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China ready to bolster Belt and Road cooperation

By XU WEI, SHI RUIPENG   09:25, September 19, 2023

Premier Li Qiang addresses the opening ceremony of the 20th China-ASEAN Expo and the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit on Sunday in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. Yao Dawei / Xinhua

Premier Li Qiang stressed China's readiness to bolster Belt and Road cooperation and uphold the centrality of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in regional affairs during separate meetings with leaders of Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia over the weekend.

Li was in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, to attend and address the opening ceremony of the 20th China-ASEAN Expo and the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit on Sunday.

In Nanning, he met with Lao Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and Indonesian Vice-President Ma'ruf Amin on Saturday. He met with Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim on Sunday.

During the meeting with Sonexay, Li said that China is willing to continue with the high-quality construction of the Belt and Road with Laos and promote the continuous improvement of bilateral cooperation.

Both sides should further unleash the potential of the China-Laos Railway in spurring the development of both countries, Li said, adding that China supports Laos in enhancing its domestic development capabilities.

The premier expressed China's willingness to import more high-quality Lao products and strengthen people-to-people exchanges to promote mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples.

He pledged support to Laos as the rotating chair of ASEAN next year, saying that Beijing stands ready to work with Laos to push forward with the building of a community with a shared future between China and ASEAN.

Sonexay expressed appreciation for China's support for the socioeconomic growth of Laos, saying that his country firmly adheres to the one-China principle and supports Beijing in safeguarding its core interests.

During talks with the Vietnamese prime minister, Li said that China stands ready to import more high-quality Vietnamese products that are suitable for the Chinese market, explore the upgrading of border ports and accelerate the construction of smart ports to facilitate trade between the two countries.

Li called upon both sides to strengthen cooperation over rail connectivity and key minerals and jointly forge a system of mutually beneficial, stable and unimpeded industrial and supply chains.

Both sides should adhere to dialogue and consultation to manage differences and work together firmly to uphold fairness and justice, Li said.

Pham Minh Chinh said that Vietnam and China are comrades and brothers, and the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between Hanoi and Beijing is Vietnam's oldest, highest-level and most prioritized foreign relationship.

Vietnam's development of foreign relations will not harm the interests of third parties, and his country adheres to the one-China principle and supports China's development, he said.

While meeting with Indonesian Vice-President Ma'ruf Amin, Li said that Beijing and Jakarta must prioritize cooperation over initiatives including Regional Comprehensive Economic Corridor and the "Two Countries, Twin Parks", and seek closer exchanges, and cooperation in education, culture, tourism, youth and sports.

China is also willing to strengthen multilateral cooperation with Indonesia, jointly uphold the unity and centrality of ASEAN, and maintain the correct direction of East Asian cooperation, he added.

The Indonesian leader expressed readiness to deepen bilateral cooperation in economy, trade and people-to-people exchanges and enhance coordination and mutual support in regional and multilateral affairs.

During the talks with Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim on Sunday, Li highlighted China's readiness to better align development strategies, continue with the high-quality building of Belt and Road and ensure the sound implementation of landmark cooperation projects.