BANGKOK, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) -- The East Asia Summit (EAS), which will be held in Indonesia's Bali from Friday to Saturday, is the most important platform for cooperation in the region, Guan Mu, Chinese Ambassador to Thailand told Xinhua in a recent interview.
China sees the EAS as a strategic forum, and hopes to further the cooperation in economics, finance, food and energy safety, and climate change, Guan said, refering to the five fields of focus agreed upon in previous summits.
With the joining of the United States and Russia, the EAS includes all powers in the Asia-Pacific region. But the ambassador said "the forum should continue to have the ASEAN as the driving force in promoting regional peace, stability, cooperation and development."
Guan said that China-ASEAN cooperation has been "most practical, diversified, comprehensive, dynamic and fruitful."
Trade between China and ASEAN member states reached 278 billion U.S. dollars for the first nine months of this year, up 26.4 percent year-on-year. In the past 20 years, trade has been growing more than 20 percent every year between the two parties, from about eight billion U.S. dollars in 1991 to 293 billion U.S. dollars in 2010.
The ASEAN replaced Japan as China's third largest trade partner in April while China continues to be ASEAN's largest trade partner. About 7,000 products were exempted of tariff between China and the ASEAN after the China-ASEAN Free Trade Zone was established in 2010.
China, as the first country to establish strategic partnership with ASEAN, has established an effective multilayer cooperation mechanism including the leaders summits, the 11 minister-level meetings, the five working communication systems, Guan said.
The cooperation mechanism played an important role in addressing common challenges in the region, such as the recent global economic crisis, the Asian economic crisis in 1997, SARS pandemic and Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, he added.
Guan said, as a key ASEAN member, Thailand has been proactively promoting China-ASEAN cooperation.
Thailand is the first ASEAN country to establish strategic partnership with China, the first to invest in China, the first to have joint exercise, drills and other cooperation projects in security with China. The first Chinese cultural center in the region was also established in Thailand's capital of Bangkok.
As China and Thailand continues to expand and deepen their already extensive and fruitful cooperation, the continuously enhancing ties between the two countries will also add momentum to the development and integration of the ASEAN, Guan said.