China is looking to upgrade its ASEAN ties to a “Strategic Comprehensive Partnership”. It already has an extensive free trade agreement with the bloc, whose members include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. ASEAN is China’s largest trade partner with annual bilateral volumes at US$685.28 billion in 2020.
Strategic Comprehensive Partnerships go further than trade agreements in that they align laws as well as security and related cooperation and are also the highest level of relationship possible between Governments. ASEAN already cooperates with China to some extent in the security aspect as it is a permanent attendee of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Read More.