Speech at the 20th China-ASEAN Summit
H.E. Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
Manila, 13 November 2017
It is my great pleasure to join you at the 20th China-ASEAN Summit. I wish to thank our host, the government of the Philippines, for its thorough preparations and thoughtful arrangement for our meeting. My appreciation also goes to Singapore, country coordinator for China, and other ASEAN members for their efforts in promoting ASEAN’s relationship with China.
ASEAN’s golden jubilee this year is undoubtedly a cause for celebration. You have accomplished so much in the past 50 years. ASEAN’s development has been hailed as the Asian miracle; it has turned a sub-region once mired in war and turmoil into a land of peace and stability; it has transformed the poor and backward Southeast Asia into one of the world’s most dynamic and promising economic powerhouse; and it has made the once weak and divided sub-region an important force on the world stage. Taken together, these changes have brought profound shifts in the geopolitical and economic landscape in Asia and beyond and significantly enhanced regional peace, stability, development and prosperity. China truly admires and rejoices at your accomplishments. We are full of confidence in ASEAN’s bright future. China will continue to be a firm supporter of ASEAN communities, ASEAN centrality in regional cooperation, and a greater role by ASEAN in regional and international affairs.
All ASEAN members would agree that among ASEAN’s many dialogue partnerships, ASEAN plus China stands out as the most vibrant pair with the most substantial cooperation. China was the first to join the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, the first to establish strategic partnership with ASEAN, and the first to launch FTA negotiations with ASEAN. Our trade ties have entered a fast-lane of growth, which saw China remain ASEAN’s largest trading partner for eight consecutive years. Our two-way direct investment reached a cumulative total of nearly US$200 billion, and fruitful cooperation has been carried out in other areas as well. China always puts ASEAN high on its diplomatic agenda in developing ties with its neighbors. As committed good neighbors, good friends and good partners sharing weal and woe, China and ASEAN are working together to build a community of shared future with common ideals, common prosperity and common responsibility.
In the context of an international landscape full of profound and complex changes, China and ASEAN’s common interests have been expanding, and so are our mutual needs. China stands ready to work with ASEAN and other parties to make this year’s East Asia Leaders’ Meetings a full success. Let us together take China-ASEAN strategic partnership to a new level, and jointly play our leading role in regional development and cooperation.
The friendly and cooperative relations between China and ASEAN countries have been carefully nurtured by successive generations of leaders from both sides. In 2013, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the China-ASEAN strategic partnership, President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Indonesia. He put forth the goal of building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and forging a closer China-ASEAN community of shared future, which charted the course for the development of China-ASEAN relations. In the same year, during my first China-ASEAN Summit, I proposed a “2+7” cooperation framework to lay out a roadmap for the growth of China-ASEAN cooperation. Five years on, China-ASEAN relations have stood the test of the changing international and regional landscape, with our cooperation advancing in all dimensions, at all levels and in multiple areas.
We remained firmly committed to good-neighborliness and friendship, strengthened high-level exchanges and policy communication, and enhanced political and security cooperation. We have properly managed sensitive issues and disputes through dialogue and negotiation to minimize the distraction of isolated incidents and keep our relations on the right track. With agreement reached on the framework of a Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, the situation in the South China Sea has cooled down and showed a positive momentum. Breakthroughs have been made in maritime cooperation, with the holding of the first ever large-scale joint exercise on maritime search and rescue by the two sides. We have also strengthened cooperation mechanisms on combating terrorism, natural disasters, transnational crimes, cross-border communicable diseases and other challenges, raising the level of cooperation in non-conventional security fields. In the context of growing geopolitical risks and the rise of traditional and non-traditional security issues, China-ASEAN good-neighborly friendship serves as an anchor of stability for the region, which is a blessing for countries in the region and their peoples.
We have provided a strong impetus for regional economic cooperation by promoting trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, upgrading the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area, pushing forward negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and launching the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) framework. We worked together to promote Belt and Road cooperation, initiated and successfully launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and accelerated the implementation of major connectivity projects. We expanded industrial capacity cooperation in an all-round way, and broke new ground in fostering interconnected development. Against the backdrop of a tortuous global recovery and rising protectionism, sustained, fast economic growth by China and ASEAN have made us shining “twin stars” in the constellation of development and “front-runners” of economic globalization, providing positive energy to building an open world economy.
Respecting the cultural diversity of East Asia, we have advocated people-to-people exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations. We created a boom in such exchanges and cooperation by holding a series of “China-ASEAN Year” activities on science and technology, culture, education and tourism, and implementing the Plan of Action on China-ASEAN Cooperation in Culture, making people-to-people cooperation the third pillar of China-ASEAN relations, in addition to political and security cooperation and economic cooperation. Last year, over 38 million mutual visits were made between the two sides, and over 200,000 students studied in each other’s countries. All these have increased the mutual understanding between our peoples and cemented popular support for our relations.
China and ASEAN countries have shown to the world that we are good neighbors sharing mountains and rivers and giving each other help and support; we are trustworthy friends with common visions and aspirations; and we are close partners sharing weal and woe and pursuing win-win cooperation. We should carry forward the Asian culture of harmony in diversity, uphold the principles of amity, good faith, equality, openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, and remain committed to respecting each other’s core interests and major concerns and accommodating each other’s comfort level. All this, together with the combined wisdom and strengths of our two billion people, will enable China and ASEAN to rise above all disruptions to our relations and keep producing fruitful results.