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Friday, August 7, 2015, 13:03

China seeks closer ties with ASEAN

By Xinhua

KUALA LUMPUR - Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday that the building of the ASEAN Community, the East Asian economic community and Asian community of common destiny should be prioritized among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, Japan and South Korea.

Speaking at a ASEAN+3 (China, Japan and South Korea) meeting, Wang said significant progress has been made under ASEAN+3 cooperation with more that 230 projects having been launched and the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization being implemented.

Wang poibted out that as a leading platform of East Asia cooperation, the ASEAN+3 countries were facing a rare historical opportunity. They, in their next development stage, should strive to build the three communities.

In order to support the ASEAN Community, the countries should help the 10-nation bloc to narrow development gaps among its members, reduce poverty and improve livelihood.

On the East Asian economic community, they should make full use of the 10+3 mechanism and the existing cooperation in finance and food for further cooperation in various areas.

As for the Asian community of common destiny, Wang said China encourages countries to dovetail their development strategies with China's "Belt and Road" initiative, so as to boost integration in Asia and realize complementarity and common development.

Noting that China has been an active participant and promoter of East Asia cooperation, Wang said China has put forward a six- point proposal for the peace, security and stability in the region.

On the free trade zone, the Chinese minister proposed effective implementation of free trade agreement (FTA) between China and South Korea, and completion of negotiation on the upgraded China- ASEAN Free Trade Zone in 2015.

He also called for negotiation on the FTA between China, Japan and South Korea and the completion of substantive talks on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) this year.

On financial cooperation, the countries should push forward the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization, explore possibilities on platform-building of communication and cooperation in Asian financial institutions, while improving the fund-raising for regional infrastructure by actively making use of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Silk Road Fund.

On agricultural cooperation, Wang suggested implementation of the agreement on poverty reduction and the building of model bases of modern agricultural cooperation as well as the trading platform for livestock products in Asia.

On closer cooperation in infrastructure construction and production capability, he said China is willing to provide Southeast Asian countries with the most-needed infrastructure on the basis of voluntariness, equality and mutual benefit.

The 10+3 countries should increase cooperation in key industries and areas of iron and steel, non-ferrous metals, construction material, telecommunication for the synergy between development strategy and the advantage of resources, in order to achieve the region's sustainable development.

On maritime cooperation, Wang said ASEAN and China should work for a success of "the Year of China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation," and cooperate in maritime connectivity, technology and environment protection, disaster prevention and reduction, maritime economy, among others, while expediting the building of East Asia maritime cooperation platform.

On cultural cooperation, the countries should actively promote ministerial level discussion mechanism on tourism, education, culture and press, strengthen social-cultural exchanges and cooperation in the region, and give full play to East Asia Forum and other institutions.

Foreign ministers of other 10+3 countries spoke highly of the significant role of the cooperation among ASEAN and China, Japan and South Korea in promoting peace, stability and prosperity.

They agreed on further cooperation in finance, connectivity, production capacity, trade, agriculture, technology, public heath while jointly confronting non-traditional threats. They also hailed China-proposed AIIB, believing the bank will play an important role in improving regional infrastructure.

Founded in 1967, ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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