Remarks by H.E. Li Keqiang
Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
At the 18th ASEAN Plus China, Japan and ROK Summit
Prime Minister Najib,
It is a pleasure to join you at the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) Summit to discuss and map out the future cooperation of East Asia. I wish to thank our host, the government of Malaysia, for the meticulous preparations and arrangements made for the meeting.
As we speak, the international situation remains complex and volatile, and the world economy is in the midst of deep readjustments. Countries face daunting tasks in their structural reforms while international institutions have repeatedly revised down global growth expectations. With rising regional hot-spot issues and local conflicts, the international community faces challenges from such nontraditional security threats as terrorism, refugee crisis and natural disasters. Against this backdrop, economic development in East Asia has maintained its upward trajectory, making it one of the most dynamic and promising regions in the world. This is attributable to the peaceful and stable regional environment, the emphasis that countries have placed on economic development and improvement of people’s lives, and the concerted efforts made by countries in the region to strengthen dialogue, consultation and regional cooperation.
The APT came into being in the midst of the Asian financial crisis. Having stood the test of the international financial crisis, it has grown into one of the most mature mechanisms for regional cooperation in East Asia. APT is a mechanism that carries much weight, as it includes developed countries, emerging economies and developing countries, and covers Northeast and Southeast Asia, an area boasting 57% of Asia’s population, 88% of Asia’s GDP and 50% of Asia’s total trade. Not long ago, the sixth China-Japan-ROK summit was held in Seoul, charting the course for sound and steady growth of the tripartite cooperation. In addition, ASEAN will soon declare the completion of its community building, which will move cooperation within ASEAN to a new historical stage. These two events will lend fresh impetus to APT cooperation.
To further deepen APT cooperation, China proposes that this meeting issue the APT Joint Statement on Promoting Regional Economic Growth and Financial Stability, and that all parties jointly formulate the blueprint of an East Asian economic community and establish an Asian financial cooperation association. The Chinese side hopes that all parties will join hands in accelerating economic integration in East Asia, work together to maintain regional financial stability, conduct international production capacity cooperation, increase the level of connectivity, deepen agricultural and poverty reduction cooperation, and expand people-to-people exchanges in order to promote inclusive development in wider areas and put East Asia cooperation on the track of sound and steady development.
Today, APT cooperation is conducted under 60 different mechanisms at various levels, covering 24 areas. Since last year, about 230 cooperation projects have been carried out among member states, producing positive outcomes in finance, food, connectivity, economy and trade, energy, maritime and cultural fields. The APT has lived up to its role as the main vehicle of East Asia cooperation.
China stands ready to work with the other 12 APT countries to ride on the opportunity of peace and development in East Asia and follow a path of enduring friendship and win-win cooperation. To further enhance APT cooperation in the next stage, I wish to propose the following:
First, accelerate East Asia economic integration. Integrated development of regional economy is an irresistible trend of our times. It serves the common interests of countries in the region. China officially signed the FTA with the ROK in June this year, and is about to conclude negotiations on an upgraded FTA with ASEAN. FTA negotiations between China, Japan and the ROK is making steady progress. China welcomes the issuance of the Joint Statement on RCEP Negotiations at this summit and is ready to work with other parties to conclude the RCEP negotiations in 2016 and build the most dynamic FTA in the world with the largest population and the most diverse membership. China is open to the TPP and believes that TPP and RCEP, as well as other FTA arrangements in the region, will reinforce each other and contribute to the common goal of an Asia Pacific FTA. China will continue to play host to the East Asia Business Forum and promote cooperation among parties on e-commerce and logistics in East Asia, so as to create more favorable conditions for regional trade and investment.
Second, make concerted efforts to maintain regional financial stability. The growing distablizing factors in international financial market recently has affected some ASEAN countries, leading to exchange rate fluctuations and capital outflow. To maintain the current growth momentum in Asia, it is imperative to strengthen regional economic and financial cooperation and promote the establishment of an Asian financial architecture. China proposes the issuance of the APT Joint Statement on Promoting Regional Economic Growth and Financial Stability, to demonstrate the determination of all parties to strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination and jointly safeguard regional economic and financial stability. China also proposes that financial institutions of countries in the region undertake to establish an Asian financial cooperation association to advance exchange among these institutions and increase synergy of financial resources. China is ready to work with other parties to upgrade the efficiency and operability of the CMIM, fully leverage the role of AMRO, promote opening up and development of the Asian Bond Market, strengthen exchange and cooperation in the credit sector and build a stronger safety net for regional finance.
Third, increase the level of connectivity. Connectivity, a major part of China’s Belt and Road initiative, provides strong support for regional cooperation. ASEAN has formulated a master plan on connectivity, and China is willing to discuss, on that basis, introduction of a master plan on connectivity in East Asia to promote connectivity in the entire East Asia. The AIIB is expected to be established and enter into operation by the end of the year, and the Silk Road Fund has started to make substantive investment in projects. The AIIB, the Fund, together with the ADB, World Bank and other multilateral development institutions, may learn from and complement each other to raise the level of financing for regional infrastructure development. China is now working to set up a platform for maritime cooperation in East Asia and will promote cooperation on maritime connectivity, marine scientific research and training of professionals. China welcomes all parties to take part in such cooperation.
Fourth, conduct international production capacity cooperation. Countries in East Asia, each at their own stage of development, have much to offer each other with their distinct resource endowment and industrial structure. At the moment, most countries are speeding up industrialization and urbanization, providing enormous market space for international production capacity cooperation. China is now in the mid-to-late stage of industrialization, with many competitive industries and abundant production capacity. The ROK and Japan have strengths in scientific and technological innovation, R&D, designing, and key equipment manufacturing. At the sixth China-Japan-ROK summit held earlier this month, the three countries agreed to strengthen capacity cooperation in manufacturing and service sectors in the international market. China will conduct such cooperation with other parties on the basis of voluntarism, equality and mutual benefit. The focus may be on major infrastructure development, engineering machinery, power generation and construction materials. Production capacity cooperation serves to meet the demand of ASEAN countries, push forward their industrialization and raise the industrial level. It thus helps us to achieve sustainable development and provide new drivers for steady growth of the regional economy. China will host an APT international production capacity cooperation seminar next year and I hope you will all come to attend the event.
Fifth, deepen agriculture and poverty reduction cooperation. Agriculture is a major sector for East Asian countries. China supports efforts to strengthen APTERR and is advancing the building of the East Asia Modern Agriculture Development Demonstration Base and the East Asian Transaction Platform for Livestock Products. We will continue to run the relevant projects well and strengthen exchange and cooperation with other parties on the circulation of agricultural products, production technologies, agriculture-related financial support and personnel training. Since most of the poor population in East Asia live in the rural area, agricultural development in the region is closely related to poverty alleviation and reduction. China is now actively implementing the cooperation initiative on poverty alleviation in East Asia. We have reached agreement with countries concerned on small-scale infrastructure and public services projects. The relevant projects need to be put into implementation as soon as possible. The parties may strengthen policy exchange and experience sharing so that our cooperation on poverty reduction will directly serve the local community and benefit more people at the grass-root level.
Sixth, expand people-to-people exchanges. Personnel exchanges helps boost mutual understanding and trust. We need to facilitate the development of mechanisms of APT tourism, education, culture and information ministers meetings and promote people-to-people exchanges and cooperation in the region. China supports closer interactions between East Asia Cultural Cities and ASEAN Cultural Cities programs and supports the early signing of an MOU on APT Tourism Cooperation. Next year, China will host a young scientists exchange program and Eyes on China Program for mainstream media in Asia. Think tanks like the East Asia Forum and NEAT could play a bigger role and interaction between track I and track II may be increased so that they could contribute more ideas and insights to regional cooperation.
China has taken an active part in and promoted APT cooperation. It is the co-leading country in four selected recommendations from the overall assessment of the Report of the EVAGII, namely, in connectivity, trade and investment, poverty alleviation and public radio and TV cooperation. We are now increasing coordination with countries concerned to follow through on the action plans. China supports the adoption of a progress report on the implementation of selected recommendations at this summit. We will coordinate with other parties and support and take an active part in other recommended areas of cooperation.
The purposes and principles guiding APT cooperation over the years are observance of the UN Charter, respect for international law, commitment to declarations and agreements reached among parties and to peaceful settlement of problems through dialogue instead of exchange of accusations. It is important for us to work together to foster an atmosphere of mutual trust, mutual understanding and mutual respect. Let us join hands to create a stable environment and a harmonious atmosphere for regional development for the benefit of the people of all countries in the region.