A shared economic future for China and ASEAN

By Tom Fowdy
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, September 16, 2021
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An aerial photo of the container terminal of Qinzhou Port in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on Jan. 14, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

The 18th China-ASEAN Expo and the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit concluded Monday in Nanning, the capital of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. A total of 179 business deals worth a record-high combined value of over 300 billion yuan (about $46.59 billion) were signed during the expo. The value of deals marked an increase of 13.7% over the previous year.

In total, 148 economic and trade promotion activities and 26 high-level forums took place during this year's expo, covering industrial chains, industrial capacity cooperation, customs and health. With an exhibition area of more than 100,000 square meters, the expo set up 5,400 booths for exhibitors. Over 1,500 enterprises participated in the in-person exhibitions. 

During the forum, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi was visiting members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) such as Vietnam, Cambodia and Singapore, where he met with his counterparts. These visits revolved around a number of topics, such as COVID-19 cooperation and healthcare, vaccines, strategic challenges, as well as trade and regional economic integration.

As neighbors within the same geographic region, China and ASEAN's economic development and prosperity are interdependent and mutually intertwined, while also representing the most important potential markets for each side in terms of imports, exports and investment. 

Asia, with its higher population sizes and much deeper potential, is becoming the new center of global trade, investment and commerce. The members of ASEAN are playing a huge part in that change in conjunction with China. 

ASEAN contains some of the world's most populous countries, such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar, which have huge economic potential and capacity. As such, China, with its large market, will be instrumental in ASEAN rising to its full potential. 

The signing of the landmark Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership could boost China-ASEAN bilateral cooperation and contribute to the global economy when it comes into effect as the world's largest free-trade deal. 

This year's expo demonstrates the rewards that can be reaped as China works together with the bloc in pursuing greater regional integration, establishing common rules, regulations and norms, as well as fewer constraints on the flow of goods, capital and people. Both sides complement each other's development goals overwhelmingly in a manner which may be described as "win-win." 

China and ASEAN have both benefited from their long-term cooperation since the establishment of dialogue relations 30 years ago, making their cooperation the most dynamic in the Asia-Pacific region. Going forward, given the rapid development of the digital economy, closer economic integration looks likely to bring more opportunities for China and ASEAN members.

Tom Fowdy is a British political and international relations analyst and a graduate of Durham and Oxford universities. He writes on topics pertaining to China, the DPRK, Britain and the U.S. For more information please visit: 


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