Li sees opportunities despite dispute

Updated: 2013-09-03 02:03

By Ding Qingfen in Nanning and Zhang Yunbi in Beijing (China Daily)

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Nguyen Tan Dung echoed Li's proposal for properly handling maritime issues, and he said Hanoi has always placed the highest diplomatic priority on the relationship with Beijing.

Ruan Zongze, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said one of the recipes for converting maritime challenges into opportunities is the better use of the China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund.

"China provided 3 billion yuan ($490 million) for the fund, and there is great room to boost the efficiency of utilizing the fund for cooperation, including search and rescue," Ruan said.

China and ASEAN established a strategic partnership in 2003, and the two announced the start of a free trade area in 2010. Li said the relationship has become "a role model" of neighborly friendship and cooperation.

ASEAN has gradually realized that its meetings are not intended for bickering about maritime disputes, and relevant disputes in the South China Sea should only be discussed "within the scope of bilateral reconciliation" between contending parties, said Qi Jianguo, former Chinese ambassador to Vietnam.

By the end of June, China's direct investment in ASEAN totaled nearly $30 billion, and direct investment from ASEAN into China exceeded $80 billion.

China was the largest trade partner for ASEAN, and the region was the third-largest trade partner for China. China-ASEAN trade topped $210 billion in the first half, growing 12.2 percent year-on-year.

Beijing vows to achieve an updated version of the China-ASEAN free trade area and establish a platform for Asian infrastructure investment and funding, Li said.

Boosting "connectivity" in the region became a catchphrase during the Chinese premier's meeting with his counterparts on Monday.

"To explore a better performance of the free trade zone, road construction projects are expected to be implemented to facilitate the logistics sector and business travel, and better information connectivity is also on the agenda," Yang said.

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