China-ASEAN relationship still thrives: Premier Li

China-ASEAN relationship still thrives: Premier Li

Editor's note: Premier Li Keqiang gives joint written interview to media from ASEAN countries

Q: This year marks the 10th anniversary of China-ASEAN strategic partnership. How do you evaluate the achievements of this relationship over the past decade? What tangible benefits has this relationship brought to the two sides?

A: This year is indeed worthy of celebration for China and ASEAN. Ten years ago, China took the lead in acceding to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) and established the strategic partnership for peace and prosperity with ASEAN.

It was also the first time for China to establish a global strategic partnership with an organization of nations within this region, which highlights the importance of ASEAN on China's diplomatic agenda. Against the backdrop of evolving international situation and growing world economy amid adjustments over the past decade, China and ASEAN have seized the opportunities, advanced with the trend of peace and development, and opened a "golden decade" of cooperation.

Over the past decade, China and ASEAN have stayed committed to strategic dialogue, enhanced political mutual trust, and strengthened mutual understanding and support in many important international and regional affairs.

Over the past decade, China and ASEAN have advanced practical cooperation and set up the world's largest free trade area among developing countries. China is now ASEAN's biggest trading partner and ASEAN China's third-largest trading partner.

Last year, two-way trade exceeded $400 billion (S$500 billion) , five times that of ten years ago; mutual investment totaled over $100 billion, three times that of ten years ago.

Over the past decade, China and ASEAN have increased people-to-people and cultural exchanges. Exchange of visits reached 15 million last year, four times that of ten years ago. China has become ASEAN's second-largest source of tourists, and over 1,000 flights shuttle between the two sides every week.

Over the past decade, China and ASEAN have stood side by side in times of adversity. On the basis of successfully fending off the Asian financial crisis, the two sides properly responded to the international financial crisis, and helped each other in tackling such major natural disasters and epidemics as the Indian Ocean tsunamis, the SARS epidemic and earthquakes.

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