Speech at the 26th ASEAN Plus China, Japan, ROK Summit
H.E. Li Qiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
Jakarta, September 6, 2023
Your Excellency President Joko Widodo,
It is my great pleasure to join friends old and new at the ASEAN Plus China, Japan, ROK (APT) Summit. I wish to thank President Joko Widodo and the Indonesian government for the thoughtful arrangements made for this meeting.
Since its inception over two decades ago as a response to the Asian Financial Crisis, the APT cooperation framework has weathered the tests of the Global Financial Crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, and played an important role in driving regional progress and prosperity. We Chinese often say, “Just as a fence needs the support of three stakes, even an able fellow needs the help of three friends.” The more difficult the situation, the greater the need for solidarity and cooperation. A review of the many multilateral cooperation mechanisms in the world would reveal that they are all essentially about creating and expanding networks of friends. In these networks, there are both next-door neighbors and partners further afield. Then comes the question: what principles should we go by as we make friends, choose partners and live with neighbors in these mechanisms? As President Xi Jinping noted, one can find partners in both those who share the same ideals and those who choose common ground over differences. In our engagement and interaction, a key principle is to seek common ground while reserving and resolving differences.
To seek common ground, we must first acknowledge our commonalities. For APT countries and indeed all countries in Asia, there are so many things we share in common. First, we share a common home. We are connected by shared mountains and rivers, bound by similar cultures and traditions. These underlying commonalities are the reason behind our time-honored history of friendly ties. In this common home, we all gain from its peace and prosperity, and suffer in the event of upheavals and chaos. Second, we share common interests. We all played our part in creating the Asian Miracle of economic growth. In the past 10 years, the combined GDP of APT countries as a share of the global economy increased from 24.7 percent to 27.6 percent. We are each other’s important economic and trade partners, and our industrial and supply chains are deeply integrated. If we can continue to enhance openness and cooperation, we will surely forge an epicentrum of global growth. Third, we share common opportunities. We are each other’s opportunities, and can inject strong impetus into global development. The Chinese economy is now on track to realize the annual growth target of around 5 percent. More importantly, China is advancing high-quality development and Chinese modernization on all fronts. The Chinese economy enjoys bright prospects, and will continue to generate fresh and greater opportunities for the region and the rest of the world.
While we remain steadfast in seeking common ground based on the commonalities, we shall have nothing to fear about the differences, and will be able to find the right way to resolve them. Disagreements and disputes may arise between countries due to misperceptions, diverging interests or external interferences. Whatever the cause, it is vital to face the issues squarely, remove misunderstandings and keep the differences in check. Facing up to the problems is the prerequisite for finding solutions, whereas an ostrich policy would only make things worse. The most effective way to clear up misunderstandings is to strengthen exchanges, and increase mutual understanding and trust through sincere communication. To keep differences under control, what is essential now is to oppose picking sides, bloc confrontation and a new Cold War, and ensure that disagreements and disputes among countries are properly handled.
Our meeting and discussion are actually a concrete action in seeking common ground and resolving differences. We need to bear in mind the larger interest of peace and development in East Asia, approach the commonalities and differences between countries in the right way, and make the foundation of APT cooperation even stronger. We should work in concert to meet various types of risks and challenges, promote development, prosperity and stability of our region, and build an Asian community with a shared future.
Our world has entered a new stage of turbulence and transformation. We are faced with growing challenges from slower growth, climate change and geopolitical disruptions. Differences and disputes between countries are being magnified, intended or otherwise. Global development endeavors are under severe strain. These circumstances make it all the more necessary that we seek common ground while reserving and resolving differences. We need to prioritize development in regional cooperation, remove the various disruptions, further unlock cooperation potential, and explore a path for more robust and vibrant development that delivers for all. This year, we have begun to implement the new APT Cooperation Work Plan. China hopes to work with all parties to seize this opportunity, and build an epicentrum of growth with a focus on the following three priorities:
First, we should continue advancing regional economic integration. In recent years, the trade volumes of APT countries have kept hitting new highs, and nearly half of the trade is intra-regional. Our economic and trade ties are growing ever closer. In June this year, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) entered into full effect, which brought new opportunities for regional economic integration. We need to further bring out the potential of the agreement, boost the free flow of factors, and expand and upgrade our trade and investment. We need to advance our comprehensive, mutually beneficial and high-quality economic partnership, and move toward an integrated regional market that is more open and vibrant. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China is widely regarded as one of the world’s most open economies, and is an important trade and investment partner of RCEP members. We hope that you will support Hong Kong in becoming one of the first economies to join the agreement.
Second, we should continue deepening industrial specialization and collaboration in the region. Over the past 50-plus years, we have seen continued integration and extension of industrial and supply chains in East Asia. Such development is guided by market principles and anchored on comparative strengths. We all have reaped the development dividends of industrial specialization and collaboration. Attempts to decouple or sever supply chains go against the laws of economics and the trend of history. The narrative about “de-risking” is essentially mixing trade and economic cooperation with politics and security, which would end up in a lose-lose situation. APT countries should stay committed to openness and win-win cooperation, continue harnessing our strengths of geographical proximity and economic complementarity, optimize and upgrade regional industrial and supply chains while keeping them stable and smooth, and work together to boost the economic competitiveness of East Asia. China proposes to hold the APT Forum for Cooperation on Industrial and Supply Chains and a seminar under the theme of “Digits Energize Supply Chain” next year, to build a more stable and smooth regional industrial and supply chain system based on comparative strengths.
Third, we should continue strengthening the steering and catalytic role of science, technology and innovation. In today’s world where technology is advancing by leaps and bounds, innovation is critical for achieving development and securing the future. China is stepping up efforts to synergize industrial innovation with technological innovation, and accelerate the development of a modernized industrial system. This will provide regional countries with new opportunities of cooperation in new areas and new arenas. China is ready to deepen innovation cooperation with all parties in such fields as the digital economy, clean energy and new energy vehicles, to boost the emerging industries and foster more new drivers of growth. China supports issuing the ASEAN Plus Three Leaders’ Statement on Developing of an Electric Vehicle Ecosystem at this summit, and hopes to enhance practical cooperation with all parties to sharpen the region’s overall competitive edge in electric vehicles. The handling of the nuclear contaminated water concerns the global marine ecological environment and people’s health. Japan should faithfully fulfill its international obligations, have full consultations with its neighbors and other stakeholders, and deal with the nuclear contaminated water in a responsible manner.
APT countries are all members of the same East Asian family. China will join hands with all countries to create an even better future of East Asia.