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30 years on, China-ASEAN cooperation heralds new era for common prosperity

Copyfrom:Xinhua News Agency Post Time:2021-11-24 10:56:59

BANGKOK, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are joining hands to navigate towards a new era of common prosperity, injecting impetus into the global recovery from COVID-19.

At a special summit to commemorate the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-China dialogue relations which was held online on Monday, the two sides jointly announced the establishment of a China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership.

China viewed the upgrading of ties with ASEAN a milestone in the history of the two sides' relations and believed it will inject new impetus into peace, stability, prosperity and development of the region and the world.

China also vowed to implement in earnest the comprehensive strategic partnership, and make new strides toward building a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future.

Calling Monday's meeting "an opening of the new chapter in ASEAN-China history as a comprehensive strategic partnership," Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said it will further strengthen and deepen relations, leading to enhancement of cooperation in all dimensions in a concrete manner.

"This will also lead to advancing into the new decades together in a secure, prosperous and sustainable manner," Prayut said at the virtual summit.

Taking the summit as a new starting point, the two sides are set to further deepen cooperation and bilateral relations, and take concrete steps towards building a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future, said Natee Taweesrifuengfung, president of the Thailand-based Siam Think Tank.

Since the two sides established their dialogue relations in 1991, comprehensive cooperation between China and ASEAN has given a strong boost to their economic and social development, brought tangible benefits to their peoples, and made great contributions to the peace, stability and prosperity of the region and the world at large, analysts said.

China-ASEAN relations have kept moving forward, with strategic mutual trust strengthened, all-round cooperation deepened and concrete actions taken in building a community with a shared future, Cambodian government chief spokesman Phay Siphan told Xinhua.

Trade volume between China and ASEAN has soared from less than 8 billion U.S. dollars in 1991 to more than 680 billion dollars in 2020, when China remained ASEAN's largest trading partner for 12 consecutive years, while ASEAN became China's largest trading partner last year.

In Cambodia, enterprises in the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone have experienced robust growth and seen that their combined trade volume surged nearly 40 percent year-on-year in the first 10 months of this year, despite the adverse impacts of COVID-19.

In Laos, the over 1,000-km China-Laos Railway linking Vientiane, the capital of Laos, with Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, is scheduled to be operational next month and is expected to facilitate the movement of people and goods, and help convert the landlocked country into a land-linked hub.

In Thailand, the Thai-Chinese Rayong Industrial Zone, one of the first Chinese overseas industrial parks, continued to attract investment inflows during the COVID-19 pandemic, which helped bolster local economy and employment.

The past three decades have also witnessed strengthened cooperation between China and ASEAN in the course of combating the Asian and global financial crises, severe natural disasters, cross-border communicable diseases and other challenges.

During the fight against COVID-19, they offered each other a helping hand and supported each other. China has provided ASEAN countries with more than 300 million COVID-19 vaccines and pledged to carry out vaccine cooperation with ASEAN nations.

With the pandemic still ravaging across the world, China said on Monday that it is ready to work with ASEAN countries to jointly build a "health shield" for the region.

Under the initiative, China is ready to donate an additional 150 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to ASEAN countries, contribute an additional 5 million U.S. dollars to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund, step up vaccine joint production and technology transfer, and collaborate on research and development of essential medicines to help ASEAN increase self-reliance.

Looking ahead, analysts expected greater regional integration in terms of market, industries and supply chains with new supporting agendas, including the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (FTA), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Belt and Road Initiative.

China called for efforts to fully harness the role of the RCEP, begin work toward a new round of upgrading of the China-ASEAN FTA at an early date, and enhance the level of trade and investment liberalization and facilitation.

Against the backdrop of a more complicated global situation, closer economic and trade cooperation between China and ASEAN, and the entry into force of the RCEP in particular, will play a significant role in helping restructure the regional value chains and promoting regional economic integration in East Asia, said Yu Miaojie, deputy dean of National School of Development at Peking University. 

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