Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday highlighted the growing maturity and stability of relations between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and said ASEAN has become China's largest trading partner.
Li made the remarks in a speech at the 23rd China-ASEAN leaders' meeting, which was held Thursday afternoon via video link.
In the face of the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic, China and ASEAN have joined hands to fight the virus, enhancing cooperation and sharing experience in epidemic control, he said.
China and ASEAN were among the first to open "fast tracks" and "green lanes" to facilitate flows of people and goods and support economic recovery, he said, adding that despite contracting global trade, economic recession and serious disruptions to travel, China-ASEAN two-way trade went up in the first three quarters, and Chinese investment in ASEAN countries surged more than 70 percent year on year.
Li stressed that China and ASEAN working in concert has been a key underlying factor behind the strong momentum of China-ASEAN cooperation and its important role in ensuring regional peace, stability, development and prosperity.
The two sides have pursued the path of solidarity and development by upholding good neighborliness and friendship, said Li, adding that in times of adversity, from the two financial crises to major natural disasters such as tsunamis and SARS, as well as the sudden onslaught of COVID-19, the two sides have always stood together and looked out for each other.
The Chinese premier said China-ASEAN cooperation is open, inclusive and delivers benefits to both sides.
Seeing each other's development as crucial opportunities, the two sides have synergized development plans and strengthened connectivity, while advocating multilateralism and free trade, said Li, adding that these common endeavors have not only facilitated their own development, but also injected a strong impetus into the stable economic development of the region and beyond.
According to Li, peace and stability are the preconditions for development and prosperity.
"Both China and ASEAN believe that countries should respect each other, seeking common ground while putting aside differences, and settling differences and disputes through friendly consultations, and such shared commitments have fostered a regional environment of peace and stability," he said.