China, ASEAN push for more maritime cooperation
The China-ASEAN Expo, and the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit have opened today in South China's Nanning city. The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road will be an important part of discussions, and China and ASEAN members expect the Belt and Road initiative to breathe fresh life into their maritime cooperation.
A grand opening ceremony for this year's China-ASEAN Expo. Over 2,000 companies are participating in the four-day event, which features 27 forums on industrial cooperation, e-commerce, environmental protection, and tourism .
"We hope the EXPO will become a platform for international capacity cooperation and information exchanges. We can also put the Belt and Road initiative into practice," Yang Yanyan, deputy secretary general of China-ASEAN Expo, said.
Trade and economic cooperation has always been highlighted in China-ASEAN cooperation. In 2014, bilateral trade hit a record high of 480 billion US dollars, up 8.3 percent from the previous year. Initiated in 2013, the China-led Belt and Road initiative is deepening the consensus on economic cooperation and regional integration. China's Ministry of Commerce expects bilateral trade to climb to 500 billion US dollars by the end of 2020.
"Economic cooperation serves as the foundation and pioneer in building the 'one belt, one road'. Both China and ASEAN need to work together, and strive to complete the upgrade of the China-Asean Free Trade Area by the end of this year. We should strengthen the customs, inspection and quarantine, the certification and accreditation, and the standards of measurement; improve statistical information to make bilateral and multilateral cooperation more convenient; reduce non-tariff barriers; and better facilitate and improve the level of trade and investment," Chinese vice premier Zhang Gaoli said.
ASEAN has been a priority in China’s neighborhood diplomacy. It's also a key starting point for the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road under the Belt & Road Initiative. With the China-ASEAN Expo underway, China, together with ASEAN members, hope that all parties can forge a closer community and shared destiny.