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Deepen Regional Cooperation in Asia With Renewed Confidence

2017/03/26

Speech by H.E. Liu Zhenmin,Vice Foreign Minister of China
At the “Roundtable on Asian Regional Cooperation Organizations”
At the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2017

26 March 2017

Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished Colleagues from all Regional Organizations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning! It’s my great honor and pleasure to join you today in Boao. At the first Roundtable held a year ago, heads of regional cooperation organizations in Asia gathered here for a useful discussion on Asian integration and the building of the Asian community of shared future.

One year later, we meet again in Boao in the context of the new changes in both regional and international situation. It is a good time now to take stock of globalization and discuss plans. That’s why “Globalization and Asian Regional Cooperation” has been chosen as the theme of this Roundtable.

On behalf of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, I wish to extend a warm welcome to all friends present here. In particular, I wish to welcome colleagues from ASEAN Secretariat and the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO), who have come for the first time for the Annual Conference in Boao.

Dear Friends,

Over the past year, given the sluggish global growth and the backlash against globalization, the process of globalization and regional integration suffered setbacks, and international political and economic uncertainties have been on the rise.

By contrast, regional cooperation in Asia has continued to enjoy a strong momentum, becoming a star-performer in global development.

First, regional cooperation frameworks are booming. East Asia cooperation, with ASEAN at the center, is moving forward with strong vitality. As ASEAN celebrates its 50th anniversary, the building of ASEAN Community is stepping to a higher level. AMRO has been upgraded to an international organization. China-ASEAN cooperation has moved to a new level. And China-Japan-ROK cooperation has made new headway.

Pan-Asia cooperation has gained new impetus, with institution building of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue summit meeting. And under CICA, confidence-building measures in various fields have been implemented with positive outcomes.

Second, sub-regional cooperation is gathering momentum. The Lancang-Mekong Cooperation has got off to a good start. The BCIM economic corridor is advancing steadily. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization successfully realized enlargement. BIMP-EAGA has made solid progress. And SAARC cooperation continues to move forward.

Third, fruitful results have been achieved in cooperation across the board. Smooth progress has been made in linking up the Belt and Road Initiative with national plans of relevant countries. Regional connectivity has been strengthened with the construction of major infrastructure projects, including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Rail and China-Laos Railway.

Regional countries are dedicated to free trade. Negotiations on RCEP and China-Japan-ROK Free Trade Area are moving forward at a faster pace.

Regional security dialogue and cooperation are deepening. Countries have acted with greater commitment to jointly combat non-traditional security threats, and conducted several exercises on disaster relief, counter-terrorism and maritime search and rescue. Some have carried out joint law-enforcement operations against drug trafficking and telecommunications fraud.

Looking across Asia, a multi-tier, multi-pillar, all-dimensional network of cooperation has been emerging. Mutual complementarity among various frameworks, deeper cooperation in various fields, and common progress of sub-regional cooperation institutions has become a defining feature of regional cooperation in Asia.

Such cooperation has given a strong boost to regional integration and played an important part in peace, stability, development and prosperity of the region. It has opened bright prospects for a region-wide cooperation framework and the building of an Asian community of shared future, injecting strong, positive energy into economic globalization.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Friends,

With international and regional landscape undergoing profound changes, Asian countries have come to a new starting point and are faced with new opportunities for regional cooperation. Faced with sluggish recovery, rising protectionism and growing transnational threats, they have further realized the importance of harnessing complementary advantages for win-win cooperation. It is more clear than ever that closer cooperation is what Asian countries truly need.

Last year, regional countries made joint efforts to cool down hotspot issues, and brought relevant issues back to the right track of resolution despite outside interference. That has enabled various sides to re-focus on cooperation for common development. With TPP facing an uncertain future, various sides are shifting their attention to RCEP and FTAAP, showing a greater interest in reaching these FTAs at an early date.

Meanwhile, cooperation in Asia is also confronted with multiple challenges. Internally, regional cooperation has entered a plateau. Many agreed arrangements have not been implemented effectively. This requires countries to make necessary policy adjustments and show greater political wisdom and resolve.

In a wider context, the tide of anti-globalization may trigger worries about the future of Asian integration. Some countries outside the region continue to play up political and security issues, causing disturbance to regional cooperation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Friends,

China is an active player and advocate of regional cooperation in Asia. In recent years, China has made important contribution to regional cooperation by seeking to enhance its breadth and depth.

First, we supported the development of regional cooperation frameworks.

China and the five countries along the Mekong River have launched the Lancang-Mekong cooperation, which is a useful complement to the ASEAN Community and a worthy effort in building an Asian community of shared future.

China has shown strong support for the 50th anniversary of ASEAN by taking an active part in the commemorative events.

As the CICA Chair from 2014 to 2018, China has sought creative ways to improve the CICA platform. It has hosted a non-governmental forum and a think tank roundtable.

China has proposed a systematic plan for strengthening the ACD, which has been commended by all parties.

Second, we contributed to the cultivation of regional cooperation philosophy.

At the 2015 Boao Forum conference, President Xi Jinping outlined his vision for a community of shared future.

President Xi has since put forth the concepts of a community of shared future between China and ASEAN, in the Asia-Pacific and, more broadly, for all mankind. They have resonated well with many countries.

President Xi has also proposed a new type of international relations underpinned by win-win cooperation. These new ideas have pointed a way forward for regional cooperation in Asia.

Third, we have actively advanced practical cooperation.

China champions the Belt and Road initiative for shared development of the countries along the routes.

The AIIB has started operation with the first batch of its projects approved. The first batch of projects funded by the Silk Road Fund have also been launched.

We have quickened our pace in building industrial zones, cross-border economic cooperation zones, and port industrial zones with neighboring countries, as part of our efforts to promote cooperation on production capacity.

Coming this May, China will host a high-level Forum for International Cooperation on one Belt and one Road to strengthen the complementarity of the development strategies of various countries. Preparations are well under way for the Asian Financial Cooperation Association, which is expected to be launched soon.

Fourth, we have actively promoted dialogue and cooperation on security.

Every year, we have been hosting the Xiangshan Forum and the World Peace Forum to promote candid discussions on defense and security.

China supports the improvement of regional security architecture. We hosted the fifth EAS Regional Security Architecture Workshop and will host a track II seminar on this topic to encourage more discussions.

To better communicate China’s security vision and policy, China issued in January a white paper outlining its policy on Asia-Pacific security cooperation, the first of its kind.

Over the last couple of years, China has proposed one third of the total cooperation initiatives at the ARF, giving a strong boost to the exchange and cooperation in relevant areas.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Friends,

The Chinese people are striving to realize the Chinese dream of great national rejuvenation. China’s development will bring to Asia more opportunities for cooperation.

China will continue to work with other regional countries to take regional cooperation to a higher level, and open greater prospects for Asia’s development.

In this context, I’d like to share the following thoughts with you:

First, we need to be guided by the vision of an Asian community of shared future.

This vision builds on our past experience of regional cooperation. As the ultimate goal of regional integration in Asia, it promises vast space for regional cooperation.

To translate this vision into reality, all Asian countries need to work together for an Asian community of shared interests and shared responsibility by planning, building and benefiting together.

Second, we need to maintain the Asian features of our cooperation in improving the cooperation model.

We should maintain our Asian-style cooperation model, featuring respect for ASEAN’s centrality in East Asia cooperation, emphasis on coordination of various regional mechanisms, focus on development cooperation, and commitment to open regionalism.

At the same time, we should improve our cooperation model by drawing lessons from other regions. We must ensure that all sub-regional mechanisms run in harmony to set an example of regional cooperation.

Third, we need to advance both development and security cooperation.

We should make development a priority and enhance cooperation in such key areas as trade and finance, infrastructure, energy and environmental protection, etc. This is important for greater economic integration and the building of an economic community for common and sustainable development.

At the same time, we should confront challenges head-on, and enhance dialogue, exchanges and cooperation on security. This is a necessary step as we seek to progressively build a regional security architecture that suits regional reality and meets the needs of all parties.

Fourth, we need to expand the reach of benefits from regional cooperation.

Regional integration in Asia should not benefit only a few, just as globalization should not be a game of the elite.

We should put people first, make the cooperation programs more inclusive, results-oriented, and beneficial to more countries and more peoples.

This way, our people will see real benefits of regional cooperation, and give their wholehearted support. It will also help us avert the negative experience of other regions.

The representatives from regional organizations and experts present today have all participated in, witnessed and contributed to regional cooperation in Asia. I am sure you will make the best use of this platform to share whatever is on your mind and contribute your wisdom and insights for faster and better progress in regional cooperation in Asia.

To conclude, I wish the roundtable a full success.

Thank you all.

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