BEIJING: China’s Belt and Road initiative, highlighted during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Vietnam and Singapore last week, is set to boost bilateral ties and facilitate trade and investment between China and Asian nations.
The deepening cooperation on the Belt and Road with the two countries, major members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and key areas along the routes, will expand and upgrade economic relations, analysts said.
The Belt and Road was proposed by China in 2013 as a trade and infrastructure network. It will connect Asia to Europe and Africa through the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st CenturyMaritime Silk Road.
During Xi’s three-day trip, China and Vietnam reached consensus on expanding cooperation within the framework of the initiative and Vietnam’s “Two Corridors and One Economic Circle” plan, as well as on production capacity cooperation.
In a 20-point statement, China and Singapore agreed to cooperate in Belt and Road construction, trade, city planning, education and customs, among others.
Song Hong, researcher with the Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the Belt and Road will generate fresh opportunities and infrastructure cooperation that will boost integration of China and ASEAN economies.
Sharing a land border of over 1,000 km, China and Vietnam have been in close contact on infrastructure cooperation with new express roads and railways starting operations almost every year.
A joint communique issued Friday said the two countries have reached an agreement on a feasibility study of the Hanoi-Lao Cai-Hai Phong Railway in northern Vietnam.
New railways in Vietnam are only part of the infrastructure improvement in Southeast Asia asChina promotes the ambitious Trans-Asian Railway that will connect Laos, Malaysia, Thailandand Vietnam.
“Thanks to improved infrastructure, logistics are cheaper and faster, along the routes,” Huo Jianguo, former president of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.
Echoing his remarks, Song recognized brightening prospects of China-ASEAN cooperation and cited fresh opportunities in capital-intensive industries,like energy,cement and steel,and labor-intensive sectors including textiles and garments.
“Those industries are mature in China, will help the industrial upgrade of ASEAN members and are the best choice for cooperation,” Song said.