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China seeks win-win development with Asia (2)

(Xinhua)

14:01, March 10, 2012

ECONOMIC BOON

According to China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China has become the largest trading partner for most of its neighbors, with trade between China and other Asian countries topping 1 trillion U.S. dollars last year.

Meanwhile, demand from the Western world has remained sluggish amid economic malaise, prompting China and other Asian exporters to highlight their domestic markets and regional integration as a buffer.

In China's traditional export provinces like Zhejiang, companies that have long relied on the American and European markets are adjusting their export strategy to put greater emphases on Asia.

Customs data shows that Zhejiang's foreign trade with the European Union and the United States grew just 16 percent last year, compared with 42 percent with ASEAN countries, 22 percent with Japan, and 30 percent with the Republic of Korea.

"In the past, we focused mainly on the Western market for its stable demand and strong tastes for high-end products," Zhao Linzhong, board chairman of Furun Group, a textile manufacturer in Zhejiang.

"But since the financial crisis in 2008, more companies have shifted their attention to growing markets in Asia, and the trend was most prominent last year," Zhao said.

Zhao also said that as Chinese textile manufacturers have moved overseas, some Asian neighbors like India have shown great potential for cooperation with its mature supply chain and outsourcing services.

Moreover, Chinese enterprises have increasingly favored southeast Asian countries as investment destinations, especially for those who have suffered tenuous profit margins due to rising labor costs back home.

Many small and medium-sized Chinese companies are planning to set up new factories in southeast Asia, where labor costs have remained low, and the labor-intensive factories will greatly boost local employment, said Cheng Huifang, professor at Zhejiang University of Technology.

In 2011, Yiwu, the world's largest wholesale market for small consumer goods, located in Zhejiang, announced its plan to build a similar market in Thailand that will create 160,000 jobs for local residents.

In a press release issued during the ongoing parliamentary session,Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said China's investment in the Asian region reached 20 billion U.S. dollars last year, with unprecedented cooperation in the fields of science and technology, finance, energy and infrastructure.

In regard to China's territorial and maritime disputes with its Asian neighbors and their fears about China's rising national strength, Yang insisted the general trend of their relations be positive and conflicts be resolved through peaceful negotiations.

"At a time when the recovery of the world economy remains uncertain and major Western economies are haunted by debt crises, the Asian economy has shown its unique strength," said Zhang Xuegang, a researcher with the Beijing-based China Institute for Contemporary International Relations.

"The Chinese economy and that of other Asian countries are mutually complementary. The two sides must grasp the opportunities and seek win-win development," Zhang said.

【1】 【2】

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