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Li urges China, ASEAN to uphold multilateralism, free trade

Editor: Zhang Jianfeng 丨Xinhua

11-04-2019 09:53 BJT

BANGKOK, Nov. 3 -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Sunday called on China and ASEAN to uphold multilateralism and free trade, resist risks and realize common development at the 22nd China-ASEAN (10+1) leaders' meeting in Bangkok.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang addresses the 22nd China-ASEAN (10+1) leaders

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang addresses the 22nd China-ASEAN (10+1) leaders' meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, Nov. 3, 2019. (Xinhua/Zhai Jianlan)

Since China and ASEAN established dialogue relations, they have brought benefits to each other and the wider region, Li said, adding that China always supports ASEAN's central role in East Asian cooperation.

Noting that the mounting downward pressure on the global economy brings new severe challenges, Li said China and ASEAN countries should jointly uphold multilateralism and free trade, withstand risks and realize common development.

The premier said China and ASEAN countries should stick to the principle of shared benefits and win-win outcomes, and speed up the work to upgrade economic and trade cooperation.

He called for an early conclusion of the negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) so as to lay the foundation for East Asia's economic integration, and the implementation of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area Upgrade Protocol to promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation.

Li said China and ASEAN countries should enhance strategic mutual trust and safeguard peace and stability in the region.

The Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea is an upgraded version of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). Last year, China proposed that all parties should try to finish the COC talks in three years. The first reading of the single draft negotiating text of the COC in the South China Sea has been completed ahead of schedule, and the second reading has been launched.

Li said he hopes all sides will actively carry forward the consultations according to the previously agreed timetable, meet each other halfway, and safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.

The premier also said China and ASEAN countries need to carry forward their friendship from generation to generation, and stay ready to enhance people-to-people and cultural exchanges in such areas as media, health, education and tourism.

China is willing to train 1,000 administrative health staff and technical professionals in the following three years for ASEAN and will support projects such as the China-ASEAN Young Leaders Scholarship, said the premier.

Stressing that China will unswervingly pursue the path of peaceful development and an opening-up strategy of mutual benefit, Li said China is willing to synergize the Belt and Road Initiative with the development strategies of ASEAN as a whole and its members as well.

He urged to accelerate the construction of the existing economic corridors, promote infrastructure connectivity cooperation, as well as support the building of the Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area.

Li encouraged innovation cooperation in the areas including digital economy, artificial intelligence, big data and cyber security, and the establishment of a China-ASEAN partnership on blue economy to enhance maritime exchanges and cooperation.

Thailand's Prime Minister, also the rotating chair of ASEAN, Prayut Chan-o-cha, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Brunei's Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Myanmar's State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen attended the meeting. Li and Prayut co-chaired the meeting.

At the meeting, ASEAN leaders expressed congratulations on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, saying that the ASEAN-China partnership is the most dynamic one in all the partnerships ASEAN has forged.

Speaking highly of the new cooperation progress over the past year, the leaders said their countries would like to take an active role in building the Belt and Road, expand cooperation in areas of inter-connectivity, science and technology innovation, e-commerce, smart cities and blue economy, and increase two-way investment.

They also expressed the hope that the ASEAN-China trade volume can exceed 1 trillion U.S. dollars at an early date.

The leaders also applauded the new progress made in the COC negotiation, saying that their countries would like to maintain the momentum and advance the process.

During the meeting, China and ASEAN agreed to make an action plan to implement The Joint Declaration on China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity (2021-2025), issued statements on the Belt and Road Initiative, smart cities and media exchanges, and announced that the year 2020 will be the year of China-ASEAN digital economy cooperation.

Li arrived in Bangkok late on Saturday for an official visit to Thailand and a series of events including the 22nd China-ASEAN (10+1) leaders' meeting, the 22nd ASEAN-China, Japan and South Korea (10+3) leaders' meeting, and the 14th East Asia Summit. 

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