In the first year of the new century, the good-neighborly friendship and cooperative relations between China and its neighboring countries entered a new stage of all-round development. In September 2001, Jiang Zemin, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee and President of China, visited the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), and held an in-depth exchange of views on the further development of the relations between China and the DPRK in the new century, as well as on important international and regional issues of common concern, with Kim Jong Il, General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea and Chairman of the National Defense Council, achieving an extensive common understanding. In December 2001, President Jiang Zemin paid a formal visit to Myanmar, further strengthening the deep friendship between the peoples of the two countries. In April 2001, Vice-President Hu Jintao was invited to attend the Ninth National Congress of the Vietnamese Communist Party, and at the end of November and early December 2001, Tran Duc Luong, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Vietnamese Communist Party, paid a formal and friendship visit to China. Leaders of the two countries gained a significant common understanding on jointly promoting the good-neighborly friendship and cooperative relations between the two countries in the new century. Meanwhile, the relations between China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) saw overall development. In 2001, President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji separately met President Kim Dae Jung of the ROK during the Informal Summit of the APEC and the ASEAN-China—Japan—ROK summit. In May 2001, Li Peng, chairman of the Standing Committee of the NPC, made a formal visit to the ROK, and in June Premier Lee Han Dong of the ROK visited China. The year 2002 marks the tenth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the ROK, and both sides will make efforts to promote the relations between the two countries to a new stage with this as a turning point.
The cooperation between China and the ASEAN countries has been continuously deepened. In November 2001, Premier Zhu Rongji attended the ASEAN-China—Japan—ROK summit, and visited Brunei and Indonesia. China and the ASEAN countries unanimously agreed to establish the China-ASEAN free trade zone within ten years, which will be the biggest free trade zone in the world in terms of population.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan in 2001, President Pervez Musharaf of Pakistan made a formal visit to China in December. On January 3, 2002, Premier Zhu Rongji met President Musharaf who was passing through China on his way to the summit of the South Asian Assaciation for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). China and India have also maintained good relations. In January 2002, Premier Zhu Rongji paid formal visits to India and Bangladesh, further strengthening the friendly and cooperative relations between China and those two countries. After the “September 11 Incident” the Afghanistan issue became the focus of world attention. As a neighboring country, China has played an active role in solving the Afghanistan problem. In January 2002, Hamid Karzai, chairman of Afghanistan’s provisional government, visited China, and the Chinese embassy in Kabul was officially re-opened on February 6, 2002.