Premier Li Keqiang attended the 23rd China-ASEAN (10+1) leaders' meeting via video links in Beijing on Nov 12.
Other attendees included Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who holds the rotating presidency of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Brunei's Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Aun Porn Moniroth, and Union Minister for International Cooperation of Myanmar U Kyaw Tin.
Premier Li and Nguyen Xuan Phuc co-chaired the meeting through video links.
Noting that the pandemic has left a strong impact on global development and exchanges, the Premier suggested the world should stick to cooperation and opening-up in fighting against the pandemic and restoring the economy.
President Xi Jinping said at the opening ceremony of the 3rd China International Import Expo (CIIE) that China is ready to work with other countries to create opportunities through opening-up, and to solve problems through cooperation.
China and ASEAN countries have helped each other and overcome difficulties together while fighting against the pandemic, and the pandemic is still raging around the world, he noted. Global economic recovery is in difficulty, while protectionism and unilateralism are on the rise.
But it is encouraging that the pandemic in the East Asia region is in a stable and improving situation, the trade and investment between China and AESAN counties are growing against the trend, and ASEAN has become China's largest trading partner, he said.
China will commit to new development concepts, promote high-quality development, accelerate a new development pattern, and advance high-level opening-up while expanding domestic demands, which will help to strengthen the connect of the two markets, and boost regional economic recovery and sustainable development.
China has always regarded ASEAN as a priority in its neighborhood diplomacy, and will firmly support ASEAN countries to strengthen its central role in regional cooperation, he said.
China is willing to work with ASEAN countries to consolidate good-neighborliness, stay on the path of peaceful development, and adhere to multilateralism and free trade to achieve more pragmatic results in various fields between the two sides, promote their own development and regional economic recovery, and jointly safeguard regional and global peace and stability, he stressed, and then gave four suggestions for the development of both sides.
The first is to jointly fight against the pandemic, and improve public health cooperation. China will actively consider the ASEAN countries’ request for COVID-19 vaccines and take practical actions to make the vaccines available and affordable. It will start the China-ASEAN Public Health Emergency Liaison Network as soon as possible, and successfully hold the third China-ASEAN Health Cooperation Forum.
The second is to focus on economic and trade cooperation and promote regional economic recovery.
China welcomes the upcoming signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and is willing to join hands with ASEAN countries to implement the China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement and its upgraded protocol to enhance the liberalization and facilitation of regional trade and investment, and jointly construct the regional “fast-track” network.
The third is to create new focus on the digital economy and cultivate new growth points in cooperation. The two sides should take the 2020 China-ASEAN Year of Digital Economy Cooperation as an opportunity to communicate on digital development strategies and carry out innovative cooperation in various fields. Both sides also should exchange experiences in digital governance and jointly safeguard data and internet security.
The fourth is to advance sustainable development and increase risk-resistance capacity. China and ASEAN should enhance cooperation in ecological protection, disaster prevention and relief, climate change and poverty reduction, further build a partnership in maritime economy, and support carrying out early harvest programs in fields such as maritime cooperation.
The situation in the South China Sea is generally stable, the Premier said, adding that China and ASEAN countries have strived to deepen cooperation, actively manage differences and comprehensively implement the Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea, and steadily promote the negotiation on the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea.
As the upgraded version of the DOC, the COC will be more substantive, effective and operable, the Premier said, emphasizing China's consistent and firm attitude in concluding the negotiation on the COC in a timely manner.
China called on parties concerned to accelerate the negotiation process in a flexible and pragmatic way. He said China will actively consider holding face-to-face negotiation in China as soon as possible when the pandemic winds down and push forward the second reading of the code, so as to show to the international community that the countries in the region have the wisdom and ability to manage the situation and safeguard peace and stability in South China Sea, the Premier said.
State leaders of ASEAN countries spoke highly of the development of the ASEAN-China relationship, regarding it as the most powerful and energetic among all the partnerships ASEAN has. They appreciated China’s support for the building of the ASEAN community and its centrality in regional cooperation.
The ASEAN State leaders also said they were grateful for China’s contributions to their countries’ fight against the COVID-19 epidemic, and said they welcomed Chinese vaccines as international public products. They also hope more support from China and that it will continue to help them contain the epidemic and achieve economic recovery.
According to the ASEAN State leaders, both ASEAN and China support multilateralism, as well as rule-based free trade. They expected to sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) during meetings this time, and would like to further implement the free trade agreement between ASEAN and China and its upgraded protocol.
Also, they hoped to strengthen exchanges of development strategies, and increase cooperation in fields such as people-to-people exchanges, digital economy and poverty relief, in an effort to further vitalize the ASEAN-China partnership.
According to the ASEAN State leaders, ASEAN countries praised the progress made in the negotiation on and the second reading of the code. They hope to achieve an substantive and effective COC in a timely manner to encourage efforts to safeguard the peace and tranquillity in the South China Sea.
Those at the meeting released the Action Plan for Implementing the Joint Declaration on China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity (2021-2025) and the Initiative of China-ASEAN on Establishing a Digital Economy Partnership. They also announced 2021 as the year of China-ASEAN sustainable development and cooperation.
Leaders participating the meeting also watched the video themed “China-ASEAN Jointly Fight the Epidemic and Promote Development”.
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi also attended the event.