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Premier Li to push for closer links with ASEAN countries

Zhang Yunbi
Updated: Nov 7,2014 7:26 AM     China Daily

China is set to propose detailed initiatives aimed at improving relations and boosting trade during a series of multilateral meetings with Southeast Asian nations next week, senior officials have said.

Trade and investment between China and the ASEAN countries have surged to record highs in the run-up to the annual East Asia leaders’ meetings.

Beijing is sparing no effort to encourage consolidation among regional stakeholders and prevent fragmentation, a key word observers use in reference to mistrust arising from maritime issues and the involvement of outsiders.

Premier Li Keqiang will attend a series of leaders’ meetings on East Asia cooperation from Nov 12 to 14 in Myanmar’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw.

The events will include the 17th China-ASEAN leaders’ meeting, the 17th ASEAN-China, Japan and Republic of Korea (10+3) leaders’ meeting and the ninth East Asia Summit.

“China will propose some new detailed initiatives to boost connectivity, trade and investment, poverty alleviation cooperation and social culture in East Asia,” Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Liu Zhenmin said of Beijing’s planned agenda for the meeting at a press briefing on Nov 6.

During the China-ASEAN leaders’ meeting, China will call for more joint efforts to press ahead with the establishment of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, Liu said.

In the past year, a range of strategic initiatives proposed and led by China-including the Silk Road-have gained ground. They are intended to enhance infrastructure and seek greater profits for China and its neighbors.

The meetings are expected to send messages to the outside world that the regional stakeholders will “strengthen their unity and teamwork and properly handle disputes”, Liu said.

Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said all sides have nurtured a consensus that the peace and stability of the East Asia region should be maintained. Measures should be taken to “deal with the attempts by countries such as the Philippines to alienate the ties between China and ASEAN”, he added.

China “has offered flexibility” in discussions over the South China Sea issue, and the dialogues should be continued, Ruan said.

After next week’s meetings, Li will pay an official visit to Myanmar at the invitation of President U Thein Sein.

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