China, ASEAN push for more maritime cooperation

Updated: 2015-09-17 20:08

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NANNING - China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) expect the Belt and Road initiative to breathe fresh life into maritime cooperation.

The 12th China-ASEAN Expo, to be held in Nanning, capital of South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region from Friday to Monday, carries the theme "creating a new blueprint for maritime cooperation by jointly building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road."

The annual event is expected to attract more than 2,000 enterprises. Applications for exhibition booths has exceeded capacity, showing a consistent and strong interest in China-ASEAN cooperation.

This year has been named the China-ASEAN maritime cooperation year.

"Maritime cooperation plays an important role in China-ASEAN relations," said Wang Lei, secretary-general of the China-ASEAN Expo.

The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road would boost bilateral maritime cooperation and make it a new pillar in the strategic partnership between China and the ASEAN, he added.

China has so far signed agreements with ASEAN members on environmental protection, scientific research, maritime rescue and climate change.

On Sunday, China announced it would push for a special fund for Internet and telecommunications infrastructure that would link China and ASEAN members.

China first proposed the Information Harbor initiative in September 2014, to establish an information hub for the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

The maritime cooperation year is conducive to jointly expanding the "blue economy" and upgrading bilateral cooperation, said Phinit Jatosriphitak, former deputy prime minister of Thailand.

He suggested that disputes should be put aside and all relevant parties should focus on the development of common interests.

There are also calls for enhanced political trust between China and ASEAN.

"A lack of trust will hamper maritime cooperation," said Phung Tui Hue, a senior research fellow with the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences during the China-ASEAN Think Tank Strategic Dialogue Forum held in Nanning earlier this week.