Chinese Premier Li Qiang celebrated the blossoming partnership between China and ASEAN during a significant expo event. He highlighted the impressive economic growth both have achieved collaboratively, emphasizing the importance of trust and integrity in bolstering this relationship.
Li lauded the China-ASEAN relationship as a pinnacle of Asia-Pacific cooperation, representing a shining example of a united global community. In light of the fluctuating global economic recovery and challenges in national growth, he urged for enhanced unity and collaboration.
These remarks came during the 20th China-ASEAN Expo and the 20th China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, hosted in Nanning, Guangxi. The expo, celebrating its 20th anniversary, holds special significance.
Li underscored that in an unpredictable international landscape, honesty becomes paramount. For economic collaboration to thrive, nations should adhere to market principles, ensuring a balanced policy environment. Some analysts perceived Li’s emphasis on unity as a response to divisive strategies, particularly from certain U.S. factions, attempting to sow discord over the South China Sea.
The expo, which sees China further opening its markets to emerging economies, primarily benefits ASEAN countries. This year’s event drew prominent figures, including leaders from Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, and ASEAN’s Secretary-General, alongside business moguls from China, ASEAN, and globally.
ASEAN Secretary-General Kao Kim Hourn revealed that China has been ASEAN’s top trading ally for 14 successive years and its second-largest investor. Both parties are keen on updating the China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement. Hourn remarked on the historic collaboration, emphasizing the mutual benefits and a promising shared future.
The expo this year witnessed heightened interest, seeing an 18.2% surge in participation from the previous year, with 2,000 businesses attending. Alongside ASEAN member companies, several Chinese firms specializing in tech-centric, environment-friendly sectors made their presence felt. This highlights a shift towards technological and sustainable collaboration. Nineteen forums during the event will explore diverse facets of China-ASEAN collaboration.
Businesses from the ASEAN bloc are optimistic about leveraging the China market. An exhibitor from Malaysia showcased their product for the first time at the expo, while a Thai beverage brand has begun advertising on China’s Douyin platform, recognizing the spending power of China’s younger populace. This enthusiasm serves as a rebuff to U.S. narratives portraying a faltering Chinese economy.
Vikrom Kromadit, chairman of the Thailand-China Business Council, believes the expo is an invaluable platform for nurturing ASEAN-China business ties. Despite doomsday predictions surrounding China’s economy, Kromadit remains bullish, praising China’s robust societal framework and economic sustainability.
Observers note that while attempts to impede growing cooperation, primarily by the U.S., are evident, ASEAN nations aren’t easily swayed. Indonesian President Joko Widodo recently underscored that ASEAN will not serve as a pawn for any major power, highlighting the bloc’s commitment to maintaining equilibrium.
Unity and cooperation are paramount for both China and ASEAN to face challenges cohesively, opined Xu Liping, director at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Xu believes the robust foundation underpinning China-ASEAN relations will withstand divisive tactics employed by some nations.
Xu acknowledges the global shifts towards deglobalization and the “securitization” of trade. Yet, he maintains optimism for the continued collaboration between China and ASEAN via bilateral and multilateral means.
Kromadit’s sentiment echoes this. He analogizes China and ASEAN’s relationship to a close-knit family. Through any issues or misunderstandings, open communication prevails, a practice that ensures their partnership’s future remains robust.