NANNING, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- Experts attending a think tank forum called on China and ASEAN to make full use of existing cross-regional, regional and subregional initiatives to enhance the development of both sides.
More than 200 experts and scholars from China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) took part in the 12th China-ASEAN Think Tank Strategic Dialogue Forum, which was held Tuesday in Nanning, the capital city of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Yang Xiuping, a member of the Public Diplomacy Advisory Panel of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said China-ASEAN relations have entered a new stage of all-round development. Guided by the China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership Vision 2030, the two sides will jointly build the Belt and Road with high quality and expand cooperation in areas such as connectivity, smart cities and the digital economy.
Bobby M. Tuazon, director of Policy Studies at the Center for People Empowerment in Governance of the Philippines, said relations between China and the Philippines have developed to a higher level and that China is a major partner not only in trade but also in investment and infrastructure.
"China is an important trading partner. China and ASEAN play an important role in upholding the multilateral trading system," said Nguyen Quoc Truong, director of the Department for Service Development Strategies at the Vietnam Institute for Development Strategy of the Ministry of Planning and Investment of Vietnam.
Statistics show that China remained ASEAN's largest trading partner, with the trade between the two increasing to 587.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2018. In the first half of this year, bilateral import and export trade volume reached 291.85 billion U.S. dollars, an increase of 4.2 percent year-on-year, making ASEAN China's second-largest trading partner.
Zhang Yantong, deputy head of the Counsellors' Office of the State Council, said China and ASEAN should seize the opportunities brought by relevant initiatives and cooperation frameworks and deepen cooperation in industry, tourism, people-to-people and cultural exchanges to build a closer community of shared future between China and ASEAN.
The forum was sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Counsellors' Office of the State Council, and the regional government of Guangxi.