A two-day summit to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the ASEAN-China dialogue scheduled to be held in China’s southern province of Quangxi, will be another step to strengthen ASEAN-China ties, with the release of a joint statement, titled “Towards strengthening ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership”.
The ASEAN-China Commemorative Summit will open on Oct. 30, with China actively promoting a “Peaceful Development” Strategy to play a crutial role in the region and the world. Meanwhile, ASEAN is making efforts to expand its foreign relations and cooperation in a bid to give ASEAN a key role in 2020.
Relations between ASEAN and China started in 1991 after China ‘s foreign minister had an informal meeting with ASEAN foreign ministers and three years later, China became ASEAN’s partial dialogue partner. In 1996, China became a fully dialogue partner of ASEAN.
The strong development in dialogue between ASEAN and China has given impetus to the two sides’ leaders, who decided to ratify the joint statement on strategic partnership for the sake of peace and prosperity at the ASEAN-China summit held in Indonesia in 2003. Such a development also led to the signature of a framework agreement between the two sides on comprehensive economic cooperation in 2002, paving the way to the establishment of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA), the world’s largest trading area, with a population of nearly 2 billion.
The establishment of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA) with the first joint step to kick off the Early Harvest Programme has increasingly made a positive impact on promoting trade activities among ASEAN member countries and China.
In 2005, trade between ASEAN and China grew by 23 percent to 130 billion USD. The group of Southeast Asian nations has become China’s fourth biggest trading partner and the fifth largest market for exports from China.
China’s investment flow into Southeast Asian countries in 2004 rose by more than 238 percent from the previous year to 225 million USD, representing 10.7 percent of Chinese overseas investment. Meanwhile, businesses from Southeast Asian countries invested over 2.5 billion USD into 1,825 new projects, mainly in the manufacturing and services sectors, in China in the first nine months of 2004.
Aside from the economic link, bilateral cooperation between ASEAN and China has been increasingly gaining momentum in other fields. The two sides are steadily speeding up the implementation of projects and programmes within the framework of the Greater Mekong Sub-region agreement, the ASEAN- Mekong Basin Development Cooperation (AMBDC) and projects initiated by the Mekong River Commission (MRC).
At the 9th ASEAN-China summit held in December 2005, the Southeast Asian and Chinese leaders agreed to develop five more fields of priority.
The commemorative summit for the 15th anniversary of ASEAN-China dialogue partnership is expected to bring about measures for building a closer dialogue relationship. Trade promotion conferences and an ASEAN-China exhibition will be held on the sidelines of the summit, giving more opportunities for participating businesses to seek partners and seize profitable contracts.
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