Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretary-General Ong Keng Yong said on Monday that great potential and opportunities exist for a closer trade and investment relationship between ASEAN and China.
Speaking at the Chinese business leaders summit, Ong stressed that China's rise should be seen as an economic opportunity rather than a threat.
He praised China for helping to shape Asia's new economic structure, saying that, through its desire to have harmonious, peaceful and secure ties with ASEAN, China has set the ball rolling.
"A rapidly growing China is the engine, which powers regional economies and the global economic train. ASEAN member countries will benefit greatly," he said.
Describing the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA) as "an excellent device" in helping the two sides achieve their respective goals, Ong said that beyond economy, the establishment of ACFTA by 2010 will enhance the sense of community within East Asia and lay the foundation for furthering wider regional economic co-operation and ensuring peace and stability.
Ong believed that the target set by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to increase the trade volume between the two sides to US$100 billion by 2005 will be within reach.
Last year, ASEAN-China trade amounted to nearly US$79 billion, he said, adding that the trade volume is expected to rise to around US$90 billion this year.
Ong congratulated Chinese enterprises and entrepreneurs for making such an impact in China, the region and the world with their competitiveness, resilience and vision.
"Today, they are major players in mercantile and industrial activities almost anywhere. More importantly, they will be significant force in the global economy of the future," he said.