Chinese Ambassador for the ASEAN Huang Xilian made the statement after attending an event called 'Symposium on China's Development and a Shared Future Between ASEAN and China', held in the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, Tuesday.
"Traditionally, there are two major pillars between China and ASEAN cooperation. One is political and security and the other one is economy and trade. Now we are strengthening a third very important pillar, that is cultural links and people-to-people exchanges," he said.
To accomplish that, China is working very closely with ASEAN member countries to propose initiatives that promote more people-to-people exchanges, Huang said.
One of those initiatives was realized with the ASEAN-China Young Leader Scholarship program launched a couple of months ago.
"Through this, we try to bring more young people from ASEAN countries to China, and of course we try to bring more Chinese people to ASEAN to promote mutual understanding," he said, adding that young people represent the future of the relationship.
There are also other sectors, including tourism, that are still open to be explored to heighten people's relationships.
Related news: ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific, message to major powers
The founder of the Foreign Policy Community Indonesia, Dino Patti Djalal, who was also one of the speakers at the symposium, said that people-to-people relations are indeed an important part of the cooperation.
"Not just people-to-people, but there needs to be trust and confidence between people. How does one get to the bottom of the paradigm and promote trust at the people-to-people level?" he said.
He still sees a trust deficit among the people, especially among students and the younger generation, and it needs to improve, he further said.
Overall, ASEAN and China need to develop a soulful partnership that involves genuine feelings as partners that trickle down to the people-level as well, he believed.
Related news: Indonesia urges ASEAN members to promote shared values
Related news: Indonesia suggests narrative of ASEAN identity at SOMCA