Asean Trade Corridor Could Ease Regional Tensions

  • Brushing aside dispute over the South China Sea, China called for the fuller economic integration with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), steered by the Nanning-Singapore Economic Corridor under the framework of the Maritime Silk Road (MSR).
  • Soon after the 12th edition of the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit began, delegates from China and ASEAN arrived at the “Nanning Consensus” to build the Nanning-Singapore Economic Corridor, more formally dubbed as the China-Indo-China Peninsula International Corridor.
  • The core initiative aimed at economic integration, would connect eight major cities — Singapore, Kuala Lampur, Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Minh City, Vientiane, Hanoi and Nanning.
  • From Nanning, further connectivity nodes would be extended to coastal Guangzhou and Hong Kong, thus forming a pattern of “one corridor connecting 10 cities.” Analysts say that project fits into integrated regional plans to develop western and central China.
  • Nanning is geographically well positioned to link up through a waterway with the prosperous Pearl River Delta region of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao.
  • Besides, the Nanjing-Singapore corridor will cover two related trajectories. While one line will head towards Vietnam, the other would be expended to the less developed Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.
  • Observers point out that the corridor is being structured to help China, which wishes to revamp its economy to a more developed “new normal” plain, shift its excess manufacturing capacity to the less developed zones in the ASEAN.
  • Once the corridor enters implementation phase “labour-intensive and resource-intensive industries” would cascade in the direction of Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.
  • In his inaugural address, Chinese Vice Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli, unveiled Beijing’s aspiration for shaping a common future in Southeast Asia, which included economic integration and cultural inclusivity, well-shielded from unfolding global turbulence.
  • “At present, profound changes are taking place in global political and economic patterns. China and ASEAN have to strengthen cooperation, build a community of common interest, common destiny and common responsibility with political mutual trust, integrated economies and inclusive culture,” Mr. Zhang observed.
  • The Chinese leader signaled to the assembled ASEAN representatives, that common stakes in political stability and economic prosperity, far overrode differences over the boundary alignment in the South China Sea.
  • In the presence of representatives from the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei — countries which dispute Beijing’s interpretation of maritime boundaries in the South China Sea, Mr. Zhang stressed Beijing’s commitment to a tension-easing code of conduct in these waters.
  • Opposed to the presence of the militarisation of the Pacific by the U.S., Mr. Zhang stressed that Asians should themselves take charge of security in their backyard.
  • “China stands ready to work with the Asian countries to implement the declaration of the code of conduct of the countries of the South China Sea in a full, effective and comprehensive manner,” he observed.

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