Experts' Interpretation of China-ASEAN Relations
    2013-10-09 17:11:34     CRIENGLISH.com         Web Editor: Mao Yaqing

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has started his official visit to Brunei, Thailand and Vietnam, and is set to attend the East Asia leaders' meetings.

Chinese experts say that since China and ASEAN were able to build a golden decade of cooperation during the past 10 years, they will be able to convert the next 10 years into a diamond decade.

CRI's Qizhi has more.


 

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of China-ASEAN strategic partnership.

At the 10th China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning last month, Premier Li put forward multiple suggestions and initiatives to expand the mutually-beneficial cooperation that already exists, including upgrading the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, which is the biggest FTA among developing countries.

Zhang Yunlin is former director of the Asia-pacific Institute at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"Over the past decade, China and ASEAN have established the Free Trade Area. China is now ASEAN's biggest trading partner. The two sides have also enhanced mutual political trust, and strengthened mutual understanding and support on many important international and regional affairs. Consultation, cooperation and coordination are the main tenets of the relationship. In the future, we need to make more efforts and upgrade the strategic partnership."

A lot of progress has been achieved over the past decade.

Two-way trade volume has exceeded 400 billion dollars, five times that of ten years ago.

Mutual investment has totaled over 100 billion dollars, three times that of ten years ago.

China and ASEAN have also increased people-to-people and cultural exchanges. The amount of visits conducted by people between the two sides reached 15 million last year; four times that of ten years ago.

Based on those figures, Chinese experts say it is safe to say that China and ASEAN are closer than ever before. Looking forward, expanding China-ASEAN FTA from commodity trade to service trade and investment has a bright prospect.

However, the South China Sea issue cannot be ignored.

Chinese experts stress that to ensure that the diamond decade shines even more brightly than the last decade, those few members of the ASEAN group with territorial disputes with China should not allow these disputes to overshadow the bigger picture of friendly ties.

Qu Xing, Director-general of the China Institute of International Studies, explains the importance of looking at the bigger picture.

"First of all, each country should abide by the fundamental principles of the Declaration on the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea. The principles stipulate dos and don'ts for various countries. If these principles are observed, the 'diamond decade' will create a bright picture. If not, many plans cannot even be implemented."

Referring to China and ASEAN as "natural cooperative partners", experts believe that if the two sides can maintain a steady momentum of cooperation and expand common interests, the strategic partnership will be elevated to new heights.

For CRI, I'm Qizhi.

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