A senior official of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) said proximity has made China and ASEAN close trading partners, even during the COVID-19 pandemic period.
In an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Monday afternoon, Kung Phoak, deputy secretary-general of ASEAN, noted the importance of ASEAN-China cooperation in economy and trade.
"Before the (COVID-19) outbreak, we were on a positive trend. The two have already become trading partners," Kung Phoak said. "And now amid the pandemic, it intensifies our efforts to bring our trade closer to one another," he added.
The two sides, he said, could see the benefits of economic cooperation amid uncertainty, such as an epidemic outbreak and unpredictable trade situation at the global level.
"We are close to one another. It's easy for us to bring our products to the Chinese market and also for China to bring its products to the ASEAN market. It's mutual benefit," he said.
During the January-May period, ASEAN remained as China's largest trading partner with trade up by 4.2 percent year on year to 1.7 trillion yuan (240 billion U.S. dollars), accounting for 14.7 percent of China's total foreign trade.
Kung Phoak expected that the future cooperation between the two sides would be stronger not only in the economic sector, but also in other sectors.
"For example, poverty eradication, culture, people to people exchange. These are also going very well in terms of our cooperation," he said.
"There's a lot of things that ASEAN member states can learn from China as well," said Kung Phoak, praising China's commitment and efforts in reducing poverty.
"I am so happy to know that the country is on track to completely reduce poverty by the end of this year," he said. "There will be a lot of lessons and best practices that we can learn from China as well," he added.
Kung Phoak also commented on China's white paper that chronicles its fight against the COVID-19 outbreak in the past months.
"The white paper is very comprehensive and very detailed," said Kung Phoak. He believed that the white paper is going to be "extremely useful" for countries that are still battling the outbreak.
Founded in 1967, ASEAN comprises 10 countries of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. (1 yuan equals 0.14 USD)