Work Together Towards Deeper Cooperation and Sustained Development

From: Ministry of foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China Updated: 2013-01-26 13:58
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Address by H.E. Xi Jinping
Vice President of the People's Republic of China
At the Opening Ceremony of the 9th China-ASEAN Business and
Investment Summit and 2012 Forum on China-ASEAN Free Trade Area

Nanning, 21 September 2012

Your Excellency President U Thein Sein,
Your Excellency Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong,
Your Excellency Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung,
Your Excellency Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin,
Your Excellency Deputy Prime Minister Kittirat Na-Ranong,
Distinguished Guests from ASEAN countries,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

It is a great pleasure to join you in Nanning, China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region for the opening ceremony of the 9th China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit and the 2012 Forum on China-ASEAN Free Trade Area on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Framework Agreement on China-ASEAN Comprehensive Economic Cooperation. Let me begin by extending, on behalf of President Hu Jintao and the government and people of China, our warmest congratulations on the opening of the Summit and Forum and our sincere welcome to all the participating leaders of ASEAN countries and other distinguished guests present today.

Since 2004, the China-ASEAN Expo and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit have been held eight times and attended by an accumulative 42 Chinese and ASEAN state leaders, more than 1,500 ministers and VIPs and over 300,000 business visitors. The achievements we have jointly made over the years fully show that the Expo and Summit, built jointly by China and the ten ASEAN countries, are not only a major platform for effective cooperation in economic, trade and other areas, but also a big booster for the development of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area. Bringing tangible benefits to the enterprises and people of the two sides, they are playing a more and more important role in China-ASEAN cooperation.

With a time-honored friendship, China and ASEAN countries opened a new chapter in their relations in the early 1990s with the establishment of dialogue relations. We are glad to see that over the past 20 years and more, China and ASEAN countries have supported each other on the basis of equality and mutual respect and achieved common development. Our relations have taken a historic leap from being comprehensive dialogue partners and good-neighborly partners of mutual trust to being strategic partners sharing extensive common interests. With our political trust strengthening steadily, our trade growing rapidly, our economic integration deepening, and our connectivity picking up speed, China-ASEAN cooperation holds out a bright future of increasingly solid and extensive development.

We are always committed to friendship and good-neighborliness, resulting in enhanced mutual understanding and mutual trust. The continued growth of China-ASEAN relations shows clearly that China's diplomacy has lived up to the principle of building amity and partnership with neighbors. Among ASEAN's dialogue partners, China is the first to have established a strategic partnership and the first to have started the FTA process. Leaders of China and ASEAN countries have visited each other like family members, and visits to ASEAN countries by Chinese leaders are almost annual events. On major international and regional issues, the two sides have maintained close communication and coordination and worked jointly safeguarding the interests of developing countries.

We are always committed to mutually-beneficial development, resulting in growing gains in trade and economic cooperation.Two-way trade between China and ASEAN surged from 7 billion US dollars in the early days of our dialogue relations to 362.8 billion last year, registering an average annual growth of over 20%. Since China-ASEAN FTA was launched in 2010, our win-win cooperation in the economy and trade has displayed even greater vitality. China has been ASEAN's largest trading partner for three consecutive years and ASEAN has become China's third largest trading partner. We are also each other's major partners of investment, with two-way investment growing steadily. By last July, investment between the two sides had totaled nearly 100 billion US dollars. What is more, China has provided financial support to ASEAN to the best of its abilities by setting up the China-ASEAN

Investment Cooperation Fund and making concessional loans, facilitating economic development in ASEAN countries.

We are always committed to common development and steadily improving cooperation mechanisms in the various fields. As China-ASEAN business cooperation expands and deepens, new requirements have been raised for bilateral cooperation in other areas. At present, having successfully completed the first five-year Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity, China and ASEAN are conducting mutually-beneficial cooperation in over 20 areas. The two sides have set up 12 ministerial meeting mechanisms, established the China-ASEAN Expo, China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, ASEAN-China Center, China-ASEAN Environmental Cooperation Center, China-ASEAN Education Cooperation Week and other cooperation platforms, and brought about a pattern of comprehensive, multi-tiered and wide-ranging cooperation.

We are always committed to working closely together to overcome difficulties and challenges. China and ASEAN countries have not only had common interests but also shared common stakes. From tackling the Asian financial crisis to addressing the impact of the international financial crisis, from fighting the Indian Ocean tsunami to responding to the SARS epidemic and the mega earthquake in China's Wenchuan, people of the two sides have stood alongside each other and shared weal and woe. The Chinese people will never forget the selfless assistance from the people of ASEAN countries in the aftermath of the Wenchun earthquake. Nor will we ever forget the trying journey that China and ASEAN countries have taken together to turn challenges into opportunities and pressure into strength in the face of the Asian financial crisis and the international financial crisis. As distance tests a horse's stamina, so time reveals a person's heart. China-ASEAN friendship has stood the test of time and emerged even stronger.

What has happened proves and will continue to prove that China and ASEAN are good neighbors enjoying solidarity, friendship and mutual trust, and that we are good partners with mutually complementary advantages and capacity for win-win cooperation. The friendship and good-neighborly cooperation between us have not only brought about economic and social development in our own countries and delivered enormous benefits to our peoples, but also contributed significantly to sustained and steady economic development in East Asia and Asia as a whole.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since the founding of the People's Republic of China over 60 years ago, and particularly since the country introduced the reform and opening-up program over 30 years ago, China has indeed made remarkable progress in its modernization drive. Nevertheless, China's international status as the world's largest developing country, China's independent foreign policy of peace, and China's basic state policy of peaceful development and opening to the outside world all remain unchanged.

The more progress China makes in development and the closer its links with the region and the world, the more important it is for the country to have a stable regional environment and a peaceful international environment. Having gone through numerous vicissitudes in modern times, we are deeply aware of the importance of development and the preciousness of peace. We will be all the more determined to go for peaceful development, follow the win-win strategy of opening-up, and implement the policy of building friendship and partnerships with neighboring countries. China will always be a staunch force for peace and stability in the region and the world at large. We are firm in safeguarding China's sovereignty, security and territorial integrity and are committed to resolving difference with neighbors concerning territorial land, territorial sea and maritime rights and interests peacefully through friendly negotiations. We will never seek hegemony, nor behave in a hegemonic manner. By peaceful development, we mean to develop ourselves by upholding world peace and to uphold world peace through our own development.

The current economic situation in China is generally sound. We have full confidence in our ability to speed up the shift of growth model, stabilize external demand, expand domestic demand and build a society of higher level initial prosperity in an all-round way that benefits the over one billion people. China's development is peaceful, open, cooperative and win-win-oriented. In the second decade of this century, China will develop an open economy in an all-round way by deepening trade and economic cooperation with developed countries, strengthening mutually-beneficial cooperation with developing countries, and expanding results-oriented cooperation with neighboring countries. China will step up the improvement of the opening pattern for its regions by deepening openness of its coastal areas, accelerating openness of its inland and border areas, and seeking common development with neighboring countries. Facts have, and will continue to show, that China's sustained development and prosperity offer an important and lasting window of opportunities to its neighbors, and promise important development opportunities to countries around the world, ASEAN countries included.

At present, global economic growth remains sluggish with the European debt crisis continuing unabated and uncertainties and destabilizing factors existing side by side. Despite many difficulties and challenges, Asia has on the whole maintained the momentum of a fairly rapid growth. As friendly and close neighbors and strategic partners, China and ASEAN need to size up the situation and work together to deepen cooperation for sustained development. To this end, I wish to make a four-point proposal:

First, work more vigorously to improve on the FTA development. It has just been less than three years since the launch of the China-ASEAN FTA. This arrangement, covering 1.9 billion people, has laid a solid foundation for ASEAN-centered regional integration and cooperation. We hope that the two sides will continue to implement the various FTA agreements, further improve on trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and optimize the mix of import and export commodities, so as to meet, as scheduled, the trade volume target of 500 billion US dollars by 2015. We should take the current China-ASEAN science and technology cooperation year as the opportunity to strengthen economic and technological cooperation within the FTA framework, promote policy awareness and capacity building, and raise the use rate of preferential policies. We should deepen industrial cooperation and improve intra-regional allocation of resources. We should expand the FTA coverage by acting in a spirit of openness, inclusion, equality and mutual benefit. China has already set up in Nanning, Guangxi and Yiwu, Zhejiang China-ASEAN commodity trade centers, which are new platforms that ASEAN companies can use to promote their products and increase their share in the Chinese market.

Second, work more vigorously to deepen cooperation in two-way investment. In the second decade of this century, China will continue to combine "bringing in" and "going global", guide its enterprises to make overseas investments in an orderly way and actively work on cooperation projects designed to improve on local infrastructure and people's welfare. ASEAN countries are among the top destinations of Chinese enterprises "going global" and also are a key source of foreign investment in China. In recent years, investments in ASEAN countries by Chinese enterprises have increased rapidly, with areas expanding from traditional construction and project contracting to new energies, manufacturing, business services and other new areas. While setting up economic and trade cooperation zones inside ASEAN countries, China will also encourage capable Chinese enterprises to expand their investment in ASEAN countries. At the same time, we will, as always, welcome investment in China by enterprises from ASEAN countries, particularly in China's central and western regions where mutually-beneficial cooperation between the two sides promises huge potential returns.

Third, work more vigorously to advance connectivity.Connectivity within ASEAN and between China and ASEAN is the important foundation for deepening trade and economic cooperation as well as personnel exchanges. It is a measure of strategic importance that will promote intra-regional economic integration and enhance regional competitiveness, thus contributing to a sustained and steady growth of the regional economy. China is ready to establish all-dimensional, in-depth and strategic connectivity with ASEAN. Currently, we are actively preparing for the establishment of the Chinese Committee on China-ASEAN Connectivity and will in due course set up interaction and institutionalized exchanges with relevant ASEAN agencies. We are ready to set up an investment and financing platform for connectivity, step up land connectivity with ASEAN countries, build maritime connectivity network and expand cooperation in such areas as ports, maritime logistics and port industries.

Fourth, work more vigorously to promote social and people-to-people exchanges. The bedrock for friendship and good-neighborliness is with the people. We should make full use of the institutions and platforms such as ASEAN-China Center, Conference on China-ASEAN People-to-People Friendship Organizations and China-ASEAN Education Cooperation Week to facilitate friendly exchanges in culture, education, tourism, youth and other areas with a view to increasing the mutual understanding and friendship between our peoples. We should explore for the creation of a new platform of tourism cooperation designed to raise the number of people engaged in two-way personnel exchange to 15 million by 2015. We should also carry out a variety of youth exchanges and activities between the two sides. China proposes the establishment of a China-ASEAN Students' Friendship Association. Both sides should work actively to implement the "Double 100,000 Students Mobility Program" that envisages 100,000 students from each side by 2020, so that more young people will join our exchanges of regional cooperation and carry forward the torch of China-ASEAN friendship and good-neighborliness.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

With economic globalization and regional integration developing in greater depth, the future destinies of China and ASEAN have never been so closely linked with each other. It is our common strategic choice to further China-ASEAN strategic partnership. I am convinced that with our joint efforts, including the hard work of the ASEAN Secretariat and our host, China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, the China-ASEAN Expo, China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit and Forum on China-ASEAN Free Trade Area will be a great success with their special features and real results, thus making a big contribution to China-ASEAN cooperation and FTA development. China will work with ASEAN countries in jointly ushering in a better future for China-ASEAN friendship and cooperation.

May I conclude by wishing the current China-ASEAN Expo, the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit and the 2012 Forum on China-ASEAN Free Trade Area a complete success.

Thank you.

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