Li plans to seek deeper trust with neighbors

Updated: 2013-10-09 07:20

By Zhou Wa (China Daily)

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Li plans to seek deeper trust with neighbors

Officials get ready for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, on Monday. Leaders of the 10 ASEAN nations, as well as those of China, Japan and South Korea, will be joined by leaders of Russia, the United States and India. Vincent Thian / Associated Press

China seeks to deepen political trust with its Southeast Asian neighbors and upgrade economic cooperation with them, analysts said on Tuesday ahead of Premier Li Keqiang's visit to ASEAN chair nation Brunei for a series of summits with East Asian countries.

"Political mutual trust with countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plays a very important role in maintaining stability and promoting economic development in East Asia," said Xu Liping, a researcher on Asia-Pacific studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"Deep political trust lays the foundation for cooperation in all fields between China and ASEAN countries and will help them better resolve remaining problems, such as the South China Sea issue."

During the 16th China-ASEAN leaders meeting which begins on Wednesday in the Brunei capital Bandar Seri Begawan, Premier Li will discuss a treaty of good-neighborliness between China and ASEAN, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Liu Zhenmin said on Monday.

"With the treaty, China would like to show its political determination for a strategy of peaceful development that will benefit all countries in the region. Beijing hopes to tell its neighbors in Southeast Asia that China is a friendly and dependable partner rather than a threat," Xu said.

"Given the dynamic economic development of China, some ASEAN members worry that China's development will affect their development. Beijing hopes to address their concerns through various mechanisms for political communication and economic cooperation."

Ruan Zongze, deputy director of the China Institute of International Studies, said China and ASEAN members have become an integral whole with a common destiny through past cooperation. The treaty of good-neighborliness will help China and ASEAN make a closer community.

Given that some regional countries may sacrifice general peace and stability in the region for their own interests, legal mechanisms will help prevent such countries from encroaching on the general interests of the region, he said.

"If China and ASEAN put their relations under a legal framework, there will be a practical upgrade of their ties, although lots of difficulties are still ahead," he said, urging China and ASEAN members to unify in this regard and create conditions to reach such a treaty.

The Foreign Ministry said Li will also discuss with ASEAN leaders an upgrade of the free trade area between the two sides, prepare the establishment of an Asian infrastructure investment bank and advance maritime cooperation.

"There is still great potential to improve trading and economic cooperation between China and ASEAN members," Xu said, citing the example of cooperation in improving connectivity among East Asian countries.

"Improving connectivity not only means to build better transportation infrastructure, but also to conduct better coordination of customs clearances," he added.

"Southeast Asian countries have the demand to improve their infrastructures, but they are confronted with inadequate funding. China can offer financial support in related projects," he said, adding that improved connectivity would benefit all regional partners.

At the 16th ASEAN plus three (China, Japan and the Republic of Korea) summit, Li will call for coordination of macroeconomic policy to improve the capacity to fight crises and upgrade the level of pragmatic cooperation, said Liu, the vice-foreign minister.

Li will also promote dialogue and cooperation on economic and social security as well as political security at the 8th East Asia Summit.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the China-ASEAN strategic partnership, and the two sides have established the largest free trade zone among developing economies.

China-ASEAN trade increased from $78.2 billion to more than $400 billion in the past decade, while mutual investment has surged from $33.2 billion to $100 billion.