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China's spectacular economic performance in 2021 goes a long way in stabilizing the world economy, and its commitment to free and open trade bodes well for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economies in the post-pandemic landscape, an analyst said.

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- China's spectacular economic performance in 2021 goes a long way in stabilizing the world economy, and its commitment to free and open trade bodes well for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economies in the post-pandemic landscape, an analyst said Monday.

"China's spectacular economic performance in 2021 is particularly spectacular when viewed together with China's relentless and strict effort in controlling the spread of the pandemic," said Oh Ei Sun, principal adviser for Malaysia's Pacific Research Center, in a written interview with Xinhua.

China's gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 8.1 percent year on year to 114.37 trillion yuan (about 18 trillion U.S. dollars) last year, China's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Monday.

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Oh said that China is the largest trading partner of most ASEAN countries, and ASEAN as a whole has also become China's largest trading partner, even during the course of the pandemic.

"China's and ASEAN's insistence upon free trade, even in the face of rising protectionism, is particularly commendable, and this has borne fruitful benefits for all sides, as China is now leading the world in terms of economic recovery rate, followed closely by ASEAN," he said.

China will continue to be a major destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) flows, with the country seeing a 14.9 percent increase year on year in 2021 due to its stable supply chains, and huge domestic markets and productivity are among the most important attractions as well as the tremendous flexibility and customization of goods and services by Chinese businesses, he said.

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As for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which was signed by 15 Asia-Pacific countries including China and entered into force on Jan. 1, Oh sees great opportunities for investors.

Oh said that the agreement, the world's largest free trade deal, will enable the free flow of goods, services and people's interactions among all member economies, with reduced or removed tariffs and non-tariff barriers.

RCEP will provide an even greater access to China's domestic markets and population with plenty of disposable income, thus naturally becoming an attractive business expansion destination for participating economies, he said.

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