People visit the 20th China-ASEAN Expo at Nanning International Convention and Exhibition Center in Nanning, capital of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Sept. 17, 2023. (Xinhua/Zhou Hua)
NANNING, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- ASEAN leaders attending the ongoing 20th China-ASEAN Expo highlighted the achievements of China-ASEAN cooperation and expressed optimism about China's economic development prospects.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh noted that China's sustained high-speed growth over the past decades has contributed significantly to global economic growth and stability, making it an important driving force for the world economy.
Pham Minh Chinh made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the expo in Nanning, the capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, south China.
"ASEAN countries, including Vietnam, have always appreciated and highly valued China's important contribution to cooperation and common prosperity in the region," he said. He also noted that China has consistently played the role of a responsible major country, acting as a stabilizer of regional economic stability.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative and the 20th anniversary of the China-ASEAN Expo. Official data shows that the bilateral trade volume between China and ASEAN had increased from about 100 billion U.S. dollars in 2004 to 975.34 billion U.S. dollars in 2022. China has been the ASEAN bloc's largest trading partner for 14 consecutive years, while ASEAN has been China's largest trading partner for three consecutive years.
At the expo, multiple leaders voiced their commitment to further strengthening cooperation with China to promote their own countries' development and regional economic integration.
Laotian Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone noted that Laos-China infrastructure cooperation has yielded tangible results, adding that the China-Laos Railway, in particular, has not only strengthened connectivity between Laos and China but also facilitated economic, trade, investment, and tourism development in the region.
Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim emphasized the strong and dynamic economic and trade relations between China and ASEAN. He noted that China has long been Malaysia's major export destination, and he anticipates that practical cooperation between Malaysia and China will only strengthen in the future.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet noted that the close relationship between ASEAN and China demonstrates the benefits of enhanced multilateral cooperation.
In the future, ASEAN and China need to deepen cooperation through greater market openness, strengthened connectivity, and enhanced supply chain resilience, Hun Manet said, adding that increased investment and technical cooperation are needed to enable developing countries to benefit from free and multilateral trade. ■