China-ASEAN Monitor


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Indonesian President Joko Widodo (L) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe inspect the honour guards during a welcoming ceremony at the Bogor Palace, West Java, Indonesia.
Photo: Reuters/Beawiharta

Political and Security

Indonesia and Japan to Deepen Defense Ties and Discuss Railway Project Amid Challenge from China
China’s import and exports grew unexpectedly in November, reflecting a pick-up in both domestic and global Indonesia and Japan reaffirmed deepening of economic and political ties, as both nations feud with China over sea territory. Beijing’s expansive claims over waters around Natuna Islands overlap with Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone where a state has the right to exploit resources. Japan, which has a territorial row with China over disputed islands in the East China Sea, has worked to strengthen ties with members of ASEAN to counter Beijing at a time of increased tension between China and the United States. Japan has historically been one of Indonesia’s biggest investors, with investments doubling to US$4.5 billion in January to September of 2016, but was dealt a blow in 2015 when the Indonesian government awarded China a high-speed train project. However, Indonesia and Japan will start discussions on another major railway project.
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Trade and Investment

Chinese Investments to Bring More Opportunities to Malaysian SMEs
According to Malaysia’s Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Dr Wee Ka Siong, China’s Belt and Road Initiative would bring mutual benefits for SMEs in both Malaysia and China. The minister also said that Chinese is attracted to Malaysia because of its quality products and services, language proficiency and knowledge in international trade. He added that investments would bring opportunities to Malaysian SMEs, which makes up 97% of the local businesses and employs 65% of the nation’s workforce. China’s ambassador to Malaysia said that the bilateral trade between Malaysia and China totaled US$9.88 billion in December 2016, and that 2.2 million Chinese tourists visited Malaysia in 2016.
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Singapore Exports Rise as China Demand Rebounds
Singapore’s non-oil exports increased for a second straight month in December as a recovery in Chinese demand helped lift the fortunes of manufacturers and logistic companies in Singapore. Trade agency IE Singapore said on 17 January that non-oil domestic exports (NODX) rose 9.4% in December, slightly lower than the 11.5% pace recorded in November, which marked a sharp turnaround following five months of flat to negative growth.
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Laos to Export More Rice to China
China has agreed to purchase 20,000 tons of genuine organic rice a year from Laos, an increase from the previously agreed 8,000 tons. Since 2000, Laos has exported over 300,000 tons of rice annually to Vietnam, Thailand, China and other countries. Laos is expected to produce about 5 million tons of rice by the year 2020 to endure food security in the country. In the 2015-2016 fiscal year, Laos’ rice production reached 4.12 million tons and is predicted to increase to 4.35 million tons in the 2016-2017 fiscal year.
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China-ASEAN relations

China and Singapore Discuss Boosting Bilateral Cooperation and ASEAN-China Connectivity
China’s Vice Foreign Minister visited Singapore on 17 January to co-chair the 10th Bilateral Consultations. The two sides discussed boosting bilateral cooperation and reviewed the progress of three government-to-government projects. During the visit, the two countries also talked about the connectivity between ASEAN and China, including synergies between the Master Plan for ASEAN Connectivity 2015 and the ASEAN-China Year of Tourism Cooperation in 2017 where both countries would collaborate and discuss concrete plans to promote tourism between ASEAN and China. Currently, Singapore is the country coordinator for ASEAN-China relations.
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Duterte Tells Dialogue-Partners Not to Meddle in ASEAN Affairs
As the Philippines formally assumed the chairmanship of the ASEAN, President Duterte urged the United States, China, Russia and other dialogue-partners of ASEAN not to interfere in the affairs of the regional bloc. The President, in his speech called on ”ASEAN dialogue partners to renew their dedication to the principles stated in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, including non-interference, in promoting regional peace and stability through abiding respect for the rule of law.”
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