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Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli's speech at China-ASEAN Expo

Updated: 2014-09-17 13:38

Ladies and gentlemen, friends,

During his visit to some ASEAN countries last October, President Xi Jinping made the proposal of building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and the China-ASEAN Community of shared destiny through the joint efforts of China and ASEAN. This forward-looking proposal is aimed at building on historical inheritance and embracing the trend of the times. It is a major strategic vision that meets the shared aspiration of China and ASEAN for common development, and charts the course for the future growth of China-ASEAN relations. The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road is a road for win-win cooperation based on common development and prosperity. It is also a road of peace and friendship based on deeper mutual understanding and trust and stronger all-round exchanges. It will surely create, for both sides, more converging interests and new areas for growth, and identify new converging points in our strategic partnership. Premier Li Keqiang put forward a "2+7 cooperation framework" at the China-ASEAN summit last year, which consists of two points of consensus and seven areas of cooperation. He highlighted the priorities of China-ASEAN cooperation and outlined its blueprint, further boosting our relations and cooperation in all areas. We need to work, in an inclusive and open spirit, to enhance solidarity and cooperation and actively implement the consensus reached by our leaders by facilitating policy communication, road connectivity, unimpeded trade, monetary circulation and understanding between our people, so as to strive for a splendid new future of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

To this end, I would like to make a six-point proposal.

First, work hard to deepen political mutual trust. Political mutual trust underpins and guarantees the sustained, sound and steady growth of China-ASEAN relations. Among ASEAN's dialogue partners, China was the first to establish a strategic partnership with it. China is also willing to be the first to conclude a treaty with ASEAN countries on good-neighborliness, friendship and cooperation, so as to provide legal and institutional guarantee for lasting friendship between our two sides. In order to step up high-level exchanges and increase mutual understanding and mutual trust, China proposes that an informal meeting among Chinese and ASEAN leaders be held in China on an irregular basis in conjunction with the China-ASEAN Expo and the Boao Forum for Asia, so that the two sides may strengthen communication on the development of their relations and issues of shared interest, enhance mutual understanding, and promote cooperation.

Second, work hard to improve the quality and performance of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA). Trade and investment facilitation is a priority for the development of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Improving the quality and performance of CAFTA will not only enhance business exchanges between the two sides, but also lay the foundation for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and other regional free trade arrangements. We welcome the official launch of negotiation between the two sides on upgrading CAFTA and suggest that a working plan for the next stage be determined as soon as possible. We should open the market wider, reduce tariffs, carry out a new round of negotiation on service trade commitments, sign cooperation agreements on small and medium enterprises (SME), energy, the environment and sustainable development, and deepen economic, trade and investment cooperation so as to realize the goals of elevating bilateral trade volume to US$500 billion by 2015 and US$1 trillion by 2020. We support Chinese enterprises in conducting investment cooperation in ASEAN countries and will continue to support the establishment of industrial zones and economic and trade cooperation zones in ASEAN countries, and we welcome efforts of ASEAN countries to set up industrial parks in China as well. Projects such as the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park and the China-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city have set good examples for the cooperation between China and ASEAN countries. We must ensure the success of the China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park and the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park and build them into exemplary models for China-ASEAN industrial cooperation. China is also willing to discuss with ASEAN countries about establishing cross-border economic cooperation zones in border areas, so as to make the border areas a bond that integrates the interests of the two sides.

Third, work hard to strengthen connectivity. Connectivity is a significant part of building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. We should enhance planning and focus on key corridors, key links and key projects. We should step up efforts to build networks of maritime and river transport, high-speed roads, high-speed railways, aviation and optical cable communications, and make these comprehensive connectivity networks safe and efficient. We should accelerate the building of the China-ASEAN Port Cities Cooperation Network and the China-ASEAN Public Information Platform for Port Logistics. We should actively push forward the preparation for the establishment of an Asian infrastructure investment bank, so as to address the financing bottlenecks of the region, especially Southeast Asia, and advance common development of the region. We should expand the scale and scope of the bilateral local currency swap, expand the RMB cross-border trade settlement, set up a trading center for the RMB and currencies of ASEAN countries, and advance cross-border cooperation in financial infrastructure development and financial services.

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