عربي Español Русский Français 简体中文

Deepening Regional Cooperation for a Community of Shared Future

2016/03/25

speech by H.E. Liu Zhenmin
Vice Foreign Minister of China
At the "Asian Regional Cooperation Roundtable"
Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2016

March 25, 2016

Mr. Chairman,
Representatives of Regional Cooperation Organizations,
Experts and Scholars,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Friends,

Let me start by welcoming all of you to Boao. This is the first time that we hold a Roundtable on Asian Regional Cooperation during the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference.

It is also the first time for so many regional cooperation organizations to join the Boao Forum in a timely and important gathering.

The theme of this roundtable, "Asia's New Trend: Inclusiveness, Interaction and Integration for a Community of Shared Future", has truly grasped the pulse of development in Asia.

Regional cooperation in Asia has come a long way. In modern times, as Asian countries fought for national independence and freedom from poverty and backwardness, people with foresight had already started to explore ways for regional cooperation in Asia in light of their countries' role and standing and that of Asia in the evolving international landscape.

The Bandung Conference in 1955 gave a strong boost to the effort of Asian countries to gain strength through unity. The post-Cold War years saw a new boom in regional cooperation in Asia.

As history shows, harmony benefits all Asian countries while confrontation hurts all. The rise of Asia has not come easily and unity remains the best way to build a stronger Asia.

Today, Asia is a rising region in the global geopolitical landscape, and is also leading world economic growth. Regional cooperation now enjoys a strong momentum and is blossoming into a comprehensive architecture that covers all sub-regions and consists of mutually complementary frameworks. This has become a hallmark achievement of Asia.

The ASEAN community set up at the end of last year is a milestone in regional integration. East Asian cooperation has evolved into a multi-tier and all-dimensional framework with ASEAN at the center, 10+1 cooperation as the basis, ASEAN plus three cooperation as the main channel, China-Japan-ROK cooperation as a major component and East Asia Summit as an important platform.

Besides these mechanisms, the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) plays a significant role in promoting peace, stability and development of South Asia. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a constructive and important force in the Eurasian geopolitical structure.

The Asia Cooperation Dialogue(ACD), the only official dialogue and cooperation mechanism open to all Asia, has been active in deepening cooperation and friendship among Asian countries.

The Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia(CICA)is another important venue for promoting confidence, dialogue and cooperation.

The Asia-Europe Meeting(ASEM), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and East Asia Summit (EAS) have drawn in members outside of Asia, showing their openness and inclusiveness.

Deepening and expanding cooperation under these cooperation frameworks has provided a strong impetus for regional integration and the rise of Asia.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Friends,

Cooperation in Asia has deep roots in history, and reflects the trend of the times and the need of the region. In summary, Asian regional cooperation has come this far for the following reasons:

First, it builds on the trend of the region and the world. In this increasingly multi-polar, globalized and digitized world, countries are more interdependent in their interests than ever before. No country can develop on its own. The importance of common development and seeking strength through unity has been widely recognized.

Regional integration is becoming the overall trend. In this area, Europe is the front-runner, and North America, Latin America and Africa are also making similar efforts. It is a natural choice for Asian countries to promote their version of regional integration.

Second, it serves the common interests of regional countries. Peace and development is the mainstream in Asia. It serves the common interests of countries and peoples. Asian countries loathe to see a repeat of war, turmoil and mutual hostility, and are eager to focus on development in a peaceful and stable environment. Asian countries are deriving strength from complementarity and are engaged in a concerted effort to deepen regional cooperation.

Third, it is based on a unique and effective Asian approach. Due to its diversity, Asia cannot copy the model of others in seeking regional integration. In the course of its development, ASEAN has evolved a set of principles called "the ASEAN way", which include mutual respect, equality, consensus-building and accommodating all parties' comfort level.

Today, the "ASEAN way" has been widely seen as a successful model of cooperation and an important way to handle relations among Asian countries. This has contributed to the fostering of a new type of international relations.

Fourth, it embodies the principle of openness and inclusiveness. Asian cooperation is neither a small club nor an exclusive process. Over the years, Asian cooperation frameworks have looked to, engaged with and learned from those in other regions. They also provide important platforms for parties outside Asia to participate in and play a constructive role in Asian cooperation. This is conducive to positive interactions and common development.

While encouraged by fast progress, we should stay cool-headed at the difficulties and challenges. Asia still faces serious traditional and non-traditional security threats. Given the prolonged weakness in world economic growth, rising financial risks and lower commodity prices, Asian countries are under mounting pressure in advancing reform, fending off risks and achieving growth.

Pan-Asia cooperation remains just an academic concept. And security cooperation is still a weak link. After fast expansion over the past two to three decades, the low-hanging fruits have been all but harvested and we have entered the deep water zone in regional cooperation. It requires greater political resolve, courage and wisdom from all parties to tackle the difficulties and advance cooperation.

Ladies and Gentlemen
Friends,

China is an active participant in Asian regional cooperation and a steady contributor to building a community of shared future. Since becoming a dialogue partner with ASEAN 25 years ago, China has seen its participation in regional cooperation grow both in breadth and depth.

China and ASEAN countries are building a closer community of shared future and had finished the negotiation on upgrading the free trade area last year. China supports the building of an East Asian Economic Community among China, Japan, the ROK and ASEAN by 2020 and supports speeding up negotiations on Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Just two days ago, the first Leaders' Meeting of Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) was successfully held in Sanya. As a new sub-regional cooperation framework, it will promote the development and prosperity of the sub-region and contribute to the ASEAN community building and its integration.

China strongly supports the SCO and actively participates in ACD, ASEM, APEC and other mechanisms. China is now advancing the "Belt and Road" initiative. It has initiated the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and most recently proposed the setting up of an Asia Financial Cooperation Association. All this has contributed to regional integration and lent fresh impetus to regional cooperation.

As a Chinese saying goes, "Even with great success one should always try to do better". China is ready to work with other Asian countries to take regional cooperation to new areas and higher levels.

In this context, I would like to share a few suggestions on the way forward:

First, to consolidate the foundation. Regional Cooperation is an important means to improve regional governance and fuel the rise of Asia. We should stay committed to win-win cooperation and common development, make regional cooperation a priority in our national development and foreign policy agenda, and increase constructive interactions among regional countries.

Meanwhile, we should work to enhance mutual trust, bridge gaps, narrow differences and build consensus so as to consolidate the foundation and create an enabling atmosphere for deeper regional cooperation and integration.

Second, to give priority to development. Development is still the key to solving the major issues and problems in Asia. Asian countries should make full use of regional cooperation platforms to share experience on reform and innovation, urbanization, industrialization, poverty reduction and livelihood improvement, strengthen connectivity and achieve inclusive and integrated development.

We should continue to pursue open regionalism, ensure mutually reinforcing and coordinated development among various trade arrangements and cooperation frameworks and build an open, integrated, balanced and win-win regional economic architecture.

Third, to improve institutional building. Sound institutions could help to guarantee the deepening of cooperation. We should explore ways to enrich and improve regional and sub-regional cooperation mechanisms. The goal is to make sure they have distinctive focus and features while remaining open and inclusive.

Together, they could form an efficient cooperation framework with full functions, clearly defined and complementary priorities. This would better meet the expectations of regional countries for security, development and friendship through cooperation.

Fourth, to maintain Asian features. Both the content and pattern of regional cooperation should be based on Asia's reality and serve its peaceful development. We need to continue with the Asian way of mutual respect, consensus building and accommodating all parties' comfort level. We should keep up with the times and be innovative, explore new ideas and new ways in light of the trend of Asia and people's needs and further elevate cooperation, tackle difficulties and make cooperation more effective.

Delegates to this sub-forum are all participants, witnesses and contributors to Asian regional cooperation. I hope you can make the best use of this platform to share your wisdom and insights, to help us strengthen regional cooperation and build a community of shared future in Asia.

To conclude, I wish the roundtable a full success.

Thank you.

Suggest to a friend
Print