World / Asia-Pacific

China, ASEAN seek to jointly build community of common destiny

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-07-24 21:40

VIENTIANE - Foreign ministers from members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and their dialogue partners including China will gather here on Sunday for an ASEAN ministerial meeting as well as a series of related regional talks.

Chinese leaders have vowed to build a community of common destiny with ASEAN as this year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of China-ASEAN dialogue relationship. Bilateral trade reached 472 billion US dollars last year, up from 7.96 billion US dollars in 1991, with an annual growth rate of 18.5 percent.

China is now ASEAN's biggest trading partner while ASEAN is China's third biggest. By the end of May, their two-way investment exceeded 160 billion US dollars.

The two sides, which signed an agreement to upgrade their free trade area (FTA) late last year, are targeting bilateral trade at 1 trillion US dollars by 2020.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said China sees ASEAN as a preferred partner in building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, also known as the Belt and Road, as well as FTA, and regional and maritime cooperation.

"Over the past 25 years, China-ASEAN partnership has become the most broad, fruitful and closest ties among ASEAN's dialogue partners," he said.

In an article published in the Khmer Times, Chheang Vvannarith, chairman of the Cambodian Institute for Strategic Studies, believed the introduction of new initiatives, such as the Belt and Road and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), has further boosted China-ASEAN economic integration through intra-regional infrastructure connectivity, trade and investment facilitation, tourism promotion and educational and cultural exchanges.

"Both China and ASEAN stand to benefit from deepening regional economic integration and connectivity," he wrote.

The Belt and Road initiative, proposed by China in 2013, is aimed at reviving the ancient trade routes which span Asia, Africa and Europe.

ASEAN Deputy Secretary-General Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee said at a forum earlier this month that China is the first country to establish an FTA with ASEAN, and there is a huge potential for ASEAN-China cooperation in production capacity.

He suggested the two sides continue to push forward their cooperation through enhanced collaboration in infrastructure, trade in services and improved quality of labor.

Chinese Ambassador to ASEAN Xu Bu is also optimistic about the prospect of future China-ASEAN economic cooperation.

"The next five years are a rare development opportunity for both China and ASEAN, and the two sides should strengthen coordination of development strategies, which are highly complementary to each other, as a boost to overall cooperation," Xu said before the China-ASEAN forum on production capacity in Jakarta.

The ambassador noted that cooperation at sub-regional level, like the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Framework, should play a larger role in the future, as they could effectively support the overall cooperation between China and ASEAN.

During the three-day meeting set to open on Sunday, the ASEAN foreign ministers and their counterparts from dialogue partner countries will discuss how to strengthen the ASEAN Community, including implementation of the ASEAN Political-Security Community Blueprint 2025, and exchange views on regional and international issues of common concern and interest.

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