South China Sea issue can be handled properly: Li

Updated: 2014-11-11 21:27


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He labeled the China-ASEAN cooperation "a positive force driving regional development."

China is ASEAN's largest trading partner and its third largest source of investment and was the first country to launch free trade area (FTA) negotiations with ASEAN, Li noted.

In 2013, trade between China and ASEAN hit 443.6 billion U.S. dollars. Accumulated two-way investment totaled 120 billion dollars and about 18 million visits were made between the two sides.

The cooperation initiatives China put forward in the past year included plans to build a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road together with ASEAN and to strengthen the China-ASEAN 2+7 cooperation framework: deepening strategic mutual trust, focusing on economic cooperation, plus deepening cooperation in the seven key areas of political affairs, economy and trade, connectivity, finance, maritime cooperation, security, and people-to-people exchanges, he wrote in the article.

On the sidelines of the meetings, Li and leaders of ASEAN countries will continue discussions on the signing of a treaty of good neighborliness, friendship and cooperation.

In addition, the third action plan of the Joint Declaration on the Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity will be jointly formulated and cooperation in defense and non-traditional security areas will be promoted.

Efforts will be made to conclude regional FTA negotiations regarding the upgraded China-ASEAN FTA and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) by the end of 2015.

Li said China will launch the fundraising for the second phase of the China-ASEAN Fund on Investment Cooperation and the China Development Bank will also set up a China-ASEAN special loan for infrastructure development.

Maritime cooperation has become a new highlight in China-ASEAN cooperation, said Li, adding that China proposes that next year be designated as the "Year of China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation" to strengthen cooperation in marine economy, marine science and technology, protection of marine ecology and maritime connectivity.

According to Li, China will scale up investment in underdeveloped ASEAN countries and strengthen exchanges and cooperation with countries along the Mekong River in key areas like poverty reduction, social development and other areas with a view to helping narrow the development gap within ASEAN.

China welcomes the establishment of the ASEAN Community next year, the first time in Asia's history that a regional community is established, Li said.

China will continue to take ASEAN as a priority in its neighborhood diplomacy and firmly support the unity and growth of ASEAN, the building of the ASEAN Community and ASEAN's centrality in regional cooperation, Li said.

China and ASEAN both stand to benefit from East Asia's prosperity and stability, and both stand to uphold such prosperity and stability, he said.

The Chinese premier proposed that the two sides strengthen dialogue and coordination, broaden convergence of interests and lead countries in the region toward an East Asian Community.

"We also welcome countries from outside the region to join East Asia cooperation and contribute positively to peace and development of Asia and the Asia-Pacific as a whole," Li said.

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