Keynote Speech by H.E. Mr. Han Zheng, Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Vice Premier of the State Council of China at the 15th CAEXPO and the 15th CABIS Opening Ceremony (This transcript is edited based on simultaneous interpretation for your kind reference).
Upgrade the Strategic Partnership and Build an Even Closer China-ASEAN Community with a Shared Future
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, friends,
It gives me great pleasure to meet you in the beautiful green city of Nanning for the 15th China-ASEAN Expo and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit. Here, on behalf of the Chinese government and people, I would like to extend warm congratulations on the opening of the events and extend heartfelt welcome to friends from ASEAN countries and other countries and regions. China and ASEAN, connected by mountains and rivers, are good neighbours, good friends, and good partners, with a time-honoured friendship. It was more than 2,000 years ago in China's Han Dynasty, our ancestors navigated the rough seas, opened the door of contacts and initiated the ancient maritime Silk Road.
Since the 1990s, the China-ASEAN relationship has witnessed sustained and rapid growth. In October, 2003, at the 7th China-ASEAN Summit, the two sides announced the establishment of the strategic partnership for peace and prosperity, marking a new chapter in the China-ASEAN friendship. In October, 2013, President Xi Jinping visited Indonesia, where he proposed to work with ASEAN countries to build the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, and build an even stronger China-ASEAN Community with a Shared Future, thus drawing up the blueprint for the further growth of China-ASEAN relations.
The past 15 years since the establishment of China-ASEAN strategic partnership has seen deeper friendship, fruitful cooperation between the two sides. In particular, since the adoption of the Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI, five years ago, the two sides have promoted a Silk Road spirit and taken solid steps to build a community with a shared future based on common vision, prosperity, and responsibility.
We have intensified strategic cooperation. China has, all along, taken ASEAN as a priority in its neighbourhood diplomacy, and supported ASEAN community building and ASEAN's centrality in regional cooperation. ASEAN countries have viewed China as a reliable partner. The two sides have carried out all-round, multi-tiered, and wide-ranging dialogues and exchanges, increased political mutual trust, focused on cooperation and development, and upheld regional peace, development, and prosperity. The China-ASEAN relationship has stood the test of time and becomes the most successful and dynamic relationship in Asia-Pacific regional cooperation.
We have fully deepened opening up and cooperation. China was the first to negotiate and establish an FTA with ASEAN. ASEAN is a priority and important partner for BRI cooperation. China has been ASEAN's biggest trading partner for nine consecutive years and ASEAN has been China's third biggest trading partner for seven consecutive years. Our two-way investment totals more than 200 billion USD. China has established more than 4,000 companies in ASEAN countries, creating over 300,000 local jobs and giving a strong boost to the economic and social development of the local community.
We have strengthened people-to-people and cultural ties. We have successfully held theme-year events on science and technology, culture, ocean, education, and tourism, and this year is the year of innovation between us. Last year saw 50 million personnel visits, and 200,000 exchange students between the two sides. China has set up six cultural centres, 33 Confucius institutes, and 35 Confucius classrooms in ASEAN countries.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, this year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up. In the past four decades, China has been committed to reform and opening up, and made major achievements in promoting national development and improving people's lives. In its opening up, China has shouldered responsibilities as a major country. We have pursued both "Bring in" and "Go Global" policies, acceded to the WTO, advanced the BRI, and contributed China's wisdom and strength to world prosperity and stability. China's reform and opening up has not only profoundly changed China, but also deeply influenced the whole world.
In April, this year, President Xi Jinping stressed at the Bao'ao forum for Asia that China's door of opening-up will not be closed, and will only be opened even wider. He also announced a host of important measures of significantly broadening market access, creating a more attractive investment environment, strengthening IPR protection, and taking the initiative to expand exports. On August 27th, President Xi attended and addressed the meeting marking the 5th anniversary of the BRI. He pointed out the important of dialogues and consultations, shared benefits, building cooperation, and mutual learning, with the aim of maximising cooperation with BRI partners, strengthening political mutual trust, economic integration, people-to-people and cultural ties, advancing BRI to the benefit of the people and building a community with a shared future for mankind.
China's reform and opening-up will create greater opportunities for ASEAN countries and other countries. China welcomes ASEAN countries aboard the express train of China's economic development. It will share the dividends of economic growth with ASEAN. It will work with ASEAN to develop a new type of international relations, featuring mutual respect, equity, justice, and win-win cooperation, make China-ASEAN Community with a Shared Future a good example of such a community for mankind and contribute to the building of an open, inclusive, clean, and beautiful world of enduring peace, universal security, and common prosperity.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
China and ASEAN are entering a new era of common development and shared prosperity. China will work with ASEAN to upgrade the strategic partnership and build an even closer community with a shared future. In this connection, I would like to make the following proposals:
First, synergise development strategies. China will, together with ASEAN, create greater synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative, the building of the ASEAN community and the development strategies and plans of ASEAN countries. We need to work together to advance political and security cooperation, economic cooperation, and people-to-people exchange, which are three pillars underpinning the 3+X cooperation framework, in an effort to upgrade our relationship. We need to enhance the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation and accelerate the formulation of the China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership Vision 2030.
Second, expand trade and investment cooperation. China will fully leverage platforms such as the China International Import Expo and China-ASEAN Expo to increase imports from ASEAN countries. China hopes to boost two-way investment with ASEAN. In a spirit of mutual benefit, China will work with ASEAN to get the upgraded free-trade area off the ground and accelerate regional comprehensive economic partnership (RCEP) negotiations.
Third, strengthen international production capacity cooperation. ASEAN countries are experiencing rapid industrialisation and urbanisation, and China has competitive industrial capacity as well as cost-effective equipment. China will work with ASEAN countries to act on the Joint Statement of Production Capacity Cooperation, to foster more integrated industrial value and logistic chains that can deliver extensive benefits. We need to support production capacity cooperation in terms of human resources, information, customs, tax, finance, and certification. We need to fully leverage financing platforms such as AIIB, Silk Road Fund, China-ASEAN Investment Cooperation Fund, and China-ASEAN Special Infrastructure Loan to provide priority support for high quality projects.
Fourth, advance connectivity cooperation. Infrastructure connectivity is a vital area of the BRI. China will work with ASEAN to act on the Joint Statement on Further Deepening China-ASEAN Infrastructure Connectivity Cooperation. We need to advance key projects in land, sea, air, and cyberspace connectivity. Relevant projects need to be accelerated, including China-Laos Railway, Jakarta-Bandung Railway, China-Thailand Railway and China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity and its Southern Transport Corridor.
Fifth, deepen innovation cooperation. The theme of this expo is "Jointly Building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, Forging the China-ASEAN Community of Innovation". China will work with ASEAN to implement the Belt and Road Science and Technology Innovation Cooperation Action Plan with a focus on the regional coordination network on technology transfer, and promote technology transfer and commercialisation. We need to enhance training for scientists and technology exchanges to provide technology and intellectual support for regional development.
Sixth, intensify people-to-people and cultural exchanges. Based on mutual respect for cultural diversity and social values, China stands ready to work with ASEAN countries to boost cooperation in culture, education, science and technology, environmental protection, health, tourism, sports, and other areas, and jointly foster a China-ASEAN cooperation spirit of mutual trust, mutual accommodation, mutual benefit, and mutual assistance.
Ladies and gentlemen, friends, today we are celebrating 15 years of China-ASEAN Expo, a win-win platform for strategic cooperation. It is hoped that the expo and business and investment summit will become more solid platforms for high-level dialogues, expanding the Nanning Channel and delivering more fruitful outcomes under the BRI.
In conclusion, I wish the 15th China-ASEAN Expo and the 15th China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit a full success and all of you good health, splendid work and a happy stay in Nanning. Thank you.