China, Southeast Asia Look to Strengthen Economic Ties

China, Southeast Asia Look to Strengthen Economic Ties

NANNING, China -- A huge sign strung across the entrance to a trade exhibition center in the southwest Chinese city of Nanning blandly says "10+1=11." But behind this uninspiring piece of sloganeering, and in and around this provincial capital, more exciting things have been happening.

The Philippines' President Gloria Arroyo went for a cruise on the Li River, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong popped up to Sichuan and received a bottled gourd for happiness and prosperity, and deals worth $600 million were signed between Chinese companies and several Southeast Asian countries.

There have also been some amusing asides in Nanning: Thailand's military-appointed Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont sought to reassure Chinese leaders that democracy would soon return to his country; the Prime Minister of penniless Myanmar, General Soe Win, claimed his country would build a textile factory in the central Chinese province of Jiangxi; and China's Premier Wen Jiabao commended the visitors to go out and enjoy the "beautiful autumn season of October with clear skies and blooming flowers."

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