Premier Li Keqiang (center) and other leaders take a group photo ahead of the opening ceremony of the 2014 annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan province on April 10. [Photo/China Daily]
Premier also pledges to deal with territorial provocations resolutely
Premier Li Keqiang set out a vision of “shared responsibility” as one of three pillars for the Asian community at a major regional conference on April 10.
He also stated Beijing’s determination to handle territorial provocations.
“We will give total support to initiatives that help strengthen maritime cooperation. On the other hand, we will respond resolutely to provocations that undermine peace and stability in the South China Sea,” Li said at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference.
Li did not refer to any country by name, but the Philippines recently initiated a number of inflammatory actions to boost its illegal claims on China’s Ren’ai Reef and Huangyan Island in the South China Sea.
Li mentioned the situation as he explained his vision about an Asian “community of shared responsibility”. To achieve this goal, Li highlighted the need for greater combined efforts to “secure the overall climate of peaceful development”.
On the economic front, Li said Asian countries need to build a community of “shared interests” and “common destiny” - the other two pillars - in order to weather financial storms and boost regional economic cooperation and free trade.
Experts in regional affairs said this was the first time a top figure in China enunciated the concept of the “three pillars of the Asian community”.
Wang Dong, director of the Center for Northeast Asian Strategic Studies at Peking University, said the premier set out a strong and convincing argument to tell the world that China is fully shouldering its duties as a major power.
“There have been a large number of voices accusing China of behaving irresponsibly, and accusing it of posing a threat to Asia regarding territorial issues. Li has made it clear that China is dedicated to guarding the peace and China will not be swerved by political conspiracies,” Wang said.
Wu Shicun, head of the National Institute of South China Sea Studies, said the Philippines may harvest some short-term, trivial benefits from its latest provocations, including its appeal for international arbitration, but it will “end up as the biggest loser” if it stirs up trouble in the region.
Li’s views on “shared responsibilities” were echoed by former Japanese prime minister Yasuo Fukuda in an address to the forum.
“In order to maintain the development of Asia, every nation should not only focus on itself, but also consider the interests of the entire region, even the whole world,” said Fukuda, the forum’s chairman of the board of directors
All stakeholders of Asia “must be responsible for their own words and actions, otherwise sustainable development, either economically or socially, will be impossible,” Fukuda said.
The premier also highlighted the importance of a peaceful and stable regional environment for Asia.
Christopher Lu, chief partner of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, a major financial consultancy, said he was impressed by Li’s remarks about interdependence and common development, saying that the three-pillar community concept “will be a facilitator for the entire investment environment of the Asian region”.
“China is seeking a transition of its role from an observer and a participant to a leader in formulating trade rules,” Lu said.
The three-pillar view of building a community between China and specific regional blocs has been sketched gradually by the evolving diplomatic agendas in the past years.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi mentioned the three-pillar view - including shared responsibility - in the context of China-Southeast Asia ties when meeting senior Indonesian diplomats in July.
In September, President Xi Jinping called on China and member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to build a China-Central Asia community to pursue a common destiny and shared interests.
When visiting Indonesia in October, Xi also called for the establishment of a China-ASEAN community of common destiny.
Yang Cheng, deputy director of the Center for Russian Studies at the East China Normal University in Shanghai, said the community concept is actually China’s political commitment to its neighbors on openness, equality and sharing.
“China is getting rid of the relatively passive paradigm (in international politics) and acting more proactively to share the dividends released by its domestic growth. China is setting an agenda within a global scope,” Yang said.