China’s economic development will bring opportunities rather than threats as it seeks to boost trade with Southeast Asia, Xi Jinping said on his first visit to the region as president.
China wants warmer ties with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and expects trade with the group to reach $1 trillion by 2020, Xi said in a speech to Indonesia’s parliament in Jakarta today.
Those calls will be tested as China grows more assertive in the South China Sea, an area dotted with nations that would call for U.S. help if attacked, while the U.S. is seeking greater influence in the region. Southeast Asia is aiming for its own free trade bloc by 2015, with regional ties to be on display at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum leaders meeting in Bali and an Asean summit in Brunei next week.
“We should abandon the cold war mentality, and cooperate to build security and jointly safeguard regional peace and stability,” Xi said in the speech.
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