Premier Li Keqiang sent a letter on Friday to congratulate the launch of the 2021 China-ASEAN Year of Sustainable Development Cooperation, stressing that promoting sustainable development is a fundamental solution to various global problems.

Zhao Yingmin, vice-minister of ecology and environment, read the letter at the inauguration ceremony in Beijing on Friday.

The premier and leaders of Southeast Asian nations declared the year 2021 as the China-ASEAN Year of Sustainable Development Cooperation at the 23rd China-ASEAN Summit in November 2020.

Li said the leaders hope that China and Southeast Asian nations could step up cooperation on ecological conservation, environmental protection, disaster prevention and mitigation, climate change, and poverty reduction.

He said that this year also marks the 30th anniversary of the dialogue relations between China and ASEAN, and the two sides have made significant progress in relations and cooperation.

He said China is willing to deepen practical cooperation in various fields with ASEAN on the basis of the principal of mutual respect and mutual benefit.

Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago L. Sta. Romana said he hopes the conversations of ASEAN and China in the symbolic event would transform into meaningful actions that would add to the cooperative efforts by ASEAN and China to attain sustainable development.

The region, together with the rest of the world, is in the midst of two great challenges – the COVID-19 pandemic and the adverse effects of climate change, he said.

“After all, global problems require global solutions. Closer to home, this resonates well in our region, as we engage with external partners through ASEAN-led mechanisms,” he said.

“This includes the ASEAN-China dialogue relations for which we strive to build a dynamic, forward-looking and mutually beneficial partnership.”