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Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong Publishes Signed Article on Building an Open Asia-Pacific Economy

2017/11/06

The 25th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting will be held from November 9 to 10 in Da Nang, Vietnam. On November 6, the People's Daily published a signed article by Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong entitled "Jointly Building an Open Asia-Pacific Economy". The article reviews the achievements that have been achieved in promoting trade and investment liberalization and facilitation in Asia-Pacific region, analyzes the opportunities and challenges facing the Asia-Pacific regional economic integration, and encourages all parties to carry forward the spirit of partnership and to jointly create an open Asia-Pacific economy featuring innovation development, interactive growth and interest convergence. The full text is as follows:

Jointly Building an Open Asia-Pacific Economy

Li Baodong

The 25th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting will be held from November 10 to 11 in Da Nang, Vietnam. President Xi Jinping is invited to attend the event. This meeting is the first multilateral event with the attendance of China's head of state after the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and is of great significance. What important proposals China will submit and what role China will play in the meeting attract much concerns and expectations from all sides.

In October, 2013, President Xi Jinping went to Bali, Indonesia to attend APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting for the first time, and addressed the Asia-Pacific Business Leaders' Summit. President Xi Jinping pointed out that against the background of insufficient momentum of world economy recovery, Asia-Pacific economy should show the courage to take the lead, promote a development mode of the open economy featuring innovation development, interactive growth and interest convergence.

Over the past four years, despite the profound adjustments in economic globalization, the rise of protectionism and other challenges, the Asia-Pacific region has consistently adhered to the general direction of building an open economy, steadily boosted regional economic integration and comprehensively promoted practical cooperation in all fields, achieving remarkable results.

The Asia-Pacific Free Trade Zone (FTA) provides an important link for the construction of an open Asia-Pacific economy. In 2014, the APEC Leaders' Meeting in Beijing decided to launch and advance the Asia-Pacific FTA process in comprehensive and systematic manner, and the Beijing Roadmap was adopted. In 2016,the integrated strategic research on Asia-Pacific free trade zone was completed on time. The APEC Leaders' Meeting in Lima adopted the Lima Declaration on Asia-Pacific Free Trade Zone, reiterated its significance to the development of APEC, and made a well-rounded plan for the next step of the building up of the Asia-Pacific free trade zone.

This year, in order to implement the Lima Declaration, APEC has made out working plans on specific areas, promoted multiple types of information-exchanging and capacity-building activities, and kept a sound growing momentum.

Connectivity building makes it more smoothly to build an open Asia-Pacific economy, and is conducive to releasing the potential of trade and investment and deepening regional economic cooperation. In 2014, the APEC Leader's Meeting in Beijing adopted the Blueprint of Connectivity for 2015-2025, established a connectivity frame for infrastructure, institutional regulations and personnel exchanges, and set up the aim of achieving full connectivity by 2025. All parties have increased input, focused on the blueprint to carry out collective and independent actions, and made great efforts to build an overall and composite connectivity network, lending support to the Belt and Road Initiative and enhancing the synergy effect. In recent years, members of the APEC have carried out over 100 programs on connectivity. Mechanisms such as the APEC port service network, the Asia-Pacific model e-port network, and the APEC cooperation network on green supply chain have increasingly played their roles. It is worth mentioning that during the two consecutive years, APEC leaders have held dialogues with the leaders of the Pacific alliance, effectively promoting the coordination and docking of connectivity between two sides of the Pacific.

Reform and innovation inject powerful impetus into the open Asia-Pacific economy. As is aptly described by lines from a famous Chinese poem "Why is the water so clear in the dyke? For the fresh water comes from the springhead." Speeding up reform and innovation is crucial to solve the problem of insufficient momentum for economic growth. In 2004, the APEC Leader's Meeting in Beijing adopted APEC Accord on Innovative Development, Economic Reform and Growth, and decided to launch policy dialogues, experience exchanges and capacity building in the fields such as economic reform, new economy, innovative growth and urbanization, which provided important guidelines for the innovation and development in the Asia-Pacific region. After the meeting, APEC has successively formulated cooperation documents such as the New Agenda for Structural Reform and the Ease of Doing Business Action Plan. Each member has submitted an independent action plan of structural reform and conducted in-depth discussions on avoiding middle-income trap and other problems. In last June, China successfully hosted the first APEC High-level Urbanization Forum in Ningbo city, building an urbanization cooperation platform with Asia-Pacific features and characterized by innovation and vitality. This year, APEC members have set about establishing a roadmap for the Internet and the digital economy, which is expected to further promote the Asia-Pacific region to eliminate the digital divide and to share the digital dividend.

For a long time, China has been a firm supporter, participant and contributor to the Asia-Pacific economic cooperation. With the continuous promotion of reform and opening up, China's economy has constantly integrated into the Asia-Pacific region and the world. The economic and trade cooperation between China and other Asia-Pacific economies has been rapidly expanded. In 2016, China's trade volume with APEC members accounted for 62 percent of the total trade, and its direct investment into APEC members took up 72 percent share of the total amount of foreign direct investment, making China the largest trading partner among the 15 APEC members. China has been increasingly contributing to the building a better Asia-Pacific while at the same time benefiting from the process of the Asia-Pacific economic integration.

Not long ago, the19th CPC National Congress was successfully held in China. The Congress made an overall plan for the development of China in the coming period and proposed to develop a higher-level open economy, which will promote the formation of a new pattern of an overall opening-up. General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized in the report that "openness brings progress, while self-seclusion leaves one behind. China will not close its door to the world, and we will only become more and more open." This strong and solemn pledge shows that China is committed to raising the level of openness. In the report to the 19th National Congress, the word "open" appeared 27 times, quickly becoming a buzzword.

We will deeply implement the spirit of the 19th National Congress, and continue to promote a new round of high-level opening-up, with the Belt and Road Initiative as the priority, giving equal emphasis to "bringing in" and "going global", following the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration, and enhancing openness and cooperation in innovation capacity. With these efforts, we hope to form a new opening layout for China running through eastward and westward, across land and over sea. China will adopt policies to promote high-standard liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment, so as to form globally-oriented networks of trade, investment and financing, production, and services. China's further opening-up will surely bring a broader market, more investment opportunities, and stronger growth momentum for Asia-Pacific region.

At present, Asia-Pacific economy is at a critical point of transforming old driving forces to new ones. We have not only encountered many beneficial conditions for development but also facing various challenges. China is willing to work together with other members, under the guidance of Asia-Pacific partnership, to jointly push the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting this year to yield practical fruits, and make positive and strong voice on deepening regional economic cooperation, strengthening connectivity construction and supporting multilateral trade system, so as to advance Asia-Pacific open economy to a higher level and make joint efforts to make a bigger "pie" of the world economy. China will take an active part in the discussion on the vision for future cooperation for 2020 and after, work with all sides to deeply explore a medium and long term cooperation framework for Asia-Pacific region, and ensure that the Asia-Pacific cooperation consistently moves toward the direction of openness, inclusiveness, universal-benefit and win-win results.

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