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Toward Win-win Cooperation Through Amity, Sincerity, Mutual Benefit and Inclusiveness

2015/06/12

Address by H.E. Li Yuanchao
Vice President of the People's Republic of China
At the Opening Ceremony of the Third China-South Asia Expo

Kunming, 12 June 2015

President Abdulla Yameen,
Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong,
Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury,
Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Friends,

Today, the third China-South Asia Expo and the 23rd China Kunming Import and Export Fair is opened in Kunming. On behalf of the Chinese government, I wish to extend warm congratulations on the opening of the Expo and a warm welcome to you all.

Since its inception in 2013, the China-South Asia Expo has become a major platform for exchanges and cooperation between China and South Asian countries. The theme of this year's expo, "Amity, Sincerity, Mutual Benefit and Inclusiveness for Win-win Cooperation", could not be more relevant.

China and South Asian countries are close neighbors connected by common mountains and rivers and are bonded by profound people-to-people and cultural ties. We are good friends that help each other in times of need and good partners for close cooperation. Back one or two thousand years ago, the Silk Road and the ancient Tea Horse Road served as bridges for commercial and cultural exchanges between China and South Asia. In modern times, the Chinese and South Asian people sympathized with each other in our struggles against colonial and imperial aggression and oppression. And more recently, China and South Asian countries have offered each other close cooperation and timely assistance at most challenging times such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2008 devastating earthquake in Wenchuan, China, the 2010 severe flood in Pakistan, the fresh water crisis in the capital of the Maldives at the end of last year and the recent strong earthquake in Nepal. With the international and regional landscape undergoing unprecedented, profound adjustments, it is more important that we work closely and leverage the strengths of our traditional friendship, geographical proximity and economic complementarity, in a joint effort to build an Asian community of common destiny where we share weal and woe and rise and fall together.

The 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China reaffirmed China's commitment to peace, development and win-win cooperation. As stated by President Xi Jinping, China will promote friendship with its neighbors, foster an amicable, secure and prosperous neighborhood, implement the neighborhood policy of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness, and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation with all neighboring countries. China will live in peace and harmony with the people of South Asia and work with South Asian countries to contribute to the progress of the region. To this end, 1 would like to make four proposals.

First, we need to foster amity in the neighborhood and strengthen political mutual trust. As we in China often say, "A close neighbor is better than a distant relative." China and South Asia are tied together by our geographical proximity. In the 1950s, South Asian countries rendered China sincere support. In defiance of all pressures, Sri Lanka, in the absence of diplomatic ties, signed the Rubber-Rice Pact with China. China, India and Myanmar, out of strong political mutual trust, jointly initiated the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. In recent years, steady progress has been made in China's friendly relations with South Asian countries. China has established partnerships with most countries in the region and played a positive role in Afghan peace and reconstruction, joint counterterrorism and other regional affairs. "Neighbors become closer when they engage with each other more often." China stands ready to strengthen political mutual trust and friendly exchanges with South Asian countries. We will support people of all countries in choosing development paths in keeping with their national conditions. We will promote mutual understanding and support on issues concerning each other's core interests, enhance coordination in international and regional affairs and jointly uphold the interests of developing countries.

Second, we need to work more closely together to strengthen connectivity. We believe that transportation infrastructure is fundamental for a region's development. In the past two decades, China has been a leading country in terms of mileage of newly-built expressways and high-speed railways. In our experience, the quality of roads bears direct correlation to the speed of development. In recent years, China has worked with South Asian countries on transport and other infrastructure development. The Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridges stride over several rivers in Bangladesh, and the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway is now known as "the primary gateway" of Sri Lanka. They both bear witness to China's sincere cooperation with South Asian countries. The largely weak infrastructure has been a bottleneck that constrains the economic and social development of South Asia. Strengthening connectivity among regional countries is the only effective way towards common prosperity. The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives China proposed will be implemented on the basis of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. Priority will be given to advancing connectivity along the routes in South Asia and other regions. By establishing a USD 40 billion Silk Road Fund and initiating the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, China hopes to generate strong impetus for connectivity in the region. It is ready to work with South Asian countries to further integrate planning and standards, especially for the key passageways, junctions and projects, advance the building of such trunk lines as Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and promote cooperation under the Greater Mekong Subregion and other regional frameworks. We will also encourage Chinese companies to participate in roads, railways, telecommunication and other large infrastructure projects in South Asia through BOT, PPP and other internationally recognized practices to serve the development of South Asian countries.

Third, we need to further open up markets for mutual benefit. In recent years, South Asian countries have opened up wider in such areas as trade, investment, finance and tourism. In 2014, trade between China and South Asia reached USD 106.1 billion, up 10% year-on-year. As our markets are highly complementary and our development strategies well aligned, there is huge potential for our mutually beneficial cooperation. China is ready to integrate its opening-up strategy further with the development strategies of South Asian countries to expand our shared interests and create new growth areas in our cooperation. We are ready to deepen practical cooperation with South Asian countries in trade and investment, resource development, environmental protection, cross-border tourism, international transport, financial settlement and other fields. We will import more competitive products from South Asia in an effort to raise our trade volume to USD 150 billion and our investment in South Asia to USD 30 billion in the coming five years.

Fourth, we need to expand cultural and people-to-people exchange in a spirit of inclusiveness and mutual learning. China and South Asian countries have long-standing historical ties and vibrant cultural and people-to-people exchange. In the first century A.D., Dharmaraksa and Kasyapa Matanga, two eminent monks from ancient India, came to China with Buddhist scriptures. They translated the Sutra of Forty-two Chapters, which was the earliest works of translation of Buddhist scriptures in China. Xuanzang, an eminent monk of China's Tang Dynasty, traveled west to South Asia to carry back Buddhist scriptures and promote the spread of Buddhism in China. The mythical novel Journey to the West based on his journey is still among the best-sellers in China. The singing and dancing, astronomy and calender in South Asia were introduced to China and Chinese paper-making, porcelain, tea and music made its way to South Asia. This provides historical proof for inclusiveness and mutual learning in this region. China is ready to work with South Asian countries to deepen exchange and cooperation in such areas as youth, culture, education, arts, religion and media in the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and mutual learning, and earnestly implement the China-South Asia Cultural and People-to-People Exchange Program to strengthen dialogue between civilizations, carry forward the Asian wisdom and spread Asian values.

South Asia is blessed with a hard-working and talented people and enjoys a bright prospect for development. Let us join hands to build an even closer community of shared destiny and usher in a brand new future of win-win cooperation for the three billion people living on both sides of Mount Himalaya.

I wish the third China-South Asia Expo a complete success.

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