BEIJING, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) — Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying said Sunday that China is ready to promote maritime connectivity with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Fu made the remarks in an interview with Xinhua on China-ASEAN ties.
She said China will make full use of the 3 billion yuan (473 million U.S. dollars) China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund and enhance port and maritime transport cooperation with ASEAN.
“To that end, China will host a seminar on China-ASEAN maritime connectivity strategy in the second half of this year,” she noted.
Fu said China is actively preparing for the establishment of a China-ASEAN Committee on Connectivity Cooperation.
Apart from maritime connectivity, China has made efforts to link more closely with ASEAN over land.
“In recent years, leaders of both sides have repeatedly emphasized the need to advance connectivity as a key priority area for China-ASEAN cooperation,” Fu said.
China, she said, has made much effort for the construction of the Kunming-Bangkok Highway, which links China’s southwestern Yunnan province to Thailand.
China not only completed its own section of the highway, but also provided assistance for the construction of the Laotian section and the cross-Mekong river bridge linking Laos and Thailand, she said.
Fu said efforts will also be made to promote institutional and “soft” connectivity by improving trade facilitation, simplifying customs procedures, and strengthening inspection and quarantine.
“China has been consistently dedicated to common development and mutual benefits with ASEAN,” she said.
China-ASEAN trade volume rose from less than 10 billion U.S. dollars in 1991 to 362.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2011, representing an average annual increase of more than 20 percent. China has become the largest trading partner for ASEAN, and ASEAN is the third largest for China.
Fu said China is ready to work with ASEAN to enhance mutual trust, implement the Second Five-Year Plan of Action and strengthen cooperation in Free Trade Agreement, connectivity, maritime cooperation, and in social and cultural fields, so to raise China-ASEAN strategic partnership to a new level.
“It has been China’s foreign policy priority to strengthen good-neighborly friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation with ASEAN,” she said.