With China's close relations with South Asian countries, Southwest China's Yunnan province can help enhance regional cooperation for shared benefits under the Belt and Road Initiative, according to Chinese top official Hu Chunhua.
During the opening ceremony of the fifth China-South Asia Expo on June 14 in Kunming, Hu, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and a vice-premier of China, said that trade volume between the two sides has grown rapidly in recent years.
In 2017, trading volume between China and South Asia reached $126.8 billion, up 31.7 percent from 2013. In addition, total exports from South Asian countries to China rose by 30.7 percent as China boosts trade ties with the region, according to Hu.
Gao Yan, vice-minister of commerce of China, said South Asia is where the sea and land routes meet along the Belt and Road, and it is an important partner of the initiative.
As of April, the accumulated direct investment from China in South Asia exceeded $11.8 billion, making it one of the most important sources of foreign investment for South Asian countries, Gao said.
"China is willing to strengthen its dialogue and connection with South Asia, bridging industries with competitive advantages in China with regional demand," said Gao, who hopes the cooperation can enter a new phase that is both dynamic and efficient.
With the theme of Integrating into the Belt and Road Initiative, Promoting Win-Win Cooperation, the weeklong expo showcases 3,825 companies in 19 exhibition halls, of which more than 40 percent come from overseas. A series of concurrent events will also take place, including the 25th China Kunming Import and Export Fair and the first China-South Asia Cooperation Forum.
Afghanistan is the theme country of the fifth CSA Expo. Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, the country's second deputy chief executive officer, said China plays a pivotal role in South and East Asia, and all parties involved can take significant steps toward economic development by sharing their experiences and achievements with each other.
Representing the expo's guest country of honor, Myanmar's Minister of Commerce Than Myint said trade and development of economic cooperation should be further promoted in the region for peace and prosperity, and for the well-being of all people, which is one of the goals of the Belt and Road Initiative.