Speech by H.E. Li Keqiang
Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
At the 16th East Asia Summit
Beijing, 27 October 2021
Your Majesty Sultan Hassanal,
It gives me great pleasure to have this exchange with you via video link. I wish to begin by thanking His Majesty the Sultan and the Bruneian government for the thoughtful arrangements made for the summit.
As we meet, COVID-19 is still spreading in the world, global trade and investment are slowing, inflation pressure is rising and risks to food and energy security continue to develop. The world economy is confronted with challenges to a sustainable and balanced recovery. As international and regional situations evolve at a faster pace, traditional and non-traditional security threats are increasingly intertwined and global challenges such as climate change have become more pressing. Meanwhile, it is worth noting that the new round of technological revolution and industrial transformation is burgeoning and digital transformation in economy and society is accelerating, providing important opportunities for the high-quality development of all countries. As an important engine driving global growth, East Asia must pursue parallel progress in fighting the pandemic and recovering the economy, and inject continued impetus into global development.
As a “leaders-led strategic forum”, the East Asia Summit (EAS) has a membership covering major countries in the Asia Pacific and enjoys broad-based representation and influence. The EAS should remain committed to its defined role, keep to the right direction of regional cooperation and pursue political and security cooperation and economic and social progress in a balanced way. Mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity is a basic norm governing international relations and an important guiding principle of the EAS. Not long ago, President Xi Jinping put forth the Global Development Initiative, which aims to promote robust, green and balanced global development and foster a global community of development with a shared future. Given the current circumstances, it is particularly important that we uphold the spirit of mutual respect and work together in unity to invest more in COVID response and economic recovery, safeguard regional peace and stability, and promote development and prosperity. To this end, China wishes to make the following proposals:
First, we need to join hands to fight COVID-19. We need to uphold the spirit of science, follow its laws and deepen cooperation on COVID response. China has provided over 1.58 billion doses of vaccines and concentrates to the international community, including some 460 million doses to ASEAN countries. China will donate another 100 million doses of vaccines to other developing countries via COVAX. China will do what it can to scale up assistance in vaccines and other anti-COVID supplies in light of the needs of relevant countries, and continue to support ASEAN countries in building regional vaccine production and distribution centers. The implementation of the China-ASEAN Cooperation Program on Public Health Management needs to be expedited to help enhance regional capacity on public health and contribute to the building of a global community of health for all. China supports issuing an EAS Leaders’ Statement on Mental Health Cooperation to better protect the mental health and human dignity of each and every individual.
Second, we need to promote all-round economic recovery. We need to uphold free and fair trade, strengthen the capacity for supplying commodities, key spare parts and other important goods, ensure unimpeded international logistics and oppose all forms of trade protectionism. We need to continuously push forward regional economic integration to lend new impetus to economic recovery. As the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) approaches its threshold of coming into force, efforts should be intensified to facilitate its early entry into force and implementation. China has officially applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and will further raise the level of its opening-up commitments. We need to actively synergize our post-COVID development strategies. China has taken the lead to cooperate with ASEAN in support of its Comprehensive Recovery Framework in an all-round way. China will work with countries in the region to advance high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, increase the contribution of digital transformation to post-COVID recovery and support regional countries in boosting the recovery of the tourism industry.
Third, we need to promote green development. As a leading force in global development, East Asia needs to play an active part in the green and low-carbon transition process and promote green recovery of the regional economy in the post-COVID era. We need to follow the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, fully and effectively implement the Paris Agreement and support COP26 to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in achieving positive outcomes. China proposes that this meeting release a statement on sustainable recovery, and hopes that the concept of sustainable and green development will be incorporated into the renewed Manila Plan of Action to Advance the Phnom Penh Declaration. We need to pursue a low-carbon transition in a balanced and orderly manner, and realize coordinated advances in economic development and people’s well-being while ensuring stability and security in energy supply. China will continue to hold the Clean Energy Forum and the New Energy Forum. Your active participation is most welcome.
Fourth, we need to support ASEAN Centrality. Countries in the region are no stranger to the experience of war and turmoil, poverty and economic depression. For us, promoting peace and development is the call of the times and an unrelenting pursuit. Historical experience shows that an ASEAN-centered, open and inclusive regional cooperation architecture meets the needs of the realities, and the ASEAN Way of consensus building, non-interference in internal affairs and accommodating each other’s comfort levels is consistent with East Asian traditions. They are important cornerstones for the region’s long-term peace and prosperity. We need to fully support enhancing ASEAN unity, support ASEAN Community building and its efforts in upholding multilateralism, and safeguard the UN-centered international system.
Myanmar is an important participant in East Asian cooperation. China supports ASEAN in properly handling the relevant issues in the ASEAN Way to promote ASEAN unity, regional stability and Myanmar’s peace and reconciliation process. The international community should create a sound external environment for such efforts.
The South China Sea is our common home. Maintaining peace, stability and the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea serves the common interests of all parties. China is the world’s largest trader in goods and over 60 percent of its trade in goods goes through the South China Sea. Peace and stability in the South China Sea concerns China’s vital interests. Thanks to the joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries, the situation in the South China Sea has maintained overall stability and there has never been a problem with the freedom of navigation and overflight. China and ASEAN countries have maintained that the disputes should be peacefully settled, differences managed and joint development advanced, through consultation and negotiation, by the countries directly concerned, and have made positive contributions to peace and stability in the region.
China is committed to the path of peaceful development. As a party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), China has all along worked with ASEAN countries to properly handle the South China Sea issue on the basis of mutual respect in accordance with international law including UNCLOS and in light of the regional realities. In keeping with such a spirit and principles, we successfully signed the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and are fully and effectively implementing the DOC. It is in line with the same spirit and principles that we are actively advancing consultations on a code of conduct (COC) and have agreed to reach early conclusion of an effective, substantive COC consistent with international law including UNCLOS. Despite the impact of COVID-19 in the past year, we have resumed and actively pressed ahead with the COC consultations and reached preliminary agreement on relevant contents. We will resolutely push forward the process. It is hoped that countries from outside the region respect the efforts of regional countries for peace and stability in the South China Sea, refrain from any actions that may aggravate tensions and expand disagreements, and support regional countries in making the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation.
Greater development of East Asia and a better future for the region call for our concerted efforts. China is ready to work with all parties to enhance unity, broaden cooperation, promote common development and achieve prosperity and stability. Together, let us write a new chapter of East Asian cooperation.
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