Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has stressed that ASEAN and China need to maintain a positive relationship.

As a coordinator for the ASEAN-China relations, Singapore will work with Beijing to accelerate talks on creating a framework of mechanisms to execute the Code of Conduct (COC) in the East Sea, he said.

Speaking at the ASEAN-China Summit marking the 25th anniversary of the dialogue relationship between the two sides on September 7, PM Lee said there remain problems in the ASEAN-China relationship, though at its peak, and one of them is the dispute in East Sea.

However, the Singaporean leader said the two sides should pursue the common goal of peace and stability in the region, a prerequisite condition to sustain economic growth.

Mentioning the economic cooperation between ASEAN and China, he emphasised the importance of China as a leading trade partner of most ASEAN member countries.

According to Lee, two-way trade skyrocketed from 8 billion USD in 1991 to 370 billion USD at the moment.

The PM also said both sides’ efforts in economic cooperation will help move towards the goal of 1,000 billion USD in bilateral trade by 2020, adding that ASEAN can overtake the United States and the European Union to become China’s largest trade partner.

Earlier, during a September 6 meeting with Singaporean PM Lee Hsien Loong on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Laos’ Vientiane capital, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang expressed his hope that Singapore can play a constructive role in strengthening the relationship between Beijing and ASEAN.

He said that Beijing always considers ASEAN a diplomatic priority in the region and wants to work with the grouping to expand shared interests and contribute more to peace and stability in the region.-VNA