Dialogue discusses region’s challenges

A dialogue between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) took place in Shenzhen on Friday, with a focus on the joint development between China and the Southeast Asian countries.

Over 60 delegates from Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Cambodia attended the dialogue with Chinese officials as well as academics.

Both sides contributed suggestions in various fields, including offering more opportunities for commerce and social communication and building regional security systems.

A Philippine senator, Cynthia Villar, said that China and ASEAN should develop more communication at the NGO level and among ordinary people in these countries.

“I agree with the goal of the ‘One Road One Belt’ initiative that brings development to Southeastern Asia, but I think the communication should go further from the governmental level to social organizations, as well as ordinary people based on mutual trust,” said Villar, who is also the director of the Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance (SIPAG).

Other delegates including Mirzan Mahathir, the president of the Asians Strategy & Leadership Institute in Malaysia, and Suos Yara, a member of the Cambodian People’s Party, delivered speeches on their consent and wishes for the initiative.

Yang Mingjie, vice president of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, brought up the existing challenges of security issues for China and ASEAN.

He said China and ASEAN are situated in an area that suffers from many natural disasters while the ability to respond to disasters remains weak compared with other developed countries.

“For the past 20 years, approximately 40 percent of global severe natural disasters hit this area and the death toll for the previous 10 years in this area increased by three times compared to that of the last 20 years,” said Yang.

He said that China and ASEAN should collaborate to build joint security systems, establish a think tank and share resources to respond to natural disasters and tackle social problems.

The one-day dialogue, themed “Friends on the Silk Road” was jointly hosted by the China Foundation for Peace and Development and the Shenzhen Foundation for International Exchange and Cooperation.

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