Diplomats and scholars in Beijing hail the two agreements to be signed
between China and the ASEAN during the upcoming meetings in Vientiane, capital
of Laos, as a "major step" towards the Asian integration.
"The signing of the two agreements will be not only a breakthrough in the
process of negotiation of China-ASEAN free trade area (FTA), but also enhance
political trust between China and the ASEAN nations," said Dato'A. K. Majid,
chairman of the ASEAN Committee of Beijing here Tuesday.
The agreements on goods trade and on establishing an arbitration mechanism
will be submitted to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
From Nov. 28 to 30, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will attend the meetings
including the eighth summit between the ASEAN and China, and between the ASEAN
and China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, as well as the sixth China, Japan
and ROK summit. The signing of the two agreements has been viewed as one of the
important purposes of Wen's tour.
The agreements on goods trade will pave the way for the full establishment of
the FTA, which include the negotiation on goods, and service trade as well as
investment, Majid said.
Jin Linbo, director of the Division of Asia-Pacific Studies of the China
Institute of International Studies, said China and ASEAN may sign agreements in
such fields as service and investment gradually following the signing of the
goods trade pact.
As for the agreement on disputes settlement mechanism, Jin said it will be a
further step for security cooperation between China and the ASEAN since the
signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in
"It provides basis for all parties to solve questions left over and trade
conflicts, which is conducive to regional peace," he noted. Majid said an
orderly and agreed disputes settlement mechanism will "ensure minimum
disruptions to trade".
In the upcoming ASEAN relevant meetings, China and the ASEAN will continue to
prioritize five major areas, namely agriculture, information technology, human
resource development, two-way investment and the Mekong river exploration.
The two sides are complementary, although they have similar economic
development mode in certain areas, such as processing and light industries,
Khamvone Phanouvong, consular of Laos to China mentioned the cooperation
between China and the ASEAN on culture, education and tourism. He said some of
26 documents to be passed in the upcoming meetings are focusing on the above
The ASEAN, with 10 members from the Southeast Asia, was established in 1967.
Since China became the ASEAN's dialogue partner in 1996, the bilateral
cooperation, especially economy andtrade, have witnessed a comprehensive
The ASEAN is China's fifth biggest trading partner, and the bilateral trade
volumes in the first 10 months of this year hit 84.61 billion US dollars, up
35.2 percent over the same period of last year.
China has developed a strategic partnership oriented to peace and prosperity
with the ASEAN, and is the only major power outside the ASEAN to join the Treaty
of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia.
Premier Wen's tour will further enhance political trust between China and the
ASEAN, and lay the foundation for future cooperation,said Majid. China's foreign
policy with neighboring countries is "positive", he said, which helps its
neighbors develop economy and maintains regional peace and stability. "China's
development is not a threat but a benefit to the ASEAN."
Besides attending the ASEAN relevant meeting, Wen will also payan official
visit to Laos. Wen is expected to hold talks with Prime Minister of Laos
Boungnang Vorachit during the visit.
"The visit will be a milestone for the Laos-China relations," said Khamvone
Facing globalization and economic integration, it is imperative to strengthen
regional cooperation, and China and the ASEAN, both are in a critical period for
development, should enhance economic cooperation and solve the left-over
problems to push forward the relationship to create favorable external
environment, Jin said.