China Pledges Increased Engagement with SAARC

A senior Chinese official said here Wednesday that China will continue to deepen ties with South Asian countries and outlined extensive policies to engage on trade liberalization and development.

Greater engagement will take place in the coming years, said China's Deputy Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin, head of a delegation here attending the 18th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), to which China is an observers.

"China has put forward a series of initiatives ,(including) increasing trade between South Asia and China to 150 billion U.S. dollars and investment to 30 billion U.S. dollars in the next five years," he said at the gathering in Nepal's capital city Kathmandu.

"We are offering South Asian countries with 30 billion U.S. dollars in construction of roads, offering 10,000 scholarships, 5, 000 training opportunities and exchange programs for 5,000 youths and sending off 5,000 Chinese language teachers in South Asian countries in the next 5 years," he said.

China will implement the China-South Asia partnership initiatives in science and technology, he said, adding "We look forward to SAARC countries' active participation in these cooperation programs and we believe they will enrich China-SAARC cooperation."

Since last year China has put forward a host of policies including the Silk Road Economic Belt, the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the establishment of a 40 billion U.S. dollar fund to facilitate infrastructure projects for the Silk Road initiative.

China has been an observer of SAARC since 2006 and has pledged to increase engagement with the bloc. Eight others including the European Union, the U.S. and Australia are also observers.

Born in 1985 in Bangladesh, SAARC groups Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Source: Xinhua