Malaysian Analysts said that expectations are high for ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and China to strengthen efforts to achieve post COVID-19 economic recovery and further economic cooperation as the region seeks to move past the Pandemic.

The Comments came ahead of a Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers Meeting in Celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Dialogue Relations held on Monday in southwest China’s Chongqing.

In a phone interview, Malaysian Political Observer Azmi Hassan said “I do believe that when they meet, the pandemic, economic issues, will be at the top of the agenda, since it is very critical that China and ASEAN work together to navigate the pandemic’s economic impact.”

“Since in terms of how to push the economy, the two (sides) will be able to find a lot of common ground,” he added.

Pointing to China’s effective containment of the COVID-19 and its economic recovery, which has allowed it to fully push forward its economic activities, Azmi said “This is the best time to strengthen the bond between China and us, not just in economic matters but also pandemic control.”

He noted that ASEAN and China are aware of “the importance of needing to work together to realize the development of the post-pandemic economy.”

Oh Ei Sun, principal advisor for Malaysia’s Pacific Research Center, said Malaysia has played an important role in facilitation of relations between ASEAN and China.

Trade and investment between both sides have deepened and broadened, with the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area becoming the hallmark of the ASEAN-China relations, he said.

Oh noted that ASEAN as a whole became China’s largest trading partner in 2020, and China has long been the largest trading partner both for ASEAN as a whole as well as for most ASEAN member states.

The trade relationship has benefitted ASEAN countries like Malaysia greatly, he said.

“Much can be done in promoting cooperation in entrepreneurship and innovation between the younger generations of China and ASEAN Countries, he said, calling for business and talent matching of young entrepreneurs and innovators to be regularly and systematically conducted to meet mutual needs.

Oh also said that ASEAN would continue to play a key role in the Chinese Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), and could Partner well with its northern neighbor in jointly developing new opportunities in areas such as environmental sustainability.

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