China-ASEAN Cooperation Promotes Growth

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A cargo ship docks at Qinzhou Port in the China-ASEAN Free Trade Zone in Qinzhou, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, July 11, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

China’s efforts to establish closer cooperation with ASEAN will benefit all countries in the region, contribute to greater integration in East Asia, and enhance the development needed for post-pandemic economic recovery, said said experts.

“Cooperation between China and ASEAN is a key factor in keeping alive the narrative of economic interdependence in this region, which is essential for all governments as they seek to recover from the current economic recession associated with pandemic, ”said Aleksius Jemadu, professor of international politics at Universitas Pelita Harapan in Indonesia.

The increase in trade and investment between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations over the past decades has produced tangible benefits for both sides, Jemadu said. The two sides should continue their economic cooperation to make East Asia a growth engine for the world economy.

At a special summit to commemorate the 30th anniversary of China-ASEAN dialogue relations chaired by President Xi Jinping via video link on November 22, the two sides strengthened their ties towards a comprehensive strategic partnership.

During his speech, Xi said that China and ASEAN have spearheaded economic integration in East Asia, fostered common development and prosperity, and provided a better life for people. over 2 billion people. “By drawing the wisdom from East Asian civilization, we have led regional economic integration with an open mind,” Xi said.

Jemadu said the cooperation between China and Indonesia can set a good example as the two countries have shown strong commitment to cooperation based on mutual respect.

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Sunday that China and Indonesia have led the way in vaccine cooperation, both regional and global, and set a model for major developing countries in terms of joint response to COVID-19. Wang made the comment during his meeting with the Indonesian Coordinator for Cooperation with China and Coordinating Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan.

The 10-nation bloc can be a connector that brings East Asian countries together as it is a major trade and investment destination in the region, said Kriengsak Chareonwongsak, president of the Nation-Building Institute in Thailand.

ASEAN remained China’s largest trading partner in the first 11 months of 2021, according to data released by the General Administration of Customs of China on Tuesday. Bilateral trade reached 5.11 trillion yuan ($ 802 billion), up 20.6% year-on-year and accounted for 14.4% of the total value of China’s foreign trade during the same period.

ASEAN became China’s largest trading partner in 2020, and China has maintained its status as the bloc’s largest trading partner for 12 consecutive years.

Kriengsak said that strengthening China-ASEAN relations will benefit all countries in the region and promote faster integration, which is important for alleviating the pandemic-induced global crisis and countering rising protectionism and nationalism.

Lim Tai Wei, deputy senior researcher at the East Asia Institute at the National University of Singapore, said ASEAN can benefit from being a bastion of free trade and anti-protectionist sentiments.

Lim said that East Asia’s absence of “beggar-for-your-neighbor” policies – which benefit one country at the expense of others – illustrates a new phase in bilateral relations in the region. The region’s economic cooperation has been accompanied by the sharing of vaccines, medical supplies and expertise to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.


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