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Xinhua Asia-Pacific news summary at 1600 GMT, Sept. 15

JAKARTA -- China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) jointly announced in November last year to elevate their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership and ASEAN's close ties with China have effectively promoted the bloc's economic development, said an Indonesian entrepreneur.

In an interview with Xinhua, General Chairman of the Indonesian Chinese Entrepreneur Association Abdul Alek Soelystio said the China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership represents closer, higher-level and wider scope cooperation between the two sides. (ASEAN-China-Ties,INTERVIEW)

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SIEM REAP -- The economic ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Thursday reaffirmed their unwavering commitment to regional economic integration amid continued COVID-19 pandemic-related challenges and rising geopolitical tensions, according to a joint media statement.

The statement was issued at the end of the 54th ASEAN Economic Ministers' meeting, which was convened in Cambodia's northwestern Siem Reap province. (Cambodia-ASEAN,ROUNDUP)

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MANILA -- Philippine President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos on Thursday expressed his administration's "full and unwavering support" for the peace process of a Muslim autonomous region in the southern Philippines.

Marcos flew to Cotabato City on Mindanao island to witness the opening session of the 80-member Parliament of the 2022-2025 Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA). Bangsamoro Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, leads the transition body. (Philippines-Bangsamoro-Peace Process)

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CANBERRA -- Australia's trading relationship with China is very important and the economic conditions in China are strong, said Australian business leaders.

Recognizing the difficulties of the global economy following the COVID-19 pandemic, Andrew Robb, former Australian federal minister for trade and investment, told Xinhua that he believed the "underlying economic conditions are strong enough" in China. (Australia-China-Economy)

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TOKYO -- Japan booked a record 2.82 trillion yen (19.66 billion U.S. dollars) trade deficit in August owing to surging energy prices and a plunge in the yen inflating the price of imports, the government said in a report on Thursday.

According to the Finance Ministry, Japan's trade deficit has continued to widen, with August's figure marking the 13th straight month the trade balance has been in negative territory. (Japan-Trade Deficit)

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INCHEON -- The remains of 88 Chinese soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War were casketed in South Korea on Thursday to be sent back to their homeland.

The ceremony to lay the 88 remains in coffins was held in Incheon, west of the capital Seoul. (South Korea-Chinese Soldier-Remains)