China asks ASEAN to maintain close ties after G-7 invitation

© Kyodo News

China on Wednesday asked ASEAN to maintain their close bilateral relations, as the regional group has been formally invited to a foreign ministerial meeting of the Group of Seven industrialized countries for the first time.

China believes the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will work together to advance a "comprehensive strategic partnership" and "respect each other's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity," Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.

His remarks came as Britain, which holds the forum's rotating presidency this year, has invited ASEAN countries to the G-7 gathering scheduled to be held in Liverpool next month.

Zhao said the G-7 nations -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, plus the European Union -- to "respect the political systems, development paths, values and consensus of cooperation among Asian countries."

The G-7 should "abandon the Cold War mentality, get rid of the bad ailments of interfering in internal affairs of other nations at every turn and do more things that are conducive to regional peace and stability," Zhao added.

On Monday, China and ASEAN agreed to upgrade their ties to a "comprehensive strategic partnership," with President Xi Jinping making a rare appearance at a special online summit of the two sides.

The meeting commemorating the 30th anniversary of dialogue between China and ASEAN this year took place as Beijing has been eager to boost its clout in the region with security tensions with the United States escalating in nearby waters.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.