Photos: China, ASEAN Show Off Growing Economic Ties, ‘Shared Future’ at Expo
As China has expanded its political, economic, cultural, and military relationships across Asia and the Pacific, the US has rushed to block it by claiming Beijing poses a threat to the independence of smaller nations. Beijing has emphasized reciprocity in all efforts, saying it seeks peaceful, mutual benefit.
China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) showed off their growing economic ties at the 20th annual China-SEA Expo in the southern Chinese city of Nanning, which began on Sunday. The theme for the event is "Work Together for a Harmonious Home and a Shared Future – Promoting High-Quality Development of the Belt and Road and Building an Epicentrum of Growth.”
Chinese Premier Li Qiang spoke at the opening day ceremonies, calling China’s relationship with the 10-member ASEAN bloc “the most successful, dynamic model” in regional cooperation. “and a vivid example of a community with a shared future for mankind.”
Li hailed the "miracles of economic development" seen in recent years, including the region’s collective recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic-related economic convulsions, that their regional economic integration has made possible.
"China has been the number one trading partner for ASEAN in the past 14 consecutive years and China ranks as the second source of investment for ASEAN," ASEAN Secretary-General Kao Kim Hourn, a former Cambodian minister who was instrumental in bringing Cambodia into ASEAN in 1999, told Chinese media.
"We've been working together for many years and we will continue to work together. ASEAN and China are neighbors in terms of land, we share community and a future here. Our cooperation will bring great benefits and greater shared interest to both sides," Kao added.
Chinese Ministry of Commerce data showed that China-ASEAN trade exceeded $970 billion in 2022.
Pavilions featured numerous displays of that cooperation at expo, including products made or traded via the interchange, from mangoes to helicopters; information displays about the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and other projects; and cultural displays by the 11 nations present.
One major commodity that has exploded across the region in recent years has been new electric vehicles (NEVs) - a collective term for automobiles not wholly dependent on petroleum products for fuel, including plug-in electric vehicles, battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, and fuel cell electric vehicles.
NEVs are seen as one cornerstone of a global transition away from fossil fuel-driven economies, part of an effort to wean humanity off the pollutive fuels, the emissions of which are driving man-made climate change. Beijing has led the charge
, subsidizing the industry since 2009 and implementing a plan in 2020 to phase out gas-only cars by 2035. The effort has turned the country into the world’s largest market
for electric vehicles, accounting for 60% of global sales last year and 35% of car sales in China.
However, as the Nanning expo has shown, Chinese-made NEVs are helping to drive similar transitions across Southeast Asia. An exhibition hall showed off some of the most popular vehicles and even gave visitors the opportunity to test drive an NEV.
According to media reports, Chinese-made NEVs accounted for 75% of all NEV sales in Southeast Asia in the first quarter of 2023. Chinese NEV makers Neta and BYD have big plans to continue that spread and to grow to 100,000 vehicles exported to the ASEAN region within three years.
ASEAN member states have been moving to support the transition as well, with the Thai and Indonesian governments pumping tens of millions of dollars and cutting out tax breaks for the industry to give manufacturers, buyers, and infrastructure construction efforts a helping hand.