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Strategic Perspectives on the One Belt, One Road and ASEAN: Achievements, Challenges, Opportunities and Future Direction

By Dr. Sok Siphana

China and ASEAN are looking to achieve a two-way investment goal of USD150 billion by 2020. Both sides are now working toward upgrading the ASEAN-China FTA in order to spur additional trade growth. They are intensifying the negotiation process of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in the hopes of concluding it this year, all the while working in parallel to complete the ASEAN-Hong Kong FTA.

ASEAN and China have encouraged greater participation of the private sector to increase business, tourism, and cultural exchanges. Concretely, the China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, the China-South Asia Expo in Kunming, the ASEAN-China Centre in Beijing, the China-ASEAN Business Summits, the ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Roadshow (just to name the main ones), have drawn great interest from both business communities to promote their products and to develop commercial partnerships. Taken as a whole, these regular activities play an important role in strengthening trade and investment ties by accelerating economic exchanges between ASEAN and China.

It is interesting to note that 2016 marks the 25th Anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations. Both sides have coordinated their efforts to boost their economic, trade and investment cooperation as well as enhancing connectivity, particularly in infrastructure development and transport.

Socio-cultural Area

In the socio-cultural area, ASEAN and China have promoted cooperation in social, cultural, education, tourism and people-to-people contacts, including exchanges between youth, academics, media organisations and non-governmental organisations, with the aim of enhancing mutual understanding and awareness among the peoples. Moreover, they have collaborated to coordinate their responses against global and regional challenges such as natural disaster management responses through the exchange of information, early warning, and experience sharing on disaster rescue and relief.

In sum, the ASEAN-China strategic partnership is most dynamic and comprehensive when it comes to the overall external relations of ASEAN with their development partners.

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