BEIJING, March 9 (Xinhua) -- China's trade with neighboring countries exceeded the total that China had with Europe and the United States to reach 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars last year, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said here Saturday.
Yang said such a trade volume was beyond his expectation and might further increase in the future.
The situation in China's neighboring regions, though becoming increasingly complex, remained generally stable, and relations between China and its neighbors continued to develop, he said at a press conference.
Besides the trade growth, China has established strategic partnerships with most neighboring countries and more than 100 high-level official visits were made last year.
"It is not surprising to see 200 or even 300 such visits in the future. As neighbors, our relations will be closer with more exchanges," he said at the press conference held on the sidelines of the annual parliamentary session.
Yang said China will host an annual meeting of the Boao Forum for Asia next month in Boao, Hainan Province, in which state leaders of China and some foreign countries, as well as heads of several international organizations will attend.
"This meeting will be a big event for promoting the common development of Asia and the world," he said.
On territorial disputes between China and some neighbors, Yang said China sticks to a firm stand of defending its sovereignty and legitimate rights and interests, while sincerely wishing to properly handle and resolve the disputes through negotiation in a bid to maintain regional peace and stability.
China will continue to follow the policy of building good neighboring relations and partnership and foster amicable ties and mutual benefits with neighbors, he said.
Yang said many Asian countries are very aware that cooperation with China would bring mutual benefits and interests.
"It is our common wish to further cooperation and jointly work for a stable and prosperous regional environment," he said.
China and the ASEAN have launched the largest free trade area (FTA) among developing countries in the world while the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has formed its first strategy for medium and long-term development.
The negotiations for the FTA among China, Japan and the Republic of Korea as well as the regional comprehensive partnership have been officially launched, which will be very important events, Yang said.