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Mon, Apr 13, 2009 - Page 10 News List

China planned to unveil US$10 billion investment fund at failed ASEAN talks

REUTERS , BEIJING

China had planned to announce a US$10 billion infrastucture investment fund and offer credit to neighbors at a canceled weekend summit of Asian leaders in Thailand, its foreign minister said.

Anti-government protesters forced the cancelation of the 16-nation summit in Pattaya after they swarmed into the summit venue.

The summit was to bring together leaders of the 10-member ASEAN, regional powers China, Japan and India, and the UN secretary-general and president of the World Bank, who had planned to discuss the global financial crisis.

In an interview with China’s Xinhua news agency on Saturday, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (楊潔箎) said that the fund would promote construction to better connect China with its Southeast Asian neighbors, but did not give examples of projects.

Yang avoided direct criticism of the Thai government, while detailing measures that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) had planned to offer at the summit.

It was not immediately clear if China would go ahead with the planned investments. Calls to the Foreign Ministry and its after-hours mobile phone rang unanswered yesterday.

China has been active in building roads from its southern border through neighboring Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, to ease trade.

It will also offer a credit of US$15 billion to ASEAN countries, including preferential loans of US$1.7 billion for cooperation projects, Yang said.

It plans to offer 270 million yuan (US$39.51 million) in aid to Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar to help them combat the global financial crisis, and will inject US$50 million into the China-ASEAN cooperation fund, Yang said.

While not an ASEAN member, China’s growing economic clout, huge market and competitive exports make it an important participant in ASEAN summits, although tensions persist over competing claims to the South China Sea and Chinese plans for dams that are opposed by other nations along the Mekong River.

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