Remarks at the Opening Ceremony of the 20th China-ASEAN Expo and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit
H.E. Li Qiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
Nanning, September 17, 2023
Leaders of the ASEAN Countries,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning! It’s a great pleasure to join you in the beautiful “Green City” Nanning for the 20th China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (CABIS). Many present today attended the 26th China-ASEAN Summit in Jakarta ten days ago, and now we are meeting again in Nanning. This speaks volumes about the intensity and depth of the exchanges and cooperation between China and ASEAN. At the outset, on behalf of the Chinese government, I wish to extend warm congratulations on the opening of CAEXPO and CABIS, and a hearty welcome to the leaders and guests attending the event.
Over the course of 20 years, CAEXPO and CABIS have borne witness to the sustained growth of China-ASEAN relations. Twenty years ago, as ASEAN’s dialogue partner, China was the first country to join the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), and together with ASEAN established a strategic partnership for peace and prosperity. Ten years ago, President Xi Jinping delivered an important speech at the Indonesian parliament, during which he proposed that China and ASEAN countries build a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and foster a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future. His proposal received positive response from ASEAN countries and opened a new chapter of friendship and cooperation between the two sides. Two years ago, at the Special Summit to Commemorate the 30th Anniversary of China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations, President Xi Jinping proposed that China and ASEAN build a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, beautiful and amicable home, and together with leaders of ASEAN countries, mapped out a new blueprint for the future of China-ASEAN cooperation and development.
Over the years, we have upheld unity for strength. Keeping firm to the path of peaceful development, we have preserved regional peace and tranquility in a world fraught with turbulence and change, and jointly created the miracle of economic takeoff. Our combined GDP as a share of the global total surged from 6.1 percent in 2002 to 21.5 percent last year, and our two billion-plus people are significantly better off. We have upheld win-win cooperation, made breakthroughs in connectivity, and steadily advanced regional economic integration and economic and trade cooperation. Trade and investment between the two sides has grown despite a weak global economy. Our trade grew by 16.8 times over the past 20 years, and we have been each other’s largest trading partners for three years running. Two-way cumulative investment has surpassed USD 380 billion. We have upheld the common good of the world, jointly tackled global challenges, and fostered a steady stream of cooperation highlights in poverty reduction, climate action, environmental protection and energy transition. The China-ASEAN relationship has grown into the most successful and vibrant model for cooperation in the Asia-Pacific, and is a vivid illustration of building a community with a shared future for mankind.
Looking back, we have every reason to be proud of these achievements, and feel keenly about the trials and tribulations along the way. Looking ahead, we are full of confidence and hope, but not without concerns and worries. We, in this turbulent and complex world, are faced with many difficult issues and challenges that require a collective response. Against the backdrop of unprecedented global transformation, we must size up the situation and adapt to the overall trend. More importantly, we need to bear in mind the essential principles that remain constant despite the myriad of changes in the world, and the overarching vision that guides us to where we are today. The sound relations between China and ASEAN we enjoy today are the hard-won result achieved through our years-long concerted efforts. In my view, the essential principle and vision that made this feat possible are the insightful proposition of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness put forth by President Xi Jinping. As a fundamental guideline of China’s neighborhood diplomacy, these four words represent the right approach to build friendly ties with neighbors and hold the key to our shared endeavor for a brighter future. We need to make greater efforts to practice the principle of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness, foster an environment conducive to development, prosperity, peace and tranquility, and bring more benefits to neighboring countries and people in the region through our own development.
First, for greater amity, we need to further strengthen our affinity. Connected by mountains, waters and similar cultures, China and ASEAN countries have enjoyed a profound friendship since ancient times. Closer interaction brings greater amity to relatives and friends alike. We should fully harness the various exchange platforms to facilitate regular and candid exchanges, narrow differences and build consensus through enhanced dialogue, and cement the emotional bond for our common development. China will work with ASEAN to take the China-ASEAN Year of People-to-People Exchanges in 2024 as an opportunity to expand cooperation in culture, tourism, training and among the youth, in order to promote greater understanding and amity between our peoples. We will also make good use of CAEXPO, the China International Import Expo (CIIE), the Canton Fair, the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) and the China International Consumer Products Expo (CICPE), among others, to provide businesses from both sides with a longstanding platform for exchange and cooperation.
Second, for greater sincerity, we need to cement the foundation of trust. As ancient Chinese wisdom cautions, a person without credibility can’t establish himself in society, and a country without credibility will surely decline. In a world fraught with instability, uncertainty and unforeseeable factors, credibility and good faith have become all the more precious. For economic and trade cooperation, nothing is more important than being honest to each other and setting up fair, consistent, transparent and predictable market rules and policies. China believes in treating others with sincerity and integrity, and has followed this way in its relations with ASEAN countries. We hope to work with ASEAN countries to advance all-round cooperation with good faith, and deliver on our agreed cooperation programs by taking concrete actions. I wish to reiterate that China will remain committed to its fundamental state policy of opening up, deepen institutional opening up in rules, regulations, management and standards, and step up the protection of intellectual property rights. China will make every effort to protect and promote fair competition, and create an enabling business environment that provides a safe, secure and pleasant experience to investors from all countries.
Third, for greater mutual benefit, we need to strengthen the bonds of common interests. China and ASEAN provide each other with important development opportunities. We share extensive common interests in terms of accessing mega-sized markets, tapping economic complementarity and efficiently allocating resources. To achieve greater development, it is imperative that we cooperate under the principle of mutual benefit, forge an even closer network of common interests, and bring integration of interests to a higher level. China will continue to import more specialty products from ASEAN countries, and scale up trade in intermediate goods with ASEAN. We need to fully leverage the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor to upgrade regional connectivity. We need to develop various types of demonstration parks of cooperation, expand cooperation in emerging areas such as green and low-carbon development and the digital economy, and build a more stable and smooth regional industrial and supply chain system based on comparative strengths, to consolidate and raise the overall competitiveness of our region.
Fourth, for greater inclusiveness, we need to embrace a more open mind. Both China and ASEAN countries have diverse cultures and ethnicities. Our millennial-long interactions have nurtured our common DNA of openness and inclusiveness. Over the past decades, our region has enjoyed rapid growth in the course of integration. This is made possible by our shared commitment to promoting cooperation and mutual benefit through openness and inclusiveness. The Asia-Pacific is big enough for all countries to develop together. As the global recovery remains rocky and growth across countries is under strain, it is all the more important for us to uphold openness and inclusiveness and strengthen solidarity and coordination. China will continue to firmly support the ASEAN-centered regional cooperation architecture, better synergize the Belt and Road Initiative with the development strategies of other countries, and help ASEAN countries realize their development goals. China will work with ASEAN countries to advance regional economic integration, ensure good progress in the implementation of the RCEP, and accelerate negotiations on the China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement 3.0, to further liberalize and facilitate trade and investment.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thanks to our collective efforts in the past two decades, CAEXPO and CABIS have grown into an important platform for regional integration, and produced fruitful results. From this new starting point, we must continue developing and making good use of the platform to reinforce exchanges, strengthen friendship, create more business opportunities and share greater benefits. Let us work together to build a closer community with a shared future and usher in a more prosperous and brighter future.
To conclude, I wish the event a full success.