ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
On the road diplomacy
The 10 foreign ministers of Asean countries completed their three- day road trip from Thailand to China yesterday when they arrived in Kunming.
The trip took them along what is known as Chiang Saen — Houey Xay — Louang Namtha — Jinghong — Kunming section of Route R3A to observe development and potential along the route. The trip kicks off Asean’s effort to implement the Master Plan on Asean connectivity endorsed at the 17th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam in October 2010.
The Asean Foreign Ministers’ Road Trip, informally called “familiarization trip to China” is a Thailand-led initiative which received overwhelming support from other Asean members. This is the Asean Foreign Ministers’ second road trip after the last Road Trip took place in January 2010 along Route 9 from Nakorn Phanom — Savannakhet — Lao Bao — Da Nang.
They concluded their trip January 25 at the Asean - China Foreign Ministers Meeting inaugurating the 20th anniversary of Asean — China relations and attended the launching ceremony of “2011 ASEAN — China Friendship and Exchange Year” in Kunming, China.
A photo taken on Monday, January 24, on a construction site of the No. 4 Bridge of Friendship Chiang Kong, northern Thailand, showed a group of well-traveled, mostly middle-aged men standing at the bridge site over the Mekong. The bridge is being built with Chinese funding. In three years the trip may be accomplished in better style on high-speed railways that are planned to connect Thailand with China.
The question that Asean countries must consider down the road is, “How close do they want to be to China? Close or swallowed up?”
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