Premier Li Keqiang's keynote speech at 10th China-ASEAN Expo

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-9-4 10:08:23

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivers a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the tenth China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, capital of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, September 3, 2013. Photo: Xinhua

The following is the translation of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's keynote speech at the tenth China-ASEAN Expo and the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, which runs from Sept. 3 to 6 in Nanning, capital of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Distinguished guests, ladies, gentlemen and friends,

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the establishment of China-ASEAN strategic partnership and the holding of the China-ASEAN Expo. In many of our oriental countries, there is such a popular saying as "a grand celebration in every 10th year". Today, the hall is full of distinguished guests and filled with festive air. China has another saying -- "it takes a decade for a tree to grow up". The China-ASEAN strategic partnership has gone through 10 years, like a fully grown tree, which is thriving and fruitful. Now, it is time for harvest as well as sowing for the future. I have full confidence in the future development of China-ASEAN relations. On behalf of the Chinese government, I extend my warm welcome to all distinguished guests from various countries, and I send my sincere congratulations to the successful holding of the China-ASEAN Expo and the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit.

Peace and development remain the underlying trends of the world. China will unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development, and make positive contributions to the prosperity and stability of this region and the world. Neighboring areas have always been the focus and top priority of China's diplomacy. China's new government will more unswervingly uphold the foreign policy of friendship and partnership with neighboring countries, more actively realize the conjunction between Chinese development strategies and the development goals of neighboring countries, and more firmly and effectively build a community of common destiny to share peace and prosperity.

China and the ASEAN are close neighbors that share affinitive cultures, bloods and common interests. China is the first outside big country to accede to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia. It is also the first country to establish strategic partnership with the ASEAN, and to launch and complete the establishment of the free trade area with the ASEAN. Over the past decade since the establishment of China-ASEAN strategic partnership, the relations between the two sides have always featured mutual respect, equal treatment, good relations of neighborhood and mutual benefit. Mutual trust between the two sides has been constantly enhanced, practical cooperation deepened, while people-to-people and cultural exchanges are more frequent, and cooperation in various fields has made substantial progress. All the above aspects have brought tangible benefits to countries in the region and their people.

Nevertheless, we have also noticed that there exist some disruptive factors in the region that are against stability and development, but they are not mainstreams. Regarding South China Sea disputes, China has always firmly held that the immediate disputing parties should seek sound solutions through friendly negotiations on the basis of respecting historical facts and international laws. The Chinese government is one of accountability, and is willing to seek sound solutions through friendly negotiations. The Chinese side maintains that the South China Sea disputes are not an issue between China and the ASEAN, and they should not and will not affect the overall China-ASEAN cooperation. Ten years ago, China and ASEAN countries jointly signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which has firmly maintained peace and stability and substantially safeguarded free voyages in the South China Sea. China will continue to comprehensively implement all provisions in the Declaration with an attitude of accountability, and steadily facilitate talks over a code of conduct in the South China Sea step by step under the framework of the Declaration.

Here, on behalf of the Chinese government, I solemnly declare that China's good-neighborly policy toward the ASEAN is not a matter of expediency, but a long-term strategic option of China. China will firmly prioritize ASEAN member countries in the country's peripheral diplomacy, firmly deepen the strategic partnership with the ASEAN, and firmly cooperate with the ASEAN to jointly safeguard peace and stability in the region, including the South China Sea. Meanwhile, China will keep supporting the development of the ASEAN, the establishment of the ASEAN community, as well as upholding the dominant role of the ASEAN in east Asian cooperation. China-ASEAN relations must be long-run and friendly, cooperative and mutually beneficial, and fully embody the importance of the strategic partnership between the two sides.

Ladies and gentlemen!

The international situation continues to undergo complex and profound changes at present. There are some positive signs in the economy of developed countries, and emerging economies and developing countries have shown great potentials in market expansion. These are favorable and positive factors. Meanwhile, the world economy is in in-depth adjustment, and the global economic recovery is facing a lot of uncertainties and unstable factors. The profound impact of the international financial crisis has not ended, with structural contradictions, including out-of-control crisis, growth and North-South imbalances, remain outstanding. To deal with difficulties and challenges faced by different countries, development is the essential resolution.

Asia, which has nearly half of the world's population and one-third of the global economy, has created a series of growth miracles. It has become one of the most vigorous regions of world economic development in recent years. But we also need to notice that development among Asian countries remain uneven, and the task of promoting growth and improving people's well-being is arduous. Recently, capital flows and financial markets in some emerging economies and developing countries have been influenced sharply due to the increasing expectations that some developed countries, major reserve currency issuing countries in particular, might withdraw from the quantitative easing monetary policies. Some Asian countries are among those affected, facing multiple challenges such as outflow of capital, currency devaluation, slower growth and rising inflation, which have aroused concerns from people and some friendly countries. Under the current circumstances, the major task of China and the ASEAN remains to develop their economy and improve people's well-being. We should adhere to the guideline of giving priority to the economies, development and people's well-being. We should focus our attention to those three aspects and keep advocating the spirit of unity and cooperation, as well as helping each other. We should also join hands to deal with possible and unforeseeable risks and challenges, and strive to keep the economy running smoothly and healthily. This is a common interest for all sides, and also for their people.

China and the ASEAN have achieved significant progress in the past decade under the meticulous cultivation by leaders of each countries. The two sides have witnessed a golden decade of China-ASEAN cooperation, with bilateral trade volume increasing by fivefold and the scale of two-way investment expanding threefold. We built up the largest free trade area of the developing countries across the world, which conform to the trend of development and bring benefits to the people. The ASEAN has already become the third largest trade partner of China. The economic connection between China and the ASEAN has never been so close and interdependent as today.

China and the ASEAN are natural partners. We are in the same phase featured by accelerating industrialization and urbanization, and we have similar development goals and tasks. Pushing China-ASEAN economic cooperation and development will definitely unleash enormous vitality. During these couple of days, I have held wide-ranging and profound exchanges with leaders of the ASEAN countries and we reached a series of important consensus. We unanimously agreed that our common interests are expanding. We had the capabilities to create a "golden decade" in the past, we also have the power to create a "diamond decade" in the future. We need to carry forward the cause pioneered by our predecessors and forge ahead into the future. Standing at a new starting point in history, we should seek new strategic breakthroughs, constantly deepen pragmatic cooperation, and work together to upgrade the level of China-ASEAN cooperation on the basis of enhancing political mutual trust and promoting the spirit of openness and inclusiveness, so as to promote the advancement of the bilateral strategic partnership. Hence, I raise the following proposals for cooperation:

The first is to create an upgraded version of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area. The establishment of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area has created a precedent for trade and investment cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, which greatly boosted the rapid development of bilateral economic and trade relations. Looking into the future, China will uphold traditions in the establishment of the free trade area over the past ten years, prioritize the ASEAN's representation of their interests, and create more favorable conditions for ASEAN's development. We are willing to upgrade and expand the content and scope of China-ASEAN free trade area agreement based on the principles of mutual benefit and common development. Both sides can consider deepening talks on further lowering tariff rates, cutting non-tariff-related measures, launching dialogues for a new round of service trade pledge, and pushing forward the actual opening-up for investment through policies concerning access and personnel travels, so as to boost the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment. This will enable the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area keep up with the times and make it into an upgraded version covering more areas and with higher quality. We are willing to sign long-term trade agreements for agricultural products with the ASEAN, actively expand the imports of ASEAN products that are competitive and appealing to the Chinese market. We aim to expand bilateral trade volume to one trillion US dollars by 2020, meanwhile, increase bilateral investment by 150 billion dollars during the next eight years. Just as the ASEAN is the priority in China's peripheral diplomacy, the ASEAN is also the priority of China's outbound investment. We also welcome enterprises in the ASEAN countries to invest and start businesses in China.

Meanwhile, China is willing to join hands with the ASEAN to advance talks of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and discuss exchanges and interactions with frameworks such as Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, so as to create an open, inclusive and mutually beneficial climate to "make the two wheels of regional and global trade roll together".

The second is to boost mutual connectivity. We need to speed up cooperation in boosting mutual connectivity in areas such as roads, railways, water transport, aviation, telecommunication and energy. More efforts will be made to facilitate the gradual launch and construction of Pan-Asia Railway network and effectively carry out certain key projects. China will initiate a new round of targeted loans and give full play to the China-ASEAN Investment Cooperation Fund, and work actively with various sides to establish a financing platform in Asia to fund large-scale infrastructure projects. While stepping up the "hardware link", China and the ASEAN will also beef up efforts in improving the rules of origin implementation mechanism, and boost "software connection" in standard systems such as information exchange, customs clearance and quality control, in order to create conditions for the gradual building of an infrastructure-connected Asia. The two sides should also expand investment and industrial cooperation, jointly foster a batch of green and highly efficient industrial parks to realize mutual integration.

The third is to boost financial cooperation. This is extremely crucial to safeguard financial and economic stability in the region. In recent years, China-ASEAN financial cooperation has made profound achievements and the overall scale of "Chiang Mai Initiative" multilateralization agreement has expanded to 240 billion dollars. The Chinese side is willing to continue to work with the ASEAN members to strengthen multi-layer regional financial security network, promote the substantial implementation of the bilateral local-currency swap agreement, encourage cross-border trade and investment settlements in local currencies, facilitate ASEAN institutions to invest in Chinese bond markets and constantly improve early-warning and bail-out mechanisms on regional financial risks. I believe the region's members are capable of coping with various difficulties and challenges, and by joining hands and helping each other, China and the ASEAN are sure to be able to maintain the steady economic growth and economic and financial stability in the region.

The fourth is to carry out maritime cooperation. This is a key field for the two sides to expand cooperation. The Chinese side proposes to set up "China-ASEAN maritime partnership". At the forum, the China-ASEAN harbor city cooperation network will be launched. We have input 3 billion yuan in setting up the China-ASEAN maritime cooperation fund. We are doing researches in carrying on a series of cooperation projects, giving priorities to construction of fishery bases, environmental protection for maritime ecology, seafood production and trade, navigation safety and search and rescue, and facilitation of maritime transportation. We are expecting for the active participation of the ASEAN countries.

The fifth is to promote people-to-people and cultural exchanges. The Chinese side initiates to set the year 2014 as "China-ASEAN Friendly Exchange Year". China will offer 15,000 government scholarship seats for the ASEAN countries in the next three to five years. China will also invest in a special fund for Asian regional cooperation to deepen people-to-people and cultural cooperation. We will further make China-ASEAN Youth Society and China-ASEAN Think Tank Network play more active roles. I hope the media will continue to support the China-ASEAN development and send the messages of friendly cooperation and greater confidence to the world. To help China is to help the ASEAN countries and the vice versa, and by helping each other, we can achieve mutual benefit and win-win results. Ladies and Gentlemen!

Here, let me introduce the current economic situation of China. Since the beginning of this year, we have been confronted with a complicated situation with economic downward pressure and a sluggish external market. We sized up the situation and stayed calm. We stabilized macro-economic polices and timely clarified the reasonable range of the Chinese economy. We coordinated tasks of stabilizing growth, restructuring the economy and promoting reforms. We conducted our work in a systematic, comprehensive, and targeted way to unleash dividends of reform initiatives. We actively promoted the work to optimize economic structure and gave full play to the market mechanism. We firmly moved towards this orientation. Even with increasing downward pressure, we addressed problems through reforms, and we ensured that major economic indicators are above a floor level and under a ceiling through structural adjustment. These measures, which address the present issues as well as long-term problems, and draw on China's advantages and avoid disadvantages, have started to show positive effects. Chinese economy maintained steady growth in the first half of the year. Recent data showed that employment and consumer prices are stable in China, a bumper harvest is expected, and there is pickup in industrial production, foreign trade and foreign investment utilization figures. The market expectation is improving, and the confidence is increasing. Of course, we can not slack off and take the situation lightly. We are fully aware that a number of difficulties and challenges are ahead. Some are foreseeable and some are not. But we have conditions and capabilities to achieve main tasks for this year's social and economic development. We are determined to lay a good foundation for China's economic development in the next year, in the future and for the country's long-term, sustainable and healthy economic development. China's development will not only improve the well-being of the Chinese people, but also bring more development and market opportunities to other countries including ASEAN nations.

China and Southeast Asian countries had been linked by the ancient maritime Silk Road more than 2,000 years ago, and now we are relaying the historic glory. The past decade has seen the China-ASEAN Expo and the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit grow and prosper at a fast speed, and we hope it will keep going smoothly. In Chinese, the name of the expo venue "Nanning" carried the meaning of "peace and tranquility in the south". For the 1.9 billion peace-loving, hardworking, and intelligent people in China and the ASEAN, a stable environment promises prosperity and power. I believe China and the ASEAN will see our road of cooperation become wider and our mutually beneficial outcomes more plentiful and substantial.

Finally, I wish our guests every success in your work and good health during the expo and the summit, and I wish the tenth China-ASEAN Expo and the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit a complete success!

Thank you.

Posted in: Diplomacy

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