Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said in Jakarta on Saturday that his government would support ASEAN’s bid to play a greater role in the East Asia Summit.
The East Asia Summit is a meeting of the 10 ASEAN member states along with China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. The summit, scheduled for Oct. 11, will feature two new members, the USA and Russia.
“East Asia cooperation will develop only if ASEAN plays a dominant role,” the prime minister said during a speech attended by Indonesian ministers, legislators, ambassadors and university students.
He announced a target to grow trade between China and ASEAN to US$500 billion by 2015.
“China supports the import of quality products from and investment in ASEAN countries in order to expand the economic pie for mutual benefit,” he said, adding that the formalization of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area (ACTFA) would be advantageous for the government and people of both parties.
He also addressed cooperation between Indonesia and China, agreed upon with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, including on increasing economic cooperation to $80 billion by 2015 and extending a $1 billion soft loan.
Wen also spoke of social and cultural cooperation in the field of education and tourism to strengthen relations between China and ASEAN. He said he hoped that by 2020, 100,000 students from ASEAN would study in China and as many as 15 million people would be cross the borders between the regions, therefore boosting tourism.
“China is sincerely willing to unconditionally support ASEAN countries that are still developing,” he said.
China would help those developing countries by ensuring the availability of a skilled labor force and the advancement of science and technology, Wen added.
“China and ASEAN need to hold hands in creating a stable region because amity will bring luck while chaos brings destruction,” he said, adding that China was ready to ensure the security of transportation near the Malacca Strait.