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Cover Stories Series 2013> Friendship First> Archive
UPDATED: September 16, 2013 NO. 38 SEPTEMBER 19, 2013
The 'Diamond' Decade
China and ASEAN's ambitious plans to bolster their economic ties could turn the Asia-Pacific into the world's largest free trade area
By Zhou Xiaoyan

Proposals by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Pushing Forward China-ASEAN Economic Cooperation and Development

- To create an upgraded version of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area

Both sides can consider deepening talks on further lowering tariff rates, cutting non-tariff-related measures, launching dialogues for a new round of service trade pledges, and pushing forward measures to improve investment, including easing restrictions on travel

- To boost mutual connectivity

The two sides need to speed up cooperation in boosting mutual connectivity in areas such as roads, railways, water transport, aviation, telecommunication and energy. More efforts will be made to facilitate the gradual launch and construction of Pan-Asia Railway network and effectively carry out certain key projects. While stepping up the "hardware link," China and ASEAN will also beef up efforts to boost "software connection," such as information exchange, customs clearance and quality control, in order to create conditions for the gradual building of a more connected Asia.

- To boost financial cooperation

The Chinese side is willing to continue to work with ASEAN members to strengthen a regional financial security network, promote the implementation of the bilateral local-currency swap agreement, encourage cross-border trade and investment settlements in local currencies, facilitate ASEAN institutions to invest in Chinese bond markets and constantly improve early-warning and bail-out mechanisms regarding regional financial risks.

- To carry out maritime cooperation

This is a key field for the two sides to expand cooperation. The Chinese side proposes to set up the China-ASEAN maritime partnership. We have allocated 3 billion yuan ($490 million) in setting up the China-ASEAN maritime cooperation fund. We are doing research in carrying on a series of cooperation projects, giving priority to the construction of fishery bases, environmental protection, seafood production and trade, navigation safety, search and rescue, and the facilitation of maritime transportation.

- To promote people-to-people and cultural exchanges

The Chinese side hopes to designate 2014 as China-ASEAN Friendly Exchange Year. China will offer 15,000 government scholarships for ASEAN countries in the next three to five years. China will also invest in a special fund for regional cooperation to deepen people-to-people and cultural ties.

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