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October 25, 2009

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China boosts credit support

China will raise the level of preferential commercial credit it offers to Southeast Asian nations by US$5 billion, Premier Wen Jiabao said yesterday.

The preferential part of the US$15 billion credit, as a result, will increase to US$6.7 billion, Wen said at a summit with partners from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in the Thai seaside city of Hua Hin.

"We made the offer to demonstrate our support for China-ASEAN cooperation in infrastructure construction," he said.

China unveiled the plan to offer US$15 billion of commercial credit to ASEAN countries in April. The credit is to be provided in the next three to five years.

Thailand wants to tap this US$15 billion Southeast Asian infrastructure loan program to build an ambitious network of highways linking parts of Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and China, a Thai official said.

The proposed road will link the eastern Vietnamese city of Danang to Myanmar's sea port of Moulmein, passing through Thailand.

It would also link Thailand's western province of Kanchanaburi to Myanmar's deep-sea port of Tavoy and provide a route from Yunnan Province via Bangkok to Singapore.

The idea was discussed when Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming met his Thai counterpart Porntiva Nakasai on the sidelines of the 16-nation East Asia summit in Hua Hin.

In another move to showcase China's efforts to further ties with Southeast Asian neighbors, China has also rolled out a plan to set up a China-ASEAN investment cooperation fund of US$10 billion.

The fund is designed to promote cooperation on infrastructure construction, energy and resources, information and communications.

Wen said at the summit yesterday that the first US$1 billion of the fund was close to being in place.

The Chinese premier also made a number of other proposals to advance cooperation with ASEAN in fields such as the economy, finance, trade, environment, rural development and regional cooperation.

He said the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area should be brought into play through publicizing laws and regulations and the construction of infrastructure facilities should be accelerated.

Other proposals would deepen agricultural and rural cooperation, promote sustainable development, strengthen social and cultural exchanges and enhance regional cooperation.

Wen said China would establish a permanent representative office in ASEAN.


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