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A region of friendship

China Daily | Updated: 2013-10-15 07:22

Premier Li Keqiang's heavily scheduled three-nation tour of Southeast Asia, which concludes today, again underlines that China's good-neighborly policy toward ASEAN countries is not an expediency, but a long-term strategic choice.

Li's tour, which started on Oct 9, took him to Brunei, Thailand and Vietnam. The consensus built and the agreements of cooperation signed between China and the three ASEAN countries during Li's visit will inject new vitality into China's ties with the three nations as well as contribute to the larger picture of China-ASEAN interaction.

A region of friendship

Premier Li Keqiang and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung chat as they walk in the garden of the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Sunday. The two countries announced the establishment of a joint working group on sea development. [Photo/Agencies]

In Brunei, Li proposed that the two countries deepen practical cooperation in such areas as infrastructure, agriculture, fisheries, maritime affairs and energy. Noting that Brunei holds the rotating chair of ASEAN this year, he said China and Brunei enjoy the bright prospect of lifting their strategic cooperative relationship to a higher level.

In Thailand, a joint communiqu was issued, which embodied the long-term vision of continuing to build on traditional close ties. Agreement was reached to speed up inter-connectivity construction, enhance people-to-people exchanges, and advance cooperation in such areas as water conservancy, energy and education.

Over the years, the significance of the China-Thailand relationship has gone beyond the bilateral scope to play a guiding role in the development of China's relations with ASEAN as a whole. It is beyond doubt that Li's visit to Thailand has helped cement the foundation for traditional friendship and reciprocal cooperation.

Li's visit to Vietnam marked the third spell of high-level contact between the two countries so far this year. During their talks on Sunday, Li and his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Tan Dung, vowed to further deepen their partnership along the three tracks of maritime, onshore and financial cooperation.

Li also urged the two neighbors to pursue substantive progress in their joint development of waters off the mouth of Beibu Bay, deepen cooperation in infrastructure, trade and investment, as well as carry out negotiations on a currency swap deal.

Considering that the disputes between Beijing and Hanoi over the South China Sea have, from time to time, upset bilateral ties in recent years, the multiple results Li's visit to Vietnam achieved are clear evidence that the two neighbors are showing a greater political will to rise above their disputes and forge a mutually acceptable path of cooperation gearing toward the future.

(China Daily 10/15/2013 page8)

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