JAKARTA, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China should work together to strengthen strategic partnership and jointly maintain stability in the region as strong bilateral ties and peaceful environment have already brought mutual benefits to both sides, experts here said.
In an interview with Xinhua, Director-General for ASEAN Cooperation I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja said ASEAN needs to establish a mutually beneficial and equal relationship with China.
"The peace and stability of East Asia and Southeast Asia are very important and we need a good relations and cooperation to maintain the environment," Puja said in remarks during an affair at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here on Wednesday.
"During the visit of Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi to Indonesia last week, Mr. Yang expressed China's commitment to see a strong, prosperous and united ASEAN and respect for the centrality of ASEAN. This is what ASEAN wants and we are very grateful," I Gusti said.
He said that with Mr. Yang's commitment, ASEAN can be assured of continued cooperation from China in the future, adding that certainly this would benefit the region.
I Gusti stressed the importance of bringing whatever disagreement among countries in the region to the negotiating table.
"Of course, we have our national interests, but sometimes our national interests don't match others, especially on border issues but we have to sit together, try to solve the dispute and friction amicably, peacefully and diplomatically," he said.
Regarding to the U.S. plan to "rebalance" its forces in the Asia-Pacific, I Gusti said that the U.S. has to help maintain stability in the region which is vital for international transportation and trade.
"We expect the U.S. to help solve the problem, we hope everybody will be part of the solution rather than part of the problem," he said.
"If we want to maintain the peace of this region, everybody should contribute in a positive way. This is an important area and keeping this area peaceful is of upmost interest to everybody. We cannot allow a situation of conflict to develop in our region," I Gusti said.
Ibrahim Yusuf, chairman of the executive board of Indonesia's Council on World Affairs (ICWA) also said that good relations between ASEAN and China should be maintained.
"For the South China Sea issue, there should be more dialogues and ASEAN members that are not claimant countries should play an important role in resolving the dispute," Yusuf told Xinhua.
Former Indonesian ambassador to China Sudrajat said ASEAN and China should be open and transparent and should develop high- ranking exchange visits to strengthen ties.
Sudrajat stressed that good communication, either formally or informally, is the key to ease tension and the best way to resolve conflicts.
He said that if parties do not communicate, tension will become stronger and it would be more difficult to resolve.
Beijing has maintained that it wants to resolve the territorial dispute in the South China Sea peacefully through bilateral, not multilateral, negotiations with the concerned parties and without the intervention of other parties.
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