Items filtered by date: Sunday, 06 August 2017

Social isolation, loneliness could be greater threat to public health than obesity

Loneliness and social isolation may represent a greater public health hazard than obesity, and their impact has been growing and will continue to grow, according to research presented at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.

"Being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need -- crucial to both well-being and survival. Extreme examples show infants in custodial care who lack human contact fail to thrive and often die, and indeed, social isolation or solitary confinement has been used as a form of punishment," said Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, professor of psychology at Brigham Young University. "Yet an increasing portion of the U.S. population now experiences isolation regularly."

Approximately 42.6 million adults over age 45 in the United States are estimated to be suffering from chronic loneliness, according to AARP's Loneliness Study. In addition, the most recent U.S. census data shows more than a quarter of the population lives alone, more than half of the population is unmarried and, since the previous census, marriage rates and the number of children per household have declined.

"These trends suggest that Americans are becoming less socially connected and experiencing more loneliness," said Holt-Lunstad.

To illustrate the influence of social isolation and loneliness on the risk for premature mortality, Holt-Lunstad presented data from two meta-analyses. The first involved 148 studies, representing more than 300,000 participants, and found that greater social connection is associated with a 50 percent reduced risk of early death. The second study, involving 70 studies representing more than 3.4 million individuals primarily from North America but also from Europe, Asia and Australia, examined the role that social isolation, loneliness or living alone might have on mortality. Researchers found that all three had a significant and equal effect on the risk of premature death, one that was equal to or exceeded the effect of other well-accepted risk factors such as obesity.

"There is robust evidence that social isolation and loneliness significantly increase risk for premature mortality, and the magnitude of the risk exceeds that of many leading health indicators," said Holt-Lunstad. "With an increasing aging population, the effect on public health is only anticipated to increase. Indeed, many nations around the world now suggest we are facing a 'loneliness epidemic.' The challenge we face now is what can be done about it."

Holt-Lunstad recommended a greater priority be placed on research and resources to tackle this public health threat from the societal to the individual level. For instance, greater emphasis could be placed on social skills training for children in schools and doctors should be encouraged to include social connectedness in medical screening, she said. Additionally, people should be preparing for retirement socially as well as financially, as many social ties are related to the workplace, she noted, adding that community planners should make sure to include shared social spaces that encourage gathering and interaction, such as recreation centers and community gardens.

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Materials provided by American Psychological Association. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

  • Published in Health

Over 2 million Pinoys blind, sight-impaired

As of this year, the DOH said an estimated 332,150 people in the country are bilaterally blind while the current number of persons with bilateral low vision has already reached 2,179,733. File
MANILA, Philippines - Over two million people nationwide are blind or suffering from poor vision, the Department of Health (DOH) reported yesterday.

As of this year, the DOH said an estimated 332,150 people in the country are bilaterally blind while the current number of persons with bilateral low vision has already reached 2,179,733.

Of the total number of bilaterally blind, 33 percent or about 109,609 cases were due to cataract while 25 percent was caused by error in refraction (EOR). Fourteen percent was due to glaucoma.

About 937, 285 or 43 percent of those suffering from bilateral low vision was due to EOR, 34 percent or 741,109 was caused by cataract while the rest was attributed to glaucoma and other eye diseases.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 285 million people worldwide are visually impaired, with 39 million blind and 246 million with low vision.

Cataracts remain the leading cause of blindness globally followed by glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration as the secondary causes.

Health experts said blindness or severe visual impairment results in reduced functional ability and loss of self-esteem and contributes toward the reduction of quality of life.

The disability from visual impairment has considerable economic implications with loss of productivity and income and can lead to poverty and social dependency, experts said.

To address the problem, the government drafted a new National Policy on the Prevention Program on Blindness that is more responsive to changing trends in the prevalence of eye diseases.

The DOH also spearheaded yesterday the annual observance of the Sight Saving Month with the theme “Universal Eye Health: No More Avoidable Blindness.”

Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said this year’s theme is aimed at strengthening public awareness on the importance of proper eye care and promote the prevention of avoidable blindness, which is now considered a serious public health issue of global magnitude.

Ubial said early detection and preventive care can help keep the eyes healthy and avoid common causes of blindness.

Thus, the DOH’s current thrust is to integrate eye care into public health programs at the local government unit level for continued advocacy and promotion of comprehensive eye care with focus on avoidable blindness.

She said the development of the Community Eye Health Program (CEHP), particularly at the primary level, district and provincial settings will be able to make most of the shared referral and service delivery network from barangay health stations, rural health units up to tertiary hospitals.

Aside from several provinces in the regions that have adopted the CEHP, the model is being expanded to the poorest provinces like Eastern Samar, Leyte and Surigao.

Population and individual eye care services focusing on the prevention and management of avoidable blindness (cataract, EOR, childhood blindness, other emerging eye diseases) at each stage of the life cycle shall be provided through the functional service delivery network (SDN).

Through the SDN, families especially the poor and marginalized are profiled, navigated, referred and arrangements made with health providers at the different levels of care.

“I would like to assure the public that DOH is serious in its mandate and commitment to ensure that every Filipino, particularly the poor, indigent and marginalized has access to affordable and quality eye care,” Ubial stressed.

  • Published in Health

Aaron Carter Opens Up About His Sexuality In Emotional Twitter Post

“To me, music has always been my temple,” Aaron Carter wrote in a Twitter post.


Aaron Carter said he felt like “a weight and a burden” had been lifted as he opened up about his sexuality publicly for the first time late Saturday.

In an emotional post on Twitter, the pop star revealed he “started to find boys and girls attractive” as a teen, and had “an experience with a male” who he “worked with and grew up with.”

It should be noted that the 29-year-old brother of Backstreet Boy Nick Carter did not use the words “gay” or “bisexual” in his tweet.

He concluded the passage with a quote he attributed to singer-songwriter Boy George, who is gay: “I’ve never felt as though I didn’t belong, I just acted as though I did.”

It’s been a challenging year for Carter, who is best known for his infectious 2000 single, “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It).” In July, the star was arrested in Georgia on suspicion of driving under the influence and drug possession.

Carter, who has been frank about his struggles with depression, substance abuse and eating disorders in the past, has since returned to the concert stage as part of a national tour. His next performance is slated for Aug. 10 in Brandon, Florida.

The singer thanked fans for their support on Twitter.


Wife says Comelec chief has unexplained wealth


Patricia Paz Bautista —LYN RILLON

After meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, the wife of Commission on Elections Chair Andres Bautista submitted last week to the National Bureau of Investigation an affidavit, saying that the Comelec chief might have amassed nearly P1 billion worth of ill-gotten wealth.
Patricia Paz “Tish” Bautista submitted the affidavit on Aug. 1, five days after she sought an audience with Mr. Duterte in Malacañang to tell him that she had discovered several passbooks as well as bank and real property documents under her husband’s name and some of his relatives that were not included in his 2016 statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).
Bautista declared a net worth of P176.3 million in his SALN.

In her affidavit, Patricia, 47, said she was disclosing “certain information and documents that would show that Andy (Bautista’s nickname) might have had, or currently has, misdealing and corrupt practices while in government service.”
Impeachable offense
“I understand that since Andy holds the position of Comelec chair, he is liable to be impeached should there exist valid and sufficient grounds to hold him in trial for an impeachable offense under Sec. 2, Article XI of the 1987 Philippine Constitution,” Patricia said in the affidavit.
Bautista was appointed to the Comelec by then President Benigno Aquino III in May 2015. In 2010, Aquino named Bautista chair of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, the agency tasked with going after the ill-gotten wealth of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his family.

Among the pieces of information Patricia disclosed to Mr. Duterte and the NBI, which were not in Bautista’s SALN:
• 35 Luzon Development Bank (LDB) passbooks with a total balance of P329,220,962
• A foreign currency account with Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. RCBC) with $12,778.30, or P640,959.53 (at P50.16 [as of Aug. 4] to $1.00)
• An RCBC peso account with P257,931.60
• An HSBC account with HK$948,358.97 or P6.10 million (at P6.43 to HK$1.00)
• A condominium unit in One Bonifacio High Street at Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig City
• A condo unit in The District in San Francisco, California
Patricia said that except for two adjoining condo units in Pacific Plaza Towers at BGC in Taguig City, the family home, she was not aware of the 13 other real properties listed in her husband’s SALN.
Her lawyers said this meant Patricia had no hand in the purchase or acquisition of these properties because her husband always kept her in the dark when it came to their assets.
Patricia said in her affidavit that based on her own assessment, the cumulative value of the properties at their acquisition costs was between P250 million and P300 million, “definitely more than P158.5 million” that Bautista declared in his 2016 SALN.

Overseas interests
She also said that she discovered investments abroad “in the form of his interests in corporations and loan agreements” that were not declared in his SALN:
• Bauman Enterprises Ltd., a company established in the British Virgin Islands on Sept. 29, 2010; a trustee company that Bautista set up with Bank of Singapore.
• Mantova International Ltd., established in Brunei Darussalam on April 26, 2011.
• Mega Achieve Inc., established in Anguilla, a British overseas territory in the Caribbean, on July 15, 2014.
“I previously confronted Andy about these companies and he bluntly denied that he was involved in any way with any of them. However, it is highly suspicious why he would have copies of pertinent documents relative to such companies when he claims that he does not have any involvement with any of those,” Patricia said in her affidavit.
Of the 35 LDB passbooks, Patricia’s name appeared in only one. She told reporters on Friday that she was unaware that she had an LDB passbook.
Seeking separation
Patricia narrated to reporters her discoveries that she included in her NBI affidavit and the life she had with her husband of 17 years from whom she had been wanting to separate since 2013.
She said it was out of “fear” of Bautista and his network that she sought an audience with Mr. Duterte.
Patricia has filed a case of violence against women and children with the Taguig City Prosecutor’s Office, accusing her husband of “emotional and economic sabotage” against her and their children.
But it still bothered her that she had all the documents that might be proof of misdealing and corrupt practices, she said.
Patricia’s lawyers said Bautista could not accuse her of stealing his passbooks and other documents because she found them in their conjugal house.
“I am getting scared… I am holding these stuff. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know how far-reaching it is. I don’t know what to do, right?” Patricia said.
“So I would think that the safest place to bring this is there (referring to Malacañang), because at the end of the day, this is the President. This is as high as it goes,” she added.
Meeting with Duterte
Patricia said she was able to arrange a meeting with Mr. Duterte through friends she did not name.
They met at the Music Room of the Palace on July 26 for two to three hours. Patricia’s lawyers were present.
After Patricia narrated what she knew, she said the President told her that he would help in “whatever way he could.”
“I think he was surprised as much as I was,” she said.
In the course of their meeting, Patricia said the President summoned NBI Director Dante Gierran to the Palace.
When Gierran arrived, Patricia said the President “endorsed us to the NBI director, who had since been the one coordinating (with her legal team).”
Patricia said she executed the affidavit for fear that some of her family’s finances and properties might have been accumulated from “illegal or immoral acts or conduct” during her husband’s time in office.
“I want to make a distinction of the ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ money that forms part of our conjugal property as husband and wife. After all, Andy had worked in the private sector before joining the government and his income from the private sector was substantial as well,” she said.
However, she can not make the distinction herself since it is Bautista who “controls most, if not all, of our finances,” she said.
She added that her husband knew she had in her possession all the documents she mentioned in her NBI affidavit.
Financial support cut
“As his reprisal, Andy has purposely cut off any financial support that he has previously given to me and my family, in the hopes that this act would pressure me to give up the documents and information I have against him,” she said.
Patricia also said in her affidavit that she believed her husband, “although extremely professionally qualified, should not be allowed to hold any government position as a consequence of the possible ramifications of what I have found.”



Revenge eyed in Pasay councilor’s slay

The police have started looking into the possibility that the killers of Pasay City Councilor Borbie Rivera may have wanted to get back at him after he was cleared of murder charges in 2016.
The 39-year-old Rivera had just gotten out of his car and into a wheelchair when several men shot him at the entrance of SM Southmall in Las Piñas City around 8:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The Southern Police District director, Chief Supt. Tomas Apolinario Jr., said the victim was declared dead on arrival at Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Muntinlupa City.

Rivera, Barangay 112 chair, sat in the Pasay City Council because he was president of the Liga ng mga Barangay.
Apolinario said there had been several attempts on the victim’s life, including the time a grenade was lobbed at his house. These started after a murder case filed against him was dismissed, he added.

Rivera, along with seven others, was tagged in the killing of Mark Felizardo Baggang in a drive-by shooting in Barangay Pio del Pilar, Makati City, in January 2015.
Apolinario said the Makati shooting, where nine other people were wounded, apparently stemmed from a gang war.
Rivera was arrested and jailed but the case against him was dismissed in April 2016.
In June this year, he survived an ambush outside a bar on Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard in Pasay City. Rivera was still recovering from his injuries which was why he was in a wheelchair at the time he was killed, Apolinario said.
According to the police, a joint station investigation team composed of Las Piñas, Pasay and Makati policemen has been formed to solve the case.
The police recovered 21 .45-caliber casings from the crime scene. A .38-caliber revolver with five bullets was found in the back pocket of Rivera’s wheelchair, plus a black sling bag containing two magazines for a Glock firearm.
Apolinario said conflicting accounts said the assailants arrived either on motorcycles or a sport utility vehicle. There were around four gunmen, he added.
The police said they would ask the mall to let them review security footage to help identify the gunmen.



Lacson: Why not use pork to fund free tuition law?


Get rid of the congressional pork barrel to raise the P20 billion to P25 billion needed to provide free tuition in state universities and colleges (SUCs) next school year.
That’s the solution of Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who has so far eschewed his annual allocations from the priority development assistance fund (PDAF), or pork barrel.
Lacson, in text messages on Sunday, said the P29.3-billion annual PDAF allocation for congressmen and senators was “more than enough” to cover the estimated cost of providing free college education, albeit for SUCs only.
He meant the discretionary funds allotted to lawmakers—P300 million each for senators and P80 million each for congressmen.
Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act No. 10931, or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, which mandated the government to provide free tuition and other miscellaneous fees for SUCs, local colleges and universities and state-run trade schools.

SC ruling
Mr. Duterte signed the law despite opposition from his economic managers, who estimated the implementation of the entire law might cost the government P100 billion—a figure heavily doubted by senators, who put it at P20-25 billion.
“My appeal is, can’t we forget the pork barrel since the Supreme Court has already made a ruling against it?” Lacson said in a radio interview on Sunday.
In 2013, the high court declared lump sum appropriations under the PDAF as unconstitutional following widespread public uproar over an alleged P10-billion scam involving the diversion of funds meant to lift rural poverty to ghost projects and fake foundations.
The high court also disagreed with the practice of lawmakers to intervene, assume or take part in any of the various postenactment stages of the budget execution.
Lawmakers were allowed to identify projects, modify or revise the identification of projects, as well as allow fund release and/or fund realignment.
The Department of Budget and Management this week will meet with agencies overseeing tertiary education to determine the number of beneficiaries and source of funding for the SUCs law.

“I will meet with Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), UniFAST (Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority officials this week to assess the scope of the law and the funding requirements in 2018 and the ensuing years under President Duterte’s watch,” Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said in a text message on Sunday.
Diokno will head the committee that will prepare the implementing rules and regulations of RA 10931.
School year 2018-19
“We will implement the law; it will not be one of those unfunded laws. But the law is prospective. It will start with academic year 2018-19 since this year’s academic year is already funded,” Diokno said.
The budget chief on Friday said the law’s implementation would begin in the first semester of the next academic year.
The sources of financing will follow the funding needs of the law, which will be defined by the number of beneficiaries, he said.
“Many numbers are being floated around—for example, 900,000, 1.7 million or 2.5 million. Hence, we have yet to agree on the total cost of quality, free tuition for the tertiary education program and how it will be funded,” Diokno said.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III told reporters on Friday that he agreed with the points raised by Diokno on the free tertiary education law.
For Diokno, “my immediate concern is those enrolled in the 114 SUCs,” he said.
Student population growth
“There should be no expansion in student population. The estimate has to be preceded by the number of predetermined students who are chosen, say ‘x’, on the basis of a nationwide test administered by the CHEd. Unless we know ‘x’, we can’t give an estimate,” Diokno said.
He added: “There will be changes in the President’s 2018 budget, which has some P16 billion in various types of scholarships.”
During the first congressional hearing on the proposed P3.767-trillion national budget for 2018 last week, economic managers said a whopping P100 billion would be needed to fully subsidize tuition in SUCs.
Instead of free tuition in SUCs, the Duterte administration’s economic team was pushing for the implementation of a 2014 law that unified and harmonized all financial assistance for students.
Economic managers said that the government must fully implement the UniFAST under RA 10687.



Heads up: Lunar eclipse, meteor shower coming this week

Illustration courtesy of Pagasa

Keep your eyes on the night sky this coming week as it will serve up some astronomical treats, starting with a partial lunar eclipse on Monday and ending with the Perseids meteor shower on Sunday.
In its astronomical diary for August, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said the partial lunar eclipse would occur before midnight on Aug. 7 until the wee hours of Aug. 8.
Lunar eclipses are usually characterized by the moon or a portion of it turning reddish, as the sun, Earth, and full moon align or nearly align.
During a lunar eclipse, the Earth, situated between the sun and the moon, blocks the sunlight from shining directly on the moon as the moon passes through the Earth’s umbra, or the core of its shadow.
On Monday, “the umbral eclipse magnitude will be 25 percent,” Pagasa said, making the eclipse a partial one.

An illustration prepared by Pagasa showed that the eclipse will cause only a sliver of the moon to have a reddish color.
The moon will rise at 6:03 p.m. on Monday and will set at 5 a.m. the next day. The lunar eclipse will start at 11:50 p.m. on Monday, with the “greatest” phase of the eclipse expected at 2:20 a.m. on Tuesday. The eclipse will end at 4:51 a.m.
“Lunar eclipses are safe to watch. Hence, observers need not use any kind of protective filters for the eyes,” read the astronomical diary prepared by Cynthia P. Celebre, the chief of the Pagasa Research and Development and Training Division.
“A pair of binoculars will help magnify the view and will make the red coloration of the moon brighter,” Pagasa added. “The lunar eclipse will also be visible in western Pacific Ocean, Oceania, Australasia, Asia, Africa, Europe, and the easternmost tip of south America.”
A solar eclipse will also occur on Aug. 21 to 22, but won’t be visible in the Philippines. It will be visible in Hawaii, North America, and most parts of South America, westernmost Europe, and West Africa, Pagasa said.
Meanwhile, given clear skies and little light, the Perseids meteor shower can be observed in the late evening on Saturday, August 12, until the early morning hours of August 13. At its peak, stargazers may even spot at least 50 or more meteors.

The meteor shower appears to radiate out from the constellation Perseus, which is located in the eastern horizon during August, Pagasa said.
“August is one of the most popular time of the year to observe meteor showers,” Pagasa said. /atm



South China Sea claimants agree

China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) formally adopted yesterday the Framework of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea during the ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City.

The gathering of ASEAN foreign ministers is expected to see a fiery few days of diplomacy, with the top diplomats from China, the United States, Russia and North Korea set to join their ASEAN and other Asia-Pacific counterparts for security talks. (AFP photo) Manila Bulletin


The draft framework was completed last May during the 14th ASEAN-China Senior Officials’ meeting on the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) held in Guiying, China. The consensus was reached ahead of the mid-2017 goal set by the leaders of ASEAN and China.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Spokesperson Rob Bolivar said all parties agreed on three steps following the adoption of the framework: First, the announcement of the framework at the 50th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and related meetings where it is expected a paragraph with the chairman’s statement to reflect on this;

Second, a meeting to be convened at the end of August to discuss the modalities of the negotiations of the actual COC with the approved framework as the basis for the talks; and

Third, the leaders of ASEAN and China are expected to announce the formal start of negotiations of the COC at the summit in November.

“ASEAN and China will continue to cooperate on such practical maritime cooperation efforts, including management and prevention of conflicts through confidence building measures as well as to prevent miscalculations on the ground,” Bolivar told reporters during a media briefing on the outcomes of the ASEAN post-ministerial meetings.

Tough negotiations

Earlier, Agence France-Presse reported feuding ASEAN member-nations finding a compromise on how to deal with Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea, with Vietnam insisting on a tough stance but Cambodia lobbying hard for Beijing.

“But the Philippines is trying very hard to broker compromise language,” one of the diplomats told AFP.

The debates among foreign ministers of the 10-member ASEAN were the latest in years of struggles to deal with competing claims to the strategically vital sea.

The ministers failed to release a customary joint statement after meeting on Saturday because of their differences on the sea issue, and follow-up negotiations the morning after did not end the stand-off, two diplomats involved in the talks told AFP earlier Sunday.

“There’s still no consensus,” one of the diplomats said, adding the disagreements over the wordings on the sea issue were holding up the release of the communique.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, including waters approaching the coasts of ASEAN members Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

The tense talks came after Vietnam, which also claims parts of the strategically vital sea, insisted that tough language be inserted into the statement expressing concern over Chinese land reclamation in the contested waters.

Cambodia, one of China’s strongest allies within ASEAN, had firmly resisted, according to the diplomats involved in the talks, as well as an excerpt of proposed Cambodian resolution obtained by AFP.

“Vietnam is adamant and China is effectively using Cambodia to champion its interests,” one of the diplomats said.

China has in recent years expanded its presence in the sea by building artificial islands, which are capable of holding military bases.


Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi disclosed that the 10 ASEAN foreign ministers exhibited a forward-looking perspective towards the contentious issue.

“From what I gathered during my meetings with the 10 ASEAN foreign ministers, what I felt is that they have displayed a positive attitude including on the issue of the South China Sea,” Wang told reporters at a media briefing yesterday.

According to the top Chinese diplomat, the ASEAN foreign ministers “recognized the valuable progress that we have made in the past year.”

“We all recognized that we need to cherish the positive momentum in the South China Sea,” he said. “Actually compared with what happened surrounding the (Vientiane) meeting a year ago, the situation in the South China Sea is different with really tangible progress.”

Earlier, it was reported that Vietnam wanted ASEAN to insist in the statement that the Framework on the COC in the South China Sea with China be “legally binding,” which Beijing opposes.

Regarding what kind of COC will be produced, Wang said that is up to the discussion by the 11 parties – China and the ASEAN member countries.

“We don’t want to prejudge the result of that negotiations,” he pointed out. “Actually on some issues, the 10 ASEAN countries they don’t have a consensus yet on some of the issues,” he added.

On the bilateral disputes, Wang noted that according to Article 4 of the Declaration on a COC in the South China Sea, these should be addressed directly by parties involved through dialogue and consultations.

“China and the Philippines have this bilateral consultation mechanism, the first meeting was very good, sucesssful. By the end of this year they have a second meeting,” he said. “As long as we commit to dialogue and consultation and international law including the United Nations Convention on the Law of th Seas, we will be able to stabilize the situation and find a way out.”

Wang further revealed that he also had an in-depth discussion with the 10 ASEAN foreign ministers during the ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting held at the PICC in Pasay City.

Chinese initiatives

He said during the meeting, the Chinese side put forward several initiatives on future cooperation between China and ASEAN which have been warmly and responded and supported by all 10 ASEAN countries.

Wang said the first initiative was to formulate a China-ASEAN strategic partnership vision 2030 to draw a blueprint for the next stage of their bilateral relations.

The second was to create a synergy between China’s Belt and Road initiative and the ASEAN master plan on connectivity so as to expand the areas of cooperation.

The third initiative aims to designate next year as the China-ASEAN innovation year. This is to synchronize China’s innovation-driven development strategy and ASEAN innovation-driven growth strategy.

Fourth is to get the upgraded China-ASEAN free trade area to deliver more results at an early date.

The fifth aims to comprehensively implement the China-ASEAN joint statement on production capacity cooperation agreed upon yesterday. According to Wang, this is to leverage the respective strengths of China and ASEAN and to support each other’s industrialization process.

Finally, China put forward an initiative to build a pillar of people-to-people cultural exchange to ensure the success of China-ASEAN tourism cooperation.

China, likewise, is pushing for a joint statement on tourism cooperation to solidify the population support in social basis for cooperation. (With a report from Agence France-Presse)

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