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The other side of the coin: China, ASEAN go beyond trade


15:52, December 18, 2011

China-ASEAN relations, with their massive Free Trade Area in the limelight, have largely been touted in economic and trade facet, but the other side of the coin is a flourishing partnership in other areas, in a bid to enhance mutual trust and all-round cooperation.

Almost two years after the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA) came into effect on Jan. 1, 2010, bilateral trade is in full swing. The ACFTA is the largest free trade area in terms of population and third largest in nominal GDP, trailing the European Economic Area and North American Free Trade Area.

China-ASEAN economic cooperation has never been more dynamic and fruitful, as China has become ASEAN's largest trading partner and ASEAN remains China's third largest trading partner with an average annual growth rate of more than 20 percent and had grown 37 times over the past two decades.

Besides, China was the first outside power to sign the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) with the ASEAN, the first to establish strategic partnership for peace and prosperity with the ASEAN, and the first to back the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone. China and the ASEAN have elevated the status of their relationship from dialogue partnership to strategic partnership in two decades.

The two sides have cooperated closely in anti-terrorism, combating illegal migration, drug control and law enforcement. The second bilateral Dialogue on Defense and Security between China and 10 ASEAN states was held in Beijing on Dec. 11-14, 2011, with topics like setting up mutual trust mechanism between China and the ASEAN in the framework of regional multilateral security mechanism and furthering cooperation in addressing non-traditional security challenges on the table.

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