JAKARTA, July 1 (Xinhua) -- ASEAN member states and China have made significant progress in cultural exchange and ASEAN appreciates China's efforts in strengthening bilateral cultural cooperation, ASEAN Deputy Secretary-General Alicia Dela Rosa Bala said.
In a written interview with Xinhua, Bala, who is in charge of social and cultural affairs in the ASEAN Secretariat, said culture is a key priority area in ASEAN-China cooperation and plays an important role in deepening mutual understanding and cooperation.
Bala, a former undersecretary for the Central Office of the Philippines' Department of Social Welfare and Development, noted that cultural activities implemented on a regular basis have strengthened ASEAN-China cultural cooperation and will foster continuous development of cultural exchanges and safeguard cultural heritage and intellectual legacies and others.
Cultural cooperation between ASEAN and China has been experiencing rapid development in recently years, evidenced by the implementation of the ASEAN-China Forum on Cultural Industry, ASEAN-China Youth Camps, and the ASEAN-China People-to-People Exchange program, according to Bala.
ASEAN and China are marking the year of cultural exchange whose opening ceremony was hold in April, 2014, Bala said, adding that various activities such as festivals, exhibitions and performance will be conducted both at the regional and national levels along the year.
Bala welcomed China's decision to provide 15,000 government scholarships to young students from ASEAN member states in the next three to five years starting from 2014, saying ASEAN appreciates China's various initiatives.
Bala, who took office in the ASEAN Secretariat in 2012 and will
finish her term next year, said bilateral cultural cooperation between ASEAN and China in the mid-term will be extended to fields of arts exchange, cultural industry, protection and preservation of cultural heritage, library cooperation, public cultural services, research and development, human resources development and training.
China and ASEAN signed a memorandum of understanding on cultural cooperation in August 2005. Seven years later, the two sides convened the first-ever China and ASEAN (10+1) Cultural Ministerial Meeting to recognize the cultural cooperation achievements and elevate the cooperation to a higher level.
Despite the huge cultural diversity and differences, the cultural exchange and cooperation between China and ASEAN goes on smoothly so far, said Bala, adding that ASEAN doesn't see any existing or foreseeable challenges for the cultural exchange projects.