NANNING, China: China supports the growth of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and is resolute in boosting friendly cooperation with the 10-member regional bloc, Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli has said.
In a speech during the opening ceremony of 14th China-Asean Expo and 14th China-Asean Business and Investment Summit here on Tuesday, Zhang said China has always regarded Asean “as a priority in our neighborhood diplomacy as well as a focal point in our effort to Belt and Road development together.”
“Over half a century of development of Asean has made this organization a very strong representative force in safeguarding regional peace and stability and promoting world multipolar development of the world. China is heartened to see development of Asean and also we hope to see a more united, stronger and prosperous Asean in the future,” Zhang said in Mandarin.
“China will continue to uphold the spirit of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and the inclusiveness in our neighborhood diplomacy, join hands with Asean to build a closer China-Asean community of shared future,” he added.
Zhang said China and Asean should deepen political mutual trust for stronger synergy in both sides’ development strategies.
“Political mutual trust is the guarantee and the basis of friendly cooperation,” he said.
‘Buy Chinese machines’
The Chinese vice premier said China and Asean should also deepen international industrial capacity cooperation.
“China’s equipment is cost-efficient, and it has advantages in technology, training and financing, enabling China and Asean countries to nurture new comparative advantages and create new room for economic growth,” he said.
“China is ready to work with Asean countries to implement the Joint Declarations on Industrial Capacity Cooperation between China and Asean…We’re ready to work with Asean countries to synergize our development strategies and demands in industries so as to promote the mutual development and carry out our cooperation in industrial capacity,” he added.
Zhang said the two sides should also deepen economic and trade cooperation for upgraded free trade area between Asean and China.
“China is ready to work with Asean to implement our cooperation initiative for trade facilitation under the Belt and Road initiative and sign more agreements for currency exchange, for investment promotion and protection agreement,’” he said.
In addition, China will actively engage in cooperation with Asean in environmental protection, ecological restoration and the circular economy, in a bid to “build a green Silk Road,” Zhang added.
Zhang said China was also willing to, along with Asean, push the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. Trade negotiations were launched in 2012
He also stressed the need for full implementation of a protocol signed in 2015 on upgrading China-Asean Free Trade.
“China is willing to expand imports from Asean countries. We welcome them to attend the first China International Import Expo to be held in 2018,” Zhang said.
“China is willing to enhance cooperation with Asean countries to improve the building of cross-border economic cooperation zone and other relevant park to improve the China-Asean cross-border e-commerce public service platform,” he added.
China has been Asean countries’ biggest trading partner in the past eight years, while Asean has been China’s third largest trading partner for six years.
From 1991 to 2016, bilateral trade volume grew nearly 56-fold while two-way cumulative investment volume rose nearly 355-fold, according to Zhang.
China-Asean trade volume increased 14.5 percent year-on-year from January to July, higher than China’s overall trade growth rate.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Asean, and the China-Asean Year of Tourism Cooperation.