The Trade relationship between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Countries remains resilient despite the COVID-19 Pandemic, Chinese Ambassador to ASEAN Deng Xijun said on Friday.

Citing data from China’s General Administration of Customs, the diplomat said that there is a 6.1-per cent growth of China-ASEAN trade in goods in the first quarter of 2020 with a value exceeding 140 billion U.S. dollars. ASEAN became China’s largest trading partner for the first time, surpassing both the European Union and the United States.

Speaking at a virtual forum on the ASEAN-China relations in 2020 organised by the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia (FPCI), Ambassador Deng said that the projects under the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) in ASEAN countries are advancing steadily, with major progress in the China-Laos Railway, the Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Rail, the East Coast Rail Link in Malaysia and the Hengyi petrochemical project in Brunei.

“As a key part of our regional anti-pandemic cooperation, stronger China-ASEAN economic ties have stabilised the economy and protected the industrial and supply chains of the region,” he said.

Friday’s forum was attended by ASEAN’s Deputy Secretary-General Kung Phoak, the Philippines’ diplomat to ASEAN Noel Eugene Eusebio Servigon, Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry senior official Jose Antonio Morato Tavares, former Indonesian Ambassador to the United States Dino Patti Djalal, Indonesia’s international relations expert Dewi Fortuna Anwar and about 10 scholars from China and ASEAN Countries.

ASEAN, which was founded in 1967, groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Editor’s Note: The article reflects the author’s opinion only, and not necessarily the views of the editorial opinion of Belt & Road News.