Letter points to nation's strong ties with ASEAN

By XU WEI in Beijing, LIU ZHIHUA,LIU ZHIHUA and SHI RUIPENG in Nanning (China Daily)

Updated: 2021-09-13

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An online business matching campaign is held at the Malaysia pavilion during the 2021 China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, on Friday. [Photo by WANG ZHUANGFEI/CHINA DAILY]

President Xi Jinping reaffirmed on Friday China's commitment to enhancing strategic mutual trust and deepening cooperation in anti-pandemic efforts and trade with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

In a letter to congratulate the opening of the 18th China-ASEAN Expo and the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, Xi highlighted the need for joint efforts between China and ASEAN to enable the early implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and promote the high-quality building of the Belt and Road.

The two sides should develop a higher level of strategic partnership and jointly safeguard the momentum of regional prosperity and growth, he said.

Xi pointed out that cooperation between China and ASEAN has become the most vibrant of its kind in the Asia-Pacific region, with both sides becoming each other's largest trading partner and bilateral cooperation being comprehensively deepened.

Xi recalled the proposals he made at last year's expo and summit, saying that they have received an active response from ASEAN member countries and that cooperation in related areas is progressing.

Since the start of the pandemic, the two sides have joined forces in fighting the virus and overcoming difficulties with mutual assistance, demonstrating the essence of a community with a shared future, he said.

The expo and summit, under the theme of sharing new opportunities from the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor and jointly building a China-ASEAN community with a shared future, opened on Friday in Nanning, capital of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

Encouraged by Xi's congratulatory letter, analysts and business leaders feel increasingly confident about the prospects for China-ASEAN economic and trade cooperation.

Zhang Jianping, director-general of the China Center for Regional Economic Cooperation, which operates under the Ministry of Commerce, said ASEAN will continue to be China's largest trading partner, and its contribution to the nation's inbound foreign direct investment and outbound direct investment will also increase rapidly.

"The two sides have even greater cooperation potential in areas such as infrastructure, energy and resources, agriculture, manufacturing and the modern services industry," Zhang said.

China and ASEAN will become the largest and most energetic emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific region, and the integration of the regional economy will be accelerated, driven by the continuously strengthening bilateral economic and trade cooperation, he added.

Zhu Jianhe, chairman of Nanning-based Guangxi Beibu Gulf Investment Group Co Ltd, said the company will invest more in the construction of transportation infrastructure at Chinese border ports, as well as in improving the capabilities of road transportation and border port customs clearance.

As a result, the company aims to contribute more to the growing connectivity between China and ASEAN member countries, Zhu said. The State-owned company is the largest investment and operation services company involved in inland road and border ports in Guangxi.