by Zheng Shibo
JAKARTA, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- ASEAN member states welcome China' s initiative of building the new Maritime Silk Road and wish to enhance corporation in various fields with China within the vision, ASEAN Community Affairs Development Director Danny Lee said.
In a recent interview with Xinhua, Lee said the creation of the new Maritime Silk Road is a very good concept and will bring new opportunities for China and ASEAN to cooperate in many sectors, such as trade, infrastructure and cultural exchange.
The initiative of building a Maritime silk road was proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Indonesia last October to deepen economic and maritime links and integrate all the existing cooperation mechanisms among the countries along the route of the maritime silk road.
According to one version of the blueprint, the Maritime Silk Road begins in Fuzhou in Southeast China's Fujian province, and heads south into territories of ASEAN nations. From Malacca Strait, the Maritime Silk Road turns west to countries along the Indian Ocean before meeting the land-based Silk Road in Venice via the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.
Lee, s Singaporean who joined the ASEAN Secretariat in February 2011, said there is historical and practical basis for ASEAN and China to cooperate under the framework of Maritime Silk Road vision.
"ASEAN and China built good and frequent trade cooperation 600 years ago, evidenced by the great voyage to Southeast Asia by admiral Zheng He," he said.
Practically, the director said nine countries out of the ten- member ASEAN are Maritime nations and ocean trade with China is vital for the development of ASEAN members.
ASEAN is currently China's third biggest trading partner with annual bilateral trade at more than 400 billion U.S. dollars and most of trading goods are transported via shipping lanes.
Lee, a former editor at the Singapore's Channel NewsAsia TV, said infrastructure in ASEAN especially the ports which are essential for the international trade are very poor and urgently needed to be upgraded.
"China has strong experience and technology in infrastructure construction as well as the capital, and ASEAN hails China's initiatives in establishing the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank," Lee noted.
He said that ASEAN is set to build a single market Economic Community spanning the 10-nation bloc by 2015 and ASEAN can benefit from building the Maritime Silk Road as it will spur the economic development of ASEAN.
"Besides, the Maritime Silk Road can also promote the people-to- people contact and enhance understanding between China and ASEAN as well as countries among ASEAN itself," Lee said.