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Remarks by Chinese Ambassador on China's Role and Perspective on East Asia Cooperation
2012-10-05
     On October 4, Chinese Ambassador Mr. Du Qiwen delivered a speech on the International Symposium on "Prospect of Economic integration in East Asia" in Athens. The full text is as follows:

China's Role and Perspective on East Asia Cooperation

Ambassador Du Qiwen

Athens, 4 October, 2012

 

Hon. Minister,

Your Excellencies,

Prof. Tsoukalis,

Ladies & Gentlemen,

 

        First of all, I would like to thank my friend Ambassador Hiroshi Toda and ELIAMEP for organizing this symposium. As my contribution to the discussions, I' m going to make brief  remarks  on China's role and perspective on East Asia cooperation.

I. The East Asia cooperation has been a unique story of success.

The process is composed of multiple levels and scopes of mechanisms. Above all, there exist ASEAN at the core, and 10+3, 10+1, as major frameworks that incorporate ASEAN 10 countries and China, Japan and Republic of Korea in one and separate groupings. When speaking of "East Asia", the region referred to is largely ASEAN Plus China, Republic of Korea and Japan, or 10+3.

Building on these mechanisms, guided by the principle of open regionalism, the East Asia architecture has extended further to frameworks with membership beyond the  geographical East Asian region,  such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), East Asia Summit (EAS), etc.

At sub-regional  level, in northeast Asia, the China-Japan-ROK Tripartite Cooperation was initiated  in 1999. In May this year, the fifth Trilateral Summit Meeting was held in Beijing. The joint declaration issued at the summit targeted, as objectives for the future, better political trust, deeper economic and trade cooperation, more sustainable development, broader people-to-people exchanges and stronger coordination in regional and international affairs.

The existence of a variety of mechanisms for regional cooperation is both the result and a reflection of the great diversity that prevails in East Asia. They are mainly complimentary, occasionally overlapping and competing  with one another. The complexity of the regional architecture reflects the diversity of the countries involved, the richness of ideas inspired, the pragmatism in its approach, as well as the strong attraction of this economically vibrant region.

 II. China is a proactive participant in the East Asian cooperation, contributing to the development of regional process.

----Politically, China took the lead, among major countries, in joining the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia in 2003, which was the foundation of broader regional dialogue and cooperation, with ASEAN at the center.

----Economy-wise, China took the lead in establishing China-ASEAN FTA (CAFTA)in January 2010, which covers 1.9 billion population, making it the most populous, third largest FTA in the world after European Union and NAFTA. Between China and ASEAN, 90% of the goods are traded with zero tariff , which will be further extended to the entire bilateral trade by 2015. Over the past decade (2002-2011), China-ASEAN trade has been expanding at an average rate of more than 25% per year, growing from 54.8 billion to 363 billion dollars. In other words, each day, 1 billion dollars of goods is flowing across China-ASEAN borders.  China has been mostly taking deficits in this pair of trade relationship, benefiting manufacturers and farmers in ASEAN. The objective agreed is to increase the annual trade to 500 billion dollars by 2015.

---- In financial cooperation, efforts to cope with market turmoil, China has worked closely with partners in materialising Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation (CMIM), contributing 38.4 billion dollars, or 32% of the total 120 billion dollars of the regional foreign exchange reserve pool. This emergency fund was set up to support 10+3 states encountered with international balance of payment problems or short-term liquidity difficulties, and the scale of this emergency fund has been doubled, to 240 billion dollars, since May 2012.

----To ensure food security, China has joined force with Japan, Republic of Korea and ASEAN countries, establishing an emergency rice reserve of 870,000 tons, effective since last year.

----China has been working actively to promote discussions, at East Asia Summit, on major strategic issues concerning peace, development and stability in East Asia.

III. Closer regional cooperation plays an important role in securing rapid economic development in East Asia, as well as maintaining vitality of global economy.

All countries participating in the East Asia cooperation have benefited from this process. Facilitation of trade, investment, travel and logistics has improved the profitability of businesses and understanding between peoples. Along came stronger ties among economies, better connectivity of infrastructure, and slowly but surely, progressive regional integration.

Take China-ASEAN cooperation for example. Bilateral trade volume has increased by 6 times in the last ten years. By 2011, China has become the number one trading partner for the ASEAN, Japan and Republic of Korea. In the meantime, China-ASEAN mutual investment has grown to a total of 100 billion dollars.

The same applies to China-Japan-ROK Trilateral Cooperation. Trade between China, Japan and Republic of Korea increased by over 4 folds, from 130 billion dollars in 1999, to 690 billion dollars in 2011. At the trilateral summit in May, the three countries have signed investment agreement, and pledged to launch trilateral FTA negotiation within this year. Bilateral FTA negotiation between China and Republic of Korea has been already launched.

Fiscal and financial cooperation in East Asia has made great progress, in a joint effort to cope with the impacts of international financial crisis. In addition to 240 billion dollars of CMIM emergency fund which has been established, countries are working toward empowering the mechanism with crisis prevention responsibilities, and advancing the Asian Bond Market Initiative (ABMI).

Robust economic growth, assisted by closer regional cooperation, has underpinned world economic stability and recovery. In the wakes of subprime loans crisis of 2008, East Asia has proven an anchor of stability, resisting risks of global recession. According to IMF, East Asian economies have contributed to 50% of total global economic growth over the past several years. Despite uncertainties in global markets, the region's fundamentals, as a whole, remain robust and resilient, as the socioeconomic development in these countries and regional cooperation process will continue to unleash domestic consumption demands,  facilitate cross-border investments, and provide dynamisms for business expansion and technological innovation.

IV. Lessons Learned from East Asia Cooperation

Decades of practice and experiments in the regional process have led the countries and peoples involved to increasingly identify their future with closer East Asian cooperation. In a very different setting from that of Europe or North America, the people in East Asia have taken a different approach to regional cooperation, an approach that is suited to the circumstances of the region and works remarkably well. Among the stakeholders, ASEAN 10 countries, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, there is shared belief that the following lessons should continue to serve as guiding principles for deepening the regional process:

----Open regionalism, meaning, for the process to be open to dialogues and cooperation with supro-regional stakeholders, while strengthening intra-regional ties.

----Mutual respect and Equality. As the region is highly diverse and complex, only by respecting the values, culture, traditions and development paths of one another, can we turn diversity into vitality and a driving force for progress.

----Pragmatic and win-win approach. This is a way to build on consensus and increase common interests, to ensure mutually beneficial outcomes, and to achieve the goals gradually while accommodating the comfort level of all parties.

Thank you!

 

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