Trade with ASEAN model of multilateralism: China Daily editorial

(chinadaily.com.cn)

Updated: 2021-09-18

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Visitors at the 18th China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, on Friday. [Photo by WANG ZHUANGFEI/CHINA DAILY]

The 18th China-ASEAN Expo and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit that opened in Nanning, capital of South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region on Friday, clearly display the vitality and resilience of the regional market.

Inaugurated in 2004, the annual expo is an important platform for promoting trade and bilateral relations between China and the ASEAN countries.

This year's expo — and a series of related events — highlights that over the years, China and the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have forged increasingly fruitful trade ties.

A total of 179 deals worth more than 300 billion yuan (about $46.59 billion), the highest ever, were signed on the first day of the expo, testifying to the great potential and appeal of the annual event to regional businesses.

The expo is undoubtedly an important venue for the two sides to grasp new opportunities, but it also serves as a showcase for the bright prospects for the building of a China-ASEAN community with a shared future.

Held against the backdrop of the raging COVID-19 pandemic and amid the celebrations for the 30th anniversary of the establishment of dialogue relations between ASEAN and China, this year's gala is of special significance in this respect.

The global health crisis and ensuing economic challenges have prompted China and ASEAN to join hands even tighter in order to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and promote the region's post-pandemic recovery.

Despite the contracting global trade and economic recession, the two sides became each other's largest trading partners for the first time last year. Data from the Chinese customs shows trade between China and ASEAN rose from $8.36 billion in 1991 to $685.28 billion in 2020, with an average annual growth rate of 16.5 percent.

This encouraging picture shows how their long-standing shared resolve to work together through thick and thin is producing real benefits for both sides.

Thanks to their joint efforts to continuously tap the potential in their complementary economies and deepen all-round cooperation, the tree of China-ASEAN friendship continues to flourish, growing taller and greener, which is also a blessing for the rest of Asia and indeed the world as a whole, since a reliable driver to promote global development and prosperity is of the essence.

China and ASEAN, which are both staunch supporters of multilateralism and an open world economy, can work together to be a powerful catalyst for a sustainable global recovery. And with their long-horizon strategic vision, they can help the region heighten its standing and gain more clout in world affairs, contributing to the building of a multipolar world.