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Better links with ASEAN

Source:   Time:

A few days ago, foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) experienced the importance of connectivity and close cooperation with China.

They took a 600-kilometer road trip, traversing Thailand, the Lao People's Democratic Republic and China, before flying from China's Jinghong to Kunming for the China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers' meeting. In an inspection tour to see the Kunming-Bangkok Highway, the officials gave high evaluations of the 1,750-km road, which now serves as a major transport artery for China-ASEAN trade.

Better connectivity within ASEAN and between ASEAN countries and China was one of the major themes for the foreign ministers' meeting held in China on Jan 25-26. To give impetus to the building of the ASEAN community and to strive for greater social and economic progress, China and ASEAN countries should be even more closely connected by land, sea and air to facilitate trade and exchanges between the peoples.

The meeting coincides with the 20th anniversary of the ASEAN-China dialogue partnership. It also saw the official inauguration of the China-ASEAN Year of Friendship and Exchange, in which more than 30 activities will be conducted. The event is a significant deepening of the China-ASEAN strategic partnership for peace and prosperity.

China and ASEAN countries have a long tradition of friendship. China is regarded as the accelerator for ASEAN economies. In 2010, the total volume of bilateral trade reached $292.78 billion, an increase of 37.5 percent on the year before. Apart from trade, the two have been conducting fruitful and pragmatic cooperation in other fields including infrastructure, culture and agriculture under various regional frameworks.

In the past 10 years, unlike other regions in the world that have been plagued with armed conflicts or war, the Asia Pacific region has maintained political and social stability by and large. It also saw a more united and stronger ASEAN as its member states seized the peaceful opportunity to develop their economies and improve people's livelihoods.

The China-ASEAN relationship has deepened and widened during this period. Emerging economies in the region, China and India included, now shore up the global economic recovery.

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