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China-ASEAN Cooperation Yields Fruits
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After seeing incomes ballooning since her first trip to the China-ASEAN Expo two years ago, Vietnamese sericulturist Tran Thi Min Ngoc came to the exposition again this year to seek the latest information which could make her business grow even bigger.


Encouraged by her Chinese husband, Ngoc started the silkworm business four years ago in Vietnam and made her incomes doubled in just one year.


However, when she found that her incomes was only half of those earned by Chinese sericulturists at the 2004 China-ASEAN Expo, Ngoc realized that she was in urgent need of advanced skills.


Ngoc invited Chinese experts to her hometown in Vietnam to help with the mulberry planting. In the following year, her income grew fourfold. She said she had benefited a lot from the agricultural cooperation between China and Vietnam.


Ngoc's example was the epitome of the various technical cooperation between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).


Gu Xiaosong, an expert on Southeast Asian affairs with the Academy of Social Science of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, described the effect of the China-ASEAN cooperation as "many a little making a mickle."


"The China-ASEAN cooperation in such fields as agriculture and telecommunications is no longer merely government policies. It has been concretized and turned into a close business-to-business and people-to-people connection," he said. "The bit-by-bit accumulation is bound to result in a qualitative change to bilateral economic ties."


The change has drawn attention of high-ranking officials from both sides.


Gao Hucheng, China's vice minister of commerce, said as the China-ASEAN negotiation on service trade and investment was moving forward smoothly, the establishment of the China-ASEAN free trade zone had entered a substantial period.


Fields selected as the top 10 priorities for future cooperation of mutual benefit includes agriculture, telecommunications, human resources, mutual investment, the exploration of the Mekong River, transport, energy, culture, tourism and public health, Gao said.


As a matter of fact, Chinese and ASEAN enterprises have been engaged in the cooperation for years. By the end of 2005, the ASEAN members' investment in China had amounted to 38.5 billion U.S. dollars, while nearly 1,000 Chinese enterprises had invested in the 10-member bloc, ranging from the processing industry to construction, hotel, mining and transportation.


At the 2006 China-ASEAN Expo scheduled for Tuesday, Chinese exhibitors are ready to present their Southeast Asian customers more than 30 advanced agricultural technologies. Meanwhile, industrial zones in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region are making great efforts to attract investments from the ASEAN countries.


By last Wednesday, China and ASEAN members had expressed the intention to sign agreements on 80 cooperation projects at the upcoming Expo, a 95 percent growth over those reached at the 2005 Expo.


(Xinhua News Agency October 30, 2006)


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