Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 20 for a series of leaders’ meetings on East Asian cooperation and an official visit to Malaysia.
During his four-day stay in Malaysia, Premier Li is scheduled to attend the 18th China-ASEAN (10+1) leaders’ meeting, the 18th ASEAN-China, Japan and South Korea (10+3) leaders’ meeting and the 10th East Asia Summit.
An ASEAN community, which is expected to take shape by the end of this year, will be the first sub-regional community in Asia.
China hopes the coming meetings will push forward negotiations on the upgrading of the China-ASEAN free trade area (FTA), promote the prolonged negotiation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), speed up the construction of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and boost East Asia’s economic growth against the backdrop of a global slowdown.
The China-ASEAN FTA is the largest among developing countries. The two sides are striving to finish negotiations on the upgrade before the end of this year.
During the 10+1 leaders’ meeting, Premier Li will discuss China’s ASEAN policy and propose measures to enhance cooperation in areas including production capacity and inter-connectivity.
Analysts believe that the 10+3 leaders’ meeting, which came weeks on the heels of the resumption of the China-Japan-South Korea tripartite summit in Seoul after a three-and-half-year break, will speed up negotiation on a trilateral FTA and the RCEP to build up the East Asia economic community.
Next year marks the 25th anniversary of the China-ASEAN dialogue partnership. Observers have said that Premier Li’s ongoing visit is vital to the development of the China-ASEAN strategic partnership for peace and prosperity.
During his first trip to Malaysia since taking office as Chinese premier in 2013, Premier Li will also hold talks with Malaysian leaders and address a forum of bilateral economic and trade cooperation. A series of documents ranging from agreements on trade and culture exchanges to judicial cooperation are expected to be signed.
Chinese authorities have earlier said that Premier Li’s trip is expected to upgrade bilateral cooperation in trade, investment, the Belt and Road Initiative, marine industry and infrastructure construction.
The bilateral trade volume between China and Malaysia stands at over $100 billion annually as mutual investment has been growing rapidly. Malaysia is the biggest trading partner of China among ASEAN countries in the past seven years, while China remains Malaysia’s biggest trading partner.
Founded in 1967, ASEAN consists of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. Malaysia holds the ASEAN rotating chair this year.