JAKARTA — China will continue to work with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to promote the total realization of the ASEAN community, said Chinese Ambassador to ASEAN Xu Bu.
In an interview ahead of the 27th ASEAN Summit and related meetings, Xu said the establishment of the ASEAN community will be a milestone in the history of ASEAN’s development.
The 10-nation bloc with a total population of more than 600 million and a GDP of $ 2.7 trillion is set to announce the establishment of the ASEAN community at the end of this year based on three pillars: political-security community, economic community and sociocultural community.
“As one of the world’s youngest and most dynamic economies, the ASEAN community will provide a bigger and freer market as well as create a favorable investment environment for China,” Xu said.
However, Xu said for ASEAN, there is still a long way to go to complete the building of the ASEAN community. “The community building is always an ongoing process and Dec 31 of 2015 is definitely not an end but a starting point.”
The ambassador said China is willing to play a constructive role and work with ASEAN to push for the complete realization of the ASEAN community.
Xu said China-ASEAN relations have maintained a strong momentum evidenced by close high-level exchanges, deeper political trust, fruitful economic cooperation and wider people-to-people contact.
Meanwhile, bilateral trade volume between China and ASEAN has exceeded $ 480 billion and two-way investment topped $120 billion last year, according to Xu.
China has been ASEAN’s largest trading partner for six consecutive years and ASEAN is China’s third largest trading partner for four years in a row.
Talking about the China-proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) which is designed to finance infrastructure construction in the region, Xu said it will render further support to the inter-connectivity and community building of ASEAN, whose 10 states are all AIIB’s founding members.
The Chinese envoy said China has taken ASEAN as a priority in implementing its Belt and Road initiative, which is set to promote trade and infrastructure construction in the region.
Xu suggested that to further promote pragmatic cooperation between the two sides and the Belt and Road initiative, China and ASEAN should focus on five areas, namely policy communication, road connectivity, trade facilitation, currency circulation and understanding between the peoples.