ASEAN-China agree to boost economic cooperation


BEIJING, Aug 29 — The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China agreed not to allow the South China Sea discord to overshadow their relations, but to boost cooperation in trade, aiming to increase their trade value to US$500 billion by next year. 

The foreign ministers of 10 ASEAN member countries met with their Chinese counterpart Wang Yi  in the Chinese capital for a special meeting which was part of this year’s commemorative activities to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul jointly told a news briefing with Mr Wang Yi that both sides agreed that they would not let any particular issue overshadow the close relations between ASEAN and China.

Stable political and security relations could be achieved if both sides develop trust, particularly regarding the South China Sea dispute, Mr Surapong said.

He said ASEAN and China will discuss the Declaration on Conduct (DOC) of parties in the South China Sea at the senior officials meeting in mid-September for the peace, security and prosperity in the region.

Meanwhile, Mr Wang Yi said Beijing would not “shy away from problems” in disputed Asian waters.

He said that currently the South China Sea situation is stable and the problems were not directly between ASEAN and China so that the issue should not be an obstacle to developing relations as a whole.

ASEAN and China have enjoyed economic cooperation which has expanded five times from the last 10 years and expected the trade value could rise from US$400 billion to US$500 billion by next year, according to the Thai foreign minister.

Mr Surapong added that the ASEAN and Chinese leaders would attend the 10th ASEAN-China Expo in Nanning September 2-3 which would reflect the strong relations between ASEAN and China.