ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
China seeks connectivity with ASEAN
The People’s Republic of China (PROC) will seek to improve its connectivity with the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with large-scale investments and loans in transportation and communications, Prime Minister Li Kequiang told media from ASEAN member countries.
This is a major priority for China, the prime minister said, in the interview following the recent 10th ASEAN-China Expo held in Nanning, China. The Chin ese Embassy released the full text of the interview yesterday.
China is cognizant of the centuries-old trade relations and kinship with the member states of ASEAN and is endeavoring to further develop the cordial relationship in the years ahead, Prime Minister Li said said. With several ASEAN nations enjoying stable, and sustainable growth, China seeks to enhance these economies with expanded Free Trade Agreements, he added.
Projects in roads, railways, marine transportation, and aviation are being considered, along with the development of efficient and environmentally friendly industrial production estates and the energy facilities that would power nations, he said.
ASEAN is China’s third largest trading partner and the volume of trade and commodities is seen to grow exponentially in the near future.
“Over the past decade, China and ASEAN have advanced practical cooperation and set up the world’s largest free trade area among developing countries,” the prime minister said. “China is now ASEAN’s biggest trading partner and ASEAN is China’s third largest trading partner. Last year, two-way trade exceeded US$400 billion, five times that of ten years ago; mutual investment totaled over US$100 billion, three times that of ten years ago.
“ Over the past decade, China and ASEAN have increased people-to-people and cultural exchanges. Exchange of visits reached 15 million last year, four times that of ten years ago. China has become ASEAN’s second largest source of tourists, and over 1,000 flights shuttle between the two sides every week.
“ Over the past decade, China and ASEAN have stood side by side in times of adversity. On the basis of successfully fending off the Asian financial crisis, the two sides properly responded to the international financial crisis, and helped each other in tackling such major natural disasters and epidemics as the Indian Ocean tsunamis, the SARS epidemic, and earthquakes.”
He added: “As long as we stay on the right course, and uphold the principles of mutual respect, equality, good-neighborliness, and mutual benefit, as long as we continue to work together to maintain regional peace and stability, and deepen regional cooperation to drive economic development and improve people’s livelihood, the China-ASEAN strategic partnership is bound to make even further progress and bring greater benefits to our countries, the region, and people of the world.”
The prime minister listed seven areas where China and the ASEAN nations can achieve the goals of “strategic cooperation in the Diamond Decade:
1. China is ready to discuss with ASEAN countries the signing of a treaty on good-neighborliness, friendship, and cooperation to consolidate the political foundation for strategic mutual trust.
2. There is need to strengthen exchange and cooperation in the security field,including improving the mechanism of ASEAN-China defense ministers’ meeting, and cooperation in disaster prevention and relief, cyber security, combating transnational crimes, and joint law enforcement.
3. There is need for an “upgraded version” of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Ageement, to achieve the goal of one trillion US dollars of two-way trade by 2020.
4. To step up the linkage between software and hardware, China proposes to establish an Asian infrastructure investment bank and meet, on a priority basis, some ASEAN countries’ need for financial support in infrastructure building.
5. To guard against new risks, there is need to increase the size and scope of bilateral currency swap, expand the settling cross-border trade with local currencies, and enhance cooperation on the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization.
6. There is need for greater maritime cooperation partnership, especially in fishery, and in other areas such as marine environment protection and scientific research and maritime search and rescue, and work together to build the Maritime Silk Road of the 21st century.
7. To boost cultural exchanges, the two sides should jointly formulate a China-ASEAN Cultural Cooperation Action Plan to facilitate exchanges in culture and education.
On the South China Sea – West Philippine Sea to the Philippines – the prime minister said the core of the question is the disputes over the sovereignty of some islands and reefs of the Nansha Islands and the delimitation disputes over some waters in the sea.
“The Chinese government is firmly committed to the path of peaceful development, and is unshakable in its resolve to uphold national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.
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