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Securing a strong partnership

By Ruan Zongze | China Daily | Updated: 2013-08-28 09:40

Decade of close cooperation between China and ASEAN paves foundation for good-neighborly relations for the future

On Thursday, the foreign ministers of China and member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will hold a special meeting in Beijing to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the China-ASEAN strategic partnership. The agenda will focus on how to deepen the bilateral strategic partnership.

The Asian financial crisis of 1997 led China and the members of ASEAN to realize the importance of deepening cooperation to jointly confront challenges, and China and ASEAN signed the Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity in 2003 in Bali, Indonesia.

China is the top trading partner of ASEAN, while ASEAN ranks as China's third-largest trading partner. Bilateral trade has grown from $55 billion in 2002 to more than $400 billion last year, and according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, the first half of 2013 saw a year-on-year growth of 12.2 percent that totaled more than $210 billion. Also, by the end of June, Chinese direct investment in ASEAN countries totaled nearly $30 billion, and the mutual investment is now more than $100 billion.

As Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has pointed out, China and ASEAN are trailblazers and have set a number of historical records. China was the first to sign the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, the first to establish a strategic partnership with ASEAN, and the first to start negotiations on a free trade area with ASEAN, which would be the biggest free trade area in the developing world. China is also the only country to hold fairs with ASEAN every year. The two sides have close contacts at all levels, having set up 12 ministerial meeting mechanisms and conducted mutually beneficial cooperation in more than 20 fields.

China attaches great importance to its relations with ASEAN member states, and it will continue to support ASEAN's growth, as well as the establishment of the ASEAN community.

Over the past 10 years, the China-ASEAN strategic partnership has borne fruit and demonstrated remarkable resilience in the face of a series of crises: from the outbreak of SARS in China, the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, to China's Wenchuan earthquake. The past 10 years have laid a solid foundation for the development of bilateral relations in the coming decade.

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