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China, ASEAN strategic partnership has great potential for development

Source:   Time:

BEIJING, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- The strategic partnership between China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has an excellent opportunity to further develop over the next 20 years, the Chinese Ambassador to ASEAN Tong Xiaoling said here Monday.

Tong, appointed ambassador to ASEAN this year, said during her tenure she intends to promote the all-round development of the China-ASEAN strategic partnership.

China and ASEAN started their dialogue in 1991. Over the past 19 years, the two sides have established their strategic partnership and a free trade area covering a population of 1.9 billion.

Since the founding of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area at the beginning of this year, China-ASEAN trade and investment has grown rapidly, Tong said.

Trade volume hit 211.3 billion U.S. dollars in the first nine month of 2010, up 44 percent compared with the same period of last year, she said.

Tong noted that China and ASEAN nations have signed a number of cooperation agreements in areas such as transportation, water resource management, agriculture, infrastructure and human resources.

"China will continue to increase its investment in these areas and share its experience. It hopes to help the less developed nations in the region," she added.

"The '10+3' mechanism which groups China, Japan and South Korea with ASEAN nations is rather mature. We hope to set up a macroeconomic research center and an emergency rice reserve," she said, adding that China intends to promote regional integration through enhanced cooperation at the East Asia Summit.

Regarding the South China Sea, Tong said there are divergent views which have been inherited from the past.

She said it has always been Chinese policy to seek a peaceful solution to the relevant issues through dialogue on a bilateral basis, without resorting to the threat of force.

China opposes the internationalization of the issue and believes countries irrelevant to the issue should not intervene, as such moves only complicate the issue and undermine the friendly relations of the region, she added.

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