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Crossover: Progress on strategic and economic sides at ASEAN meeting


09-07-2016 12:44 BJT

Full coverage: Chinese Premier Visits Laos, Attends East Asia Summit

For more on the ASEAN meetings, We are joined by CCTV correspondent Rian Maelzer in Vientian.

Q1. Rian, could you tell us more about the latest development of the ASEAN meetings, and what are the hot topics?

Q2. As we know, Premier Li will also attend the 19th China-ASEAN Ten plus One leaders' meeting in Laos, and the 19th meeting of the leaders of ASEAN-China, Japan and South Korea. What can we expect in terms of the relation between China and Asean countries?

From a low base 25 years ago, trade between ASEAN and China has continuously surged. Today, ASEAN does more trade with China than any other country, while ASEAN is China’s third biggest trading partner.

On the strategic side, China has held joint humanitarian aid and disaster relief, and military exercises with ASEAN countries in recent years.

Two-way tourism has boomed, educational ties strengthened.

What has been slower to take off is China’s investment into ASEAN, though that looks like changing with the One Belt, One Road initiative.

"All of this will be beneficial to ASEAN countries so I personally believe Asean countries compared to the rest of the countries along the belt and the route, Asean countries wil be the earlier, get the earlier harvest," said professor Lu Jianren,Guangxi University, China.

China already has an enhanced free trade agreement with ASEAN, but along with Japan, South Korea and others it’s looking to take that to the next level, by forging a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or R-CEP. The two parties want two-way trade to hit 1 trillion dollars a year by 2020.

"RCEP will help both sides to realize the goal, and by realizing, by expanding the bilateral trade between Asean and China, the welfare of the regional people, the stability of political and society of regional countries will be benefitted for sure," said professor Liu Aming, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

Many believe that that strong economic interdependence will help ensure the one blot in relations – the South China Sea issue – isn't allowed to boil over.

"Regional cooperation, finally, is what we deliver to the people in terms of public services, in terms of benefits, in terms of better economic returns," said Abdul Majid Ahmad Khan, former Malaysian Ambassador to China.

"So I think there could be stronger mutual investment, China-ASEAN, better human resources exchanges to uplift so that finally both sides could create a stronger, bigger middle class that can create wealth on both sides."

Even more of the same, please, in other words, as China and ASEAN look toward the next quarter century of partnership.

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