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China hopes for major ASEAN ties boost

By ZHU WENQIAN and SHI RUIPENG in Nanning (China Daily)

Updated: 2022-09-20

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China is willing to vigorously improve the level of economic and trade cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and build a closer China-ASEAN community with shared interests, said a senior official during the opening ceremony of the 19th China-ASEAN Expo on Friday in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

The expo is themed around sharing new opportunities from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement and jointly advancing version 3.0 of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area.

Chinese Vice-Premier Han Zheng, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said that China is willing to increase imports of quality products from ASEAN countries, especially agricultural goods, and promote deep integration of industrial, supply and value chains between the two sides.

The RCEP took effect on Jan 1, 2022, and China and ASEAN announced an upgrade of their relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership late last year. Relations between the two sides have entered a new development stage, he said.

China and ASEAN will firmly promote infrastructure connectivity and the building of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor. In addition, China will promote integration between the building of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the Hainan Free Trade Port and cooperation with ASEAN.

China has been ASEAN's largest trading partner for 13 consecutive years, while ASEAN surpassed the European Union as China's largest trading partner in 2020, the Ministry of Commerce said.

Between January and August, the trade volume between China and ASEAN reached $627.6 billion, up 13.3 percent year-on-year. It accounted for 15 percent of China's total foreign trade volume, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

In November, China and ASEAN agreed to elevate their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership at a special summit to commemorate the 30th anniversary of their dialogue relations.

President Xi Jinping made five proposals during the event addressing developing future relations between China and ASEAN, including building a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, beautiful and amicable home together.

"The theme of the expo this year reflects that China and ASEAN hope to seize significant opportunities brought by the RCEP, and the two sides are willing to achieve new development through cooperation," said Xu Ningning, executive president of the China-ASEAN Business Council.