Speech by Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing at the 10+3 Ministerial Meeting
(Vientiane, Laos, 27 July 2005)
Your Excellency Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Somsavat,
I am very delighted to attend the 10+3 Ministerial meeting here in Vientiane. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Laotian Government for its gracious hospitality and thoughtful arrangements.
In recent years, regional cooperation in East Asia has achieved remarkable accomplishment. The cooperation between ASEAN and China, Japan and ROK is broadening and deepening and a multi-dimensional and well-functioning cooperation system has been established. Within this system, centering on the 10+3 Summit, 14 ministerial cooperation mechanisms have been established, covering 18 areas, including the economy and trade, finance, agriculture, forestry, energy and labor. We have started to explore the possibility of establishing an East Asia Free Trade Area and expanded the currency swap arrangement within the framework of Chiang Mai Initiative. There is an increasing of activities by the Network of East Asian Think-tanks and other Track II initiatives. The 10+3 Summit Meeting last year identified the establishment of East Asia Community as a long-term goal for 10+3 cooperation, marking a new era in East Asian cooperation. The fruitful 10+3 cooperation has promoted the common development of East Asian countries, enhanced East Asian countries' awareness of their overall interests and advanced their common interests. Given our growing interdependence, the idea of cooperation for mutual benefit has accumulated appreciation.
The success of 10+3 cooperation is attributable to the following reasons:
We all take as our major task the development of national economy and the maintenance of regional stability. In order to attain this overriding goal, we conform to the call of the times, commit ourselves to coping with the opportunities and challenges in the age of globalization, and strive for common development through regional integration.
We all follow the principles of mutual respect and mutual benefit in the course of cooperation. In light of the diversity in the region, we stick to consensus through consultation and a pace comfortable to all and always set store by the overall interests of cooperation.
We are all flexible, pragmatic and innovative. Under the principles of addressing easier problems before moving on to thornier ones and gradual progress, we start with tangible economic and trade cooperation and then extend it to other areas. As a result, a cooperation approach suited to the reality and characteristics of this region has been developed.
Under the new circumstances, 10+3 cooperation is faced with numerous challenges. We need to make arduous efforts to realize the vision of East Asia Community. Enhancing efficiency, perfecting mechanism and consolidating and strengthening the cooperation momentum are the major tasks before us.
Here are a few points I would like to share with you.
First, we should continue to take the 10+3 model as the primary platform to promote cooperation in East Asia.
10+3 is a cooperation mechanism of the greatest vitality and potential in this region. It is, by now, the most successful practice and modality of regional cooperation in East Asia. As a major channel for East Asian cooperation, it has yielded fruitful results through almost ten years of development and laid the groundwork for the East Asia Community. Such a favorable situation is the result of all parties' efforts. It is hard-won and should be cherished.
Second, we should uphold ASEAN's leading role in East Asian cooperation.
ASEAN members constitute the bulk of East Asian countries. ASEAN is an advocate and main practitioner of East Asian cooperation. ASEAN has injected vigor and vitality into East Asian cooperation by constantly deepening cooperation within itself. During the process of East Asian cooperation, ASEAN is playing an excellent coordinating role in balancing the interests of different parties. Upholding ASEAN's leading role contributes to the smooth development of East Asian cooperation.
Third, we should stick to the principle of being pragmatic and seeking win-win results for deepened cooperation in specific areas.
Part of the successful experience of 10+3 cooperation is to start with practical cooperation in the economic area to bring tangible benefits for all parties. To further deepen cooperation in all areas is conducive to expanding the common interests of all parties and keeping 10+3 cooperation vibrant. 10+3 cooperation should continue to focus on the economic field, and be extended gradually to cultural and security fields. It should be constantly substantiated to lay a more solid foundation for the development of the East Asia Community.
Fourth, East Asian cooperation should be open and transparent and coexist in amity with other cooperation mechanisms in the region.
The objective of 10+3 cooperation is to promote the common development of countries in this region and the development of East Asia and the world at large. While conducting 10+3 cooperation, we need to have global vision, be open-minded, continue to keep the openness of East Asian cooperation and vigorously promote the interaction between 10+3 cooperation and other cooperation mechanisms in the region in order to draw on each other's strong points and achieve common development.
Fifth, we should be innovative, continuously summarize experience gleaned from cooperation and make careful plans for future collaboration.
East Asian cooperation is an unprecedented undertaking. We should timely sum up cooperation experience, soberly assess deficiencies and problems, pragmatically identify the direction, priority areas and specific programs for 10+3 cooperation, and improve the cooperation mechanism and modalities. In this connection, I propose that the ASEAN Secretariat coordinate the work of reviewing and summarizing 10+3 cooperation and making recommendations for the contents and format of future cooperation.
The First East Asia Summit, which is to be held in Malaysia at the end of this year, is something new in the process of East Asian cooperation. It will serve as an important platform for dialogue between East Asia and countries in other regions. The Chinese side attaches importance to the Summit, respects the consensus reached within ASEAN and supports ASEAN's leading role in the Summit. The Chinese side is of the view that the East Asia Summit will contribute to the solidarity of East Asian countries, 10+3 cooperation, the growth of East Asian Community and the common development of East Asia, Asia and world as a whole.
As regional integration process accelerates, China has found itself more and more closely linked with the rest of East Asia. China's development could not be possible without the common development of the countries in the region. Enhancing regional cooperation is a major part of China's foreign policy of making friends and partners with its neighbors and building a harmonious, secure and prosperous neighborhood. China will, as always, enthusiastically support and take part in East Asian cooperation. I believe, with concerted efforts, East Asian cooperation will surely have a brighter future.
Thank you all.