|Speech by H.E. Li Keqiang Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China At the 25th China-ASEAN Summit|
Phnom Penh, November 11, 2022
Prime Minister Hun Sen,
It is my real pleasure to gather with you in the beautiful and vibrant city of Phnom Penh for the 25th China-ASEAN Summit. I wish to thank Prime Minister Hun Sen and the government of the Kingdom of Cambodia for the thoughtful preparations and meticulous arrangements made for the summit.
Since the inception of a dialogue relationship in the early 1990s, China and ASEAN have forged ahead together and been a part of each other’s success stories. With mutually beneficial cooperation advancing on all fronts and yielding fruitful outcomes, our two sides have set a fine example of win-win cooperation and common development in the region. In November last year, we held a special summit to commemorate the 30th anniversary of China-ASEAN dialogue relations and formally inaugurated a comprehensive strategic partnership. At that summit, President Xi Jinping proposed jointly building a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, beautiful and amicable home. China-ASEAN relations have since come to a new historical starting point. A new and promising chapter of China-ASEAN friendship and cooperation has been opened.
Our strategic cooperation has continued to reach new heights. The frequent and close high-level exchanges between China and ASEAN countries have further enriched our comprehensive strategic cooperation, which has strongly boosted the broader East Asian cooperation and led the way in common development in our region. Upholding the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and the purposes of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, China and ASEAN have lived in amity, treated each other as equals, resolved differences through consultation and dialogue and enjoyed deeper mutual political trust. Through closer communication and coordination, we have together kept East Asia an “oasis of peace” and made our active contributions to regional security and stability.
Our pursuit of common development has gained stronger momentum. Trade between China and ASEAN has grown against the odds of COVID-19 in the past three years. We have become each other’s largest trading partners. Two-way trade has been hitting new highs and reached US$798.4 billion in the first ten months of 2022, up by 13.8 percent year-on-year. We have worked together for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to be signed and implemented, and hence built the world’s largest free trade area, taking our open and interconnected development to a new level.
Our efforts to enhance connectivity have produced fruitful outcomes. The opening of the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway has taken Cambodia into a “high-speed era”. With the China-Laos railway, the Lao dream of becoming a land-linked country has come true. The Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway, the first of its kind across ASEAN, will soon begin its trial operation. The construction of the China-Laos-Thailand railway and the Malaysia’s East Coast Rail Link is gaining traction. The China-Malaysia and China-Indonesia “Two Countries, Twin Parks” have grown bigger and stronger. The New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor has efficiently linked up Europe and Asia. High-quality Belt and Road cooperation has made iconic achievements.
Our security cooperation has grown more dynamic. Cooperation on military affairs and security, including the defense ministers’ meeting, joint naval exercise and exchange programs for military officers and think tanks, has made solid progress. Practical cooperation on combating transnational crimes and on disaster prevention and relief has registered many highlights.
Our people-to-people ties have become ever closer. Despite COVID-19, the momentum of our interactions both online and in person is strengthening. Orderly progress is underway for ASEAN students to return to China and resume their studies. The China-ASEAN Young Leaders Scholarship has been broadened out. Our two sides are stepping up to refine visa policies and adjusting upward the number of flights to facilitate business travels. Platforms such as the China-ASEAN Expo, the China-ASEAN Education Cooperation Week and the ASEAN-China Center have unleashed new potentials to bring our peoples closer.
The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) held not long ago has laid out the strategic plans for building China into a modern socialist country in all respects and advancing the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts. It was underlined at the Congress that China will keep to its foreign policy goals of upholding world peace and promoting common development. China will remain committed to an independent foreign policy of peace, to peaceful development and to the fundamental national policy of opening-up, and work to grow friendship and cooperation with all countries.
The regional and international environments are undergoing profound and complex changes with rising uncertainties and destabilizing factors. COVID-induced shocks are lingering, economic recovery is sluggish, the Cold War mentality is resurfacing, and multilateral governance is in disarray. Global development is facing unprecedented challenges. Peace and stability are the prerequisite for development, and a steady growth of the world economy is a pressing task for all countries. China is ready to work with all parties to uphold the UN-centered international system, practice multilateralism, promote the implementation of the Global Security Initiative (GSI) and jointly safeguard world peace and tranquility. China calls for a joint effort to increase macroeconomic policy coordination, keep industrial and supply chains secure and smooth, act on the Global Development Initiative (GDI), and deepen practical cooperation on all fronts. With solidarity and coordination, we could better meet global challenges and realize inclusive and sustainable development.
China and ASEAN are comprehensive strategic partners with a shared future, and have stood together through thick and thin. Picking sides should not have to be our choice. Openness and cooperation are the viable way in meeting our common challenges. China will keep to its policy of neighborhood diplomacy featuring amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness as well as building friendship and partnership with its neighbors. We will continue to take ASEAN as a high priority in our neighborhood diplomacy, and firmly support ASEAN in playing an even bigger role in regional and international affairs. Now, ASEAN is working on the ASEAN Community’s Post-2025 Vision toward a people-centered and more sustainable ASEAN Community, while China is embarking on a new journey to build a modern socialist country in all respects. Modernization and achieving a better life for our people is a goal we are both working hard to attain. The new circumstances call upon us to continuously enhance friendship, deepen mutual trust and expand common interests. We need to stay focused on development and cooperation, embrace opportunities, meet challenges and pursue modernization with a sense of togetherness, advance regional economic integration and build a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future. To this end, I wish to make the following proposals:
First, we need to forge a stronger consensus on development cooperation. Confronted with global difficulties and challenges, no country can be immune from their impacts. We need to put development first, better synergize our development strategies and take collective actions. We need to earnestly deliver the just released China-ASEAN Joint Statement on Strengthening Common and Sustainable Development. As we implement the Annex to the China-ASEAN Plan of Action 2021-2025: Advancing China-ASEAN Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, we may seize this opportunity to improve the quality and efficiency of our practical cooperation. In pursuing high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, we may promote the mutually beneficial cooperation between the Belt and Road Initiative and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. China appreciates that all ASEAN countries have joined the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative, and will set up a special loan on China-ASEAN common development. China welcomes that our two sides have agreed on the signing of the Agreement on China-ASEAN Technical Cooperation, and will step up input in Lancang-Mekong Cooperation and China-BIMP-EAGA cooperation, to help ASEAN narrow development gaps. China has circulated the Implementation List of China-ASEAN Joint Statement on Cooperation in Support of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework. We may build on the cooperation outcomes achieved to intensify our cooperation on post-pandemic recovery.
Second, we need to bolster the drivers for development. China-ASEAN cooperation enjoys high complementarity and strong vitality. We need to further tap the potentials of cooperation, improve regional cooperation platforms and upgrade cooperation mechanisms to cultivate development strengths. Our cooperation may center around five lines of efforts, namely trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, new-type industrialization, digitization, low-carbon development and agricultural modernization. This way, we could raise our collective competitiveness and take our cooperation to new heights.
— We need to promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation. We have jointly announced the official launch of negotiations on a new round of upgrade of our Free Trade Area. We need to use this opportunity to raise the quality and level of trade and investment cooperation, better link up our industrial, supply and value chains, and enable more ASEAN companies to share in China’s opportunities. ASEAN countries are most welcome to play a part in building the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, to make regional connectivity more efficient and resilient. China proposes that we further develop the Smart Customs, Smart Borders and Smart Connectivity to make trade more secure and convenient. China welcomes the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Strengthening Sanitary and Phytosanitary Cooperation between China and ASEAN. We need to enhance coordination, keep as many ports of entry open as possible and raise the efficiency of customs clearance.
— We need to advance new-type industrialization. The fourth industrial revolution has brought valuable opportunities to all countries, opportunities that must be leveraged to upgrade our industries. China is ready to work with ASEAN to accelerate the development of demonstration zones for high-quality Belt and Road cooperation on industrial capacity, and enhance the performance of joint demonstration zones for innovative development. The Chinese side has officially set up the China-ASEAN Investment Cooperation Fund II to support major infrastructure and energy projects in ASEAN. Next year, China will host a China-ASEAN Cooperation Forum on Emerging Industries to boost cooperation in information and communications, energy conservation, environmental protection, new energy and other fields. China will follow through on the Special Action on Technology Transfer for Sustainable Development, and explore the possibility of establishing regional technology transfer cooperation platforms in ASEAN countries.
— We need to speed up digital transformation. In developing the China-ASEAN Digital Economy Partnership, China wishes to work with ASEAN to intensify e-commerce cooperation, promote new forms and models of business such as cross-border e-commerce and smart logistics, and deepen cooperation on digital connectivity and digital transformation. China will launch the China-ASEAN Digital Talents Training Project to train 1,000 professionals for ASEAN countries in the next three years, and support leading Chinese provinces in the digital economy, such as Zhejiang, to harness their strengths and enhance exchanges and cooperation with ASEAN.
— We need to pursue low-carbon economic and social development. China is prepared to provide funding support under the Global Development and South-South Cooperation Fund to launch with ASEAN demonstration programs for implementing the Global Development Initiative. China suggests that we cooperate under the framework of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development to enhance China-ASEAN partnership on blue economy. China welcomes the preliminary consensus reached on establishing a China-ASEAN clean energy cooperation center and looks forward to its early completion. China will host the China-ASEAN Energy Transition Roundtable and carry out training programs on clean energy capacity building. China has circulated the Fact Sheet on the China-ASEAN Year of Sustainable Development Cooperation, and looks forward to stronger cooperation to accelerate the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
— We need to accelerate agricultural modernization. Ensuring food security is our top priority. We need to work together to implement the China-ASEAN Joint Statement on Food Security Cooperation, to better protect food security in the region and see that we can well meet the food needs of our two billion people. We have agreed to designate the year 2023 as the China-ASEAN Year of Agricultural Development and Food Security Cooperation, and efforts should be focused on deepening cooperation on green agriculture, poverty reduction and rural revitalization, and digital and smart agriculture.
Third, we need to consolidate the underlying support for development. People’s health provides an important basis for development. China will effectively implement the cooperation programs in support of ASEAN’s response to COVID-19. We look forward to an early renewal of the China-ASEAN MOU on health cooperation, and will accelerate the establishment of the China-ASEAN Public Health Research and Development Collaborating Center to build a stronger shield for regional public health security.
Human resources are the most important asset for development. China will implement the China-ASEAN Human Resource Quality Improvement Program to support human resources development in ASEAN. China has released the List of Activities in Support of the Year of ASEAN Youth, and stands ready to enhance youth exchanges as we deliver the programs of the Big Banyan Tree — China-ASEAN Youth Language Connectivity Program and the “Bridge of the Future” China-ASEAN Young Leaders Training Campus.
People-to-people and cultural exchanges provide an inexhaustible driving force for common development. While ensuring COVID-related safety, China is ready to provide the greatest possible facilitation to ASEAN students to return to China for their studies, and all those who wish to return are welcome to do so. China supports the Statement on the Post-COVID-19 Recovery Plan for ASEAN Tourism, and is ready to expedite discussions toward the establishment of a China-ASEAN Tourism Ministers’ Meeting mechanism. In the next five years, China will each year provide ASEAN law enforcement personnel with 1,000 short-term training opportunities and 20 slots for degree courses in China.
China will again contribute to the China-ASEAN Cooperation Fund to scale up support for practical cooperation programs in various fields. China is ready to expand cross-border RMB settlement with ASEAN countries and make full use of mechanisms such as the China-ASEAN Inter-Bank Association to jointly uphold regional financial stability.
Fourth, we need to enhance coordination on multilateral governance of development. Global governance has ushered in the “Asian moment”. China fully supports Cambodia, Indonesia, and Thailand in hosting the East Asia Leaders’ Meetings, the G20 Summit, and the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, and looks forward to positive outcomes. China supports ASEAN’s community-building, ASEAN centrality in East Asian cooperation, and the expanding and strengthening of the ASEAN-led regional architecture that is open and inclusive. China will work with ASEAN to champion open regionalism and jointly uphold the common interests of developing countries.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). As the first political document signed by China and ASEAN countries on the South China Sea, the DOC encapsulates our good-neighborliness and win-win cooperation. Over the past two decades, by committing to the full and effective implementation of the DOC, we have gradually identified an effective pathway for enhancing trust and managing differences, gained good experience of dialogue, cooperation, and joint governance, and maintained overall peace and stability in the South China Sea.
China welcomes the release of the Joint Statement on the 20th Anniversary of the DOC at this meeting and highly commends the positive progress made in the COC consultations. This demonstrates our common will and resolve to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea. We have full confidence, wisdom and capacity to take the key to the South China Sea issue firmly in our own hands. Relevant parties need to further improve the mechanisms for maritime dialogue, and advance practical cooperation in scientific research, environmental protection, search and rescue, fisheries and countering cross-border crimes. The parties need to jointly uphold the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, better protect and harness the marine resources and explore the possibility of joint development to benefit the people of all countries. China stands ready to work with ASEAN countries to properly handle the South China Sea issue in keeping with the international law, including the UNCLOS and on the basis of mutual respect. Together, we could serve as the defender of peace, builder of friendship and champion of cooperation in the South China Sea.
This is my last time to attend the China-ASEAN Summit. I wish to thank you, my ASEAN colleagues, for all the support and cooperation I have received over the decade. On this platform, China has proposed more than 160 important cooperation initiatives in the last ten years, and more than 99.5 percent of them have been implemented thanks to our combined efforts. It has been my great pleasure to have taken part in and witnessed the important process in the growth of China-ASEAN relations. I shall cherish all the valuable, fond memories. China-ASEAN relationship benefits both sides. We are good neighbors who will always be there for each other. We are good friends that can be counted on, and good partners that no one can set apart. We have every confidence in the future of this relationship. I am sure our friendship and cooperation will enjoy broader prospects, and the region that we all call home will see an even brighter future.