By Zhao Jun, Wang Fengjuan
On 12 May, H.E. Dr. AKP Mochtan, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN, who was attending the first China-ASEAN Media Cooperation Forum (CAMCF) in Wuxi, China, gave an exclusive interview to China Report ASEAN.
The following is a transcript of that interview. It has been lightly edited for content and clarity.
China Report ASEAN: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited the ASEAN secretariat and delivered a keynote speech, in his speech, Premier Li hoped that China and ASEAN can bring the new Asian miracle to the world. What do you think of his expectation?
Dr. AKP Mochtan: To me, it is not only an expectation, it is much more stronger than that. It is more like a commitment. And in fact, it is his personal commitment on China-ASEAN relationship and this being considered the highest visit of China, head of government to the ASEAN secretariat. I think we ought to have a vision for the future and put these questions in mind… What do we expect? What do we want to become? Where will our cooperation lead to? So, it’s very important for us to have that vision. And that’s why it is not only an expectation, it is a commitment at the highest level.
China Report ASEAN: This year marks the 15th anniversary of the establishment of China ASEAN strategic partnership. Are there any China-ASEAN cooperation achievements or experiences that are worth sharing and learning?
Dr. AKP Mochtan: Certainly, I think relations between China and ASEAN have been growing from strength to strength. We have cultivated a very vibrant relationship. In fact, we have achieved a lot so far and all in different sectors, not only in political security, but also in tourism, education, disaster management, agriculture, healthcare, etc. And we’ve also conducted an action plan up to 2020. So, on the 15th anniversary of the establishment of China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership, I also hope that both sides can cooperate in more areas in the future.
China Report ASEAN: Can you find anything in common between the cooperation fields of the ASEAN community vision 2025 and that of the Belt & Road Initiative proposed by China?
Dr. AKP Mochtan: Yes, the Belt and Road Initiative of China also gives you a vision and a direction. On our part, we have what we call connectivity. And, we have created the master plan of connectivity, now our upcoming challenge is how do we find the nexus between the Belt and Road Initiative and the ASEAN connectivity master plan. I think these two are complementary, they are not competing one another. Our main goal is, how to build synergy and value that can be added to these approaches.
China Report ASEAN: This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up. You have made several visits to China. What do you think of China’s development and changes over the past years? Do you have any stories about China that you would like to share with us?
Dr. AKP Mochtan: The reasons why I came to China in the first place were seeking friendship, mingling with locals, and cultural exchanges with media, scholars and think tanks. During my visits to different provinces and cities like this time in Wuxi, I have noticed the tremendous progress China has made over the past years. Before that, I’ve also visited Xi’an, Wuhan, and Nanjing, add to that Shanghai and Beijing. What can I say? The development of China is quite fascinating. And what is important here is that the relationship is developing between media as well as between scholars. I can see this strengthen the government to government relationship. And I am very impressed that a big number of universities are quite interested in ASEAN studies. So, there’s a possibility of finding an ASEAN study center in some of the universities in China. I think this great and will be very beneficial in the future.
The challenge here is that China is so large in size and population, and therefore, I think we need to intensify our relationships. That’s why, we are fortunate that now in the age of technology and social media, communications have become much easier than before, we can communicate through Emails or social media APP such as WeChat. Of course, it’s not as efficient as visiting China but at least it will help in bridging and strengthening communication between the ASEAN media and the Chinese media, as well as between the scholars. I look forward to establishing stronger ties with China, and not only in the cities I mentioned before, but also in other cities all over China.