Xi Jinping calls for elevated China-ASEAN cooperation for regional economic recovery
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday called on China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to elevate economic and trade cooperation and facilitate an early and full recovery of the regional economy.
"China will enhance coordination with ASEAN countries and take the 10th anniversary of the full establishment of the China-ASEAN FTA as an opportunity to further implement our free trade agreement," Xi said in an address at the opening ceremony of the 17th China-ASEAN Expo and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit via video link.
The annual expo, along with the business and investment summit between China and ASEAN, is being held in Nanning, the capital city of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
The trade volume between China and ASEAN rose from $292.8 billion in 2010 to $641.5 billion in 2019, and in the first three quarters of 2020, it reached $481.8 billion, up by 5 percent from the same period of last year, making ASEAN China's largest trading partner.
Speaking of the newly signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Xi said China welcomed the signing, and looks forward to the deal's early entry into force.
RCEP, the world's biggest FTA, was signed by its 15 members on November 15 at the fourth RCEP summit in Hanoi. It covers nearly a third of the global population and about 30 percent of global GDP.
"China will work with ASEAN countries to sustain the smooth flow of trade, promote mutual investment, open up markets wider to each other, and foster deeply integrated industrial, supply and value chains," Xi pledged.
This year is designated as the China-ASEAN Year of Digital Economy Cooperation.
Xi said China will work with ASEAN countries to seize the opportunities presented by the new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation.
"We could create more highlights of cooperation in areas such as smart city, 5G, artificial intelligence, e-commerce, big data, blockchain and telemedicine, and strengthen the protection of data security and policy communication and coordination, as these efforts will help nurture new drivers for the social and economic development of our two sides," he elaborated.
Cooperation against COVID-19
Xi also called on the two sides to strengthen cooperation against COVID-19 and enhance capacity building in public health.
It is important that we join forces in fighting the coronavirus and step up information sharing and cooperation on the production, development and deployment of vaccines, he noted.
Xi promised that when its COVID-19 vaccines are available for use, China will actively consider the needs of ASEAN countries.
"China will provide financial support to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund, and work with ASEAN in developing the Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies for Public Health Emergencies and launching a Liaison Mechanism for Public Health Emergencies with ASEAN," he said.
China will act on the China-ASEAN Human Resources Training Program of Health Silk Road (2020-2022) to train 1,000 administrative and specialized personnel in the health sector in ASEAN countries in a bid to help deliver higher quality public health services in the region, Xi added.
The expo, scheduled for November 27-30, will hold a series of investment and trade promotion activities to facilitate the RCEP.
Initiated in 2004, the expo is an important platform for promoting trade and bilateral relations between China and ASEAN countries.
'Golden decade' for China-ASEAN cooperation
Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday also welcomed the expo by saying the expo provides an opportunity for China to enhance political mutual trust, deepen economic integration and cooperation with the ASEAN.
Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told reporters when asked China's expectation of its cooperation with the ASEAN amid the 17th China-ASEAN Expo opening.
He said yesterday that the past ten years could be described as the "golden decade" in China-ASEAN economic and trade relations.
We hope the closer cooperative relationship between China and ASEAN featuring success and vitality, can set an example for Asia-Pacific cooperation, said Zhao.