Remarks at the 7th China-ROK-Japan Business Summit
H.E. Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
Chengdu, 24 December 2019
President Moon Jae-in,
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to meet the business leaders in Chengdu, known as the “Land of Abundance.” On behalf of the Chinese government, let me extend warm congratulations on the opening of the business summit. I also wish to express my sincere welcome to all the distinguished guests and pay high tribute to members of the business communities for your longstanding efforts in promoting trilateral cooperation.
This year is a memorable one as it marks the 20th anniversary of the trilateral cooperation. Twenty years ago, this cooperation framework was launched as a collective response to the Asian financial crisis. It provided a framework for us to join hands in overcoming the difficulties. Twenty years on, despite changes in the international environment and ups and downs in relations among the three countries, the trilateral cooperation has been moving steadily forward in various fields, as such cooperation serves the interests of all three countries and the wellbeing of our peoples.
To date, we have established 20-plus dialogue and exchange mechanisms and developed cooperation in over 30 sectors. The trilateral personnel inter-flow has passed the 30 million mark, and the trade volume exceeded US$700 billion. As important neighbors and cooperation partners, our three countries, with our own development and ever-deepening trilateral cooperation, have provided a stronger underpinning for the peace, stability, progress, and prosperity of East Asia.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our world today has been undergoing complex and profound changes. On the one hand, a new wave of the technological and industrial revolution has created new opportunities for international economic cooperation and the development of all countries. On the other, global growth is at its lowest ebb in nearly a decade. Economic globalization is encountering headwinds, with uncertainties and destabilizing factors notably on the rise.
In such a context, our three countries need to carry forward the spirit that had guided us through the Asian financial crisis 20 years ago. We should draw lessons from history, build up consensus, and advance toward the future with unity and collaboration. We need to strengthen mutual political trust, expand practical cooperation and jointly tackle challenges to make new contributions to the prosperity and stability in our region and beyond.
With this in mind, I wish to make the following three proposals:
– Working together to upgrade regional economic integration. Several weeks ago, 15 participating countries of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) concluded overall negotiations in Bangkok. This marks a major breakthrough in building a free trade area that has the largest population, the most diverse membership, and the greatest development potential. It will provide strong support and useful complement to the multilateral trading system, and set an example of mutually beneficial free trade arrangements among countries of different development stages, systems and institutions. It will also inject fresh impetus into the joint efforts of regional countries in counteracting the downward pressure on the global economy.
As firm supporters of the negotiations and direct beneficiaries of the agreement, our three countries need to keep up the momentum and expedite the resolution of the few outstanding issues to ensure the formal signing of the RCEP next year.
Our three countries have a combined GDP of nearly one fourth and a trilateral trade of about one-sixth of the world’s total. Our economies are highly complementary as we are at different development stages. How can we build on the existing solid foundation and better leverage our respective advantages to elevate our business cooperation and bring greater benefits to our peoples?
Undoubtedly, establishing a trilateral FTA is an important means to this end. China is committed to working with the ROK and Japan to facilitate early, substantive progress in the trilateral FTA negotiations, advance trade, and investment liberalization and facilitation and make new breakthroughs in our economic cooperation and trade. As major trading nations, such efforts will underscore our commitment to multilateralism and free trade and bolster our endeavors to tackle global downside risks, promote stable growth and catalyze regional economic integration.
– Working together to expand cooperation on industrial capacity investment and science and technology innovation. Our deeply integrated industrial and value chains and respective strengths in equipment, technology, and capital hold out broad prospects for our cooperation. The Belt and Road cooperation has opened up new space for world economic growth. We should support our companies in jointly exploring fourth markets in line with market principles. We need to set up a trilateral co-investment fund according to commercial principles to support infrastructure and other projects with better investment and financing arrangements.
China has proposed to designate next year as Year of Science and Technology Innovation Cooperation. We need to step up exchanges in innovation policy, technology, and personnel, and build a trilateral sharing and cooperation platform for basic research and technology R&D. ROK and Japanese companies are welcome to expand their investments in China in advanced manufacturing and other fields. China supports companies of the three countries in increasing two-way investment in the internet, big data, artificial intelligence, 5G, and other sectors, and actively boosts cooperation in e-commerce to take our mutually beneficial cooperation to new heights.
– Working together to foster new areas of growth in modern services. As the world’s largest developing country, China has a huge and continuously upgrading market. The nearly 1.4 billion Chinese people have fast-growing needs for quality goods and services. In particular, there is a pressing demand for more services in elderly, health and child care. Meanwhile, to further open its financial sector, China has moved up the lifting of foreign ownership caps in securities, futures, funds and life insurance from the year 2021 to 2020. These are areas where ROK and Japanese companies have a notable edge. As a Chinese saying goes, “Those in the waterfront pavilion get a better view of the moon.” We welcome companies from our two neighbors to China for cooperation in modern services and the financial sector. Such cooperation will better equip our three countries in tackling common challenges in aging, health care and financial stability, and promote greater synergy of our comparative strengths for common development.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This year, the Chinese economy has maintained a steady performance overall, with major indicators running within a proper range. China’s GDP expanded by 6.2% in the first three quarters, one of the fastest among the major economies. We are well on track to achieve the annual targets for economic and social development. In the face of notably slowing global growth, the Chinese economy has shown strong resilience. It has sustained steady growth from a large base and achieved relatively full employment, demonstrating China’s continuous development and progress.
For years, China has been in deficit in its trade with the ROK and Japan, to the tune of US$160 billion in goods and services trade last year. Yet China will not resort to protectionism because of such deficits. China will not waver in its commitment to opening-up. Instead of closing our door, we will open it even wider. We are fostering a world-class, market-oriented business environment governed by a sound legal framework, where companies under all types of ownership are treated as equals and infringements on intellectual property rights are severely dealt with.
Having fully opened up its manufacturing sector, China will accelerate the opening of the services sectors and allow wholly foreign-owned companies into more sectors. I am confident that with the Foreign Investment Law and its supporting regulations taking effect on January 1 next year, China’s investment environment will become fairer and more transparent and predictable.
China will work with the ROK and Japan to harness our respective strengths and expand cooperation in line with market principles to make the pie of our converging interests bigger. Companies from the ROK and Japan are welcome to seize the business opportunities in China’s opening-up and strive for greater win-win results for us all.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Businesses are the main player in the mutually beneficial cooperation among our three countries, and it is the job of the governments to nurture an enabling environment for them to deepen cooperation. As the word “cheng” means “getting things done” and “du” means “capital,” so “Chengdu” can be translated into “capital of success.” I wish all the business leaders here every success in your business deals and projects here, and indeed, in all your endeavors. Your success augurs well for our efforts to raise the trilateral cooperation to a new level.