China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are among the most important partners for each other, ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh said Sunday ahead of the 31st ASEAN summit and related meetings. [Special coverage]
"We have a comprehensive strategic cooperation in all three pillars - the political-security, economic and socio-cultural - and we do have very ambitious targets in our cooperation in the very important economic pillar," Le told Xinhua in an interview.
He said that ASEAN and China have set the target of scaling up two-way trade to 1 trillion U.S. dollars and bilateral investment to 150 billion U.S. dollars by 2020. "Overall, relations between ASEAN and China are very strong," Le said.
Le said he believed cooperation between the two sides will be bolstered by the establishment of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
"Once the RCEP is established, it will create the biggest single market in the world, one that will comprise of all the ASEAN member states and major economic and trading partners of ASEAN," he said.
RCEP, which includes 10 ASEAN countries and six dialogue partners, represents an integrated market of more than 3 billion people with a combined GDP of 22.4 trillion U.S. dollars.
"China plays an important role in the process of negotiations of the RCEP," Le said, adding that ASEAN is committed to early conclusion of the RCEP.
"Hopefully we can substantially conclude this year, so the full-fledged RCEP can be concluded next year under the Singapore chairmanship (of ASEAN)," Le said.
On the prospects of future relations, the secretary general stressed that China and ASEAN share common position in promoting multilateral trading system and open policy, which forms the basis for further cooperation.
At the 25th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting that just concluded in Vietnam, ASEAN reiterated its firm commitment to multilateral trading system, open trade and economic liberalization, which is in accordance with China's position, Le noted.
"We hope that our shared commitment to open regionalism, to multilateralism can enhance our coordination and cooperation," Le concluded.