China, the host country of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forums in 2014, announced on Tuesday the theme and priorities of the organisation's meetings of economic leaders, which observers said will help sustain the region's economic growth.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China proposed the theme "Shaping the Future through Asia-Pacific Partnership" in the hope of strengthening relations across the Pacific, jointly addressing challenges and seeking long-term development in the Asia-Pacific region.
Wang made the remarks at the APEC Informal Senior Officials' Meeting on Tuesday in Beijing. The two-day meeting, which began on Monday, marked the debut of China's rotating APEC chairmanship in 2014.
China also underlined three key priorities for next year's meetings of economic leaders: advancing regional economic integration; promoting innovative development, economic reform and growth; and strengthening comprehensive connectivity and infrastructure development, Wang said.
Wang Yusheng, China's former senior APEC official, said the priorities China proposed address a traditional but increasingly urgent task with the group - sustaining the region's vibrant economic growth, which has outpaced progress in connectivity and infrastructure development.
"As the world's economic powerhouse, Asia must have strong development. But its limited connectivity and infrastructure construction may threaten its leading role," he said.
The 21-member APEC, which accounts for about half of global trade, has seen faster growth than the rest of the world over the past decade.
According to the International Monetary Fund, APEC's economies as a whole are expected to grow 6.3 per cent in 2013 and 6.6 per cent in 2014. China grew 7.8 per cent in the third quarter this year.
Wang, the former APEC official, said that with APEC's "shared destiny", China has enough experience and willingness to help the other APEC members with infrastructure construction, and better regional connectivity will also boost China's development.
Lu Jianren, chief research fellow at the China-ASEAN Research Institute at Guangxi University, said Southeast Asian countries especially harbour a strong desire to upgrade transportation, but money has always been a headache.
The Asian Development Bank estimated investment demand for infrastructure development of the Asian economies between 2010 and 2020 at US$8 trillion (S$10 trillion) with an additional US$290 billion for regional projects.
The establishment of an Asian investment bank to finance infrastructure construction would ease the problem. And the proposal made by President Xi Jinping in October is likely to see progress next year, observers said.
China's chairmanship will also satisfy the world's curiosity about the country's news reforms laid out by the Third Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, which ended on Nov 12, Lu added.
China took over the APEC chairmanship from Indonesia in October. The 2014 APEC economic leaders' meeting will be held at Yanqi Lake, a scenic spot about 50 km northeast of downtown Beijing, in the fall.