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Shape the Future of Asia Pacific with Confidence and Cooperation

(2010/12/01)

Shape the Future of Asia Pacific with Confidence and Cooperation
Address by Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi At the First Lanting Forum
1 December 2010

Excellencies,
Business representatives,
Friends from the academia and the press,

I am delighted to attend the first Lanting Forum. Lanting, as you may know, means the blue hall in Chinese. This Forum is called Lanting Forum because people naturally associate the blue color with the sea and the sky. It symbolizes inclusiveness, passion and vitality, and it accords to the philosophy of harmonious coexistence, openness and win-win progress. It shows that we will adopt an inclusive approach, pool together the wisdom of various sectors and deepen dialogue and exchanges. It also means that we will take a global perspective, keep pace with the times and work together for development. I believe that with the interactions taking place here, the Lanting Forum will serve as a bridge connecting diplomats with the general public, and China with the world. The general public and the whole world will therefore gain a better understanding of China's diplomacy.

The theme for today's Forum, Situation in the Asia Pacific and China's Policy, is a highly significant one. The development in the Asia Pacific has attracted worldwide attention and China is a member of this region. We should intensify discussions on the relevant issues concerning the region, as this will help us enhance mutual trust and build consensus. I look forward to exchanging views with you on this important topic.

There were different views about the Asia Pacific in the 21st century. Some believed that rich human resources and cultural diversity held out great potential and bright prospects for the Asia-Pacific region, while others thought this region was beset with problems and troubles and could hardly offer any reason for optimism. Now the first decade of the 21st century is coming to an end. When we look back on the journey that the region has travelled, I believe we can come to the following conclusions: Despite the various problems and challenges due to reasons both of the past and present, peace, stability, cooperation and development represent the shared aspiration of the people and the trend of the times. What has happened shows that the Asia Pacific is transforming into a dynamic, vibrant and promising region.

The Asia Pacific's strategic status has never been more important.

In the past ten years, the status of the Asia Pacific in the global architecture has continued to rise. The region has seen expanding international influence, notable growth of emerging economies and active development of regional cooperation mechanisms. APEC's 21 member economies take up 40% of the world population, 54% of the economy and 44% of the trade. They have developed all-dimensional, multi-tiered and wide-ranging cooperation mechanisms, which have played a positive role in promoting common prosperity. Various regional cooperation mechanisms have flourished and new initiatives and ideas have mushroomed, giving full expression to the strong desire of all parties to meet challenges through cooperation. As the underlying impact of the international financial crisis on the economy in the Asia Pacific persists, regional hotspots flare up from time to time, and global issues become more pronounced, the Asia Pacific faces daunting challenges in its development. However, the economy of the Asia-Pacific countries as a whole is on an upward trajectory. One after another, countries in the region have begun to transform development patterns in the post-crisis era. With their rising international status, they will play an increasingly important role in promoting world peace and development.

Asia's growth momentum has never been stronger.

In the past ten years, Asia, an important part of the Asia-Pacific region, has achieved fast growth. It has become one of the fastest growing and most dynamic regions and played a bigger role in powering world economic growth. During the two financial crises, Asian countries united as one for greater strength. Relying mainly on their own efforts, they have not only maintained economic stability, but also laid a more solid foundation for future development. Asian countries have learned one valuable thing from tackling the crises: we need to explore development paths suited to ourselves and enhance domestic sources of economic growth in light of our own national circumstances. At the same time, Asia has adopted an open approach. It has actively expanded practical cooperation with Europe, Africa, North America and Latin America and speeded up the building of free trade areas. As a result, it has achieved fresh progress and leapfrog development.

I wish to illustrate Asia's development with three "fifty-percents". First, Asia's overall economic strength has grown remarkably. Asia's GDP accounted for 50% of the world's total in the 19th century and had since gone downhill. Starting from the 20th century, Asian countries have made unyielding efforts to catch up and return to the fast track of economic development. In 2009, Asia's overall economy accounted for nearly one third of the world economy. Some authoritative international economic organizations have made the forecast that by the middle of this century, Asia will once again take up 50% of the world economy. Second, economic integration of East Asia is moving faster. Five years ago, intra-regional trade in East Asia already totaled almost three trillion US dollars, making up more than 50% of the region's total foreign trade. East Asia regional cooperation has made tremendous achievements. ASEAN, 10+1, 10+3, China, Japan and the ROK, East Asia Summit and other mechanisms have continued to improve. It is gratifying to note that these mechanisms are drawing on each other's strengths and moving forward in parallel. Third, Asian countries have great potential in human resources, culture, science and technology and their soft power continues to strengthen. This has offered strong backing for Asia's sustainable development. According to the latest figures of UNESCO, Asia had 41.4% of the world's scientific researchers in 2007, up from 35.7% in 2002. And the figure is very likely to further increase to 50% in the coming years. In short, we are seeing before us a thriving Asia enjoying peaceful development.

China's relationship with the Asia Pacific has never been closer.

In the past ten years, China and the rest of the Asia Pacific have grown together and supported each other's development. Together, we have opened a new era of development in this part of the world. As a member of the Asia-Pacific community, China and other countries in the region shoulder the important mission of promoting regional prosperity and stability. We are keenly aware that without a sound regional environment, China can hardly achieve sustainable development. At the same time, China's development is a strong boost to the development of the Asia Pacific. China is committed to the path of peaceful development and the mutually beneficial strategy of opening up. China pursues a policy of developing good-neighborly ties and partnerships with its neighbors. China wants to engage in friendly cooperation with all countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, in a joint endeavor to build a regional environment featuring peace and stability, equality and mutual trust, cooperation and win-win outcomes. Relations between China and its neighboring countries are anchored not only in time-honored traditional friendship, but also growing common interests. By countering crises together, China and other Asia-Pacific countries have fostered deeper mutual trust in the last ten years. By drawing on each other's strengths, we have enhanced mutually beneficial cooperation in a comprehensive way. Indeed, we have made fresh and important headway in our cooperation across the board.

China's exchanges with other Asia-Pacific countries in the political field have become closer. We have established various forms of partnership and conducted fruitful political dialogue. This year alone, we have had over 60 high-level mutual visits and exchanges with Asian countries, involving almost all the countries in the region. Nearly 50 Asian political leaders came to China for the Shanghai World Expo and the Guangzhou Asian Games. Departments at various levels have engaged in extensive exchanges and dialogue with their Asian counterparts.

China's economic cooperation with other Asia-Pacific countries has been deepening. Over the past decade, China's trade with Asia-Pacific countries has kept growing. Of China's top ten trading partners, eight are in the Asia Pacific. China's trade with Asian countries has grown by nearly three times during this period. For several years in a row, China has been Asia's largest import market and the largest trading partner for Japan, the ROK, India, Vietnam and Mongolia. During China's 11th Five-Year Plan Period (2006-2010), over 60% of China's overseas non-financial direct investment has gone to its neighbors. Asia now hosts more of China's overseas companies than any other region. China has actively expanded fiscal and financial cooperation with Asia-Pacific countries. We have set up a China-APEC Cooperation Fund totaling 20 million US dollars and signed bilateral currency swap agreements totaling 360 billion RMB yuan with Malaysia, Indonesia and the ROK. In the fight against the international financial crisis, China and other Asia-Pacific countries have worked together and supported each other. This has further deepened practical cooperation and boosted the economic recovery and development in the region.

China's security cooperation with other Asia-Pacific countries has been expanding. China is committed to resolving disputes through peaceful negotiations. We have made great effort to push forward the Six-Party Talks process and played a constructive role in addressing hotspot issues. We have been actively involved in the ASEAN Regional Forum and other security dialogue mechanisms and carried out security cooperation with regional countries in counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, combating transnational crimes and public health. China is committed to appropriately handle and address territorial and maritime disputes through dialogue and negotiations on the basis of facts and in keeping with the basic norms governing international relations. The Chinese people cherish friendly sentiments towards people in the region. When natural disasters like the Indian Ocean Tsunami and the floods in Pakistan struck, we showed sympathy for the affected population and promptly offered disaster-relief assistance.

People-to-people and cultural exchanges between China and other Asia-Pacific countries have been more extensive. China has vigorously promoted people-to-people exchanges in the context of APEC, advanced human resources development cooperation and strengthened educational and cultural exchanges and dialogue. Over the past ten years, the number of Asian students coming to China has been growing year by year. Last year, it exceeded 160,000, accounting for three fourths of foreign students in China. We have set up more than 100 Confucius institutes and classrooms in Asia, and established China culture centers in the ROK, Japan and Mongolia. We have organized training courses for people from other Asian developing countries. We have trained over 14,000 professionals in various fields for ASEAN countries over the past five years.

China is committed to building regional cooperation mechanisms together with other Asia-Pacific countries. The Asia Pacific is a region of diversity. And to build cooperation mechanisms in such a region, we must follow the principles of building consensus, seeking incremental progress, focusing on easier issues before moving to more difficult ones and being open and inclusive. We should keep the existing mechanisms as the platform and encourage different mechanisms to complement and reinforce each other in order to advance regional cooperation. Last January, the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area was fully established, providing an unprecedented favorable environment for stronger trade and investment cooperation between China and ASEAN nations. It will bring tangible benefits to nearly one third of the world's population. China supports the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity and will work with the countries involved to build roads, railways, water routes and ports. The ASEAN plus Three cooperation has shown great strength in countering the financial crisis. The Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization (CMIM) was realized and regional foreign exchange reserve pool totaling 120 billion US dollars and the regional Credit Guarantee and Investment Facility (CGIF) totaling 700 million US dollars were established. New steps were also taken in China-Japan-ROK cooperation. The three countries have set out the goal of completing the joint study on an FTA among them by 2012. China has actively promoted trade and investment liberalization and facilitation in the Asia-Pacific region. We support regional economic integration and the effort to make APEC an important platform for regional economic and trade cooperation. China welcomes a constructive role by relevant countries in regional cooperation. We are open to and we welcome any cooperation initiative that contributes to regional economic integration and common prosperity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Reviewing the past ten years, we can see that the development in the Asia Pacific has not always been smooth and even. Being a vast region, the Asia Pacific is home to countries with different national conditions, social systems and development stages. There are complex hotspot issues and intertwined traditional and non-traditional security issues. And there are many challenges in the endeavor to deepen mutual understanding and trust and uphold enduring peace and common development. However, Asia-Pacific countries, which focus on the long-term interests and the larger interests, can always manage to turn crisis into opportunity, and make even greater progress. From the region's development over the past ten years, we can draw the following important conclusions.

First, cooperation is the basis. The rapid development of globalization and information technologies has made our world a Global Village, where the interests of countries are interconnected. As important members of this Global Village, Asia-Pacific countries face the common mission of safeguarding peace and stability, the common task of growing the economy and eradicating poverty and the common challenge of managing different problems and transforming development patterns. The major changes in our region and the world require us to free our mind and change our thinking in a big way. We must abandon the Cold War mentality and ideological stereotypes. We must foster a new vision of unity and cooperation for mutual benefit. If the 20th century was a century defined by incessant hot and cold wars and confrontation between the two blocs, the 21st century should be one defined by peace, cooperation and win-win outcomes.

Second, development is the key. The Asia Pacific as a whole enjoys sound development, and faces new and rare opportunities. But there are also many destabilizing factors and uncertainties threatening its sustainable development. Terrorism remains a menace. Non-traditional security issues such as economic security, energy and resources security, food security, climate change, disaster prevention and relief have become more pronounced. Most of them are issues that have occurred in the course of our progress and can only be addressed through common development. For those issues that cannot be resolved for the time being, we need to have enough patience and prevent the complication of problems so that they will not harm the overall development and the long-term common interests of this region. As long as we make a bigger pie of our shared interests and enable people of all our countries to benefit from the dividend of development, we will be able to meet various challenges effectively and achieve even better and faster development.

Third, a new security concept is the guarantee. International security threats to today's world are more complex and diversified. Security issues are increasingly interrelated, affecting more areas than before. No one can singlehandedly resolve regional security issues. Cooperation is the only way to ensure security. We must foster a new security concept featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination. We need to respect the security of our own countries and also the security of others, and promote common security. We need to address disputes through dialogue and consultations. Territorial and maritime disputes between states should be peacefully resolved between the parties directly involved through bilateral negotiations. We are convinced that based on the consensus already reached and through the open channels of dialogue, the parties will be able to properly address their own issues with their own efforts. All countries should play a constructive role and refrain from creating new trouble and tension or complicating the matters. And all countries should act in a way that contributes to regional stability, mutual trust and unity.

Tension has once again risen on the Korean Peninsula, and China is highly concerned about the current situation. As a big responsible country, China decides its position based on the merits of each case and does not seek to protect any side. China is of the view that the most pressing task now is to prevent any escalation of the tension, and nothing should be done to inflame the situation. The parties concerned should keep calm and exercise restraint, and work to bring the situation back onto the track of dialogue and negotiation. As you have noticed, since the exchange of fire between the DPRK and the ROK, the Chinese side has made a series of efforts to prevent the situation from escalating and worsening. We have stayed in close communication and coordination with relevant parties and urged various parties to maintain calm and restraint by all means, address the issues through dialogue and consultation and jointly safeguard peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. We have proposed to hold emergency consultations among the heads of delegation to the Six-Party Talks in Beijing in early December in the hope that the consultations will help ease the current tension and create conditions for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. We will make continued efforts to encourage all parties to work together to maintain peace and stability on the Peninsula and in Northeast Asia.

Fourth, respect for diversity is the premise. Diversity and complexity are a distinctive feature of the Asia Pacific. Countries in this region have diverse political and economic systems, histories, cultures and social development models, which have grown side by side over the long years of history. Diversity is a source of the unique strength and enduring vitality for the Asia Pacific. We need to uphold this tradition, carry forward the spirit of openness, inclusiveness, seeking common ground while reserving differences, mutual understanding and mutual accommodation, and strengthen mutual learning and people-to-people and cultural exchanges, so as to build the Asia Pacific into a community in which diverse nations and cultures live in peace and friendship.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The year 2011 will be the first year of the second decade of this century. It will be a year for us to build on past achievements and strive for new progress. For the Asia Pacific and the world, 2011 will be an important year to promote economic recovery and development, transform development patterns in the post-crisis era, and deepen the reform of the international system to meet global challenges. For China, it will be the first year of the 12th Five-Year Plan period. We will enter a critical era in our endeavor to deepen reform and opening up and accelerate the transformation of the economic development pattern. China, the Asia Pacific and the world as a whole share the same goals and intertwined interests. China is willing to work with other Asia-Pacific countries to enhance cooperation, meet the challenges and promote world peace and development together. To this end, I believe we should make concerted efforts in the following areas:

First, we should make an all-out effort to promote the recovery and growth of the world economy. The global economy is now slowly recovering, but the international financial markets remain volatile; the exchange rates of major currencies fluctuate drastically; commodity prices hover at a high level and protectionism is notably rising. It is all the more evident that the world economic recovery is fragile and uneven. We should continue to work in a spirit of unity to secure and broaden the existing achievements and consensus, enhance macro-economic policy coordination, speed up the reform in the international financial and other sectors and ensure strong, sustainable and balanced growth of the world economy. We should work actively to bridge the gap between the North and the South, and step up North-South cooperation. We should oppose and reject protectionism in all its manifestations and uphold an open and free trading and investment environment. We should work to ensure comprehensive and balanced outcomes at the Doha Round negotiations by locking in previous achievements in order to attain the goals of the development round at an early date.

Second, we should meet global challenges together. Our existing bilateral and multilateral cooperation on global challenges such as climate change, disaster prevention and relief and combating terrorism has become and will continue to be the new and most promising growth areas for international cooperation. We need to work together to ensure progress in the Cancun Conference, and remain committed to the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" in a joint effort to meet the climate challenge. We should strike a balance between economic development and environmental protection, actively cooperate in clean energy, energy conservation and environmental protection and facilitate the growth of the green economy. We should establish and follow a new energy security concept featuring mutually beneficial cooperation, diverse development and common energy security through coordination. We should ensure the energy needs of all countries, developing countries in particular. We should join hands to fight terrorism and piracy to safeguard maritime security and normal trade flows. We should scale up cooperation in disaster prevention and reduction, draw on each other's strengths and minimize the impact of natural disasters on the lives and property of our people.

Third, we should further deepen the reform of the international system. The impact of the global financial crisis can still be felt. While global risks have risen, global governance capabilities remain weak. It is an arduous task to reform the international system. The G20 has held five summits, which have played an important role in coordinating efforts against the crisis, promoting world economic recovery and launching the reform process of the international economic and financial architecture. We should continue to make good use of the G20 as the premier platform of global economic governance, and facilitate the implementation of the consensus on the reform of international financial institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank. We should continue to uphold and strengthen the central role of the United Nations in the existing international system and increase the voice and representation of developing countries in the system.

Fourth, we should uphold international and regional peace and stability. The hotspot issues such as the Korean nuclear issue, the Iranian nuclear issue, Afghanistan and Sudan are highly complex. The international community should work actively and appropriately to ease tensions and resolve these issues in the larger context of upholding peace and stability. On the Iranian nuclear issue, the parties concerned should bear in mind the larger picture and long-term interests, step up diplomatic efforts, remain patient, adopt a more flexible, pragmatic and proactive policy, and seek a comprehensive, long-term and appropriate solution through dialogue and negotiations in order to uphold the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and peace and stability in the Middle East. On Afghanistan, we should fully respect its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, actively support its reconstruction, and work in concert to promote peace and stability in the country and the region as a whole. On Sudan, we should fully respect its sovereignty and the will and choice of the Sudanese people. Under the precondition of ensuring peace and stability in Sudan and in the region, we should steadily promote the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and work together to uphold peace, stability and development in the region.

Fifth, we should enhance mutual learning among civilizations and promote people-to-people and cultural exchanges. We should fully respect the independent choice of countries on their development path, draw on each other's expertise and share the benefits of our achievements. We should further expand cooperation in the fields of culture, education, health and tourism, and promote people-to-people exchanges so as to enhance public support for the growth of all-round cooperation. China will work actively to ensure the success of various fora, seminars and other events aimed at increasing dialogue and exchanges among different civilizations and make even greater contribution to protecting the development of diverse cultures and promoting people-to-people and cultural exchanges.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As a saying goes, "Those working in unity will prevail in a storm." Looking ahead, we see unprecedented opportunities as well as complex challenges in the pursuit of peace and development in the Asia Pacific and the world at large. As long as we are resolved to work hand in hand, we will seize the opportunities and meet the challenges, and open up a new avenue for countries with different cultures and growth models to live in harmony and achieve win-win progress. Together we will create an even brighter future.

Thank you.



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