Chinese VP's speech at ninth China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit and 2012 Forum on China-ASEAN Free Trade Area Friday, September 21, 2012

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping on Friday delivered a speech at the opening ceremony of the ninth China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit and 2012 Forum on China-ASEAN Free Trade Area.

The following is a translated version of Xi's speech:

Work Together Towards Deeper Cooperation and Sustained Development

Address by H.E. Xi Jinping

Vice President of the People's Republic of China

At the Opening Ceremony of the ninth China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit and 2012 Forum on China-ASEAN Free Trade Area

Nanning, 21 September 2012

Your Excellency President U Thein Sein,

Your Excellency Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong,

Your Excellency Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung,

Your Excellency Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin,

Your Excellency Deputy Prime Minister Kittirat Na-Ranong,

Distinguished Guests from ASEAN countries,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

It is a great pleasure to join you in Nanning, China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region for the opening ceremony of the ninth China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit and the 2012 Forum on China-ASEAN Free trade Area on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Framework Agreement on China-ASEAN Comprehensive Economic Cooperation. Let me begin by extending, on behalf of President Hu Jintao and the government and people of China, our warmest congratulations on the opening of the Summit and Forum and our sincere welcome to all the participating leaders of the ASEAN countries and other distinguished guests present today.

Since 2004, the China-ASEAN Expo and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit have been held eight times and attended by an accumulative 42 Chinese and ASEAN state leaders, more than 1500 ministers and VIPs and over 300,000 business visitors. The achievements we have jointly made over the years fully show that the Expo and Summit, built jointly by China and the ten ASEAN countries, are not only a major platform for effective cooperation in economic, trade and other areas, but also a big booster for the development of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area. Bringing tangible benefits to the enterprises and people of the two sides, they are playing a more and more important role in China-ASEAN cooperation.

With a time-honored friendship, China and ASEAN countries opened a new chapter in their relations in the early 1990s with the establishment of dialogue relations. We are glad to see that over the past 20 years and more, China and ASEAN countries have supported each other on the basis of equality and mutual respect and achieved common development. Our relations have taken a historic leap from being comprehensive dialogue partners and good-neighborly partners of mutual trust to being strategic partners sharing extensive common interests. With our political trust strengthening steadily, our trade growing rapidly, our economic integration deepening, and our connectivity picking up speed, China-ASEAN cooperation holds out a bright future of increasingly solid and extensive development.

We are always committed to friendship and good-neighborliness, resulting in enhanced mutual understanding and mutual trust. The continued growth of China-ASEAN relations shows clearly that China's diplomacy has lived up to the principle of building amity and partnership with neighbors. Among ASEAN's dialogue partners, China is the first to have established a strategic partnership and the first to have started the FTA process. Leaders of China and ASEAN countries have visited each other like family members, and visits to ASEAN countries by Chinese leaders are almost annual events. On major international and regional issues, the two sides have maintained close communication and coordination and worked jointly safeguarding the interests of developing countries.

We are always committed to mutually-beneficial development, resulting in growing gains in trade and economic cooperation. Two-way trade between China and ASEAN surged from seven billion U.S. dollars in the early days of our dialogue relations to 362.8 billion last year, registering an average annual growth of over 20 percent. Since China-ASEAN FTA was launched in 2010, our win-win cooperation in the economy and trade has displayed even greater vitality. China has been ASEAN's largest trading partner for three consecutive years and ASEAN has become China's third largest trading partner. We are also each other's major partners of investment, with two-way investment growing steadily. By last July, investment between the two sides had totaled nearly 100 billion U.S. dollars. What is more, China has provided financial support to ASEAN to the best of its abilities by setting up the China-ASEAN Investment Cooperation Fund and making concessional loans, facilitating economic development in ASEAN countries.

We are always committed to common development and steadily improving cooperation mechanisms in the various fields. As China-ASEAN business cooperation expands and deepens, new requirements have been raised for bilateral cooperation in other areas. At present, having successfully completed the first five-year plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity, China and ASEAN are conducting mutually-beneficial cooperation in over 20 areas. The two sides have set up 12 ministerial meeting mechanisms, established the China-ASEAN Expo, China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, ASEAN-China Center, China-ASEAN Environmental Cooperation Center, China-ASEAN Education Cooperation Week and other cooperation platforms, and brought about a pattern of comprehensive, multi-tiered and wide-ranging cooperation.

We are always committed to working closely together to overcome difficulties and challenges. China and ASEAN countries have not only had common interests but also shared common stakes. From tackling the Asian financial crisis to addressing the impact of the international financial crisis, from fighting the Indian Ocean tsunami to responding to the SARS epidemic and the mega earthquake in China' s Wenchuan, people of the two sides have stood alongside each other and shared weal and woe. The Chinese people will never forget the selfless assistance from the people of ASEAN countries in the aftermath of the Wenchuan earthquake. Nor will we ever forget the trying journey that China and ASEAN countries have taken together to turn challenges into opportunities and pressure into strength in the face of the Asian financial crisis and the international financial crisis. As distance tests a horse' s stamina, so time reveals a person's heart. China-ASEAN friendship has stood the test of time and emerged even stronger.

What has happened proves and will continue to prove that China and ASEAN are good neighbors enjoying solidarity, friendship and mutual trust, and that we are good partners with mutually complementary advantages and capacity for win-win cooperation. The friendship and good neighborly cooperation between us have not only brought about economic and social development in our own countries and delivered enormous benefits to our peoples, but also contributed significantly to sustained and steady economic development in East Asia and Asia as a whole.

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Editor: Yang Lina
Source: Xinhua