Speech by H.E. Li Keqiang
Premier of the State Council of
The People's Republic of China
At the 14th East Asia Summit
4 November 2019
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha,
It gives me great pleasure to join you in the beautiful city of Bangkok, known as the City of Angels. I wish to thank the Thai government for its thoughtful arrangements for our summit.
We face a complex and fluid international situation, characterized by setbacks to economic globalization, notably rising protectionism, challenges to the international order and global governance system, and flare-ups of regional hotspots. Global growth is losing steam, as economic slowdown hits developed economies and emerging markets alike. Major international institutions have revised down their growth forecasts for the global economy and trade for 2019 and 2020 to the lowest levels since the financial crisis. Some major economies have introduced interest rate cuts to counter the downward trend.
These uncertainties and destabilizing factors are also weighing on East Asia. Overcoming new risks and challenges, maintaining steady growth and upholding peace and development have become a more pressing and arduous task.
Since its inception 14 years ago, the East Asia Summit (EAS) has grown into an important platform for dialogue and cooperation among countries in and beyond the region. The 18 members of the EAS include major economies in the Asia Pacific and countries of different social systems and stages of development. Given its extensive representation and influence, the EAS should and can make a positive contribution to peace and prosperity in the region and the wider world.
To this end, we need to keep the EAS as a "leaders-led strategic forum", advance both political and security cooperation and social and economic development, and promote both strategic communication and practical cooperation. We need to uphold ASEAN centrality, stay focused on East Asia and the Asia Pacific, maintain the existing architecture of regional cooperation, and take cooperation forward along the right track. In this connection, I wish to make the following proposals for our future cooperation:
First, we need to promote win-win cooperation and build an open world economy. To cope with the new round of downward pressure on the world economy, we need to step up cooperation in the spirit of mutual support that has helped us navigate through the financial crisis.
To ensure steady growth of the world economy, we need to enhance macroeconomic policy coordination, advance structural reform, foster an open, fair, transparent, non-discriminatory and predictable business environment, and improve trade and investment liberalization and facilitation. We need to firmly support multilateralism and free trade, safeguard the multilateral trading regime with the WTO at its core, and make economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial for all.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) proposed by China is guided by the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. It advocates open, green and clean development, and promotes open and win-win cooperation. Yesterday, China and ASEAN reached a new consensus to synergize the BRI and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, which will create enabling conditions for prosperity and development in East Asia.
Fifteen RCEP participating countries have concluded text-based negotiations and essentially all their market access issues, and are committed to resolving the few outstanding issues by the end of this year, to make the agreement ready for signing at next year's RCEP Summit. This represents a major step forward in regional economic integration. It will help create a more open and stable trade and investment environment in our region, and boost the confidence of regional countries to overcome downward pressure and sustain the momentum of development and prosperity in East Asia. As an open and inclusive agreement, the RCEP will provide strong support and useful complement to the multilateral trading regime, give new impetus to global trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and contribute to stable global growth.
Second, we need to put development first and seek common prosperity. Most countries in East Asia are developing countries faced with the fundamental and common tasks of speeding up growth and promoting inclusive, green and sustainable development. Developed countries need to take concrete and effective actions to fulfill their commitment under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We all need to work together to deepen global development partnership, promote inclusive growth, and make our contribution to narrowing the development gap, improving people's livelihood and protecting the environment.
Firmly committed to sustainable development, China has put people's well-being front and center, and pursued innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development. We have made vigorous efforts in the areas of poverty reduction, education, health and environmental protection, and contributed over 70 percent to global poverty reduction.
Under the ASEAN theme of sustainability this year, the Statement on Partnership for Sustainability, which will be issued at the Summit, is conducive to energizing common efforts by EAS members to achieve more balanced, efficient and sustainable development in our region.
This year, China has participated in EAS cooperation with a focus on sustainable development. We have sponsored exchange programs on natural resources, clean energy and new energy, estuary harnessing, protection and management, and ship survey. Next year, we will continue to host the new energy forum, and launch exchange and cooperation projects on vessel traffic service and new food ingredients. We look forward to your active participation.
Third, we need to boost innovation to foster new drivers of growth. As the new round of technological and industrial revolution advances, technologies like 5G, artificial intelligence, big data and the Internet of Things will profoundly change the way we work and live. We must seize the opportunities presented. This requires that we identify and exert our respective strengths in pushing forward the transformation of traditional industries and facilitate a shift from traditional drivers of growth to new ones by bolstering the emerging sectors.
As next year has been designated the China-ASEAN Year of Digital Economy Cooperation, China is ready to enhance cooperation with ASEAN on smart cities, the digital economy, artificial intelligence and e-commerce to drive new progress in our innovation cooperation.
Blocking technological exchanges in the areas of innovation goes against the global trend of development and the shared interests of the international community. Such a practice will lead to nowhere and benefit no one. What we need is an open environment for healthy competition and cooperation where more countries and peoples could share in the resources and outcomes of innovation.
Fourth, we need to advance cooperation in non-traditional security fields to preserve common security. The increasingly acute non-traditional security challenges, from terrorism to climate change, cybersecurity to transnational crimes and illicit drugs, pose a threat to all countries. Such global challenges require collective responses. We must enhance dialogue and communication and actively pursue the new vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security.
China supports adopting the statements on combating transnational crimes and on the spread of illicit drugs at this Summit. China will host a counter-terrorism joint exercise this month and continue to support the relevant UN agency in preparing for the earthquake response exercise to be held in Thailand next month to tackle these non-traditional security threats. The Chinese side has co-sponsored joint researches on the security architecture in the Asia-Pacific for three consecutive years and will continue to support discussions on the concepts and architecture of regional security suited to regional realities to provide intellectual support for peace and stability in our region.
Driven by our shared aspiration for a peaceful and stable South China Sea, China and ASEAN countries have made joint efforts to advance the consultations on the Code of Conduct. Last year, the Chinese side proposed that we conclude the consultations in three years' time, which was positively received. China and ASEAN countries are now working toward concluding the COC by the end of 2021 or even earlier. We have completed the first reading ahead of schedule last July, and the second reading has commenced. Overall, the process has been sound and smooth.
The COC is aimed at enhancing trust, boosting cooperation and managing differences. It should steer clear of territorial and jurisdictional disputes between countries concerned and serve as an institutional safeguard for peace and stability in the South China Sea. As important regional rules to be jointly formulated, observed and implemented by the 11 parties of China and ASEAN countries, the COC reflects the common interests and concerns of the 11 countries. The COC consultations should be built on the DOC, and deliver a more substantive, effective and operable document, which is aimed at better upholding peace and stability in the South China Sea and promoting cooperation among regional countries. Countries from outside the region, who are not direct parties to the South China Sea issue, should show real respect and support for the efforts of the regional countries.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. The past seven decades have witnessed a momentous journey for our country, marked by solid steps forward and remarkable progress toward prosperity of the country, renewal of the nation and happiness of its people. These achievements have been made possible by the hard work and perseverance of the Chinese people. China's openness to and cooperation with the rest of the world has also been an important contributing factor. The Chinese economy has been deeply integrated into the world economy and its growth has created tremendous opportunities for other countries' development. Going forward, China will keep to the path of peaceful development and the win-win strategy of opening-up, deepen friendship and cooperation with all countries, and work with the rest of the international community for building a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind.
East Asia is our shared home whose prosperity requires our joint efforts. China is ready to work with all other countries to expand common ground and enhance cooperation for a better future of our region, a future of peace and stability, economic progress, and a better life for our people.