Chi­nese premier’s Philip­pines visit to pro­mote co­op­er­a­tion with ASEAN neigh­bors

Global Times US Edition - - ASIANREVIEW - The ar­ti­cle is from the Xinhua News Agency. opin­ion@ glob­al­times.com.cn

Chi­nese Premier Li Ke­qiang Sun­day left for an of­fi­cial visit to the Philip­pines, where he will at­tend an an­nual meet­ing with lead­ers of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN), among other pro­grams.

Given the joint ef­forts of China and ASEAN over the past year to ex­pand their con­sen­sus and man­age dif­fer­ences, Li will feel greater ease at this year’s East Asia sum­mits, ob­servers say.

Dur­ing his five-day stay in Philip­pine cap­i­tal Manila, Li’s tight sched­ule will in­clude at­ten­dance at the 20th Chi­naASEAN (10+1) lead­ers’ meet­ing, the 20th ASEAN-China, Ja­pan and South Korea (10+3) lead­ers’ meet­ing, as well as the 12th East Asia Sum­mit. The ob­jec­tive of all these events is to boost re­gional co­op­er­a­tion in East Asia.

As the world econ­omy faces a mul­ti­tude of chal­lenges with the West lean­ing to­ward uni­lat­er­al­ism and trade pro­tec­tion­ism, East Asian coun­tries how­ever have steadily ad­vanced re­gional co­op­er­a­tion and main­tained strong mo­men­tum of re­gional growth, Ruan Zongze, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of the China In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, said.

This is Li’s first over­seas trip fol­low­ing the 19th Na­tional Congress of the Com­mu­nist Party of China (CPC) in Oc­to­ber.

He will give a brief­ing on the spirit of the Congress, China’s ma­jor coun­try diplo­macy in the new era, and China’s pol­icy and stance on East Asian co­op­er­a­tion, As­sis­tant For­eign Min­is­ter Chen Xiaodong said at a press con­fer­ence ahead of the visit.

Li will also pro­pose nearly 30 new ini­tia­tives to deepen prac­ti­cal co­op­er­a­tion on in­ter­con­nec­tiv­ity, food se­cu­rity, poverty re­duc­tion, tourism and anti-cor­rup­tion, Chen added.

These pro­pos­als pro­mote the align­ment of the Belt and Road ini­tia­tive with ASEAN’s de­vel­op­ment strate­gies.

Li will also at­tend the lead­ers’ meet­ing on Re­gional Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Part­ner- ship (RCEP), a free trade pact in­volv­ing the 10 ASEAN mem­bers and six other coun­tries – China, In­dia, Ja­pan, South Korea, Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

Given the set­back to ne­go­ti­a­tions on the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship and other re­gional free trade deals, more and more coun­tries are look­ing at the RCEP, Zhai Kun, a pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions with Pek­ing Univer­sity, said.

China is pro­mot­ing the RCEP, which shows its re­solve to pro­mote re­gional co­op­er­a­tion in East Asia, Zhai added.

Li’s visit to the Philip­pines is the first by a Chi­nese premier in a decade.

The Philip­pines is China’s friendly neigh­bor and an im­por­tant part­ner, yet bi­lat­eral re­la­tions were once over­shad­owed by a South China Sea ar­bi­tra­tion dis­pute ini­ti­ated by the pre­vi­ous Philip­pine gov­ern­ment.

The visit is ex­pected to “ad­vance bi­lat­eral ties in a new era and pro­mote build­ing a new type of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions as well as a com­mu­nity of shared fu­ture for mankind,” Chen said.

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