China and its third largest trading partner, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), have both expressed a similar stance Thursday — that protecting common interests should be prioritized through deepened cooperation.
The message came from an ongoing forum among China and Pan-Beibu Gulf countries that includes Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, Thailand and Singapore under the China-ASEAN cooperation framework.
Hua Jianmin, vice chairman of China’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, said China-ASEAN cooperation over the past three years played a major role in the world’s economic recovery following the global financial and economic crisis, and with the launch of a free trade area on Jan. 1 last year, trade between China and ASEAN had surged.
Data shows bilateral trade jumped by almost 36 percent last year compared to a year earlier to exceed 290 billion U.S. dollars, while in the first half of this year, the trade figure amounted to 171 billion U.S. dollars, up 25 percent.
“The close economic cooperation between China and ASEAN has gone along with globalization and regional integration. It accords with the joint benefits of both China and members of ASEAN. It also contributes to the stability and prosperity of the global economy,” Hua said at the sixth Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum held in Nanning, capital of southwest China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Bounchanh Sinthavong, vice minister of public works and transport of Lao PDR, said landlocked Laos sees economic cooperation as an important means for supporting mutual and sustainable economic growth particularly when the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement is implemented.
Sinthavong also urged common compromise in negotiations for mutual benefit in the future, though the compromises are based on the good relationship, understanding, mutual trust, equality and benefit between all parties concerned.
Tram Iv Tek, the Cambodian minister of public works and transport, said China has offered financial aid to Cambodia to construct 1,300 km of roads and 6,000 km of bridges. China has also played a key role in the development of Cambodia’s various sectors including energy, mining, agriculture and telecommunications.
Guangxi Governor Ma Biao said that apart from the rapid trade growth between China and its southeast Asian neighbors, bilateral investment also picked up pace.
Data shows accumulative bilateral investment between China and ASEAN reached 74 billion U.S. dollars by the end of 2010, with China’s direct investment in ASEAN exceeding 10 billion U.S. dollars.
Ma said deepened cooperation among China and the Pan-Beibu Gulf countries will help with addressing the crisis amid the uncertainties in the global economy. It can speed up the economic development of these countries and improve regional competitiveness. It can also promote the integration of ASEAN countries through regional connectivity and create broader market opportunities for both sides.
Hua Jianmin said the world economic recovery is still uncertain, and countries around the world must work closely to address the challenges.
Le Manh Hung, vice minister of transport of Vietnam, said ASEAN should attach great importance to the cooperation with its partners, especially China, because China is geographically in vicinity to ASEAN and the country has abundant experiences.
Hung said the two sides need to make greater efforts in cooperation and exchanges in infrastructure, aviation, information technology, and culture.
He said these efforts will help enhance the strategic partnership between China and ASEAN and will be conducive to building a more peaceful and stable region in southeast Asia.