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Xi's Vietnam, Singapore trip to help build foundation for China-ASEAN community

from:新华网2015-10-30 16:50

BEIJING, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- President Xi Jinping's upcoming visit to Vietnam and Singapore is a crucial step for furthering involvement of the two countries in China's ambitious plan to revive ancient trade routes.

Vietnam and Singapore are both important points along the maritime silk road, part of the "Belt and Road" initiative launched by China two years ago.

Xi's visit from Nov. 5 to 7 is expected to revitalize relations with the two countries and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), while helping build a strong foundation to create a community of common destiny among ASEAN nations, Zhang Dewei, former Chinese Ambassador to Vietnam said.

TIES TO NEW LEVEL

Relations between China and Vietnam sank to a low point last year due to disputes over the South China Sea, but frequent high-level contacts this year proved to warm ties.

Xi's visit to Vietnam comes at a time when the two countries are celebrating the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. It marks the first time a Chinese President has made an official visit to Vietnam in 10 years.

His trip is also reciprocal for previous visits to China by General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Nguyen Phu Trong and President Truong Tan Sang.

Although differences remain on the South China Sea issue, China and Vietnam know how to seek common ground while reserving differences, said Zhang. The tour will boost the "comradely and fraternal" relations between the two neighbors.

Xi's trip to Singapore also coincides with the 25th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations and Singapore's recent appointment as coordinator for the ASEAN-China Dialogue for the next three years.

China-Singapore relations have made great progress since the two countries built diplomatic ties 25 years ago, said Chinese Ambassador to Singapore Chen Xiaodong.

The two countries are working together to upgrade ties by furthering mutual trust, creating new engines for practical cooperation and deepening cultural exchanges, he said.

Both Vietnam and Singapore are important partners for building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and Xi's upcoming visit will help mitigate the negative impact caused by the South China Sea dispute, Zhang said. It will also help renew efforts to create a community of common destiny with ASEAN nations.

PLANNING THE FUTURE

Xi has repeatedly suggested aligning China's "Belt and Road" initiative with the development strategies of countries along the route.

During a visit to China in July, Singapore's President Tony Tan Keng Yam said he believed countries in the region will benefit from China's initiatives, including the "Belt and Road" and the recently created Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Tan said Singapore is happy to become a founding member of the AIIB and will participate in cooperation within the framework.

The two countries have agreed to speed up the negotiations of a third intergovernmental project focusing on modern connectivity and a modern service industry in West China, which is expected to be formally launched during Xi's visit.

Xi hopes it can be a demonstration project for China's "Belt and Road" initiative, Western Region Development and Yangtze River Economic Belt strategies.

Singapore and China also look forward to better financial cooperation to support projects under the "Belt and Road" initiative and increase access for Chinese companies to ASEAN markets through Singapore, a joint statement released in October said.

With soaring trade exchange, the two countries are looking forward to upgrading a bilateral free trade agreement.

To promote bilateral cooperation in production capacity, construction of cross-border economic cooperation zones, trade, infrastructure and investment, China and Vietnam also seek an alignment between the "Belt and Road" initiative and Vietnam's "Two Corridors and One Economic Circle" plan.

A joint study on the feasibility of a railway connecting Hanoi-Lao Cai-Hai Phong in northern Vietnam is the latest progress in the alignment of strategies.

During Trong's visit in April, China and Vietnam signed MOUs to form two working groups - one for infrastructure cooperation and one for finance and currency cooperation.

"I believe that with these working groups, the two countries can come up with tangible and workable cooperation plans on the building of infrastructure and transportation projects," said Vietnamese Ambassador to China Dang Minh Khoi.

BUILDING CHINA-ASEAN COMMUNITY OF COMMON DESTINY

The China-ASEAN Think Tank Nanning Consensus, a document created by scholars from across Asia in September this year, states that China-ASEAN cooperation plays a vital role in implementing the "Belt and Road" initiative.

Deepening China-ASEAN cooperation within the framework of the "Belt and Road" initiative is of great significance to upgrading the China-ASEAN FTA and building a closer China-ASEAN community of common destiny.

China is now ASEAN's largest trading partner, while ASEAN is China's third largest trading partner. Trade between the two increased 8.3 percent year on year to 480 billion U.S. dollars in 2014.

China aims to elevate bilateral trade with ASEAN members to 1 trillion U. S. dollars by 2020.

By the end of the year, the ASEAN Economic Community will be in place and the regional grouping, with a combined population of 600 million, will create huge business opportunities for many countries, including China.

"Vietnam stands ready to become a bridge in boosting trade and investment between ASEAN members and China," said Ambassador Khoi.

China-ASEAN relations are facing new opportunities as next year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the China-ASEAN dialogue and Singapore takes its turn as the coordinator country for China-ASEAN relations, said Chinese Vice PremierZhang Gaoli during his visit to Singapore in October.

As China cooperates on production capacity with ASEAN countries, Singapore, an international financial and commercial center with unique advantages in geography, finance and services, can participate in the form of trilateral or multilateral cooperation to promote the common development of the region.

Analysts believe that Xi's upcoming visit to Vietnam and Singapore will promote healthy and stable development of China-ASEAN strategic partnership so as to make greater contribution to regional development and prosperity.

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