Speech by H.E. Li Keqiang
Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
At the 17th East Asia Summit
Phnom Penh, November 13, 2022
Prime Minister Hun Sen,
It gives me great pleasure to join you in the beautiful city of Phnom Penh. I want to thank Prime Minister Hun Sen and the government of the Kingdom of Cambodia for the thoughtful arrangements made for the meeting.
On the remarkable journey of East Asian cooperation, the city of Phnom Penh has left its own deep mark. Ten years ago, the ASEAN Summit adopted the Phnom Penh Declaration, taking ASEAN Community building onto a fast track. It is also in Phnom Penh that negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) were officially launched. The Phnom Penh Declaration on the East Asia Summit Development Initiative pooled consensus among all parties and created a strong momentum for common development in the region. Today, we are again gathered in Phnom Penh for the first face-to-face East Asia Summit (EAS) since COVID-19 struck. This is a meeting of great significance. China hopes to work with all parties to generate new dynamism for regional prosperity and development.
Today, the international and regional landscapes are intricate and complex; the world economic recovery remains sluggish; the international security situation is less than stable; and energy, food and financial risks and challenges keep flaring up. That said, we must see that our region has maintained peace and stability on the whole, regional economic integration continues to move ahead, a stable system of industrial and supply chains has taken shape, the idea of green development has taken deep root, and digital transformation has become a new area of growth. The call for peace and development among people in the region is growing stronger. Countries in the region need to uphold mutual respect, deepen win-win cooperation, and tackle risks and challenges together.
With a membership covering major economies in the Asia-Pacific, the EAS enjoys broad-based representation and influence. The EAS should keep to the right direction amid shifting dynamics in the region and beyond, and stick to its defined role. It should enhance institution building, expand common ground , strengthen its foundation, and boost the driving force of the two wheels of development and security. At the EAS, all parties need to share opportunities, tackle challenges together, deepen regional cooperation, and make positive contributions to longstanding peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
First, we need to maintain strategic dialogue and conduct constructive interactions. As a leaders-led strategic forum, the EAS has, since its inception, stressed the need to uphold the spirit of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, the principle of non-interference in internal affairs and the ASEAN Way of accommodating each other’s comfort levels. The EAS has served as an important platform for regional countries to have exchange and cooperation on political and security affairs and economic development. In the face of inclinations toward geopolitical tensions and escalating hotspots, the EAS should serve as a platform for dialogue to encourage engagement and consultation among regional countries to increase mutual understanding and trust, and properly manage differences. It should avoid decoupling, and still less move toward confrontation. China has put forward the Global Security Initiative which advocates a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, presenting China’s solution to security challenges. China is ready to work with all other parties to create favorable conditions for broadening and deepening practical cooperation and to consolidate the foundation for lasting peace and stability in East Asia.
Second, we need to pursue mutually beneficial cooperation and tackle risks and challenges together. Global threats and challenges call for global responses and real action is what matters most. East Asia is one of the regions that enjoy the biggest development and cooperation potential. Last year, China, Japan and the ROK and ASEAN contributed over 30 percent to global economic growth, and trade and investment within the region has sustained a momentum of fairly rapid expansion. We need to keep to the right direction of economic globalization, and continue to pursue trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and open and mutually beneficial cooperation. We need to work for sound implementation of the RCEP, keep the industrial and supply chains secure, stable and smooth, and push forward the regional economic integration process, to spur a sustainable recovery and growth in our region. In response to public health risks such as new infectious diseases, China will continue to support ASEAN in building regional vaccine production and distribution centers, and actively advance regional capacity-building on public health. To tackle energy security challenges, China believes it is imperative to pursue a balanced and orderly low-carbon transition, ensure accessible and secure energy supply to meet production and livelihood needs, and safeguard energy and food security. China welcomes the efforts by all in harnessing the mechanisms of the Clean Energy Forum and the New Energy Forum to enhance policy exchange and practical cooperation, in a joint effort to meet climate and ecological challenges, and advance sustainable development in the region. We look forward to an early renewal of the plan of action of the EAS, with greater input in practical cooperation in such areas as poverty reduction, to deliver on more development goals.
Third, we need to uphold ASEAN centrality and foster an inclusive regional architecture. Over the years, a multi-tiered and inter-connected architecture of regional cooperation has taken shape in East Asia, which has played an irreplaceable role in safeguarding regional peace, stability and prosperity. The key to its success is that it upholds ASEAN centrality, accommodates the interests of all parties, and conforms to the regional reality. While the architecture may be constantly refined in light of evolving situation, ASEAN centrality as its very foundation must not be undermined. All parties should support ASEAN centrality in East Asian cooperation. Only in this way can East Asian cooperation be strong and sustainable. China supports continued efforts in the ASEAN Way to facilitate a proper settlement of the Myanmar issue to uphold ASEAN unity and cooperation. The international community should foster a favorable external environment to this end.
A peaceful and stable South China Sea, and freedom of navigation and overflight there serves the interests of all parties. As the world’s biggest trader of goods, China has 60 percent of its cargoes shipped through the South China Sea. The freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea has never been a problem.
Two days ago, leaders of ASEAN countries and I jointly announced the release of the Joint Statement on the 20th Anniversary of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, sending out a strong signal of our firm commitment to fully and effectively implementing the Declaration and jointly safeguarding peace and stability in the South China Sea.
China stands for maintaining peace and stability and unimpeded sea lanes in the South China Sea. In keeping with the spirit of the DOC that has been in place for 20 years and the principles of international law including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, China is ready to work with ASEAN countries to step up COC consultations on the basis of consensus-building. All sides should respect the efforts of regional countries for peace and stability in the South China Sea, and support regional countries in making the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation.
The achievements China has made in its economic and social development in the past four decades of reform and opening-up are attributable to a peaceful external environment and a stable region which conform to China’s interests. China follows an independent foreign policy of peace and a path of peaceful development. It decides on its position and policies based on the merits of each matter, upholds the basic norms governing international relations, and stands for international fairness and justice. China is committed to the fundamental national policy of opening-up and pursues a win-win strategy of opening-up. It will continue to bring opportunities to other countries in the world with its own development, and promote an open global economy to the betterment of people around the world.
With common will and sincerity, a brighter future can be created. China is ready to strengthen dialogue and cooperation with all parties to together make East Asia, our common home, a better place, and jointly preserve peace and prosperity of the world.