Speech at the 18th East Asia Summit
H.E. Li Qiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
Jakarta, September 7, 2023
Your Excellency President Joko Widodo,
It gives me great pleasure to join you in the beautiful city of Jakarta. I wish to thank President Joko Widodo and the government of Indonesia for the thoughtful arrangements made for this meeting.
We live in an increasingly complex world. To better observe and understand the world, we need both a global vision and a historical perspective. This is the way to see through the surface, and grasp the essence, the pattern and the trend. For us in East Asia, a review of both the shifting global dynamics and the region’s own course of development invariably brings us to one profound conclusion: peace and development are invaluable, and they represent the enduring aspiration and fundamental interests of our peoples. In recent decades, East Asia learned from the hard lessons of war and conflict, seized the opportunities in the great trend of economic globalization and kept to the right path of openness, development and win-win cooperation. This is why East Asia has been able to change the destiny of the countries and peoples in the region, and grown into a major engine driving global growth. This past journey has made us fully appreciate the hardship in development, the imperative of openness, and the value of peace. We have also seen firsthand the truth that unity leads to prosperity while division brings decline. In this turbulent world, we in East Asia have one hundred reasons to stick to cooperation and integration, and not a single reason to slip into division and confrontation.
Over the past 18 years since its inception, the East Asia Summit (EAS) has rooted itself in East Asia, reached out to the Asia-Pacific and stayed focused on cooperation. It has played a positive role in deepening mutual understanding, protecting regional security and promoting common development. Faced with new circumstances and new challenges, the EAS needs to keep to its defined mission, and play a bigger role for enduring stability and prosperity in the region. To this end, China wishes to make the following proposals:
First, we need to better harness the role of the EAS in promoting development to invigorate growth in the region. The theme of ASEAN this year, “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth”, dovetails well with the situation and the needs of countries in the region. We need to further prioritize growth stimulation, and invest more wisdom and efforts in increasing cooperation and boosting development. We need to follow economic globalization, steadily advance the development of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, oppose protectionism and unilateralism, and keep the industrial and supply chains stable and smooth. Taking the new EAS Plan of Action as an opportunity, we need to enhance cooperation in energy, food, climate change, electric vehicles, poverty reduction and marine economy, so that we realize growth together.
Second, we need to better harness the role of the EAS as a strategic dialogue to increase understanding and trust among all parties. The EAS is a leaders-led strategic forum. We need to adopt an attitude of respect, goodwill and openness, and conduct constructive exchanges on the underlying trends in our region and beyond, and on hotspot and challenging issues, to know and understand each other better and identify the biggest common ground possible. China hopes to have deeper dialogue and cooperation with all parties on better promoting humanity’s common values, and on implementing the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative put forward by President Xi Jinping. On regional hotspot issues, China believes it is important for the relevant parties to find political solutions through dialogue and consultation.
Third, we need to better harness the leadership of ASEAN to jointly promote inclusive and mutually beneficial cooperation. All EAS members are signatories to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC). We have all committed to upholding the principles of ASEAN centrality, consensus building and non-interference in internal affairs. These principles are also our valuable experience, tried and tested over the past decades. We should continue to give unwavering support to the ASEAN-led regional cooperation architecture. We need to sustain our fraternal bonds and fine traditions of mutual assistance in times of adversity, do our best to accommodate each other’s needs and interests, and better utilize our complementarity and forge synergy. China firmly opposes the attempts to create competing structures or small blocs, still less do we want to see regional countries forced to pick sides or get embroiled in meaningless disputes that harm their own people’s interests. Camp-based confrontation produces no winner. Rather, mutually beneficial cooperation is what the people want and where the future lies.
Peace and stability in the South China Sea is our shared aspiration and best serves the common interests of the regional countries. Since signing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) more than 20 years ago, China and ASEAN countries have been fully and effectively implementing the DOC, addressing disputes peacefully through consultation and negotiation by countries directly concerned, exercising self-restraint, and deepening practical maritime cooperation. We have maintained general stability in the South China Sea. Now, guided by the spirit of the DOC, we are working actively to advance consultations on the COC. Upon completion, the COC will be a strong safeguard for the lawful rights and interests of all countries in the South China Sea. We hope countries outside the region fully respect the efforts by the regional countries for concluding the COC and preserving peace and stability in the South China Sea, and play a positive and constructive role for these efforts.
The ocean is the cradle of human life, and marine pollution has far-reaching impacts. We must act in a way that is responsible for history and for humanity, and protect the ecological environment of the ocean to take good care of the “blue heart” of the earth.
This year marks the 45th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up. By opening its door, China has made tremendous progress in development and, in this process, fully shared its development opportunities with countries around the world. Now, China is pursuing Chinese modernization on all fronts through high-quality development, taking the 1.4 billion-plus people as a whole into modernization. This will create enormous market opportunities. We will stay committed to the fundamental national policy of opening up, advance international cooperation in more areas, on higher levels and in greater depth, and continue to share with countries in and outside the region new opportunities created by China’s new development.
Next month, China will hold the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. We welcome all parties to this event. Belt and Road cooperation was initiated by China, but its opportunities and fruits have been shared by the world. Following the approach of consultation and cooperation for shared benefits, China is ready to work with all countries to extend the Belt and Road wider and longer for it to continue benefiting the world. The Lao PDR will take over the ASEAN chairmanship next year. China will give full support to the work of the Lao PDR as the ASEAN chair.
Success happens in an amicable environment and strength builds from solidarity. China stands ready to work with all to uphold true multilateralism and open regionalism, keep to openness and inclusiveness, and strengthen solidarity and mutual assistance. Together, let us steer this giant ship of East Asian cooperation forward along a steady course, braving winds and waves.