China made its pitch to ASEAN members to promote its Maritime Silk Road plans. China has said it will finish negotiations on upgrading the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area called CAFTA by the end of this year, said Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli.
He said economic and trade cooperation is the base and guide of the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative.
"China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will further deepen economic and trade cooperation and mutually create an upgraded version of CAFTA," Zhang said.
The plan seeks to build on the ancient Silk Road, a trading network that once stretched from China, across Asia and into Europe. The new Maritime Silk Road, part of the broader “Belt and Road” initiative, seeks to “inject new impetus into regional development”, according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua.
“China has already planned 40 marine projects in the fields of marine rescue, science, education, coordination and green economy,” he said.
China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” began during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Central Asia and Southeast Asia in 2013. He raised the initiative of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road.
"In terms of how to connect them, the principal is to discuss and construct the projects together, in order to share and enjoy the benefits together. This is not China's own project. China is seeking shared development and common prosperity with ASEAN countries. And another key issue is connectivity and international capacity cooperation," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.