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China Focus: Deeper collaboration brings China-ASEAN common prosperity

(Xinhua)    08:30, September 13, 2017

Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the 14th China-ASEAN Expo and the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Nanning, capital of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Sept. 12, 2017. (Xinhua/Wang Ye)

NANNING, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- "Shared benefits," "common destiny" and "inclusive growth" were some of the most frequently mentioned phrases at the 14th China-ASEAN Expo that opened Tuesday.

With the theme of "Co-Building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, Promoting Regional Economic Integration through Tourism," the expo is expected to inject new vitality to the ancient trade route and enhance mutually beneficial cooperation between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"While the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed by China, it brings benefits to the whole world," Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli said at the opening ceremony of the expo which is taking place in Nanning, capital of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of ASEAN, and next year marks the 15th anniversary of China-ASEAN strategic partnership.

Over the past years, the two sides have already made big strides in various areas including trade, policy, infrastructure and people-to-people exchanges. Deeper, broader collaboration will bring the ties even closer.

SHARED BENEFITS

China has been ASEAN's biggest trading partner for eight years, while ASEAN has been China's third largest trading partner for six years.

From 1991 to 2016, bilateral trade volume grew nearly 56 fold while two-way cumulative investment volume rose nearly 355 fold, according to Zhang.

In the first seven months of this year, China-ASEAN trade volume increased 14.5 percent year on year, higher than China's overall trade growth rate.

The upgrade of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, already in effect, will inject new impetus to bilateral economic and trade development, Zhang said.

In terms of finance, China and the 10 ASEAN countries were among the founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which since 2016 has provided funding totaling 2.8 billion U.S. dollars to 17 projects in nine developing countries in Asia.

The 100-billion-yuan (15.32 billion U.S. dollars) additional funding for the Silk Road Fund as well as special loans offered by the country's policy banks to support the Belt and Road Initiative will benefit ASEAN countries, Zhang said.

China is also ASEAN's largest source of foreign tourists. In 2016, more than 38 million trips were made between the two sides and more than 2,700 flights operated every week.

The fruitful achievements have proven that the Belt and Road Initiative is in the common interests of all parties and in line with regional and global collaboration trends, Zhang said.

According to Brunei's Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, China has been consistently supporting the economic growth of ASEAN countries, and Brunei is glad to see that China and ASEAN are working together to implement policies to push Asia as a growth engine for global economy.

Hassanal said he was "particularly inspired" by the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. The Belt and Road Initiative has highlighted the importance of interconnectivity in different areas, including infrastructure, trade and investment, and is particularly important to address challenges such as rising protectionism.

Hassanal said that it would be good to explore ways to synergize the goals of the Belt and Road Initiative and Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, which tries to promote sustainable infrastructure, digital innovation, seamless logistics, regulatory excellence and people mobility.


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