Blessing for the region

Updated: 2013-10-10 07:24

(China Daily)

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Premier Li Keqiang's meeting with leaders of the 10-member ASEAN in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, on Wednesday has yielded fruitful results. The agreements reached and the areas of cooperation identified during the meeting will consolidate China-ASEAN ties and lay the foundation for an even brighter future for the region.

Leaders from the two sides have agreed to deepen strategic mutual trust and good-neighborly relations, and strengthen win-win cooperation with special focus on trade.

These political pledges will be translated into seven areas of cooperation the two sides will forge in the future, injecting new vitality into their strategic partnership and lifting their cooperation to a higher level. The most vital among them will be making efforts to agree on a China-ASEAN treaty on good neighborliness and friendly cooperation, and upgrade the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area.

Good neighborliness embodies the mutual confidence and determination of China and ASEAN member states to safeguard regional peace and stability, as well as to strengthen cooperation. There is no doubt, therefore, that a treaty in this regard will provide legal and institutional guarantee for future interaction and cooperation between the two sides.

On the upgrading of China-ASEAN FTA, the two sides have agreed to start negotiations this year and try to reach an agreement by 2015. To this end, they will endeavor to further liberalize trade and investment, and make efforts to increase the two-way trade volume.

China-ASEAN FTA has become the largest free trade area among developing countries in the three years since it was launched in 2010 - last year's trade volume was $400.1 billion, a six-fold increase over a decade ago.

As Li has said, with the new road map, ASEAN member states are set to derive greater benefits from regional integration and China's economic growth.

At the 10th China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, capital of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, in September, Li described the past 10 years of China-ASEAN cooperation as the "golden decade", and urged the two sides to ensure that it is followed by a "diamond decade".

The achievements of the China-ASEAN meeting on Wednesday show that the two sides are taking concrete steps to make a "diamond decade" a reality, which is a blessing for regional peace and development.

(China Daily 10/10/2013 page8)