Building trust and confidence key to strong Asean-China ties
Danial Norjidi in Phnom Penh

Regular exchanges, coordination and the strengthening of political security and socio-cultural ties are the three areas that His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam said need to be explored and developed in a titah at the 15th Asean-China Summit yesterday, while also suggesting ideas to further strengthen cooperation with the United States of America during the 4th Asean-US Leaders' Meeting, both at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh.

His Majesty attended the Asean-China Summit with the other Asean leaders, along with the Premier of the People's Republic of China, Wen Jiabao.

In the session, His Majesty highlighted the aforementioned three main areas to be explored and developed, the first of which being that all efforts should continue to be supported by regular exchanges to build trust and confidence.

Secondly, the monarch said that coordination is needed in addressing the non-traditional security issues and implementing the Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea.

His Majesty also supported the Joint Statement in reaffirming the commitment to fully and effectively implement the declaration which will lead towards a regional code of conduct.

Thirdly, the monarch reiterated that the strengthening of the political security and socio-cultural ties will contribute to the economic prosperity of the region, and that there is a need to further enhance trade and economic linkage by the eventual accession of Hong Kong to the Asean-China FTA in order to attract greater private sector interest and engagement in the region as well as to utilise the Asean-China Centre in Beijing.

His Majesty also encouraged Asean Economic Ministers to conduct a roadshow in China and to welcome their counterparts to the region.

Finally, His Majesty acknowledged Asean and China have developed a strong partnership over the last decade and looked forward to seeing the partnership continue.

After this session, His Majesty with other Asean leaders together with President Barack Obama, the President of the United States of America, attended the 4th Asean-US Leaders' Meeting.

His Majesty first welcomed and congratulated Obama for winning a second term in office, and said the dialogue relationship will continue to grow across entire scope of the cooperation and hoped for regular consultation to be continued.

During the session, His Majesty suggested a few ideas to strengthen the cooperation including building capacities and expertise with the US in the areas of disaster management, transnational crime and counter terrorism.

The monarch underlined that there is a need to strengthen Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA) and welcomed the US' proposal to strengthen economic partnership through the Expanded Economic Engagement (E3) Initiatives.

His Majesty was pleased with the English Language Enrichment Programme for Asean and encouraged other Asean leaders to join in developing this project. The monarch also welcomed the work of the Eminent Persons Group in the practical suggestions to look further in strengthening the partnership and lastly expressed appreciation to President Obama for his commitment towards the region's peace and prosperity.

His Majesty with other Asean leaders also attended the 10th Asean-India Summit with Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India yesterday.

In this session, the monarch stated that India has continued to be an important partner to Asean and that this year is the 10th Summit which next month will commemorate the 20th anniversary.

His Majesty further added that since the establishment of the relations, the two-way trade has surpassed the target set for this year. His Majesty also expressed his belief, however, that there is a need to deepen economic cooperation in the areas of investment and services. His Majesty looked forward to the conclusion of the negotiation as it will support the realisation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

His Majesty also expressed his appreciation to the Prime Minister of India and his government for their support in the Connectivity Master Plan.

The ongoing Car Rally and Sudarshini Expedition, said His Majesty, are excellent reminders of the historical, political, trade and cultural linkages in which India continues to play a positive role.

The monarch also stated that it is important to strengthen all areas under the Plan of Action including security which ensures continued peace and prosperity in the region.

His Majesty was also pleased to note that the Eminent Persons Group has come up with some recommendations to advance the relationship to a strategic level. His Majesty added his appreciation to the Prime Minister of India for the invitation to New Delhi for the Commemorative Summit next month.

The monarch also attended the 15th Asean-Japan Summit, the Asean Plus Three (APT) Commemorative Summit as well as a luncheon with Asean Plus Three leaders, and also held a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan.

His Majesty last evening consented to attend the 21st Asean Summit and related meetings Gala Dinner.

The Gala Dinner was hosted by Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia and his spouse, Madam Lok Chumteav Kittipritthbindi Bun Rany Hun Sen, which was held at the Diamond Island International Convention Centre, Phnom Penh.

Accompanying His Majesty to the summits, other related meetings and the Gala Dinner were Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim, Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office; and Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II; Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (R) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar, Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister's Office as well as other senior officials. - Borneo Bulletin (20 November 2012)