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China-ASEAN cooperation drives investment westward

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NANNING, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- Businessman Wu Jinpei says that moving business from developed eastern China to the southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region seemed unwise a decade ago, but has become a "far-sighted" decision.

Wu moved his candy business from coastal Fujian to Guangxi in 2012 to ride the wave of deepening cooperation between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"We invested in Guangxi because the region is a gateway to the ASEAN, which provides great geographic advantages and potential markets," said Wu, general manager of the Golden Crown Candy Food Guangxi Co., Ltd.

"We expect to open up the ASEAN market with the help of close China-ASEAN relations and the favored location of the Beibu Gulf," said Wu.

China and ASEAN have had an established strategic partnership since 2003, and it has proved successful over the past decade, with the two-way trade volume in 2012 exceeding 400 billion U.S. dollars, about five times that of 2003.

Customs data show that foreign trade between Guangxi and the ASEAN surged 38.6 percent year on year to 7.51 billion U.S. dollars in the first half of 2013, and the ASEAN has been Guangxi's biggest trade partner for 13 years in a row.

This backdrop has lured many businesses like Wu's to extend their branches in Guangxi.

Wu Xingqiang, head of the Fujian Chamber of Commerce in Guangxi's Pingxiang City, near the China-Vietnam border, is among the first group of business people there to have made their fortunes and witnessed the development of this port city.

"When I first came here in 1996, there were only a dozen businessmen from Fujian and the market was small," Wu said. "But now more than 1,000 Fujian merchants have gathered in this tiny city and the number is growing."

Hong Kong-based Jing Guang Electronics Co., Ltd. has been producing capacitor products for years in the cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai in Guangdong Province, the nation's economic powerhouse.

Pressured by skyrocketing labor and land costs, the company moved westward to build two factories in Guangxi's Beihai City in 2008. Now the business is expanding.

A manager of the company said that it chose to move to Guangxi both to reduce costs and to explore new opportunities and markets as China-ASEAN cooperation continues to deepen.

Xu Ningning, deputy secretary-general of the China-ASEAN Business Council, said that as more have realized Guangxi's role in China-ASEAN cooperation, many companies are pinning their hopes on Guangxi and the future of China-ASEAN cooperation.

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