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Premier's Philippines visit to promote cooperation with ASEAN neighbors

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-11-12 14:33

BEIJING - Premier Li Keqiang Sunday left for an official visit to the Philippines, where he will attend an annual meeting with leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), among other programs.

Given the joint efforts of China and ASEAN over the past year to expand their consensus and manage differences, Li will feel greater ease at this year's East Asia summits, observers say.

STRONGER COOPERATION IN EAST ASIA

During his five-day stay in Philippine capital Manila, Li's tight schedule will include attendance at the 20th China-ASEAN (10+1) leaders' meeting, the 20th ASEAN-China, Japan and South Korea (10+3) leaders' meeting, as well as the 12th East Asia Summit. The objective of all these events is to boost regional cooperation in East Asia.

As the world economy faces a multitude of challenges with the West leaning toward unilateralism and trade protectionism, East Asian countries however have steadily advanced regional cooperation and maintained strong momentum of regional growth, Ruan Zongze, executive vice president of China Institute of International Studies, said.

Within East Asia, the interaction between China and ASEAN is exemplary. Since the two sides forged a dialogue relationship in 1991, their ties have progressed, entering a period of maturity.

Developing ties with ASEAN is a priority of China's peripheral diplomacy and the regional bloc too considers China a reliable partner. In 2016, their bilateral trade surpassed 452 billion U.S. dollars while accumulated two-way investment exceeded 185 billion U.S. dollars.

A positive signal for regional cooperation is the stabilization of the South China Sea situation, creating a favorable environment for China and ASEAN to build closer ties and deepen cooperation.

At the ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting in August, China and ASEAN countries drew up the framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea and adopted it, announcing they would initiate substantive consultations on the code's text within the year.

In a joint communique, ASEAN foreign ministers acknowledged the improved situation in the South China Sea over the past year and said the bloc anticipates "a higher level" of strategic partnership with China.

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