NANNING, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) – Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli said Sunday that China will push ahead to develop its friendly cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and together build a closer China-ASEAN community of common destiny.
China firmly supports the ASEAN Community, backs ASEAN’s central role in regional cooperation and its expanding place in international and regional affairs, said Zhang while addressing the opening ceremony of the 13th China-ASEAN Expo in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Together with ASEAN, China is willing to look at bilateral relations from a strategic and long-term perspective, expand consensus and cooperation, promote the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and forge a closer China-ASEAN community of common destiny, he said.
Zhang proposed further integration of development strategies, and faithful implementation of the 2+7 Cooperation Framework and the third five-year action plan for China-ASEAN strategic partnership, which would promote inclusive development.
He called for boosting industrial cooperation and facilitation of trade and investment.
Zhang urged better interconnectivity, which would benefit people on both sides, as well as improved finance cooperation and people-to-people exchanges.
The four-day expo, held in Nanning, the capital of Guangxi, highlights industrial cooperation, trade and investment among China, ASEAN members and other countries along the Belt and Road. It was given the theme of “Jointly building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, Forging an Even Closer China-ASEAN Community of Common Destiny.”
The event attracted more than 2,500 companies from 29 countries, including the 10 ASEAN members, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Kazakhstan. It features 5,800 exhibition booths this year, an increase of 1,200 from the previous event.
China and ASEAN have developed broad, fruitful and close dialogue relations, which have contributed significantly to regional and global peace, stability and prosperity, according to Zhang.
“Gratifying progress” has been achieved in China-ASEAN cooperation in the joint construction of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road since China proposed the Belt and Road Initiative three years ago, he said.
The construction of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road is a new opportunity, a new driver and a new highlight for mutually beneficial cooperation between China and ASEAN, according to him.
Sound China-ASEAN ties will contribute to economic development in East Asia and will be conducive to an East Asia economic community, said Liu Zhenmin, China’s vice minister of foreign affairs, ahead of the expo.
Liu said China will prioritize ASEAN in Belt and Road Initiative projects, and improvements to the existing free trade zone will boost bilateral trade.
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will fund infrastructure projects in ASEAN. Industrial capacity cooperation will be promising and the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation mechanism will be supportive, said Liu.
China is ASEAN’s largest trading partner and ASEAN is China’s third largest trading partner. The expo has served as a strong boost to closer and more practical cooperation between China and ASEAN.
Chinese company Alibaba will boost investment and development in ASEAN, said founder and chairman Jack Ma at the opening ceremony.
The e-commerce giant will “participate in the development of local small- and medium-sized enterprises and young people,” said Ma.
China-ASEAN trade has exploded, it is now 58 times larger than when the two sides established dialogue relations 25 years ago, which translates into great business opportunities and social development, according to Ma.
If hundreds of millions of young people and small businesses participate in globalization, the world economy and trade will be changed in a greater way, he said, adding that the Belt and Road Initiative is the start of inclusive globalization.
Senior officials from ASEAN members also expected closer and more practical cooperation.
China and ASEAN have huge potential for cooperation given the ASEAN Community’s robust demand, said Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen at the opening ceremony of the expo.
The ASEAN Community, a market with more than 600 million people, has strong demand for power, information technology, agriculture and scientific research, said Hun Sen.
To realize sustainable and inclusive growth, ASEAN needs the participation of all dialogue partners, especially China, he said.
“As close neighbors, ASEAN and China have many common interests and goals,” said Myanmar’s Vice President U Myint Swe.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said he is glad to see that ASEAN-China relations have become a paradigm of the bloc’s external partnerships.The Vietnamese government encourages and facilitates ASEAN and Chinese investment, he said, expressing confidence in ASEAN-China economic and trade cooperation.