Phnom Penh, November 12, 2022
Your Excellency Prime Minister Hun Sen,
I am delighted to meet you face to face at this important time of the 25th anniversary of ASEAN Plus Three (APT) cooperation. I wish to thank Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Cambodian government for all the preparations made for the meeting and express my welcome to President Yoon Suk-yeol and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to their first APT Summit.
This is my tenth APT Summit. Over the past decade, China has proposed more than 130 initiatives and programs of cooperation under this framework. Thanks to our joint efforts, all have been basically implemented. In these ten years, I have also witnessed the impressive growth of APT cooperation into a tall, leafy tree, and I wish to thank you for your valuable support for China’s participation in this endeavor.
Just now, we released the ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation 1997-2022 in Commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of APT Cooperation, which reviewed the fruitful outcomes of this framework since its inception in 1997. Twenty-five years ago, countries in the region jointly launched the APT aiming at the invigoration and long prosperity of East Asia. Over the past 25 years, thanks to the overall peace and stability in the region, APT cooperation has maintained rapid growth and made continuous progress, which has not only boosted our respective national development, but also contributed to regional financial and food security and the stability and smooth functioning of international industrial and supply chains. We have maintained our solidarity and coordination through the trying times, stood side by side in addressing financial crises, public health emergencies, and other major risks and challenges, and jointly established various cooperation mechanisms such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization (CMIM), and the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR). These developments have provided a constant source of impetus to the stability and development of East Asia.
The global and regional situations are now undergoing profound and complex changes. On the one hand, we have achieved initial success in fighting COVID-19; the East Asian economy has been recovering despite ups and downs; the reopening of the tourism sector and faster growth of the digital economy are creating important impetus. On the other hand, global security situation remains turbulent; unilateralism and protectionism are surging; economic and financial risks are rising; and global development is confronted with unprecedented challenges. As major economies in East Asia, APT countries need to stay committed to promoting peace, stability, development and prosperity in the region and beyond, and to improving the people’s wellbeing .
East Asia is an important engine driving world economic growth. APT is the main vehicle of East Asian cooperation. We need to take its 25th anniversary as a new starting point, draw experience from history, and strengthen cooperation in a progressive spirit. We need to take the renewal of the APT Cooperation Work Plan as an opportunity to boost the momentum of cooperation and work toward the long-term goal of establishing an East Asian Community.
First, we need to take forward regional economic integration. Economic integration has been a key driving force behind East Asia’s development and prosperity; it is also what countries in the region need for their development. East Asia is a major engine driving world economic growth, and accounts for nearly 30 percent of the global population, economy and trade. Closer economic cooperation in this region is required to both meet the current downward pressures and pursue development in the long run. The RCEP represents a free trade area that has the largest population, most diverse membership and greatest potential. Its entry into force and implementation is a milestone in East Asian economic integration. We need to make the most of the commitments and rules on market access, to further release its dividends. China has contributed funds to RCEP economic and technical cooperation to assist ASEAN countries in building capacity for implementing the agreement, and is ready to continue such effort. We support the early establishment of an RCEP secretariat to enhance institution building. We hope the parties will support China’s Hong Kong in joining the agreement as one of the earliest new members. We need to work together to build a more open and inclusive platform for economic cooperation, and uphold a diverse and stable international economic landscape and trade relations.
Second, we need to deepen cooperation in the industrial division of labor in East Asia. As the production networks of East Asia improve, regional economies have become increasingly interdependent. Such industrial cooperation networks that have emerged over the years have long been deeply integrated, complementary and mutually beneficial. The acts of erecting walls or barriers, decoupling or disrupting supply chains are against economic laws and market principles, and are, in the final analysis, neither viable nor sustainable. International trade has never been free of frictions. Yet win-win and all-win results can be realized if these differences are put into perspective and handled fairly and equitably. We need to pursue open and inter-connected development, and upgrade regional industrial and supply chains while keeping them stable and smooth. This serves the common interests of all countries, and represents the right direction of economic globalization. In July this year, China hosted the APT Forum on Industrial Chain and Supply Chain Cooperation, which released joint cooperation initiatives expressing the common wish to keep regional industrial and supply chains stable and smooth and make them more resilient. To realize high-quality development in East Asia, we must make continued efforts for an open and innovative environment, and build a closer and more resilient regional industrial system. China will work through the ASEAN+3 SME Service Alliance to help businesses in the region build capacity for scientific and technological innovation and digital transformation, so that they can better play their role as a leading force in industrial restructuring and upgrading in the region, and create more job opportunities.
Third, we need to build a stronger capacity for crisis response. In the face of multiple crises in public health, food, energy, and finance, we need to make the most of the APT crisis response mechanisms to maintain overall stability in our region, and at the same time, further enhance and develop the mechanisms to get prepared against greater risks and challenges in the future. On the development of the APT Reserve of Medical Supplies for Public Health Emergencies (RMS), China is prepared to provide assistance of medical supplies to countries in need. China supports the efforts to make the CMIM more readily available and effective, strengthen the role of the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO), and keep improving the regional financial safety net. China is implementing its commitment of new funding contribution to AMRO to strengthen its capacity for economic surveillance and technical assistance, and support its efforts to build a regional knowledge center and a regional financial think tank network. To better safeguard food security in our region, China will continue to make financial contribution to APTERR in the next five years to provide rice to ASEAN countries and carry out supporting activities.
Fourth, we need to deepen people-to-people and cultural exchanges. While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected face-to-face communication, it has also galvanized new ways of interaction such as “cloud meeting” and “cloud tourism”, enriching our people-to-people and cultural exchanges. China is ready to take the newly established ASEAN Directors-General of Immigration Departments and Heads of Consular Affairs Divisions of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs Plus Three (DGICM+3) Consultation as an opportunity, to host the Seminar on Immigration Policy of APT Countries and carry out the APT Young Police Professionals Program, in a bid to enhance the exchanges and cooperation between our immigration and law enforcement departments, and provide more policy support to personnel interflow. In keeping with the changing COVID situation, China will refine its containment protocols, gradually increase its international flights, and is ready to actively facilitate the return of ASEAN, Japanese and ROK students to China. At the same time, we need to make good use of such platforms as the Network of APT Cultural Cities to encourage and support various forms of exchanges between East Asian Cultural Cities and the ASEAN Cities of Culture. China looks forward to APT countries’ participation in the events under the Asian tourism promotion plan to strengthen practical cooperation on culture and tourism. China is ready to host the 21st East Asia Forum next year to deepen exchanges among government, industry and academia between APT countries.
Fifth, we need to boost sustainable development. Embodying the people-centered development philosophy, sustainable development is crucial for the harmonious co-existence between man and nature, and is also a shared aspiration of people in East Asia. To promote the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, China wishes to work with all parties to implement the Global Development Initiative, take the lead in conducting the APT research on transition finance, host the APT Clean Energy Roundtable Dialogue, and engage in green and sustainable development cooperation through the APT Inter-Bank Association, to deepen our low-carbon cooperation partnership. China has achieved a historic success in eliminating absolute poverty. We are ready to share poverty-alleviation experience with other regional countries, continue to advance the projects under the East Asian Cooperation Initiative on Poverty Reduction (phase II), and hold the APT Village Leaders Exchange Program, to help reduce poverty and promote development in the region. Human resources are a major pillar of development. We need to attach high importance to nurturing talent, with a special focus on cooperation on reopening schools and rebuilding a resilient educational system under the current circumstances, to provide intellectual support to sustainable development.
China keeps to its foreign policy goals of upholding world peace and promoting common development. We will stay committed to the path of peaceful development and deepen friendship, mutual trust and convergence of interests with neighboring countries. Opening-up is a fundamental national policy of China. We will adhere to the win-win strategy of opening-up, keep to the right direction of economic globalization, push for trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, advance bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation, promote international coordination on macro economic policies, advance an open world economy, and work along with other countries to foster a pro-development international environment. I wish to emphasize that the Chinese economy has become an integral part of the world economy. Our development is both domestically driven and oriented toward the world. For years, China has been the world’s biggest trader in goods. Imports contribute 70 percent to China’s industrial added value. Foreign-invested companies play a big role in job creation, business start-ups, market connectivity and flow of talent. There is no reason for China to stop opening-up. The door will only open wider. China will continue to pursue high-level opening-up, expand access to its domestic market, protect the rights and interests of foreign investment, and foster a market-oriented and law-governed business environment up to international standards. Through its high-quality development and high-level opening-up, China will present new and greater development opportunities to the world, and inject new impetus into APT cooperation as well.
APT cooperation has withstood many changing circumstances. What we have achieved in the cooperation has not come easily, and deserves to be dearly cherished. As a Cambodian proverb goes, trust grows like a tree. Facing both burgeoning opportunities and upcoming new challenges, only trust, solidarity and cooperation can lead us to win-win and all-win results against all odds. China is ready to work with other APT countries to build up consensus, deepen practical cooperation, and work tirelessly for an even better future of East Asian cooperation.
Phnom Penh, November 12, 2022