo: Courtesy/ASEAN Summit 2023)
“Getting to the point of AOIP cooperation with China, this is not an easy process. This is a gradual process through communication talks with them and in the end we agreed on cooperation between ASEAN-PRC (People’s Republic of China -ed) in the context of implementing AOIP, and of course ASEAN welcomed China’s support for AOIP which emphasized from the start inclusive cooperation , and concrete cooperation,” he explained.
The second document adopted was the ASEAN-China Joint Statement on Deepening Agricultural Cooperation which contained a cooperation agreement to make agriculture a “new growth engine” to build food security.
The next document recorded at this meeting was the ASEAN-China Action Plan on Green Agricultural Development which aims to increase the competitive value of ASEAN agricultural products in the global supply chain.
Also the ASEAN-China Joint Initiative Enhancing Cooperation on E-commerce which aims to encourage e-commerce cooperation to advance conclusive economic growth and reduce regional development gaps.
“The next document is Guidelines for Accelerating the Early Conclusion of an Effective and Substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. “I mentioned earlier that the aim is to accelerate the completion of CoC negotiations with effective and substantive results,” said Retno.
“Finally, there is the Joint Initiative on Advancing the China-ASEAN Science, Technology and Innovation Enhancing Program document which aims to strengthen cooperation in technology transfer, joint research for strategic issues, such as industry 4.0, digital infrastructure and clean energy,” he stressed.
Retno did not answer VOA’s question about whether or not the new map released by China last week which sparked controversy was discussed.
Diplomacy Save Face
ASEAN observer at the National Research Agency (BRIN) Pandu Prayoga stated that Jokowi’s call for all parties to respect international law without specifically mentioning certain parties, is a characteristic of Southeast Asian diplomacy which tends to remain respectful of each other. Even so, he was sure that at the meeting there would be a number of sensitive issues such as China’s new map.
Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang walks with Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan upon arrival at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, September 5 2023. (Photo: Antara via Reuters)
“Because the characteristic of Southeast Asian diplomacy is to protect face with China. Different from the United States. So save face or not embarrass one party in public. “So it’s not as explicit as the United States, which says, for example, China, please obey international law, it immediately names it,” he said.
“But when it comes to diplomacy, we protect the honor of guests, protect the honor of partners by saying that we all have to obey without having to name a specific country. But people will know where this is going,” added Pandu.
Pandu suspected the call was merely to push for a dialogue solution on the CoC in the South China Sea.
“Even though many parties are pessimistic that this will be resolved, the CoC agreement means that in the future we will be able to reduce potential conflicts towards cooperation. “Instead of competing, we should focus our energy on cooperation,” he concluded. (gi/em)