Speech at the 12th East Asia Summit
H.E. Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
Manila, 14 November 2017
We live in a time of great progress, huge change and major adjustment. Peace and development remain the prevailing trend, yet the world still faces enormous uncertainties and destabilizing factors. World economic recovery remains fragile; economic globalization and regional integration are encountering headwinds; regional hotspots flare up one after another; and non-traditional security threats such as terrorism keep rising. It is against this background that East Asia has emerged as an important engine for global growth and a leading force for international cooperation. This has not come without an effort and must not be taken for granted. The achievement of our region is attributable to the common efforts of regional countries to grow the economy and improve people’s lives, to the East Asian cultural traits of mutual accommodation and mutual learning, and to our shared commitment to a harmonious and prosperous Asia.
Peace and stability in East Asia have not come easily and should be cherished. East Asian countries suffered greatly from wars and conflicts in history, thus what our people want the most is peace and stability. Over the years, despite the differences in social system, development stage and basic national conditions, countries in the region have embraced the spirit of seeking common ground while shelving and overcoming differences. We all believe in properly tackling differences and frictions through dialogue and consultation and enhancing good-neighborliness and political mutual trust, and have identified a path of peaceful coexistence with East Asian features. We have all benefited from the hard-won peace and stability in our region, and we must work together to firmly uphold and actively contribute to the peace and stability in our region.
The economic success of East Asia has not come easily and should be further built upon with great vigor. Recent centuries have seen East Asian countries miss too many opportunities for self-enhancement through unity and for national development and rejuvenation. With tremendous efforts, we have found a path of development that suits our own realities and created the East Asian miracle, which increased our weight in the world economic landscape and transformed the destiny of our countries and peoples. We all have the duty to sustain this sound momentum, and meet challenges with mutual help. While pursuing our own interests and development, we also need to accommodate the interests of others and work for common development. This will deliver more benefits to the over two billion people in our region and inject a strong impetus into global growth.
Regional integration in East Asia has not come easily and should be taken forward continuously. In keeping with the trend of economic globalization and regional integration, countries in the region have over the years vigorously pursued trade and investment liberalization and facilitation. An ASEAN-centered regional cooperation architecture with the broad participation of other regional countries has been established. A variety of bilateral and multilateral free trade arrangements have prospered. East Asia now stands as a leading advocate of regional integration. We must uphold this open, inclusive and win-win spirit, follow the trend of the world, pursue opening-up and cooperation at a higher level and work toward an early establishment of an East Asia Economic Community.
Since its inception 12 years ago, the East Asia Summit has, with its commitment to regional development, security and stability, grown into an important platform for dialogue and cooperation for countries from within and outside the region. We should maintain the nature of the EAS as a “leaders-led strategic forum”, uphold ASEAN centrality, and advance economic development and political and security cooperation in parallel, as the two wheels driving EAS forward. We need to keep to the right direction, enhance overall planning and improve institution building to bring about sound and sustained development of the EAS. I wish to make the following six-point proposal for our future cooperation.
First, speed up regional integration. China hopes to enhance the synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, and deliver the benefits of the upgraded China-ASEAN Free Trade Area at a faster pace. We will work with relevant parties for early conclusion of the negotiations on the China-Japan-ROK Free Trade Area and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
Second, promote sustainable development. To implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, China, the Philippines and Lao PDR co-sponsored the EAS Leaders’ Statement on Cooperation in Poverty Alleviation. China will host a seminar on environment and resources management, and continue to hold the Clean Energy Forum and New Energy Forum. China is ready to step up maritime dialogue and cooperation with other parties under the EAS framework, and will host seminars on maritime management and microplastics in the sea.
Third, advance social development. China highly values its cooperation in health, education and other fields with EAS members. We will actively consider hosting cooperation programs on tumor prevention and control and the special food regulation, and continue to advance cultural and people-to-people exchanges and cooperation such as technical and vocational education and training.
Fourth, jointly tackle non-traditional security threats. China supports the EAS leaders in issuing a statement on counter-terrorism cooperation and commends the Philippine government in its effort to fight terrorists. China is ready to enhance counter-terrorism dialogue and cooperation with other parties to jointly uphold regional security and stability. China will continue to support the UN agency in hosting the EAS Exercise on Earthquake Emergency Search and Rescue.
Fifth, develop new approaches to security. We need to advocate and follow a common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security concept and work for win-win security. The white paper on China’s Policies on Asia-Pacific Security Cooperation published earlier this year laid out in full China’s new security concept, and demonstrated China’s positive approach to regional security cooperation. We call upon various parties to properly handle hotspot and sensitive issues and settle differences through dialogue and consultation.
Sixth, improve regional security architecture. We need to improve our approach to regional security governance to tackle security challenges. China supports continued discussion on a regional security architecture. We propose that a joint study be conducted by regional countries on improving the Asia-Pacific security architecture.