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Premier: China a 'True Friend and Partner'

China will always remain a "true and good neighbor, partner and friend" of its neighboring countries, Premier Wen Jiabao said Tuesday in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province. 

He made the pledge at the opening ceremony of the Second Summit of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), themed "a stronger partnership for common prosperity."


The GMS countries include China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam, which all share the Lancang-Mekong River.


To tighten intra-regional trade links, China has decided to expand the range of products eligible for preferential tariffs from Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar as of January 1 next year, Wen revealed.


Cooperation should be intensified on the prevention and control of avian flu, HIV/AIDS and other major communicable diseases, Wen said.


He suggested the GMS nations set up surveillance networks for such diseases, and improve information transparency on the disease situation. To this end, China proposed to establish a GMS Health Forum to coordinate and promote cooperation in the health sector, Wen said.


The premier also called for more endeavor to broaden exchanges on agricultural technologies and information, accelerate the building of agricultural information websites, and convene a GMS agriculture ministers' meeting.


He stressed that China not only pursues its own well-being and development, but also seeks common prosperity for all countries.


China is both a beneficiary of and a contributor to the GMS, he said.


The country has funded the Kunming-Bangkok Highway project and the navigation channel improvement project on the Upper Mekong River, and provided training for more than 500 people from GMS countries on agriculture, customs affairs and telecommunications.


In 2004, China set up a special US$20 million fund under the Asian Development Bank for cooperation on human resources development and poverty alleviation.


Calling all GMS countries close neighbors of China, Wen said China unswervingly pursues a path of peaceful development.


He believed that China's development not only benefits its own people, but also presents development opportunities to other countries.


(China Daily July 6, 2005)

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