China: An International Journal 2.2 (2004) 343-355
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China-Asean Relations, October 2003 To March 2004:
Chronology Of Events
Yow Cheun Hoe
As a research institute based in Singapore, EAI keeps track of developments in relations and interactions between China and the individual countries of Southeast Asia as well as the ASEAN grouping as a whole. Two particular items are presented: (1) chronology of events in China-ASEAN relations, and (2) important documents, such as speeches and agreements.
During the 9th ASEAN summit held in Bali, China and ASEAN agree on a special tariff-reduction programme to launch their grand plan to set up the world's largest free trade area (FTA). ASEAN trade ministers adopt a protocol paving the way for the implementation from 1 January 2005 of a so-called "early harvest programme". This three-year programme is largely a concession by China to give early benefits to ASEAN through tariff reductions on a wide range of agricultural and manufactured goods. ASEAN will reciprocate by giving tariff concessions to China under a traffic-harmonised system for agricultural products. China and ASEAN countries agreed last year to create a FTA covering 1.7 billion consumers. The Southeast Asian nations, which are in the midst of establishing their own FTA will also sign an FTA pact with India, the world's second most populous nation, as well as an agreement with Japan laying out provisions for an FTA. [End Page 343]
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao meets with Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam, Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai, and Myanmar Prime Minister Khin Nyunt on separate occasions in Bali.
During his meeting with Sultan Bolkiah, Wen expresses appreciation for the friendship, good-neighbourliness, cooperation and growth of Sino-Bruneian relations. He states that China is willing to import more petroleum from Brunei, and take part in Brunei's oil and gas development and infrastructure construction such as harbour and telecommunications, adding that China is also willing to promote bilateral cooperation in education and culture.
During his meeting with Phan Van Khai, Wen says that Sino-Vietnamese relations are presently growing well and that the CCP and Chinese government attach importance to expanding ties with Vietnam. He notes that both sides should continue implementing the consensus reached between leaders of the two countries and deepen the overall cooperation in various fields. Wen also adds that the two sides should pay more attention to and properly handle the existing problems in bilateral relations by concluding the follow-up negotiations on the agreement on Beibu Gulf fishery cooperation at an early date. He hopes the two sides will jointly maintain order in fishery production there and prevent incidents that harm fishermen's interests. Phan Van Khai says Vietnam attaches great importance to expanding friendly relations and cooperation with China in various areas, and is willing to be China's "ever-lasting good neighbour, good partner, good friend and good comrade". He also says the Vietnamese government fully agrees with China and will take concrete measures to solve the existing problems properly.
While meeting with Khin Nyunt, Wen says China hopes Myanmar will maintain stability, achieve economic development and promote the process of national reconciliation. He says China is willing to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation with Myanmar in the areas of agriculture, resource development, infrastructure construction, administration of border areas and anti-drug work, and collaborate with Myanmar in cracking down on cross-border crimes and maintaining stability in the border areas.
On the closing day of the ASEAN summit, the Southeast Asian leaders ink security and trade pacts with China, India and Japan, the region's biggest neighbours, a day after signing a landmark accord to forge an ASEAN common market by 2002. China and India, both nuclear capable, sign the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), which pledges that dialogue, not force, will be used to settle their disputes with ASEAN countries. They are the first two non-ASEAN countries to accede to the TAC. ASEAN officers say Russia...