Remarks at the Eighth Trilateral Summit Meeting Among the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Korea and Japan
H.E. Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
Chengdu, 24 December 2019
President Moon Jae-in,
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe,
Let me welcome both of you to Chengdu for the eighth Trilateral Summit Meeting. Chengdu is an ancient yet modern city, a historical town with rich cultural heritage, and a front-runner in innovation and opening-up in Southwest China. It is where the intriguing stories of the Kingdom of Shu (A.D. 221-263) in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms took place. And Poet Du Fu (A.D. 712-770) of the Tang Dynasty, known as “Sage of Poetry”, lived here for many years. I understand both these episodes are well-known to many in the ROK and Japan. Historical anecdotes also show that Korean and Japanese monks traveled to Chengdu on religious pilgrimages centuries ago.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the trilateral cooperation. The seedling of this cooperation was planted two decades ago in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis when leaders of our three countries held an informal meeting on the sidelines of the East Asian leaders’ meetings in Manila. Twenty years on, the trilateral cooperation has grown into a lush tree thanks to the joint efforts of the three countries.
We have put in place an all-dimensional cooperation framework centering on the summit meeting, comprising 21 ministerial meetings and supported by the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat (TCS). Our practical cooperation covers nearly 30 fields, from economy, trade, transportation, information and telecommunication, customs, to the environment, science and technology, agriculture and forestry. Last year, trilateral trade reached US$720 billion, and investment approached US$12 billion. Our people enjoy ever closer ties, with over 30 million visits exchanged last year. Mutual knowledge and understanding among us have increased.
The trilateral cooperation has bolstered our respective development and brought increasing business opportunities and real benefits to our companies and our people. It has well served the common interests of all our countries.
We are meeting at a time of complex and profound changes in the international landscape. Geopolitical conflicts and hotspot issues keep flaring up amid mounting uncertainties and destabilizing factors. Slowing global growth and trade have put many major economies under downward pressure. Rising protectionism and unilateralism have seriously affected the global industrial chain and international division of labor. These challenges require collective responses from all countries.
At the second China International Import Expo, President Xi Jinping called for joint efforts to build an open world economy through cooperation, with innovation and for mutual benefits. Our three countries, as the powerhouse of the East Asian economy and a major driver of regional cooperation, must step up cooperation in a spirit of mutual help and partnership. While sustaining the momentum of our respective development, we must stand firmly by multilateralism and free trade, and move forward regional economic integration.
First, we need to jointly safeguard regional peace and stability. The situation on the Korean Peninsula has been a focus of attention. Realizing denuclearization and establishing a peace mechanism on the Peninsula is in the interest of all three countries. We need to leverage our respective strengths and intensify coordination and collaboration. Guided by the “dual-track approach” and the principle of “phased and synchronized progress”, we need to properly address the legitimate concerns of all parties, identify ways for bridging differences, and facilitate progress in the talks between relevant parties, with a view to ultimately achieving enduring peace and security of our region.
Second, we need to jointly apply a new vision of security. Our world is confronted with growing non-traditional security challenges, such as terrorism, cybersecurity, climate change and major infectious diseases. These have become interwoven with traditional security threats brought by geopolitical tensions and regional hotspots, leading to a complex, volatile security situation prone to varied and interconnected challenges.
As the security challenges confronting humanity defy sovereign boundaries and proliferate worldwide in unconventional ways, no country can stay immune from their impacts or tackle them all by itself. We need to follow a new vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and work for the security of the whole region proceeding from our common security interests. Moves to enhance security cooperation should neither target third parties nor undermine regional stability.
Third, we need to jointly pursue openness and inclusiveness. In this increasingly globalized world, we need openness, not barriers; and we need cooperation, not “decoupling”. We live in the same global village where our futures are interlinked. We need to build a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind in keeping with the principles of mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative is a cooperation platform that belongs to the world. It advocates peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit, and has opened up new space for the growth of Asia and the world. China welcomes the active participation of the ROK and Japan in this initiative.
Fourth, we need to jointly drive regional cooperation. Our three countries have a combined population of 1.6 billion accounting for 70 percent of East Asia’s total; and our economies, with an aggregate GDP of nearly US$21 trillion, take up nearly 90 percent of the East Asian economy. It is thus incumbent upon us to shoulder the important task of facilitating shared progress and prosperity of our region.
We need to strengthen coordination and collaboration under the frameworks of ASEAN Plus Three, the East Asia Summit, the ASEAN Regional Forum and the Mekong sub-regional cooperation. We need to keep the focus of regional cooperation on East Asia and on development, and preserve and improve the existing East Asian cooperation architecture to better serve the needs of countries in this region.
All three of our cultures share a saying to the effect that “One gains new knowledge by going through what one has learned”. This essentially means that reviewing the past helps one better understand and shape the future. With the 20th anniversary as a new starting point in our common journey, it is highly meaningful that we take stock of the past and chart the course for the future.
Over the past 20 years, our practical cooperation has on the whole kept growing in breadth and depth. We are each other’s important partners for development: our economies are highly complementary and our industries deeply integrated. We have formed a de facto economic community and a community of shared interests. Sometimes we may encounter problems and difficulties, yet we have kept to dialogue and consultation in seeking solutions, and engaged in cooperation for mutual benefit. The future holds even bigger opportunities and broader prospects for the trilateral cooperation.
China proposes that we advance cooperation in the following areas:
– Solidifying mutual trust to uphold the larger interest of cooperation. Political trust underpins and safeguards the trilateral cooperation. The resumption of the trilateral summit meeting last year after repeated interruptions did not come easily. We need to view each other’s development in an objective and rational light, and engage in candid and in-depth strategic communication to maintain sound bilateral relations.
In the spirit of facing history squarely and shaping a brighter future, we need to respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, stay focused on mutually beneficial cooperation, and keep to dialogue and consultation in addressing differences. This will create enabling conditions for deeper cooperation in various fields, and foster a sound international environment for our respective development.
– Enhancing overall planning to set the direction for future cooperation. We need to be future-minded and plan our cooperation from a strategic and long-term perspective. The Trilateral Cooperation Vision for the Next Decade to be adopted at this meeting will set out the direction and priorities of our cooperation. It will guide our efforts to deepen practical cooperation, forge partnership, and make the pie of shared interests bigger. The trilateral cooperation should contribute even more to our own development and to the prosperity and stability of our region and beyond.
– Accelerating FTA negotiations to boost regional economic integration. With our economies deeply integrated and providing important markets for each other, a closer trade arrangement would put us in a stronger position to tackle the uncertainties in the global economy. Last month, 15 participating countries of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) announced the conclusion of overall negotiations. This is a major breakthrough in FTA development in East Asia that boosted market confidence in Asia and beyond. Our three countries are all staunch supporters of the RCEP. We need to play an active role in facilitating early conclusion of negotiations on the outstanding issues to make the agreement ready for formal signing next year as scheduled.
On this basis, we need to speed up the trilateral FTA negotiations and work for its early conclusion. A trilateral FTA with higher standards will further deepen our economic and trade cooperation, enhance the regional supply chain and bring about trade and investment liberalization and facilitation at a higher level. It will be our concrete action to uphold multilateralism and free trade.
– Boosting innovation cooperation to cultivate a new growth area. All three countries are major innovators with respective advantages and strengths in science and technology. More exchanges in policy, technology and personnel will help us share the fruits of innovation and raise the capabilities to innovate.
China proposes that we designate the year 2020 as Year of Science and Technology Innovation Cooperation to bolster our cooperation on basic research and technology R&D. We need to fully harness new technologies such as the internet, big data, artificial intelligence and 5G, promote cross-border e-commerce and foster future-oriented new industries and forms of business that better cater to our people’s needs.
We will strengthen IPR protection and jointly create an open, cooperative and non-discriminatory environment for our innovation cooperation in science and technology. China suggests that we explore fin-tech cooperation and facilitate mobile payments to provide tourists with more convenient payment services.
– Increasing people-to-people exchanges to forge a closer bond of friendship. There is much we can do to boost people-to-people ties. Such signature programs as East Asian Cultural Cities, CAMPUS Asia and Local Government Exchange Conference have been highly popular. Sport is what all our people love and appreciate. We should enhance our dialogue and cooperation on the Olympics as all three of us have hosted or will host the Olympic and Paralympic Games, to bring our people closer through sport exchanges.
Comics is another shared passion among our young people. Next year, China will host the first Wukong Cup: Trilateral Teenager Comics Contest. It will be a great opportunity to promote our art exchanges, deepen friendship among the young people and pass on the baton of enduring friendship to the younger generation.
– Prioritizing people’s wellbeing to advance sustainable development. The mission of the trilateral cooperation is to raise the quality of life of our people. We should work together to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and intensify policy exchange and practical cooperation on health, aging and the environment with a view to bringing greater benefits and happiness to our people.
We will issue the Joint Declaration on Active and Healthy Aging Cooperation at this meeting. It will help us increase experience sharing, conduct joint research and jointly tackle population aging.
Marine plastics poses a challenge that merits greater attention. We need more exchanges on monitoring methods and prevention technologies, as well as research on the impact of marine plastics on marine and polar eco-environments. China proposes that we jointly launch an Initiative on Promoting Blue Economy Cooperation as a cooperation platform to promote the conservation and rehabilitation of the marine ecosystem, efficient use of resources and the development of emerging ocean industries.
The “Trilateral+X” modality we launched last year has produced a number of early harvest projects in environmental protection, health, disaster relief and other areas of sustainable development. China suggests that the financial institutions of our three countries set up a co-investment fund based on commercial and market principles to support the cooperation among us and with other parties.
Since its inception eight years ago, the TCS has taken an active part in the full range of the trilateral cooperation and played important role in increasing the influence of our cooperation. We hope the TCS will enhance its capacity and offer more professional services and smoother channels of engagement to the trilateral cooperation.
Let me conclude by extending my congratulations to the ROK who will take over the chairmanship of the trilateral cooperation following this meeting. I am confident that with our joint efforts, the trilateral cooperation will achieve even greater success. China will work with the ROK and Japan to bring our all-round cooperation and partnership to a higher level and make new contributions to peace, stability and prosperity of our region and the world at large.