NANNING, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli met with leaders of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states in south China's Nanning on Monday, calling for stronger ties between China and ASEAN.
The foreign dignitaries included Brunei's Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Vietnam's Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh and Lao Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone.
Zhang welcomed the foreign leaders to attend the 14th China-ASEAN Expo and the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit slated from Tuesday to Friday in Nanning, capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of ASEAN, a regional group comprising Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as the China-ASEAN year of tourism.
During his meeting with Brunei's Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Zhang said China-ASEAN ties have entered a key stage.
As China and ASEAN celebrate the 15th anniversary of the establishment of a strategic partnership next year, Zhang said China is ready to further strengthen ties with ASEAN countries to build a community with shared future.
Calling China and Brunei reliable friends and cooperation partners, Zhang said China is willing to work with Brunei to make the best of the Belt and Road Initiative and dovetail the development strategies of the two countries.
Brunei is the Country of Honor at the 14th China-ASEAN Expo.
Hassanal said he is leading a delegation of nearly 100 entrepreneurs at the expo and welcomed Chinese entrepreneurs to invest in Brunei.
Brunei would like to strengthen cooperation with China in such areas as economy and trade, people-to-people exchanges, tourism, energy, ports and education, he said, pledging to play a constructive role in strengthening ASEAN-China cooperation.
When meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Zhang said the two sides need to implement the consensus reached by their leaders to strengthen economic and trade cooperation and have more exchanges on state governance.
The two countries agreed to cement traditional friendship as next year marks the 60th anniversary of forging diplomatic ties.
Zhang said China highly appreciates the important contribution Cambodia has made to China-ASEAN friendship and cooperation.
Hun Sen expressed appreciation for China's long-term support to Cambodia.
Cambodia is willing to take an active part in the Belt and Road Initiative, he said, calling for agricultural cooperation and more agricultural exports to China.
In 2018, Cambodia will co-chair the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC), a sub-regional cooperation mechanism jointly established by the six countries along the Mekong River, known in China as Lancang River, namely China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
The two countries agreed to work closely to host a successful LMC leaders' meeting.
During his meeting with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh, Zhang said deepening friendship and expanding cooperation are in line with the interests of China and Vietnam and the peace, stability and prosperity in the region and the world.
China attaches great importance to the relations with Vietnam and is willing to work with the country to plan high-level visits, promote economic cooperation and cultural exchanges and maintain maritime stability, Zhang said.
Echoing Zhang's remarks, Binh said the development of a comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation between Vietnam and China has maintained good momentum.
The two sides need to implement the consensus of their leaders, enhance high-level contacts and cooperation on trade, culture and production capacity, Binh said.
During his meeting with Lao Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone, Zhang said the China-Laos relationship has advanced much this year especially after Lao President Boungnang Vorachith's visit to China in May.
He suggested the two countries carry out the deals on Belt and Road construction and production capacity and investment cooperation, intensify local relations and people-to-people exchanges so as to add new impetus into the strategic partnership between the two countries.
Sonexay spoke highly of the China-ASEAN Expo hosted by China. He called on the two sides to strengthen cooperation in areas including economy and trade, investment, healthcare, infrastructure construction and tourism.