The 25th ASEAN-China Summit kicked off on Friday at Sokha Hotel with the prime ministers of Cambodia and China praising each other for peace, stability and development, as America identifies the Indo-Pacific as the epicenter of 21st century geopolitics.
At the summit, Hun Sen congratulated Li Keqiang for China's success in holding the recent party Congress, praising the communist party for lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty to become the second largest economy in the world.
"In addition, China's sustainable development has also made an important contribution to enhancing common prosperities for the region and the world," he said. Hun Sen added that China is ASEAN’s largest trading partner, with total trade reaching more than $600 billion in 2021, an increase of 28 percent.
In addition, the flow of Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) into ASEAN reached $13.8 billion in 2021, an increase of nearly twice 2020’s value.
"At the same time, the expansion of our relations to comprehensive strategic partnership at the ASEAN-China Special Summit last year has become a good role model for regional collaboration and has contributed significantly to peace, stability, development, and prosperities in the Asia-Pacific region," Hun Sen said.
Chinese Premier Li noted that since the inception of the relationship in the 1990s, ASEAN-China have forged ahead together, enjoying harmonious co-existence and treated each other with equal mutual respect through consultations and dialogue. "We have properly resolved or managed our differences," Li said.
"This relationship between China and ASEAN has gone from strength-to-strength as we meet. We see that China and ASEAN have become each other's biggest trade partners. We are dialogue partners and we have an annual ASEAN-China summit and such a huge increase of two-way trade is indeed beyond what we have expected. This is particularly notable given the impact of Covid-19 and the complex international landscape," Li said.
In the coming days, Cambodia will host the ASEAN-US summit, with US President Joe Biden scheduled to attend on Saturday. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is scheduled to join the East Asia Summit, which Cambodia is also currently hosting.
In a telephonic press conference on Thursday, officials said that America’s high-level engagement at meetings, including the summit in Phnom Penh, is testament to how central the Indo-Pacific region is, not only to US security and prosperity, but also to that of the combined population of one billion in the United States and ASEAN.
“It also shows just how critical these multilateral fora are for advancing our network of alliances and partnerships in pursuit of a more free and open, resilient and prosperous Indo-Pacific that benefits us all,” said US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Daniel Kritenbrink.
“ASEAN is clearly at the center of the region’s architecture, and the US’s strategic partnership with ASEAN is at the heart of our Indo-Pacific strategy,” Kritenbrink said.
He reiterated President Biden’s statement at May’s US-ASEAN Special Summit, that a great deal of the next 50 years of history will be written in the countries of ASEAN, and the relationship with ASEAN will shape the future.
Kritenbrink said the administration has reaffirmed its National Security Strategy by stating that the Indo-Pacific region will be the epicenter of 21st century geopolitics, and that no region will be of more significance to the world and everyday Americans.