MANILA－Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are China’s primary partners in promoting the Belt and Road Initiative, said Xu Bu, the Chinese ambassador to ASEAN, ahead of the organization’s meetings, which are currently underway in the Philippines.
The association’s development plans－including its Community Vision 2025, AEC Blueprint 2025 and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025－are compatible with the objectives of the Belt and Road Initiative, and China has agreed with the group to integrate and promote development strategies on both sides, Xu said.
Xu said the initiative has made remarkable progress in ASEAN countries in several ways:
First, with effective policy communication member countries are forming a multilevel intergovernmental communication mechanism.
Second, the construction of interconnected infrastructure has been accelerating, along with China’s high-speed rail “going out” and the implementation of a series of flagship projects.
Third, with an upgraded free trade agreement formally taking effect, the two sides have been pushing production capacity cooperation forward with industrial parks as key projects, and rapidly enhancing trade and investment.
The initiative, which was put forward in 2013, is multifaceted. Its two parts－the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road－are designed to promote trade, financial integration, infrastructure interconnectivity and people-to-people exchanges.
A recent report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development showed that ASEAN will need infrastructure investment of $60 billion to $146 billion annually until 2025.