China Elevates Ties With ASEAN in Boost to Backyard Stability
What’s new: China has elevated its relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to a “comprehensive strategic partnership,” President Xi Jinping announced on Monday, in a bid to manage regional geopolitical risks as well as promote friendship and peaceful diplomatic relations with its Southeast Asian neighbors.
Chairing a special ASEAN-China summit via video link, Xi said that China and ASEAN members need to pursue dialogue instead of confrontation, build partnerships instead of alliances, and make concerted efforts to address the various negative factors that might threaten or undermine peace.
"We need to practice true multilateralism and stick to the principle that international and regional affairs be handled through discussion among us all," Xi said. "China will never seek hegemony, still less bully smaller countries," Xi added.
What’s more: Previously, China classified its relationship with the ASEAN members as a “strategic partnership” in Beijing’s official diplomatic terms. By elevating the relations to a “comprehensive” level, it signals that Beijing will pursue a broader cooperation with the 10-member regional group, including Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines.
Since late 2016, Beijing has been making efforts to contain regional risks, including those related to the disputes with several ASEAN member over claims in the South China Sea, as a buffer against the rising tensions with the United States and its regional allies in Asia.
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