Speech at the 15th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of the Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization
Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
3 November 2016, Bishkek
Your Excellency Prime Minister Jeenbekov,
It is a great pleasure for me to join you at the 15th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of the Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). I’m glad to come to Bishkek, a shining pearl on the ancient Silk Road, which had borne witness to many well-known episodes of friendly exchanges between the peoples of our region. Today, it provides a fitting venue for our discussions about the future development of the SCO, as here we can feel for ourselves how the Silk Road Spirit inspired the Shanghai Spirit and the great potential that could be engendered by the coming-together of the two. On behalf of the Chinese government, I wish to thank the government of Kyrgyzstan for its careful preparation and thoughtful arrangements for our meeting.
In the past 15 years, the SCO has kept a solid momentum of growth and evolved into an important platform for regional cooperation, which is not only indispensable for promoting regional stability and prosperity, but is also an active contributor to world peace and development. At the Tashkent Summit last June, President Xi Jinping, together with other leaders, put forward initiatives and measures for furthering regional cooperation within the SCO framework, making new strides for this Organization.
The world around us has been undergoing profound changes, marked by lacklustre global recovery, flare-ups of regional hotspots, and rising challenges of traditional and non-traditional security threats. In our region, SCO members are confronting common challenges of downward pressure on the economic front and multiple challenges in the area of security. Only by sticking together will we stand a chance to tide over this difficult time and achieve common development and lasting peace. We need to be fully aware of both risks and opportunities, devote greater resources and engage in closer coordination to further tap into the huge potential of the SCO. Through our efforts, we will create for ourselves broader space for development and forge a community of converging interests and shared future. To this end, I would suggest that efforts be made in the following areas.
First, we need to foster a secure and stable environment. Security and stability provide the very foundation for our pursuit of development and prosperity and the fundamental safeguard for enhanced cooperation among us. However, recent terror attacks that have hit this region, not least the outrageous attack against the Chinese Embassy here in Bishkek, have driven home the fact that the “three forces” remain the biggest security threat to this region. It is time for SCO members to embrace common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, step up coordination and cooperation in the field of security, and expedite consultations and signing of a convention on combating extremism. We need to beef up the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure, hold regular joint anti-terrorism drills, enhance cooperation on cyber-terrorism and drug-trafficking, step up intelligence sharing and law-enforcement collaboration, and take concrete steps to make our people safe and ensure the security of our institutions, companies and staff based in each other’s countries.
The evolving situation in Afghanistan bears on the security and stability of the entire region. China is ready to work with other SCO members in supporting the reconciliation and reconstruction process in Afghanistan and working for the early restoration of peace, stability and development there.
Second, we need to pursue interconnected development. Despite its recent setbacks, globalization remains an irreversible trend of our times. The interests of all SCO members will be served by continued openness to cooperation, upgraded trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, the fostering of region-wide markets, the building of cross-border transport arteries and greater integration of our economies. We should tap into the complementarity of our development strategies to strengthen synergy. An example of this would be our ongoing efforts to enhance synergy between China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union. China is ready to work with all parties to advance trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and bolster cooperation on customs, inspection and quarantine, and certification and accreditation. We are open to the setting-up of an SCO free trade area, and would like to see an FTA feasibility study among SCO members. Together, we can explore the building of a more comprehensive, interconnected and efficient regional economic cooperation architecture that takes into account the interests and concerns of all parties and regional conditions.
The SCO Intergovernmental Agreement on Creating Beneficial Conditions for International Road Transportation, which has been approved by all parties, will soon enter into force. We suggest a joint committee meeting be convened as soon as possible to address specific issues concerning customs, border control, inspection and quarantine and others to ensure the scheduled opening of the routes by 2020. We should also speed up efforts to draw up a plan for coordinated development of roads among SCO countries to improve road networks, and facilitate cross-border transport and trade flows in the region. Thanks to our joint efforts, this meeting will adopt the List of Events for Further Development of Project Activities in the Framework of the SCO 2017-2021. The list, which comprises 38 measures in seven areas ranging from trade and investment to customs and agriculture, will provide guidance for SCO practical cooperation in the next five years.
Third, we need to advance production capacity cooperation. China’s proposal for international production capacity cooperation meets the needs of regional countries for accelerated industrialization and serves as a pathway towards economic integration and win-win outcomes in our region. Last year in Zhengzhou, China’s proposal for an SCO cooperation platform on production capacity received warm response from other members. Let me list a few examples of good progress in such cooperation. They include: early-harvest projects between China and Kazakhstan; large projects undertaken by Chinese companies in SCO members such as a power plant in Uzbekistan, an oil refinery in Kyrgyzstan, a cement factory in Tajikistan; joint industrial parks under construction by China and Uzbekistan. I am glad to say that during my visit China signed an MOU on production-capacity and investment cooperation with Kyrgyzstan yesterday, following the signing of similar documents with Russia and Kazakhstan. China is ready to work with all parties to bring our complementarity into full play and make production capacity cooperation a pillar in regional economic cooperation and a new driving force for development that benefits all participating countries.
Fourth, we need to explore cooperation on innovation. Innovation is the key to strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth and a powerhouse for the development of SCO members. Against the backdrop of a burgeoning technological revolution and industrial upgrading worldwide, the Chinese economy has moved into a new normal, a crucial stage where old growth drivers are giving way to new ones. Back home, we are vigorously pursuing innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development by implementing a strategy of innovation-driven development, encouraging mass entrepreneurship and innovation, and fostering new growth drivers while invigorating traditional ones. Similarly, many other SCO members have made their own policies and plans for innovation. There is a great deal of commonality in our innovation policies and hence broad room for cooperation. China is ready to increase policy convergence and the sharing of experience with other countries, actively implement the SCO partnership on science and technology, and enhance cooperation on satellite navigation and mobile communications. We suggest that an SCO e-commerce alliance be established as early as possible to facilitate customs clearance of cross-border e-commerce and improve logistics capacity. We may make use of the SCO Environmental Information Sharing Platform to promote successful experience in ecological rehabilitation and clean energy development. China supports Kazakhstan in hosting Expo 2017 under the theme of “Future Energy” next year in Astana, to take forward cooperation on environmental technology innovation and the green economy.
Fifth, we need to improve regional financing mechanisms. Finance provides the lifeblood for the economy. The establishment of effective financial support mechanisms is crucial for successful business cooperation. We need to bring into full play the role of existing investment and financing platforms such as the SCO Inter-Bank Consortium, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Silk Road Fund, the China-Eurasia Economic Cooperation Fund and the BRICS New Development Bank, to provide financial support for the development of SCO economies and regional cooperation projects. Let us instruct competent departments to continue negotiations on establishing an SCO development bank, with a view to reaching agreement on a detailed cooperation modality. The total volume of effective bilateral currency swap agreements between China and other SCO members has reached RMB160 billion. The RMB’s inclusion in the currency basket of the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) of the IMF will be a good opportunity to strengthen currency swap and settlement cooperation.
Sixth, we need to solidify the foundation of our ties by promoting cultural and people-to-people exchanges. These exchanges are most natural means for nurturing friendship among the people, and should be pursued from generation to generation. In recent years, robust progress has been made in the exchanges and cooperation in such areas as education, culture, health, sports, tourism, youth and media among SCO members. China supports the signing of an agreement for the establishment and operation of an SCO university, which will help cultivate more high-calibre talents well-versed in regional affairs. China has increased the number of SCO-specific scholarships and this school-year’s government scholarships, and we are happy to continue to hold summer camps for elementary and middle school students from SCO members. Beijing is now making active efforts to set up an SCO activity center, which will serve as a good platform for exchanges under the SCO framework. China will establish an international medical service center in Xinjiang to share accessible and high-quality medical resources with neighboring countries. We will encourage the SCO Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation Committee to carry out people-to-people exchange activities and host such events as the youth exchange camps and Eurasian young leaders’ symposiums in China, to train more envoys of friendship within the SCO.
The SCO has endeavored to promote external relations under the principle of openness. China has completed internal approval procedures for the MOU of SCO membership obligations of India and Pakistan. We suggest that the process of accession by India and Pakistan be advanced in a steady and orderly manner, and that cooperation with observers and dialogue partners be enhanced for win-win and all-win outcomes. At the same time, we need to continue to expand the communication and dialogue between the SCO and the United Nations and other regional and international organizations. There should be greater mutual support and collaboration among them, which will contribute to enduring peace and common prosperity of the world.
The past 15 years have proven the SCO to be a visionary enterprise. As a Chinese saying goes, “Those who keep trying will accomplish, and those who keep walking will arrive.” Similarly, a line in Manas, the national epic of Kyrgyzstan, reads, “He who makes efforts will succeed.” Guided by the Shanghai Spirit, let us stay true to our mission, join hands in striving for solid progress of SCO cooperation in all areas and bring greater benefits to the people of our region.