Hu arrives in Viet Nam ahead of APEC meeting

By Sun Shangwu (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-11-16 06:30

HANOI: President Hu Jintao arrived in Viet Nam's central city of Danang yesterday to start his state visit, during which the two countries are expected to sign a series of agreements to boost their economic partnership.

Hu will fly to the capital city of Hanoi today to meet high-ranking Vietnamese officials, including Communist Party of Viet Nam General Secretary Nong Duc Manh and President Nguyen Minh Triet.

The frequent exchange of visits shows the increasing closeness of bilateral ties, especially in the political field, according to Zhai Kun, an expert on Southeast Asian affairs with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations. Manh visited China in August and Hu toured Hanoi last October.

Compared with political relations, bilateral economic and trade ties still have potential for development.

The current visit comes shortly after Viet Nam became the latest member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The accession is expected to contribute to economic and trade growth between the two sides, Zhai told China Daily.

Bilateral trade between the two countries is expected to exceed US$10 billion this year, reaching the goal set by the two governments four years ahead of schedule.

The forecast is based on bilateral trade of more than US$8 billion in the first nine months of this year, according to figures from the Ministry of Commerce.

China is now the second biggest trading partner of Viet Nam after the European Union and it is the biggest seller to Viet Nam.

During the visit, the two countries will sign documents guiding the development of so-called "two corridors and one circle", according to sources with the Vietnamese Embassy in China.

The two countries advocated this development strategy in 2004. One corridor links Kunming in Southwest China's Yunnan Province with Hanoi, while the other links Nanning in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region with Hanoi. The two economic corridors are believed to be crucial for building a vigorous regional economy. And the circle refers to the pan-Beibu Gulf economic area.

Hu Qianwen, Chinese ambassador to Viet Nam, said that the two countries have been broadening their co-operation on trade, especially after President Hu visited Viet Nam last year. The economic partnership has tightened bilateral ties, he noted.

In Hanoi, the Chinese leader will also attend the 14th Economic Leaders' Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) scheduled for Nov 18-19.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Hu will meet a number of leaders of APEC members, including US President George W. Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Hu is expected to leave Hanoi on Sunday to continue his four-nation trip, which will also take him to Laos, India and Pakistan.

(China Daily 11/16/2006 page2)

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