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Full text of Zhang Gaoli’s speech at China-ASEAN Expo, Business and Investment Summit

Updated: Sep 19,2015 5:51 PM     Xinhua

Join Hands to Build A Closer China-ASEAN Community of Shared Destiny, Featuring Peace and Cooperation, Openness and Inclusiveness, Mutual Benefits and Win-win Relations

— Speech by Zhang Gaoli, Vice-Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, at the opening ceremony of the 12th China-ASEAN Expo and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit

Nanning, Guangxi, September 18, 2015

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, friends,

I am delighted to join you in the golden autumn in Nanning, the beautiful Green City of China, for the 12th China-ASEAN Expo and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit. First, please allow me to extend, on behalf of President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and the Chinese government and people, our warm welcome to all distinguished guests and warm congratulations on the opening of the 12th Expo and the Summit.

China and ASEAN are friendly neighbors linked by land and sea and natural partners of cooperation. More than 2,000 years ago, our ancestors created the ancient maritime Silk Road, which has become a route of peaceful exchanges, as well as economic, trade and cultural exchanges between the people in China and Southeast Asian countries. In the long history after that, numerous envoys, merchants, scholars and craftsmen from China and ASEAN nations traveled along the route and promoted the progress of human civilization.

Today, with the deepening world multi-polarization, economic globalization, cultural diversity and social informationization, China and ASEAN should grasp the trend of the times, uphold the principles of mutual assistance and mutual benefits to further our friendly cooperation and become a major force for maintaining regional peace and stability and promoting regional development and prosperity.

-- Our mutual trust has grown. President Xi Jinping made the proposal of building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and a closer China-ASEAN Community of Shared Destiny through the joint efforts of China and ASEAN. His proposal has won wide approval and support from ASEAN nations, because it is a great cause that will boost regional economic cooperation, beef up exchanges between different civilizations, promote world peace and development, and bring benefits to all people around the world. Premier Li Keqiang has put forward a “2+7 cooperation framework”. With joint efforts from the two sides, the “Belt and Road” initiative is connecting with the building of an ASEAN community and ASEAN countries’ development strategies.

-- Our economic integration has been furthered. China is ASEAN’ s biggest trade partner while ASEAN is China’ s third largest trade partner, fourth largest export destination and second largest source of import. Last year, bilateral trade volume has exceeded $480 billion, up by 8.3 percent, or 4.9 percentage points higher than China’ s overall foreign trade growth. The two-way accumulative investment has surpassed $130 billion. We have made progress in negotiations of upgrading the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA) and the negotiations of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The road map of economic cooperation in Pan — Beibu Gulf has been completed.

-- Our areas of cooperation have been expanded. Bilateral practical cooperation has covered over 20 areas such as agriculture, transportation and culture and is expanding towards new areas like finance, new and high technology, green industry and sea. 2015 is the “Year of China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation”. The two sides have designed and have been orderly implementing more than 40 projects, including the China-ASEAN maritime cooperation center, maritime emergency aid hot line and maritime school. In recent years, both sides have combated together the international financial crisis, transnational crimes, natural disasters and cross border infectious diseases and other non-traditional security challenges.

The progress mentioned above fully reflects the strong vitality of China-ASEAN cooperation and signals the promising prospect of bilateral relations. It also fully demonstrates as long as we adhere to the Silk Road spirit of “peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual benefit and win-win relations”, countries of different ethnic backgrounds, with different beliefs and cultural backgrounds can live in peace and achieve common development.

Ladies and gentlemen, friends,

As the world is undergoing profound political and economic restructuring, China and ASEAN can only effectively cope with difficulties and challenges and realize greater development by building a community of shared interests, destiny and responsibility featuring political mutual trust, economic integration and cultural inclusiveness. The Chinese government has always attached great importance to friendly cooperation with ASEAN and placed priority on ASEAN in China’ s diplomacy with surrounding countries. China supports a stronger ASEAN, and the building of the ASEAN Community and its leading role in regional cooperation. China is willing to work with ASEAN towards the goal of building the “Belt and Road” and a closer China-ASEAN Community of Shared Destiny, implement the “2+7 cooperation framework” to push for new progress in bilateral strategic partnership. Therefore, I have the following proposals:

First, further enhance political mutual trust and the connection between strategies of China and ASEAN countries. President Xi’s “Belt and Road” initiative is entering a new stage of practical cooperation thanks to the joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries along the route. China is delighted to see ASEAN complete its building of a community by the end of this year, which will be the first sub-regional community in Asia. We hope China and ASEAN will work together to enhance the connection between “Belt and Road” and the ASEAN Community and ASEAN countries’ strategies so as to contribute to our respective development objectives. Political mutual trust is an important guarantee of friendly cooperation. Both sides should maintain high-level exchanges and negotiate for a good-neighborly cooperation treaty between China and ASEAN countries and speed up the formulation of the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on the China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity (2016-2020). We welcome ASEAN defense ministers to attend the informal China-ASEAN defense chiefs’ meeting in October in China. As 2016 will mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of dialogue between China and ASEAN, China is willing to maintain close communication with ASEAN and hold successful commemorations for this occasion.

Second, deepen economic and trade cooperation and upgrade the CAFTA. Economic and trade cooperation is the foundation of and spearheads the implementation of the “Belt and Road” initiative. Both sides should work towards completing the negotiations of upgrading the CAFTA at the end of this year and enhance bilateral and multilateral cooperation in customs, inspection and quarantine, certification, standard measurement and statistical information, lowering non-tariff barriers and improving trade and investment facilitation. Tap new engines for trade growth and expand trade and two-way investment scale, striving to realize a projected trade volume of $1 trillion by 2020 and new investment of $100 billion from China to ASEAN in eight years by 2020. China is ready to work with ASEAN to advance the negotiations of RCEP and promote regional economic integration.

Third, further international cooperation in production capacity and achieve mutual benefit at a higher level. China is an industrial power, ranking the largest producer of more than 220 industrial products on the globe, with advantages in equipment, technology, construction, capital and management expertise. While ASEAN countries are actively promoting industrialization and urbanization, they have urgent need for foreign equipment, technology and investment. China stands ready to conduct production capacity cooperation with ASEAN in more areas, such as electricity, engineering machinery, construction materials and telecommunications, using trade zones and other industrial parks as an important platform for bilateral production capacity cooperation to attract Chinese enterprises to invest in ASEAN in groups. The regional supply chain, industrial chain and value chain will be improved to enhance the industrial competitiveness of China and ASEAN in the world. Finance cooperation should be strengthened, making full use of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund so that finance can play a vitally supportive role in infrastructure construction and production capacity cooperation.

Fourth, strengthen connectivity and build a more efficient infrastructure network. As ASEAN has adopted a master plan for connectivity, China is willing to step up connection with ASEAN infrastructure construction plan and technology standards, jointly push forward major international lanes construction and focus on key projects to improve the accessibility of the roads. Relying on the cooperation committee of China-ASEAN connectivity and the meeting of China-ASEAN transportation ministers, China is willing to work the ASEAN to facilitate construction of new land links between China and the Indo-China Peninsula. China is willing to work with ASEAN to build an information port so as to use an information network with good connectivity to boost cooperation in various areas. China will promote Lancang-Mekong River cooperation to better benefit people in the region and contribute to sub-regional sustainable development.

Fifth, boost maritime cooperation. The peace and stability of the South China Sea concerns regional development and prosperity and the well-being of the people, hence serving the common interests of all the countries in the region. China is ready to work with ASEAN countries to implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in a comprehensive and effective manner, advance the consultation on a code of conduct in the South China Sea, and jointly safeguard peace and stability on the sea. Both sides should take the “Year of China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation” as an opportunity to enhance practical cooperation on maritime economy, connectivity, science and environmental protection, security and culture, and promote joint development and strive to make maritime cooperation a new highlight and momentum for China-ASEAN relations.

Sixth, foster closer people-to-people exchanges to cement the foundation of good neighborliness. Good state-to-state relations are based upon friendly feelings between the people while understanding each other is the basis for such kind of feelings. China is willing to work with ASEAN to implement the action plan for China-ASEAN cultural cooperation and set up cultural centers for each other. The China-ASEAN Education Exchange Week will be well organized and the number of students studying in each other’s land should be enlarged. We support the China-ASEAN Center to play a greater role in enhancing cultural, educational and tourism cooperation. We need to tap into the potential of the China-ASEAN Technology Transfer Center and the pilot agricultural technology center that China has built in ASEAN countries, strengthening cooperation in technology transfer, training and agriculture. China-ASEAN environmental protection cooperation strategy (2016-2020) should be drafted as soon as possible to promote green and sustainable growth.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends,

The Chinese economy has entered a “new normal” phase, shifting from high-speed and investment-led growth to medium-to-high and innovation-driven growth. Since the beginning of this year, we have set the tone of seeking growth while maintaining stability, with efforts going to stabilizing growth, promoting reform, restructuring, benefiting the people and preventing risks. The Chinese economy has remained in a reasonable range, showing a slow but stable and upward trend. China’ s economy has grown 7 percent for the first six months, witnessing stable prices, increasing employment and optimized structuring and improved quality. Consumption has become a stronger driver for economic growth, and service sector has taken on a bigger share, while high technology and new industries have developed fast. The Chinese economy still faces downward pressure, but has resilience, potential and leeway, accompanied by sufficient foreign exchange reserves. The long-term fundamentals for an upward trend remains unchanged. We have confidence and capacity to maintain sustainable and healthy growth of the economy; we have the confidence to maintain general stability of yuan’s exchange rate at a reasonable and balanced level and build an open and transparent capital market that will enjoy long-term, stable and healthy development. We will work strictly in line with the strategic planning of “Four Comprehensives”, actively adapt to and guide the economic “new normal”, seeking progress while maintaining stability, reform and innovate and take development as the primary task. We will focus on improving economic development quality and efficiency, continue the proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy and enhance targeted control. We will streamline administration to promote the economy proceed towards medium-to-high growth and medium-to-high level so that the economy will move towards green, low carbon, and sustainable growth. We will strive for building a well-off society in an all-round way, realizing the Two Centenary Goals and achieving the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

China will adopt a more active opening-up strategy and benefit neighboring countries and the world with its own development. China will import more commodities and services and expand investment overseas on a larger scale in the future. A growing number of Chinese tourists will go on sightseeing trips abroad. These will offer more opportunities for development and cooperation to countries all over the world. With global economic recovery remains difficult, we are willing to complement each other with ASEAN countries, achieve win-win results and jointly overcome challenges and obstacles for a robust, sustainable and balanced global growth and regional development and prosperity.

Ladies and gentlemen, friends,

The Expo and Summit have become a platform for China and ASEAN countries to enhance political mutual trust, trade and people-to-people bonds. I hope the Expo and Summit will take the “Belt and Road” initiative as an opportunity to foster profound friendship and business opportunities, yield more fruits of cooperation and make new contributions to building the China-ASEAN Community of Shared Destiny. I sincerely wish all of you well and success in your work during the Expo and Summit. I wish the 12th China-ASEAN Expo and the 12th China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit a complete success!

Thank you.