Remarks by H.E. Li Keqiang
Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
At the 17th ASEAN Plus China, Japan and ROK Summit
Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, 13 November 2014
President Thein Sein,
It is a pleasure for me to join you at the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) Summit to jointly discuss and map out the future cooperation of East Asia. I wish to thank President Thein Sein and the government of Myanmar for their meticulous preparations and arrangements for the meeting.
Currently, the international situation is undergoing complex changes, with rising regional hot-spot issues and local turmoils, a global challenge of terrorism and worrying spread of the Ebola epidemic. The global economy is in the midst of deepened readjustment, with varying speed of recovery in developed economies and a slowdown in emerging market economies. Fortunately, East Asia has, on the whole, maintained peace and stability, its fundamental momentum of growth unaffected and its regional cooperation process continuing to move forward. Developing countries in East Asia are expected to maintain a relatively high growth rate this year and will continue to serve as a main engine driving world economic growth.
The ten ASEAN countries and China, Japan and the ROK are geographically close, economically complementary and culturally connected. Over the past 17 years, the APT cooperation has grown from strength to strength and become a strong impetus in the East Asian integration process. Last year, the parties adopted the ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation Work Plan 2013-2017, which made scientific arrangements for practical cooperation in 24 priority areas. The coming into effect of the amended CMIM (Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization) Agreement and the upgrading of AMRO (ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office) to an international organization this year have provided more safeguards for regional financial security. The APTERR (ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve) has steadily improved, bringing real benefits to the disaster afflicted countries. All these achievements and progress have testified to the APT’s position as the main vehicle in East Asia cooperation, and reflected the indispensable role the APT has played in promoting regional stability and integration and countering challenges. The review of the Report of the EAVGII ( East Asia Vision Group II) has made good progress, putting forward 25 selective recommendations. Here, I wish to announce that China would like to be the lead country for the implementation of the recommendations for East Asia connectivity, trade and investment, and poverty alleviation.
East Asian countries owe their development very much to the overall peaceful and stable environment of the region. Without peace and stability, the day of revitalization would never come to East Asia. It is important that all countries in the region take credible steps to respect each other, treat each other as equals and repudiate the zero-sum mentality of your losses being my gains, and work together to properly manage differences and disputes to ensure that East Asia will never be disrupted by these problems and miss the historic opportunity for development. Therefore, to firmly safeguard the overall environment of peace and stability is in the common interests of all countries in the region. China is ready to negotiate the signing of a treaty on good-neighborliness, friendship and cooperation with ASEAN countries. We stand for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the maintenance of long-term peace and stability on the Peninsula and in Northeast Asia. We support countries in continuing to peacefully resolve disputes through dialogue and consultation. We encourage parties directly concerned to peacefully resolve their disputes over territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests through dialogue and consultation on the basis of respecting historical facts and international law.
Building on past achievements, parties in the region need to step up coordination, keep firm to the general direction of mutually beneficial cooperation, carry out practical cooperation in relevant fields, and move steadily toward the goal of building an East Asian Community. To enhance APT cooperation, I wish to propose the following:
First, advance East Asia economic integration. Over the past decade or so, intra-regional trade in Asia has grown from US$1 trillion to US$3 trillion, accounting for half of the foreign trade of all countries in this region and shaping the general trend of building an open and fair regional trade and investment environment. China and ASEAN have officially launched negotiations on an upgraded CAFTA and China and the ROK have concluded substantive negotiations on the bilateral FTA. Positive progress has been made in negotiations on the China-Japan-ROK trilateral investment agreement and on the RCEP. Given the high degree of economic integration among APT countries, we need to enhance coordination, play a leading role in regional free trade arrangements, and work in a flexible and pragmatic way to complete RCEP negotiations before the end of 2015, so as to establish the biggest free trade area in East Asia. China proposes to co-host with Malaysia an East Asia investment summit next year and we look forward to your participation.
Second, upgrade financial cooperation in the region. The East Asian economy faces a big downward pressure and quantitative easing policies in some countries have already affected the financial stability in this region. APT countries need to strengthen financial cooperation, upgrade the operability of the CMIM, and make full use of the new precautionary line to address potential short-term liquidity difficulties. We need to improve the governance structure of AMRO and take steps to set up a regional mechanism for efficient supervision, coordination and early warning. We need to expand the size and scale of local currency swap arrangements, increase local currency settlement for cross-border trade, and enhance institutional building for clearance.
Third, achieve closer connectivity. Connectivity is the foundation for regional cooperation. China will step up coordination with Japan and the ROK, tap into the strengths in capital, technology and human resources, and work with ASEAN to enhance infrastructure building. We call for more frequent communication between China, Japan, the ROK and the ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee to discuss a master plan on East Asia connectivity. China will continue to make good arrangements for the International Seminar on APT Connectivity Partnership and will contribute RMB30 million to the success of the East Asia Maritime Cooperation Platform. Preparations on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank are moving forward at a faster pace and this bank, working together with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, will make positive contribution to infrastructure financing in Asia, ASEAN countries in particular. At the just concluded APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, China announced the establishment of a US$40 billion Silk Road Fund with a priority on connectivity.
Fourth, deepen cooperation to improve people’s well-being. Development imbalance is acutely felt in Asia. Therefore, the top priorities for countries in this region are to narrow gaps, reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. China fully agrees with the recommendation in the Report of the EAVGII to set poverty elimination as a priority in APT cooperation. China proposes a cooperation initiative on poverty alleviation in East Asia and will offer RMB100 million for a plan to facilitate poverty alleviation in rural areas and set up demonstration programs of poverty reduction cooperation in East Asia, and China will provide RMB3 billion of grant assistance to less developed ASEAN countries next year. Parties concerned need to enhance exchanges in agricultural technology and cooperation in food security, and improve the APTERR mechanism, so as to ensure sufficient food supply for all in East Asia.
Fifth, expand channels for people-to-people and cultural exchanges. Mutual understanding and friendship between the peoples are the foundation of friendly relations among countries. The Chinese side proposes that we discuss the establishment of a regular exchange mechanism among the three ASEAN Centers in China, Japan and the ROK. China supports the continued success of the APT cultural, educational and media ministers’ meetings and the continued hosting of programs including the East Asia Business Forum, the “Double 100,000 Students Plan”, and the exchange program for young scientists, and hopes that all parties could sign the APT MOU on Tourism Cooperation as soon as possible. Next year, China will allocate RMB65 million from the Asia Regional Cooperation Fund to support regional exchange and cooperation projects.
Sixth, enhance cooperation in public health. The Ebola virus disease has posed grave challenge to global public health and its future trajectory remains unclear. We suggest APT national health institutions step up communication and cooperation regarding treatment and control of the epidemic to gain experience and improve APT public health systems.
China’s rapid economic development in recent years has attracted worldwide attention and brought opportunities to East Asia’s development. Since the start of this year, international economic recovery has experienced turbulence and uncertainties and China’s economy has been under heavy downward pressure. We have remained committed to the general principle of making progress while maintaining stability. We have stayed the course and pursued a proactive approach, and continued to innovate in the thinking and methods of macro-control. We have been forceful in pushing forward reforms and innovative in stabilizing growth. Efforts have been given to readjust the structure and the focus has always been to bring benefits to the people. As a result, economic growth has been generally stable with progress made and quality improved. In the first three quarters of this year, China’s economy was kept within a proper range, GDP registered a 7.4% growth, and employment task of the whole year completed. Positive progress was made in restructuring, the share of the service industry further increased, and new industries and business models kept emerging. All this gave new impetus to economic development. With the implementation of the various policy measures introduced to promote innovation, restructuring and people’s livelihood, the expected annual growth rate of around 7.5% will be achieved.
Next year, under the influence of complicated and changing domestic and international environment and other intertwined problems and factors, China’s economy may continue to face big downward pressure. Yet the fundamentals have remained unchanged. We are at the crucial stage of a new type of industrialization, IT application, urbanization and agricultural modernization. With great flexibility, huge potentials and room for leverage, we are fully capable of ensuring a sustained and sound economic growth. We will stick to the principle of seeking progress while maintaining stability, ensure the continuity and stability of macro-control policies and adopt pre-adjustment and fine tuning at a proper time within a proper range. The focus of our work is to ensure reform and innovation and improve quality and efficiency. In this way, we will boost entrepreneurship and innovation by the people and give full play to their talent and wisdom, thus forming a new force driving economic development. We will maintain a mid- to high-speed growth of China’s economy and improve the quality of development toward the mid to high end, and continue to bring more development opportunities to countries in East Asia.
East Asia is our shared homeland. Prosperity and stability in East Asia is a blessing to the people, while turbulence and instability bring misery to all countries. No matter how the international situation may change, people in East Asia will always live, work and thrive together on this land. Only with sincerity, mutual assistance and synergy can we create a better future for us all!
Thank you very much.