Wen Jiabao Attends Meetings of East Asian Leaders: For Peace and Prosperity in East Asia
For Peace and Prosperity in East Asia
--On Premier Wen Jiabao's Attendance at Meetings of East Asian Leaders
From November 17 to 19, 2011, Premier Wen Jiabao attended the 14th China-ASEAN Summit & the Commemorative Summit Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations, the 14th Summit of ASEAN and China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) (10+3), the meeting of leaders of China, Japan and the ROK and the 6th East Asia Summit (EAS) in Bali, Indonesia.
Wen made important speeches and raised proposals and initiatives on promoting the solidarity, development and cooperation of East Asian countries and held in-depth exchanges with other national leaders extensively.
The success of the East Asian leaders' meeting further consolidated China's traditional friendship with ASEAN and injected vigor and hope for the common development and prosperity in East Asia.
Gathering Important Consensuses
The global financial crisis has lasted for four years and the European debt crisis is still evolving with uncertainties. Although East Asia's power and status on the international arena are rising, it also faces severe external challenges. There emerged different voices on the East Asian cooperation and the issue of South China Sea prior to the meetings, making people quite worried about the future direction and prospects of East Asian cooperation.
With the joint efforts of Wen and other participating leaders, important consensuses were gathered during the meetings: highlighting the theme of solidarity, development and cooperation; insisting on the East Asian cooperation framework and mechanism; constantly expanding cooperation areas and promoting the stable and relatively fast economic growth. These consensuses laid down a sound foundation for the success of the meetings.
The special flight of Premier Wen took off for Bali in early morning of November 17. As a habit for many years, he came to the journalists in the rear cabin to give them briefings shortly after taking off. He didn't feel easy to attend the meetings of East Asian leaders this time, but he was confident that the meetings would achieve success since cooperation and development are the trends of the times and serve the interest of East Asian countries and people, according to Wen.
Indonesia currently holds the rotating presidency of ASEAN. Upon arrival in Bali at 5:00pm, Wen held talks with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
At the very beginning of the talks, Wen pointed out that the meetings of East Asian leaders, in the current serious and complex international political and economic situation, should highlight the theme of solidarity, development and cooperation, strengthen the cohesion and development momentum, mobilize all the positive factors, eliminate interferences and move towards the established direction and goals.
His remarks were responded actively by the host. "Members of the EAS should work together to ensure the continuous development of the EAS in the correct direction." Susilo said.
The number of countries participating in the meetings of East Asian leaders has extended to 18, including Russia and the US. During the meetings, Wen stressed that China insists on promoting East Asian cooperation in which ASEAN plays the leading role, 10+1 is the basis, 10+3 is the main body and the EAS is an important supplement.
Leaders there put forward proposals on cooperation and development and expressed strong aspiration of jointly boosting East Asian development because peace and development are the main theme of the era, the desire of the people and more importantly the unstoppable trends of the times.
Some countries lately were worried that the South China Sea issue would become a focal point of the East Asian leaders' meetings. However, prior to the meetings, many ASEAN members, being aware of the complexity and sensitivity of the issue, proposed not to discuss specific political and security issues during the meetings.
Some country mentioned the South China Sea issue and China on the 6th EAS on November 19. Making responses to that, Wen said the EAS is not the appropriate place to discuss the South China Sea issue. He didn't want to talk about the issue, but he would like to reiterate China's position since some national leaders mentioned China and it was impolite not to reciprocate.
He pointed out that China's position on the South China Sea issue is consistent and clear. Dispute over South China Sea should be solved by the directly related sovereign states through friendly consultations and negotiations. China and ASEAN signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in 2002, confirming to promote pragmatic cooperation and ultimately reach a code of conduct in the South China Sea. This is the common aspiration of ASEAN member countries and China. He emphasized that the economic growth of East Asia and Southeast Asia proves from one aspect the navigation freedom and security in the South China Sea is not affected by the South China Sea dispute at all.
He said that it is especially necessary for the EAS to keep its strategic forum nature under the guidance of leaders and adhere to the theme of solidarity, development and cooperation in the current circumstances and not to deviate from this direction.
Two outcome documents were adopted during the meetings, including the Declaration of the EAS on the Principles for Mutually Beneficial Relations and the EAS Declaration on ASEAN Connectivity. Leaders agreed that the EAS continue to step up cooperation in such key fields as finance, energy, education, public health and disaster management.
Further Expanding Cooperation
During the meetings of East Asian leaders, participating countries discussed cooperation in a wide range of areas, including trade, investment, infrastructure connectivity, energy and food security, culture, education, health and disaster relief, especially on connectivity, energy and food security.
Wen proposed measures to widen and deepen China's cooperation with East Asian countries at the 10+1 and 10+3 meetings, the meeting with Japanese and ROK leaders and the EAS respectively. Those practical measures emphasize equality, mutual benefit and mutual help and aim at promoting development and benefiting the people.
At the 10+1 meeting, Wen raised six specific suggestions on improving the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (FTA), deepening financial cooperation and exploring pragmatic marine cooperation. He stressed that priority must be given to infrastructure connectivity.
He proposed to establish a China-ASEAN committee on connectivity cooperation and achieve the goal of land transport connectivity between China and related ASEAN member countries as soon as possible. Effective measures should be taken to develop refrigerator ship, ro-ro ship and container liner direct lines to facilitate passenger and cargo transport.
To boost infrastructure construction, he announced that the Chinese government will add another US$10 billion of credit on the basis of its commitment of providing ASEAN member countries with US$15 billion of credit in 2009 and set up a RMB3 billion of China-ASEAN maritime cooperation fund.
His speeches were positively responded by ASEAN leaders who thanked China for its support for the ASEAN Interconnection Master Plan. Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said that both sides must take a forward-looking attitude and focus on accelerating connectivity at the beginning of the third decade of ASEAN-China relations.
Wen pointed out that China, Japan and the ROK should use their respective advantages to build synergy and support connectivity more effectively.
Connectivity builds the link of cooperation and will lay down the foundation for East Asian economic integration and boost the stronger growth of East Asia in the future.
The Chinese side also raised proposals on improving the FTA and building financial branches in each other's territory; setting next year as the Year of Science and Technology Cooperation between China and ASEAN; holding the first China-ASEAN meeting of ministers of science and technology and setting up the China-ASEAN traditional medicine exchange and cooperation center; establishing 10 vocational training centers in China oriented towards ASEAN member countries; launching the meeting mechanism of ministers of culture between China and ASEAN and holding the first official meeting next year.
Wen and ASEAN leaders inaugurated the China-ASEAN Center after the meetings. The Center will serve as a one-stop service platform for China-ASEAN cooperation.
The joint statement of the China-ASEAN Summit announced more than 30 cooperation initiatives in the political security, economic, social, cultural and regional fields.
ASEAN member countries and China, Japan and the ROK officially signed the rice emergency reserve agreement this year. Wen said that China is committed to implementing the agreement with relevant parties to further enhance food security in East Asia.
In the morning of November 19, Wen attended the meeting with Japanese and the ROK leaders and held consultations with President Lee Myung-bak and Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on the China-Japan-ROK FTA, investment agreement negotiations, Northeast Asia information service network and cultural exchanges. Lee Myung-bak proposed to hold a meeting of education ministers of the three countries in 2012, upon which Wen expressed agreement.
East Asia has suffered frequent disasters this year. The proposals raised by Indonesia and Australia on strengthening disaster rapid responses were welcomed by the participating leaders.
Some experts said that the cooperation measures raised during the East Asian leaders' meetings are more practical and demonstrate the new trend of widening East Asian cooperation.
Joining Hands to Cope with the International Financial Crisis
The international financial crisis is exerting deep impact. To properly cope with the crisis and boost the sustainable and relatively fast economic growth in East Asia are the major topics of the meetings.
At the 14th China-ASEAN Summit and the Commemorative Summit Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations, Wen noted that China would continue to send trade and investment promotion delegations to ASEAN member countries, set up an ASEAN products demo center in Nanning, Guangxi, expand investment in ASEAN and intensify efforts of transferring advanced and applicable technologies.
The trade volume between China and ASEAN this year is expected to exceed US$350 billion. Leaders believe that it will reach or surpass US$500 billion in 2015.
Wen also mentioned that the China-ASEAN Inter-Bank Association should play its role to provide businesses of both sides with diversified financial services and China and ASEAN should jointly promote the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation (CMIM) and other regional currency swap mechanisms and enhance the East Asian financial crisis handling capacity.
In the afternoon of November 18, the 14th 10+3 meeting kicked off. Wen put forward suggestions on the effective prevention of financial crisis. He said that in the next stage priority should be given to enhancing the effectiveness of the CMIM and increasing the risk prevention capability on the basis of risk rescue; strengthening the economic surveillance capacity of the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO), shortening the time and cutting the cost of trade within the region.
Wen met with US President Barack Obama before the EAS opened. Wen said that the trade imbalance between China and the US is mainly a structural problem. To solve the problem, both sides must deepen economic and trade cooperation. He suggested that China expand imports of goods from the US, encourage domestic enterprises to invest in the US and deepen the bilateral cooperation on high-end manufacturing, new energy, medicine and health, environmental protection and energy efficiency, hi-tech and infrastructure construction. The US should relax restrictions on exports of high-tech products to China and take practical actions as soon as possible to allow the access of Chinese enterprises' investment in the US. Obama said that the US-China relationship, whether to the two countries or to the world, is one of the most important bilateral relations and both sides should continue to work to resolve differences in the economic and trade fields in the spirit of cooperation and mutual understanding.
During the East Asian leaders' meetings, Wen pointed out that top priority should still be given to coping with the international financial crisis. Countries should take appropriate fiscal and monetary policies suitable to their own national conditions, boost market confidence and strive to promote healthy and stable economic growth. Efforts should be made to reinforce macroeconomic policy coordination and financial cooperation and maintain regional financial stability. He also expressed opinions on further opening the market and encouraging investment.
Leaders of other countries also raised opinions and proposals on coping with the crisis.
The exchanges and consultations will effectively guide East Asian countries to continue to overcome the impact of the international financial crisis and promote the stable and relatively fast growth of economy.