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ASEAN+3 to be major channel for East Asia integration: Chinese ambassador

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JAKARTA, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- ASEAN Plus China, Japan and Republic of Korea (ROK) (ASEAN+3) should be the major channel for East Asia integration amid the fragile world economic situation, Chinese ambassador to Indonesia Zhang Qiyue said on Monday.

ASEAN+3 share extensive common interests in East Asia integration process and fortifying its major channel status will be conducive to the stability and growth of East Asia, as well as the world, Zhang said in an exclusive written interview with Xinhua.

In recent years, both sides have made great progress in promoting regional integration, as evidenced by deepened cooperation in finance, East Asia free trade zone and food security, she said.

On finance sector, the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization, a 120-billion-U.S. dollar regional reserve pool to provide emergency liquidity for countries and regions in financial crisis, came into effect in 2010. ASEAN+3 have also set up a macroeconomy research office this year, so they will better monitor regional macroeconomy and ensure the effective implementation of the multilateral currency swap, she said.

On trade, the free trade zones between ASEAN and China, Japan, ROK respectively have boosted the trade and investment growth in the region and two feasibility studies have been finished on establishing the East Asia free trade zone, Zhang said.

The 13 countries (all the ten ASEAN countries and China, Japan, ROK) signed an emergency rice reserve agreement in October, aiming to provide 787,000 tons of rice stock to mitigate the implications of natural disasters on food supply and production. A total of 87, 000 tons will be provided by the ASEAN countries while China, Japan and South Korea will prepare 300,000 tons, 250,000 tons and 150,000 tons respectively.

"The rice reserve is a major step in institutionalizing their food security partnership, helping the East Asian countries to better tackle natural disasters, balance supply and demand as well as strengthening information exchanges," Zhang said.

Though East Asian economies on the whole have maintained good momentum, they still face numerous challenges brought by the uncertainties in the world economy, according to the ambassador.

"China advocates the East Asia Summit in Bali to positively respond to the pro-development and pro-cooperation desires of the region members, maintain the strategic nature of the forum among the top leaders, and push forward cooperation in finance, energy, education, health and disaster relief," the ambassador said.

Reaffirming China's support to an open, inclusive and gradual process in East Asia integration and ASEAN's dominant role in this, Zhang said that the existing mechanisms like ASEAN+1, ASEAN+3 should be given full play and welcomes the U.S. and Russia to join the summit and contribute to peace, stability and development.

Looking back at the 20 years of China-ASEAN dialogue partnership, Zhang said China's development owes to the stable surrounding environment and it is providing opportunities for the common prosperity of the regional members. "China will as always take its neighbors as good partners and friends," she added.

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