Xi's Southeast Asia Tour Boosts Asia-Pacific Regional Cooperation


A New Stage in China-ASEAN Relations

Indonesia is a developing country and an important emerging market economy, as well as the largest member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Malaysia, another important ASEAN member, is China’s largest trading partner within the organization. Enhancing China’s relationship with the two countries has been the focal point of China’s foreign policy in this region.

During his visits, Xi held in-depth talks with his counterparts of the two countries that deepened mutual understanding, friendship and trust between them. In agreement, they decided to upgrade China-Indonesia and China-Malaysia relationships to a comprehensive strategic partnership and maintain frequent exchange of high-level visits and strengthen the top-level design of bilateral ties.

China signed a five-year program for economic and trade cooperation with the two countries respectively, which dovetails the development strategies of both sides and defines their new cooperation objectives and key fields. The programs propose to increase China’s trade with Indonesia to US $80 billion by 2015 and to US $160 billion with Malaysia by 2017. All parties agreed to maintain and further expand the scale of bilateral currency exchange. In their agreement, China-Indonesia cooperation will develop from the original areas of space and marine conservation to outer space exploration, while China and Malaysia agreed to build up China’s Qinzhou and Malaysia’s Kuantan industrial parks into flagship hubs for bilateral investment and cooperation.

In the early 15th century, renowned Chinese nevigator Zheng He visited Indonesia and Malaysia on numerous occasions during his explorative voyages; thus began the earliest exchanges between China and the two countries. During his tour, Xi referred to Zheng He’s visits several times, quoting classic stories from the time to invoke the sense of lasting friendship between the people of the countries who have shared weal and woe throughout history.

Commentators in Indonesia and Malaysia spoke highly of Xi’s visits and regarded them as a new milestone for bilateral ties. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono indicated his intention to rev up his country’s cooperation with China and seek common development by seizing the opportunity of heightened bilateral relations. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak declared China a trustworthy friend for Malaysia.


New Objectives

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of a strategic partnership between China and ASEAN. The bilateral relations have entered a new historical stage.

In his visits, Xi expounded China’s policy and clarified the long-term development objective of China-ASEAN relations. He pointed out that China and ASEAN nations share common goals in their development, have a mutual interest in maintaining regional prosperity and stability, and common grounds in international and regional affairs. Xi stressed that China always champions the philosophy of a friendly neighborhood and partnerships, and values trustworthiness, harmony and cooperation for win-win results in the region. China hopes to be a good neighbor, ally and partner of ASEAN countries and is willing to negotiate with them on treaties of hospitality and friendly cooperation in order to build a more closely-knit China-ASEAN community that sticks together through thick and thin. China will further open up to ASEAN, upgrade the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, and strive to expand bilateral trade volume to US $1 trillion by 2020. China also proposed to establish an Asian infrastructure investment bank to promote interconnections within the region. In addition, China is ready to strengthen maritime cooperation with ASEAN nations and jointly build a “maritime Silk Road” of the 21st century.

Xi’s visits conveyed China’s intention to contribute to the welfare of the community. The visits certainly injected fresh impetus to China-ASEAN cooperation.


Leading APEC toward New Growth

The APEC is a high-level economic cooperation organization with the largest membership and the strongest influence in the Asia-Pacific region. Under the new conditions, it is widely concerned with maintaining a vibrant economy and leading regional cooperation. Indonesia, as host of the latest meeting, set the theme of the forum: “Resilient Asia-Pacific, Engine of Global Growth.” The major topics included realizing the Bogor Goals that aim for free and open trade and investment, sustainable and equitable growth, and inter-connectivity across the Asia-Pacific. These issues are closely related to the long-term growth of the region.

Chinese President Xi Jinping identified the trends in global and Asia-Pacific economies, calling for the maintenance and development of an open economy and the promotion of a regional development pattern marked by coordinated policies, linked growth and integrated interests. He proposed to deepen economic reform, oppose trade protectionism, and build up connectivity between the two sides of the Pacific. By spotlighting the challenges of the region as well as its goals for future development, these proposals set out optimum conditions for the Asia-Pacific region to continue its role as an engine of the global economy. Xi urged the Asia-Pacific economies to strengthen coordination in macro policies and various free trade zones, and promote the APEC’s role in coordination and leadership by sticking to the principles of openness, diversity, cooperation and win-win results. Xi also announced some key points on China’s hosting of the 2014 APEC economic leaders’ meeting, expecting to take this opportunity to deepen cooperation among the Asia-Pacific economies, build a closer partnership toward the future, and jointly illustrate the long-term prospects for the development of the region.


Promising Chinese Economic Development

As for the prospects of the Chinese economy, the President summarized on several occasions its positive development trend marked by stability and steady progress. He elaborated on the new initiatives of deepening the policies of reform and opening-up, and stressed that China is fast-tracking its economic restructure, with emphasis on improving its quality and effectiveness. Xi was full of confidence in the sustainable and healthy development of the Chinese economy.

Xi stressed that China is committed to the Chinese dream of great rejuvenation. He said the Chinese dream is closely connected with Asian people’s vision of peace, prosperity and happiness, and affirmed that China brings development opportunities and not challenges to Asia and the world. He concluded by saying that China is willing to share development achievements with ASEAN, Asia and the world.

Xi delivered a strong and clear signal that has boosted the confidence of the outside world regarding China’s economic development. All parties spoke highly of this and the key role it plays in promoting prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and the world.

President Yudhoyono said that China and Indonesia “share the same dream, though on different beds.” Prime Minister Razak said Malaysia believed that China would maintain a strong growth momentum, and that the vision of Asian development is closely related to the Chinese dream. Xi’s speech was also commended by Malaysian Supreme Head of State, Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah, who said that Chinese economic development has huge potential to inject vitality into the global economy. Yingluck Shinawatra, Prime Minister of Thailand, praised China’s insistence on reform and opening-up, and spoke highly of China’s economic development policies for the ASEAN network. Newly elected Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbott said China maintains an economic growth that is the envy of all countries. The overriding sentiment of the tour was that China’s increasing national power is good news for the world, not a threat.