China, ASEAN see closer economic, political cooperation
( 2003-08-20 10:41) (Xinhua)
Senior officials from China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Tuesday agreed to further improve cooperation in agriculture, the information industry, human resources, investment and exploitation of the Mekong River.
After a two-day consultation, they reached the consensus that China-ASEAN relations have good prospects and should be advanced to a new level.
The officials agreed that China and ASEAN are cooperating more closely on economic as well as political issues.
In 2002, China and ASEAN signed a landmark framework agreement on comprehensive economic cooperation, which started the construction of the world's largest free trade area + the China- ASEAN free trade area.
Some ASEAN nations have already begun to see benefits from cooperation with China. China and Thailand signed a contract last June to abolish tariffs on 188 kinds of vegetables and fruits. China has also promised to offer special favorable tariff treatment to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
Statistics show that trade between China and ASEAN exceeded 50 billion US dollars in 2002, increasing four times during the past ten years. China's investment in the ASEAN countries also grew at an average annual rate of 60 percent. So far, ASEAN has become China's fifth-largest trade partner.
Meanwhile, the Japan Economic News said China has pursued economic diplomacy to strengthen good-neighborly relations with the Southeast Asian nations, which enables China and ASEAN to maintain close cooperation on regional and international issues, and helps promote free and fair global trade.
In the field of political cooperation, the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress approved China's accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia in June this year. China is the first to join the treaty among all the major countries outside Southeast Asia. This demonstrates that the political relations between China and ASEAN will be greatly upgraded.
China will formally join the treaty at the leaders' meeting between ASEAN and China (10+1) in Bali, Indonesia, in October this year.
At the meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers in June this year, China proposed starting multilateral talks on security issues in the Asia-Pacific region, which marked further cooperation since the two sides signed a joint declaration on cooperation in the field of non-traditional security issues last year.
China and ASEAN have also made substantial progress in dealing with their differences. The two sides signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea last year, and agreed to cooperate in the South China Sea and jointly safeguard regional stability.
As an all-round dialogue partner of ASEAN, China has established ministerial-level meeting mechanisms with ASEAN in many fields, including foreign affairs, transportation and economy.
China, which is committed to "treat neighbors in a friendly way and as partners," is ready to work with all ASEAN nations to contribute to regional and world peace, stability and development.
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