New Perspectives on China-ASEAN
Relations

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New Perspectives on China-ASEAN Relations
(Special Doc.)

ASEAN’s Interests and Opportunities for Cooperation 

ASEAN nations are hungry for economic recovery under the framework of the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and the need for digital economy, green economy, and even marine economy (commonly known as “blue economy”) is growing. 

For the majority of ASEAN member nations, the digital economy and green economy are emerging fields that must be developed further. Infrastructure deficiencies in the digital economy are a prevalent issue among ASEAN countries. Unexpectedly, the new crown pandemic has increased demand for the digital economy in the ASEAN area. In the event of a supply-demand mismatch, China’s manufacturing capacity and financial advantages might simply serve as a spark for strengthening bilateral cooperation in the digital economy. 

ASEAN nations have various resources in terms of green economy, such as solar energy, wind energy, and hydropower, but they are still unable to manage resources and green planning. China’s expertise in creating renewable energy, green financing, energy conservation, and emission reduction is a mature starting point for increasing cooperation with ASEAN, and it is also an essential driving force in assisting ASEAN’s economy to recover from the pandemic. 

Cooperation in the blue economy may affect on sovereign disputes in the South China Sea, but it may also be used to minimize tensions. Due to a lack of technology, production capacity, and finance, claimant nations like as Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam must continue to build their blue economies. Rather than becoming embroiled in a protracted diplomatic stalemate, it is preferable to temporarily suspend sovereignty disputes and, in the name of a “development initiative,” inject China’s technology, production capacity, and capital to promote the development of marine resources, assist relevant parties in developing a blue economy, and reach a win – win solution. 

The “China-ASEAN Development Community” has the prerequisites for implementation 

China and ASEAN have established numerous bright spots in the collaborative building of the “Belt and Road” in recent years, achieving tremendous results. Railway infrastructure projects such as the China-Laos Railway, the China-Thailand High-speed Railway, Malaysia’s East Coast Railway, and Indonesia’s Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Railway have opened a new chapter in Southeast Asia connectivity and laid the groundwork for the future joint construction of the “China-ASEAN Development Community.” 

With the official entrance into effect of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in 2022, China and ASEAN’s economic and trade dependency will grow even more. With a 2.2 billion-person market, it is not difficult for RCEP to become a “Dinghaishenzhen” that influences the economic stability of the whole Asia-Pacific region. China recognizes and supports ASEAN’s significance in the RCEP, and as the RCEP’s largest economy, China will likewise play an important role.