Build a Bond of Cooperation and a Common Homeland
Speech at the Third GMS Summit
Respected Prime Minister Bouasone Boaphavanh,
It gives me much pleasure to come to Vientiane, a beautiful city, to attend the Third GMS Summit. I am very glad to meet you and discuss with you ways to promote development. The Government of Laos is a gracious host, and I wish to express our deep appreciation for its hospitality.
Economic cooperation in GMS has made new progress since the advent of the 21st century. The First GMS Summit held in Cambodia in 2002 approved the 10-Year Strategic Framework and decided to upgrade the sub-regional cooperation mechanism to the summit level. In 2005, leaders of the six countries met in Kunming, China. They adopted the guiding principles for carrying out cooperation, namely, enhancing mutual respect and consultation on an equal footing, being result-oriented and promoting steady progress and adopted a series of important documents for cooperation. In the past three years, the six countries have earnestly implemented the decisions of the summit and made encouraging progress in transportation corridor building, ecological and environmental protection and human resources development. This has boosted economic and social development in GMS, and delivered great benefits to people in the sub-region. Trade and foreign direct investment in the sub-region have grown significantly over the past sixteen years. The capacity of the GMS countries for self-development has markedly improved. Their relations have become closer and more amicable, and the goal of building a sub-regional community has won increasing popular support.
China has all along been an active participant in the sub-regional cooperation. Over the past three years, China has funded the development of the North-South Economic Corridor and the Phase I Project of the GMS Information Super Highway, formulated a national program on implementing the Strategic Framework for Action on Trade Facilitation and Investment in the GMS and extended zero-tariff treatment to 83 export items from Cambodia, 91 export items from Laos and 87 export items from Myanmar as of 1 January 2006. China hosted the First GMS Agriculture Ministers Meeting, opened the GMS Agricultural Information Network, supported the convening of the GMS Public Health Forum and has trained over 400 personnel from GMS countries in telecommunication, agriculture, health, energy and trade and investment. These steps have both promoted the GMS cooperation and contributed to the development of the countries concerned.
The economic globalization is accelerating, science and technology are advancing by leaps and bounds, and regional cooperation is flourishing. Our sub-region enjoys general stability and is moving faster toward economic integration, and we are in a stage of development not seen in the past. However, we should also be aware that compared with other regions in East Asia, our sub-region still faces more serious problems such as a large poor population, weak infrastructure and an acute shortage of funding. To achieve development and prosperity remains an arduous task. Many uncertainties have recently emerged in the international political and economic situation, in particular, high oil and grain prices, the spreading risks of the US sub-prime mortgage crisis and the depreciation of the US dollar, have brought new pressure and challenges to economic cooperation in our sub-region. Facing these uncertainties, we the GMS countries should be alert to potential risks, strengthen unity and cooperation, improve our capacity to respond to risks and keep to the path of pursuing common development and prosperity.
The theme of this Summit, "Enhancing Competitiveness through Greater Connectivity" captures the underlying theme of sub-regional cooperation and reflects the common desire of the GMS countries. It is in keeping with the development trend of the times. To enhance competitiveness through greater connectivity should be the focus of our future cooperation. To achieve this goal, the GMS countries should make the following efforts:
--Treat each other with sincerity and enhance consultation and mutual trust. We shall forge close ties, increase mutual understanding, and form synergy so as to cement a stable and harmonious environment for mutually beneficial cooperation in the sub-region.
--Step up development of transport, power and communications and make infrastructure in various countries inter-connected and internet-based so as to provide strong support for upgrading sub-regional cooperation.
--Promote both sub-regional cooperation and domestic development of individual countries, meet demands for human resources, preferential policies, industrial development and financing in a balanced way, and fully exploit the resources both in and outside the sub-region so as to achieve balanced progress of cooperation in various fields.
--Strike a balance between economic development and environmental protection, develop resources in a rational way, and place high priority on environmental protection and energy conservation and emission reduction so as to ensure sustainable development of sub-regional cooperation.
I am confident that so long as we are guided by the principle of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation, deepen cooperation across the board and at multiple levels, step up coordination and be result-oriented, we will surely advance the sub-regional cooperation to a higher level and bring more benefits to our peoples.
Here, I wish to propose that steps be taken in the following areas to promote our cooperation in the next few years.
1. Infrastructure development
We need to step up the building of a transport corridor and a highway network linking all members of the sub-region. China is ready to work closely with Thailand and the Asian Development Bank to expedite the building of the Houayxay-Chiang Khong International Bridge along the Kunming-Bangkok Highway with the aim of linking all the sections of the North-South corridor by 2011.
We need to strengthen cooperation on the Singapore-Kunming Rail Link to connect the sub-region by railway. China pledges RMB20 million to conduct engineering feasibility study on the non-rail connected section of the Eastern Line of the Singapore-Kunming Rail Link (Bat Deng-Loc Ninh). We are ready to explore with other stakeholders the feasibility of project financing and provide technical, management and equipment support so that the Eastern Line can be completed at an early date.
We need to formulate a telecommunications development strategy for the sub-region to speed up the building of the Information Super Highway. China is willing to host the first meeting among ministers responsible for telecommunications development in the sub-region to discuss ways to achieve this goal.
We need to vigorously develop power grids integration and power trade to form a unified power market in the sub-region. China will continue to take the lead in building a sub-regional power information database, power cooperation portal website and sub-regional power planning.
2. Transport and trade facilitation
We should fully implement the GMS Cross-border Transport Agreement and its 20 annexes and protocols, and start negotiation at an early date on an MOU on implementing the Agreement at the Mohan-Boten border crossing point between China and Laos, and the Ruili-Muse border crossing point between China and Myanmar. We should also boost trade and investment by increasing facilitation for transport and trade. We propose that the GMS Economic Corridors Forum be set up to encourage the participation of cities and enterprises along the corridor. Our goal is to boost trade, investment and industrial cooperation along the corridor and form a belt of economic growth based on the transport corridor and transform the transport corridor into an economic corridor.
3. Boosting rural development
We need to vigorously promote the development of methane and other bio-mass energy to improve the rural eco-system. China will build methane-generating pits for 1,500 rural households in the sub-region. We need to strengthen joint prevention and control of cross-border animal epidemics, put in place and improve an animal epidemics prevention and control system and early-warning system for border-roaming animals to ensure the sharing and timely exchange of information. China is willing to use the project of SCDMA rural telecommunication modeling network in Laos as a platform for exchanging and sharing applicable technologies with other countries and build a rural communications demonstration project in the sub-region. We should redouble efforts to promote development in the rural areas so that farmers can share the benefits of sub-regional cooperation and eliminate poverty sooner.
4. Health cooperation
We should focus on joint prevention and control of communicable diseases in border areas to cope with growing health challenges. To this end, China will hold the Second GMS Public Health Forum in 2009 and is ready to carry out health cooperation projects with other countries in the sub-region in addition to Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam.
5. Ecological and environmental protection
We should pay great attention to the impact of climate change on sub-regional cooperation and enhance the capacity of all countries to respond to climate change. We should deepen environmental cooperation in the sub-region, carry out the "GMS Biodiversity Conservation Corridor Initiative", and conduct cooperation in ecological restoration, poverty alleviation and protection of forest ecological system and biodiversity under this initiative. China will enhance the ecological protection and development of Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve to protect the source of the Mekong River, and better accommodate the interests and address the concerns of the lower Mekong countries. We are ready to work together with other countries and help one another to protect this sub-region, which is crucial to our survival.
6. Human resources development
We should enhance the sub-regional human resources development and cooperation mechanism and conduct more well-designed training programs tailored to the needs of various countries. In the next three years, China will provide training to 1,000 people from the sub-region countries, doubling the previous number, under the GMS economic cooperation framework. In 2008, China will provide 200 more government scholarships to students from the sub-region for them to study in institutions of higher learning in Yunnan Province, Guizhou Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of China.
7. Encouraging non-governmental participation in cooperation
Governments should form close partnership with business communities, be responsive to their views and encourage them to participate in sub-regional cooperation. The dialogue between government leaders and business representatives may become a regular supplementary activity of the leaders' meeting.
Young people represent the future of sub-regional cooperation. To provide our young people with more opportunities of exchanges, China will continue to sponsor the Langcangjiang-Mekong River Youth Friendship Program, and include it in the framework of GMS economic cooperation.
8. Expanding financing channels
We hope the Asian Development Bank will further play its leading role in providing financing, encourage development partners to increase financial support, and welcome more countries and international organizations to become development partners, so that there will be stronger financial support for our future cooperation. China will continue to provide support to sub-regional cooperation according to its ability and is ready to work with other parties to explore new models of financing.
Thanks to 30 years of reform and opening-up, China has made great progress in its modernization drive, and both its economy and its people's living standards have improved significantly. However, with a large population, weak economic foundation and uneven development, China remains a developing country, and its per capita income is relatively low in the world. We will continue to advance reform and opening-up, improve macroeconomic regulation, put people first, pursue development in a scientific way, promote social harmony and ensure sound and fast economic growth. Our major task now is to adopt effective measures to curb sharp price rise and prevent significant inflation while sustaining steady and fast economic development. The Chinese Government has the confidence that China will take a major step forward in terms of promoting economic development, accelerating reform, improving social fairness and justice, and raising people's living standards in the next five years.
China will unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development, develop itself through upholding peace and promote peace with its own development. China will unswervingly follow a win-win strategy of opening-up, achieve development through opening-up and contribute to the common development of all countries through its own progress. What China has achieved shows that its development not only serves its own fundamental interests, but is also conducive to world peace and development. I am sure that this will continue to be true in the future.
China and the other countries in the sub-region are close neighbors sharing the same mountains and rivers. We have a long history of friendly exchanges. In this new historical era, we enjoy close cooperation and have become increasingly inter-dependent and our future and destinies are closely bound together. This is a big family, whose members have close and inseparable ties. China will firmly pursue the foreign policy of fostering good-neighborliness, consolidate its traditional friendship with other sub-regional countries, strengthen friendship and pragmatic cooperation with them, and actively promote economic and social development in the sub-region. China is ready to work with other countries in the sub-region in an unremitting effort to make our common home a harmonious and prosperous one.
Thank you all!