KUALA LUMPUR: An Asean-China centre and Asean-China foundation have been proposed to further cement the already close relations between the two sides.
The proposed centre, whose objective is to forge greater understanding between the two sides, is expected to be based in Beijing, while the foundation, which will focus on human resource development, research, training and cultural activities, is to be sited in Vietnam.
The establishment of the two bodies is among several recommendations made by the Asean-China Eminent Persons Group (EPG) on its relations with China in its report to the Asean-China Summit here yesterday.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said Asean viewed its close ties with China, now into the 15th year, as a good model for its bilateral relations with other dialogue partners.
Speaking to reporters at the end of the Asean ministerial meeting, he said China had also proposed new priority areas of cooperation, and these had been accepted by Asean.
“They are transportation, energy, tourism, culture and public health,” he added.
The head of the Asean-China EPG, Tan Sri Musa Hitam, in his report to the summit concluded that the relations had been more rapid and practical compared with other dialogue partners.
To commemorate the 15 years of ties, the group also suggested new initiatives be made in the political, economic, security and socio-culture areas, and for both parties to focus on the need for people-to-people contact, especially involving the young.
All these activities, according to Syed Hamid, will start next year.
The EPG also emphasised building on the free trade area (FTA), facilitating free flow of goods, services, capital and labour to enhance linkages between the economies.
Some of the key recommendations include the promotion of confidence-building measures through regular dialogue, exchange and interaction, strengthening cooperation in addressing transnational issues, supporting international efforts in disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
A co-chairmen’s press statement after the Asean-China EPG meeting called for the early conclusion of agreements on services and investment under the Asean-China FTA, and enhanced cooperation in the key areas of infrastructure, transport, communications, agriculture and energy.
It also proposed the setting up of a prestigious scholarship programme to promote academic and student exchanges, and the convening of a high-level international meeting on infectious diseases to mobilise international attention and resources.
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