China-South Asia Expo to diversify, upgrade cooperation as regional economic integration gains pace
Published: Jul 09, 2024 11:06 PM
This photo taken on Aug. 16, 2023 shows a view of Kunming Dianchi International Convention and Exhibition Center, the venue for the seventh China-South Asia Expo in Kunming, southwest China's Yunnan Province. The seventh China-South Asia Expo kicked off Wednesday in Kunming. More than 30,000 exhibitors, representatives and guests from 85 countries and regions, and international organizations, are expected to attend both online and offline activities during the five-day expo.(Photo: Xinhua)

This photo taken on Aug. 16, 2023 shows a view of Kunming Dianchi International Convention and Exhibition Center, the venue for the seventh China-South Asia Expo in Kunming, southwest China's Yunnan Province. Photo: Xinhua

The 8th China-South Asia Expo is scheduled to be held in Kunming, Southwest China's Yunnan Province on July 23-28, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said on Tuesday. Chinese experts anticipate deeper regional economic integration and diversified business potential in emerging sectors, driven by the sustained growth in bilateral trade volume over the years.

The expo, one of this year's pivotal economic and trade exchange events between the two regions, aims to explore extensive cooperation opportunities in emerging sectors such as green energy, modern agriculture, healthcare, culture, and tourism, the ministry told a press conference.

Experts said that bolstering economic ties with South Asian countries will not only help Chinese enterprises expand into overseas markets but also contribute to the economic stability and development of South Asia. This synergy is poised to foster mutual political trust and become a beacon of successful South-South cooperation worldwide.

China has continuously strengthened pragmatic economic and trade cooperation with the region since the proposal of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013. Last year, the trade volume between China and South Asian countries doubled to nearly $200 billion compared with 2013, cementing China's role as the top trade partner for most South Asian countries and facilitating their products' access to the vast Chinese market, the ministry noted.

The ministry highlighted the benefits of cooperation projects such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) on local employment, economic development, and people's livelihoods, noting extensive collaboration opportunities in digital and green sectors. Efforts are underway to upgrade CPEC, a flagship project of the BRI, into a green economic corridor, according to the ministry.

South Asian countries are crucial BRI partners for China. Cooperation is transitioning from traditional sectors like infrastructure and agriculture to emerging fields such as green energy, telecommunications and digital economy in light of both sides' high economic complementarity, Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"Amid escalating global volatility, this partnership exemplifies pragmatic multilateral economic cooperation with win-win outcomes in the international community," Qian said, adding that promising cooperation prospects in green infrastructure such as wind, and photovoltaic power stations will boost energy supply, and drive regional sustainable development.

MOFCOM pledged to effectively integrate industrial resources to establish a secure, stable, efficient, open, inclusive and mutually beneficial regional industrial and supply chain system, to deepen cooperation in the digital and green economy, and enhance connectivity by eliminating trade and investment barriers, thereby fostering a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory business environment.

In countries such as Sri Lanka and Pakistan, significant progress has been achieved in bilateral cooperation across infrastructure development, new-energy vehicles, cultural tourism and other sectors, Liu Xiaoxue, an associate research fellow at the National Institute of International Strategy under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

However, she emphasized that China still faces complex political and economic relations with India, a major South Asian country. "The upcoming expo reflects China's sustained high-level opening-up and is expected to help achieve breakthroughs in regional cooperation in the entire region, including India," Liu said.

Experts called on South Asian countries to harness China's economic growth and technological advancements to fuel their development through deeper cooperation, which is expected to bolster stability across the region, enabling both sides to collectively tackle challenges and achieve sustainable development in today's complex global landscape.

Since its inception, the China-South Asia Expo has served more than 18,000 enterprises, attracted over 4 million visitors, facilitated $100 billion in foreign trade transactions, and supported over 3,000 project signings and implementations.