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ASEAN ahead of EU & US as China's largest trading partner in 2020

ASEAN countries have jumped to be the number one trading bloc with China in 2020, with the trade volumes hitting 4.74 trillion yuan ($731.9 billion), a 7 percent growth year-on-year, Chinese Customs spokesman Li Kuiwen told a press conference on Thursday, making ASEAN China's largest trading partner for the first time and making China ASEAN's largest trading partner for 12 years in a row.

With the demonstration the huge potential and strong resilience of China-ASEAN cooperation, the achievement has also sent a positive message for the international trade that has been shadowed with uncertainties by the unrestrained global COVID-19 outbreak from last year till now.

The news came in line with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to Myanmar, Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines in Southeast Asia, his second trip to the region since October 2020.

High-level interactions have demonstrated China's gestures of mutual respect and consultation for reciprocal development that have won broad recognition among ASEAN countries, experts said.

"Over the years, China and ASEAN have enjoyed growing political mutual trust and strong regional economic reciprocity, which have all played a significant part in the growth of bilateral trade and economic cooperation," Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Thursday, noting that China and ASEAN have tried their best to eliminate third-party interference in the South China Sea, so as to achieve regional stability and consistent growth across regional trade.

The growth of trade between China and ASEAN nations also demonstrated that since the outbreak of the epidemic last year, the demand for regional economic cooperation has increasingly become a significant growth point for international cooperation under the new situation, and the recently concluded the signing of RCEP in November is an obvious case for regional cooperation, Qian said.

China's top five trading partners are ASEAN, the EU, the US, Japan and South Korea, with the import and export of between China and ASEAN reached 4.74 trillion yuan, 4.5, 4.06, 2.2 and 1.97 trillion yuan, respectively, an increase of 7%, 5.3%, 8.8%, 1.2% and 0.7%. In addition, China's import and export to countries along the Belt and Road reached 9.37 trillion yuan, up 1%.

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