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China Pledges $10 Billion to ASEAN for Regional Economic Connectivity

Nov. 22, 2015 (EIRNS)—Addressing a meeting between China and ASEAN today, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced $10 billion financing to boost regional connectivity, the BRICS Post reported from Kuala Lumpur. Premier Li also called on both sides to consolidate the basis for their cooperation by enhancing mutual trust, seeking common ground, setting aside differences, and expanding their common interests. China remains ASEAN’s biggest trading partner, while ASEAN is China’s third largest trading partner. Bilateral trade reached nearly $400 billion in the first 10 months of this year, BRICS Post noted.

Li was addressing the 18th China-ASEAN (10+1) leaders’ meeting. Li noted that 18 is considered a lucky number in Chinese tradition and therefore, it is a good sign that the China-ASEAN ties will make a big stride toward a broader space for development, Xinhua reported. In Chinese, 18 is pronounced similar to "make a fortune for sure." To make a fortune together with ASEAN, Li pledged the 10-member bloc infrastructure loans totaling U.S. $10 billion and proposed railway and production capacity cooperation.

The the China-ASEAN relationship, which transcends the bilateral dimension, is becoming an important cornerstone of peace, stability, and development of East Asia, said Li, making a six-pronged proposal on China-ASEAN cooperation. He urged China and ASEAN nations to strengthen institution building by implementing their new five-year action plan and the 2+7 cooperation framework. The two sides should accelerate the upgrade of trade and economic cooperation, Li said, Xinhua reported.

Xinhua noted Li calling upon China and ASEAN to speed up the implementation of the results of the negotiations on an upgrade of their Free Trade Agreement (FTA), and make concerted efforts to conclude as early as possible the negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The RCEP is a proposed collective FTA between the 10 member states of the ASEAN and six countries with which ASEAN has individual FTAs: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea.

Li called for efforts by China and ASEAN to conjoin China’s Belt and Road Initiative with other regional development strategies to promote integration. China and ASEAN should also explore cooperation in international production capacity, and jointly raise the level of cooperation in security, Li said. The Chinese premier also asked the two sides to promote the sustainable development of the region by promoting maritime cooperation, strengthening agricultural capacity construction, building a platform for sharing information on environmental protection, and deepening people-to-people exchanges, Xinhua reported.