China to foster cooperation with ASEAN‎, May 1, 2011

Premier Wen Jiabao on Saturday reiterated that China is willing to boost friendly relations with its neighbors, and also expected the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to keep its leading role in the region.

Premier Wen Jiabao reacts as the audience applauds after his speech before the Indonesia Council of World Affairs in Jakarta, April 30, 2011. [China Daily]

Premier Wen Jiabao reacts as the audience applauds after his speech before the Indonesia Council of World Affairs in Jakarta, April 30, 2011. [China Daily]

Premier Wen met with ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan, saying that over the past 20 years since China and ASEAN established dialogue relationship, pragmatic cooperation in various fields has been continuously deepened.

Beijing welcomes the involvement of powers outside the region such as the United States, Russia and the European Union as regional cooperation partners in Southeast Asia, the premier said, but ASEAN should still take the lead.

He dismissed any concerns from Southeast Asia that they may become strategic targets of a rising China.

He said China will unswervingly uphold the policy of comprehensively strengthening good-neighborly relationship and mutually beneficial cooperation with ASEAN so as to boost the China-ASEAN strategic partnership to a new stage.

As for the South China Sea dispute, he stressed that all nations should make unremitting efforts through bilateral channels to solve problems on the basis of friendly and equal consultation, adding that China opposes creating tension on the issue and making it more complicated.

On Friday, Wen announced the setting up of maritime cooperation with Indonesia, following a decision three days ago to establish a joint oceanic observation station in Padang in West Sumatra.

Washington has tried to internationalize the South China Sea territorial dispute but Beijing has insisted the issue be discussed on a bilateral level among the countries concerned.

Wen arrived in Jakarta Thursday evening after a two-day visit to Malaysia, on the first official visit of a Chinese premier to Indonesia in 10 years.

He also attended the China-Indonesia Strategic Business Dialogue on Saturday and witnessed the signing of contracts worth $10 billion between Chinese companies and their Indonesian counterparts.

Contracts, which focus on infrastructure, engineering, power plants, telecommunications and agriculture, included a joint operation between China Gezhouba Group Corporation and Praba Indonesia to build up a coal power plant in Indonesia's West Kalimantan province. The Export-Import Bank of China will provide $172 million preferential export buyer's credit for the project.

Other deals included China Triumph International Engineering's agreement with an Indonesia company to establish a cement production line, and Sany Heavy Industry's memorandum of understanding with the Minister of Industry of Indonesia to establish the Sanyi Industrial Park in Indonesia.

China will continue to expand bilateral trade volume with Indonesia and provide special facilitation to promote economic and investment cooperation, Wen said, specifically cooperation in large mechanical and electrical products and high value-added products.

Indonesia has a huge market potential and welcomes more Chinese companies to invest in the country, said Indonesian Vice-President Boediono. He also expressed his hopes for sustainable cooperation with China.

The two governments reached an agreement to raise the mutual trade volume to $80 billion by 2015 from $42.7 billion in 2010, the Chinese premier said. He finished his two-day visit to Indonesia and returned to Beijing on Saturday evening.