Ambassadors of ASEAN Countries to China,
Members of the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN,
Secretary-General Ma Mingqiang,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to attend the reception for the 2nd anniversary of the ASEAN-China Center. The Center, which was jointly launched by leaders of China and ASEAN countries in 2011, represents another important platform for exchanges and cooperation between the two sides. Over the past two years, it has made good efforts to promote cooperation between China and ASEAN countries in trade, investment, education, culture, tourism and other areas and worked hard to play its role as a one-stop information and activities center. Hereby, I wish to extend, on behalf of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, congratulations to the Center on its achievements and appreciation to the Secretary-General and other colleagues at the Center for their hard work.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the China-ASEAN strategic partnership. Over the past decade, our relations have flourished, and our cooperation has yielded fruitful results. Together we have established the largest free trade area among developing countries. China has been ASEAN's top trading partner for four years running and ASEAN is China's third largest trading partner. The growth of China-ASEAN relations has not only promoted our respective economic and social development but also contributed to regional peace, stability and prosperity.
At present, the world economy is gradually recovering. However, as the negative impacts of the financial crisis still linger, global economic recovery remains a long journey. China and most of the ASEAN countries are developing countries and face common challenges in growing the economy and improving people's life. Unity, mutual assistance and a focus on development, therefore, should always be the theme of our cooperation.
The new collective leadership of China places great value on growing relations with ASEAN. Last October, President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang successively visited Southeast Asian countries and put foward a host of major initiatives, including the building of a China-ASEAN community of shared destiny, a Maritime Silk Road of the 21st century and a "2+7 cooperation framework". China and ASEAN countries reaffirmed their commitment to the two political consensus, i.e. deepening strategic mutual trust and focusing on economic development, and agreed to push forward cooperation in seven areas, i.e. the political, security, business, finance, connectivity, maritime and cultural areas. To this end, China has proposed a wide range of important measures, such as concluding a treaty on good-neighborliness, friendship and cooperation between China and ASEAN countries, launching an upgraded version of the China-ASEAN FTA, establishing an Asia infrastructure investment bank, forging an Asian investment and financing cooperation system and an Asian credit system and making 2014 the year of China-ASEAN cultural exchange. That gives full testimony to China's commitment to developing relations with ASEAN and serves as a blueprint for China-ASEAN relations for the coming five to ten years.
As an inter-governmental organization between China and ASEAN, the ASEAN-China Center needs to act in accordance with the consensus reached by the leaders from both sides, leverage its own advantages and make pioneering and innovative efforts to advance practical cooperation, facilitate people-to-people friendship and exchanges and enhance mutual understanding and trust, thus playing an even bigger role in upgrading the China-ASEAN strategic partnership across the board. As the host country, China will actively support the Center in its work and also hopes that the Center will make even greater efforts to this end.
I believe that with the commitment and support of the governments of China and ASEAN countries, the active cooperation and participation of all sectors and the hard work of all its staff, the ASEAN-China Center will enjoy greater success and China-ASEAN relations will embrace an even brighter future.