Deepen Regional Cooperation in Asia With Renewed Confidence
– Speech at the “Roundtable on Asian Regional Cooperation Organizations” at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2017
H.E. Liu Zhenmin, Vice Foreign Minister of China
26 March 2017
Distinguished Colleagues from all Regional Organizations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning! It’s my great honor and pleasure to join you today in Boao. At the first Roundtable held a year ago, heads of regional cooperation organizations in Asia gathered here for a useful discussion on Asian integration and the building of the Asian community of shared future.
One year later, we meet again in Boao in the context of the new changes in both regional and international situation. It is a good time now to take stock of globalization and discuss plans. That’s why “Globalization and Asian Regional Cooperation” has been chosen as the theme of this Roundtable.
On behalf of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, I wish to extend a warm welcome to all friends present here. In particular, I wish to welcome colleagues from ASEAN Secretariat and the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO), who have come for the first time for the Annual Conference in Boao.
Over the past year, given the sluggish global growth and the backlash against globalization, the process of globalization and regional integration suffered setbacks, and international political and economic uncertainties have been on the rise.
By contrast, regional cooperation in Asia has continued to enjoy a strong momentum, becoming a star-performer in global development.
First, regional cooperation frameworks are booming. East Asia cooperation, with ASEAN at the center, is moving forward with strong vitality. As ASEAN celebrates its 50th anniversary, the building of ASEAN Community is stepping to a higher level. AMRO has been upgraded to an international organization. China-ASEAN cooperation has moved to a new level. And China-Japan-ROK cooperation has made new headway.
Pan-Asia cooperation has gained new impetus, with institution building of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue summit meeting. And under CICA, confidence-building measures in various fields have been implemented with positive outcomes.
Second, sub-regional cooperation is gathering momentum. The Lancang-Mekong Cooperation has got off to a good start. The BCIM economic corridor is advancing steadily. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization successfully realized enlargement. BIMP-EAGA has made solid progress. And SAARC cooperation continues to move forward.
Third, fruitful results have been achieved in cooperation across the board. Smooth progress has been made in linking up the Belt and Road Initiative with national plans of relevant countries. Regional connectivity has been strengthened with the construction of major infrastructure projects, including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Rail and China-Laos Railway.
Regional countries are dedicated to free trade. Negotiations on RCEP and China-Japan-ROK Free Trade Area are moving forward at a faster pace.
Regional security dialogue and cooperation are deepening. Countries have acted with greater commitment to jointly combat non-traditional security threats, and conducted several exercises on disaster relief, counter-terrorism and maritime search and rescue. Some have carried out joint law-enforcement operations against drug trafficking and telecommunications fraud.
Looking across Asia, a multi-tier, multi-pillar, all-dimensional network of cooperation has been emerging. Mutual complementarity among various frameworks, deeper cooperation in various fields, and common progress of sub-regional cooperation institutions has become a defining feature of regional cooperation in Asia.
Such cooperation has given a strong boost to regional integration and played an important part in peace, stability, development and prosperity of the region. It has opened bright prospects for a region-wide cooperation framework and the building of an Asian community of shared future, injecting strong, positive energy into economic globalization.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
With international and regional landscape undergoing profound changes, Asian countries have come to a new starting point and are faced with new opportunities for regional cooperation. Faced with sluggish recovery, rising protectionism and growing transnational threats, they have further realized the importance of harnessing complementary advantages for win-win cooperation. It is more clear than ever that closer cooperation is what Asian countries truly need.
Last year, regional countries made joint efforts to cool down hotspot issues, and brought relevant issues back to the right track of resolution despite outside interference. That has enabled various sides to re-focus on cooperation for common development. With TPP facing an uncertain future, various sides are shifting their attention to RCEP and FTAAP, showing a greater interest in reaching these FTAs at an early date.
Meanwhile, cooperation in Asia is also confronted with multiple challenges. Internally, regional cooperation has entered a plateau. Many agreed arrangements have not been implemented effectively. This requires countries to make necessary policy adjustments and show greater political wisdom and resolve.
In a wider context, the tide of anti-globalization may trigger worries about the future of Asian integration. Some countries outside the region continue to play up political and security issues, causing disturbance to regional cooperation.