Developing a Higher-Level Strategic Partnership between China and ASEAN, Heading for a Closer Community with a Shared Future
– Speech at the Opening Ceremony of the 15th China-ASEAN Expo and the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit
Han Zheng, Vice Premier of the State Council of China
Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, September 12, 2018
Ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me much pleasure to meet you all in this beautiful “green city” of Nanning and attend the 15th China-ASEAN Expo and the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit. First of all, on behalf of the Chinese government and people, I would like to extend warm congratulations on the opening of this event, and express a sincere welcome to the participants from ASEAN member states and other countries and regions.
China and ASEAN countries are good neighbors, good friends and good partners with a longstanding friendship. Over 2,000 years ago at the time of China’s Han Dynasty, our ancestors overcame the barriers of the ocean and started exchanges by opening the Maritime Silk Road.
China and ASEAN have seen sustained and rapid development in their relations since the 1990s. The two sides announced the establishment of a strategic partnership for peace and prosperity at the seventh China-ASEAN Summit in October 2003, opening a new chapter for China-ASEAN friendly relations. When visiting Indonesia in October 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed China’s willingness to work with ASEAN member states to jointly build the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future, drawing a beautiful blueprint for the development of China-ASEAN relations.
Over the past 15 years since the establishment of the strategic partnership, China and ASEAN have developed a profound friendship and made fruitful achievements in mutually beneficial cooperation. In particular, since the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed five years ago, the two sides have carried forward the Silk Road Spirit and advanced more firmly on the path of building a community with a shared future with common ideals, prosperity, and responsibility.
– Strategic cooperation has become closer. China has always put ASEAN high on its agenda of diplomacy with neighboring countries and supported the building of the ASEAN Community and ASEAN centrality in regional cooperation. ASEAN members have viewed China as a reliable partner. The two sides have carried out all-dimensional, multi-level, and wide-ranging dialogue and communication, enhanced political trust in each other, focused on cooperation and development, and safeguarded regional peace, development, and prosperity. China-ASEAN relations have stood the test of time, becoming the most successful and vigorous example of Asia-Pacific regional cooperation.
– Openness and cooperation have been deepened comprehensively. China started the free trade negotiations first with ASEAN and established the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area. ASEAN is a priority and an important partner in the international cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative. China has been ASEAN’s largest trading partner for nine years in a row and ASEAN has remained the third largest trading partner of China for seven consecutive years. The total two-way investment between China and ASEAN exceeded 200 billion U.S. dollars while more than 4,000 enterprises in ASEAN countries with direct Chinese investment have employed more than 300,000 local people and vigorously contributed to local economic and social development.
– Cultural and people-to-people exchanges have flourished. The two sides have successfully held theme year activities on science and technology, culture, ocean, education, and tourism, and launched the China-ASEAN Innovation Year this year. Last year, there were nearly 50 million two-way visits and over 200,000 students studied in each other’s universities. China has set up six cultural centers, 33 Confucius institutes, and 35 Confucius classrooms in ASEAN countries.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up. In the four decades, China has unswervingly adhered to reform and opening-up, and opened its doors to pursue development. This has brought about sea changes in the country and the people’s life. China has shouldered the responsibilities of a major country in carrying out the reform and opening-up and actively contributed Chinese wisdom and Chinese strength to global stability and prosperity in the processes from “bringing in” to “going global”, and from joining the World Trade Organization to pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative together with other countries. China’s reform and opening-up has profoundly changed not only China but also the world.
At the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia held in April this year, President Xi Jinping stressed that China’s door of opening-up will not be closed and will only open even wider. President Xi Jinping also announced that China will significantly broaden market access, create a more attractive investment environment, strengthen protection of intellectual property rights, and take the initiative to expand imports, among a series of other major measures. On Aug. 27, President Xi Jinping attended a symposium marking the fifth anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative and made an important speech. He emphasized dialogue and consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, win-win cooperation, exchanges and mutual learning, and seeking the broadest common interests in cooperation with Belt and Road countries. He advocated stronger political mutual trust, economic integration, and people-to-people exchanges, while striving for solid progress in jointly building the Belt and Road to benefit the people along the routes and to advance the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
China’s deepening of reform and opening-up will bring more new opportunities to countries around the world, including ASEAN member states. China welcomes ASEAN members to board the fast train of China’s economic development and stands ready to share the fruits of its economic development with ASEAN. China is willing to develop a new type of international relations with ASEAN on the basis of mutual respect, equity and justice, and win-win cooperation, to build China-ASEAN community with a shared future into a model for a community with a shared future for mankind. This will contribute to the building of an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity.
Ladies and gentlemen,
China and ASEAN are marching hand in hand toward a new era of common development and prosperity. China is willing to build the strategic partnership with ASEAN at a higher level and strive for a closer community with a shared future. To this end, I would like to propose the following:
First, strengthen strategic synergy. China is willing to work with ASEAN members to promote and deepen the synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the building of the ASEAN Community, as well as the development strategies and plans of ASEAN members. China will join hands with ASEAN to implement the “3+X Cooperation Framework”, which is supported by three pillars – political security, economy and trade, and people-to-people exchanges, and covers various areas. The two sides need to further upgrade their relationship, strengthen Lancang-Mekong cooperation, and accelerate the formulation of China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership Vision 2030.
Second, promote cooperation on trade and investment. China will make full use of the China International Import Expo and the China-ASEAN Expo as platforms to expand imports from ASEAN countries. It will continue to encourage its enterprises to increase investment in ASEAN countries, and welcome investment in China from ASEAN enterprises. China will, as always, uphold the principle of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation with ASEAN, push the upgraded China-ASEAN Free Trade Area to take full effect, and speed up the negotiation on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
Third, strengthen international cooperation on production capacity. ASEAN countries are in a stage of rapid industrialization and urbanization, while China has large high-quality production capacity and cost-effective equipment. China is willing to work together with ASEAN members to implement the Joint Statement between China and ASEAN on Production Capacity Cooperation and create industrial, value, and logistics chains with greater integration, stronger driving force and broader benefits. The two sides should support production capacity cooperation in such fields as human resources, information, customs, taxation, finance, and authentication. Institutions and platforms including the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Silk Road Fund, the China-ASEAN Investment Cooperation Fund, and the special loan on China-ASEAN infrastructure development should play their proper role to provide priority support for high-quality production capacity projects.
Fourth, push forward connectivity cooperation. Infrastructure connectivity is among the priorities of Belt and Road development. China is willing to work with ASEAN members to implement the Joint Statement between China and ASEAN on Further Deepening the Cooperation on Infrastructure Connectivity, and push forward the implementation of key projects for land, maritime, air, and online connectivity. Construction of projects including the China-Laos Railway, Jakarta-Bandung railway, China-Thailand Railway, and the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity as well as its southern corridor should be accelerated.
Fifth, deepen innovation cooperation. The theme of the China-ASEAN Expo this year is “jointly building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and the China-ASEAN community of innovation”. China stands ready to work with ASEAN to implement the Belt and Road Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation Action Plan and develop the collaboration network of regional technology transfer, in a bid to boost transfer and application of technologies. China is also keen to conduct scientific personnel training and technical exchanges, so as to provide strong technical and intellectual support for development in this region.
Sixth, enhance cultural exchanges and cooperation. China is willing to deepen practical cooperation with ASEAN members in culture, education, health, tourism, youth, media, sports and other fields based on mutual respect of cultural diversity and social values, and jointly foster a spirit of China-ASEAN cooperation characterized by mutual trust, mutual accommodation, mutual benefit, and mutual assistance.
Ladies and gentlemen,
China and ASEAN have shared weal and woe in their strategic cooperation in the last 15 years and seen win-win results over the past 15 expos. We hope this year’s expo and summit will further consolidate the platform for high-level dialogue, widen the “Nanning Channel”, and score more achievements in implementing the Belt and Road Initiative.
To conclude, I wish the 15th China-ASEAN Expo and Business and Investment Summit a complete success. May all our guests enjoy good health, success in your work, and a pleasant stay during the expo!