NANNING, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- "Shared benefits," "common destiny" and "inclusive growth" were some of the most frequently mentioned phrases at the 14th China-ASEAN Expo that opened Tuesday.
With the theme of "Co-Building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, Promoting Regional Economic Integration through Tourism," the expo is expected to inject new vitality to the ancient trade route and enhance mutually beneficial cooperation between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
"While the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed by China, it brings benefits to the whole world," Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli said at the opening ceremony of the expo which is taking place in Nanning, capital of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of ASEAN, and next year marks the 15th anniversary of China-ASEAN strategic partnership.
Over the past years, the two sides have already made big strides in various areas including trade, policy, infrastructure and people-to-people exchanges. Deeper, broader collaboration will bring the ties even closer.
The expo, together with other initiatives and projects, will lift the China-ASEAN relationship to a new stage.
The four-day event has attracted 2,709 exhibitors, up 1.5 percent from the previous year, while the number of buyers is expected to exceed 10,000, including about 4,000 international buyers, official data showed.
The expo serves as an important platform to show the deepened economic and trade ties between China and ASEAN, and has attracted many small and medium-sized enterprises from Brunei, which are the country's major source of employment, said Hassanal.
Along with the expo, China and ASEAN are exploring new ways, as well as fields, in which to collaborate.
China is willing to expand cooperation in tourism with ASEAN, as this year marks the China-ASEAN Year of Tourism, Zhang said.
As China and ASEAN both have abundant tourism resources with their own characteristics, increasing trips made between the two sides have played an important role in enhancing exchange and understanding between their peoples, according to Zhang.
In terms of trade, Zhang also stressed the need for full implementation of a protocol signed in 2015 on upgrading the China-ASEAN Free Trade.
"China is willing to expand imports from ASEAN countries. We welcome them to attend the first China International Import Expo to be held in 2018," Zhang said.
China is also willing to, along with ASEAN, push ahead talks on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which was launched in 2012. The RCEP talks involve the 10 ASEAN members and their six major trading partners -- China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, New Zealand and Australia -- with the aim of facilitating expansion of regional trade and investment.
Cooperation in industrial capacity is also expected to speed up.
"China's equipment is cost efficient, and it has advantages in technology, training and financing, enabling China and ASEAN countries to nurture new comparative advantages and create new room for economic growth," Zhang said.
In addition, China will actively engage in cooperation with ASEAN in environmental protection, ecological restoration and the circular economy, in a bid to "build a green Silk Road," Zhang said.
The expo takes place at a time when the anti-globalization sentiment has imposed threats to regional economic integration.
Bucking the trend, China steadfastly adheres to the opening-up strategy, despite sluggish growth, acute imbalance and rising protectionism in the world economy.
"We would like to work with the international community to enhance dialogue, coordination and cooperation for an open world economy," Zhang said.
He promised to expand the entry of foreign capital into China's service and manufacturing sectors, better protect intellectual property rights and promote fairness for domestic and foreign enterprises.
In the following five years, China will import commodities worth 8 trillion U.S. dollars, invest 750 billion U.S. dollars abroad and record 700 million overseas trips.
"We welcome ASEAN members to share more major opportunities brought by China's development," Zhang said.