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ASEAN, China cooperation lays groundwork for global economic recovery

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-12-08 10:17
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Visitors leave the 17th China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, on Nov 30. PENG HUAN/FOR CHINA DAILY

KUALA LUMPUR-Closer cooperation among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China, fostered by the Belt and Road Initiative and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement, will contribute to global economic recovery amid the COVID-19 battle, said a Malaysian expert.

"As the world is seeking an economic recovery, cooperation and interaction between China and ASEAN is now even more important," said Ong Tee Keat, founding chairman of the Center for New Inclusive Asia, a think tank based in Kuala Lumpur.

In a recent interview with Xinhua News Agency, Ong welcomed China's position that the country continues to regard ASEAN as a priority in its neighborhood diplomacy and a key region in high-quality Belt and Road Initiative cooperation. He said trade and investment between China and ASEAN have continued on a growth trajectory, as both sides have become each other's largest trading partner.

The signing of the RCEP came at a time when unilateralism is on the rise in many parts of the world, said Ong, adding that the agreement will foster further regional cooperation and allow participating economies to jointly explore larger and more open markets, therefore contributing to post-pandemic recovery.

The RCEP will also help unlock the huge potential of ASEAN and inject fresh impetus into economic cooperation between ASEAN and China, and Malaysia as an ASEAN member state can expect closer ties with China, he said.

"The digital economy is an indispensable part of the post-pandemic economy and could be a focus for bilateral economic cooperation between Malaysia and China. Malaysia could bring in advanced technology from China to cater to our needs in developing our digital economy," Ong added.

He hopes China will strengthen cooperation in areas like artificial intelligence, cloud computing and drones through technology transfers with Malaysia.

The friendship between China and ASEAN has deepened as both sides have come to each other's assistance in facing the COVID-19 pandemic, which has also provided opportunities to deepen cooperation in health and the digital economy, said Ong, stressing that such cooperation not only helps China and ASEAN jointly contain the pandemic, but also lays the groundwork for economic recovery and further cooperation.

As China accelerates the establishment of a dual-circulation development pattern which takes the domestic market as the mainstay while letting domestic and foreign markets boost each other, ASEAN is set to benefit, Ong said.

"Following a road map for future in-depth cooperation, China and ASEAN are on course for a closer community with a shared future," he said.

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