To explore the possibility of building a network of ASEAN Studies Centers and a Youth Forum, the Mission of China to ASEAN has organized a visiting group of Head of ASEAN Studies Centres—Edy Prasetyono of University of Indonesia; Angel Damayanti of Christian University of Indonesia; Dafri Agussalim of University Gaja Mada (Jogjakarta); Piti Srisangnam of University of Chulalongkorn; and Gesille Sedra Buot of London School of Public Relations Jakarta—led by H.E. Dr. AKP Mochtan, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN, to renowned Chinese Universities like Beijing University and Fudan University (Shanghai) and to well-known think-tank like Shanghai Institute for International Studies, from 14 to 20 September 2015.

The visit was very timely and received with great enthusiasm by the China government institutions, universities, and research associations. The meeting with the Director General of the Department of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Mr. Kong Xuanyou, gave a confirmation how China is committed to build trust with ASEAN, to good neighborhood and peaceful approaches.

The delegates who were tasked to carry the mission had a marathon of meetings and discussions on how to find areas of common concern and interest to strengthen the ties between China and ASEAN. The most foreseen best and practical areas of cooperation that provide a strong foundation for long term relations is education or academics exchanges in various forms of activities such as exhibitions, cultural exchanges, joint research, and scholarships to study in China and ASEAN countries. In fact, in 2016, China have decided to extend the China-ASEAN Education Cooperation Week, a platform aiming to create and develop more practical and win-win educational and cultural cooperation, to a full China-ASEAN Education Year to be able to provide grand opportunities for educational and cultural exchanges between China and ASEAN. This was personally announced during the meeting with the Deputy Director General of Department of International Cooperation, Ministry of Education, Ms. Chen Yinghui.

The ASEAN Secretariat’s visit to China is very fruitful that will widen its relationship beyond traditional and formal diplomacy. The mission is beyond economic and political agenda but more to a very ASEAN way, which is people to people connectivity, a socio-cultural cooperation to promote greater people-to-people interaction within the region.