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Li Keqiang Attends the 23rd China-ASEAN Summit


On the afternoon of November 12, 2020, Premier Li Keqiang attended the 23rd China-ASEAN Summit in the Great Hall of the People. Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, whose country is ASEAN's rotating presidency this year, 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 Pornmoniroth and Union Minister for International Cooperation of Myanmar U Kyaw Tin attended the meeting. Li Keqiang and Nguyen Xuan Phuc co-chaired the meeting, which was held via video link.

Li said the sudden attack of COVID-19 has seriously affected the development and external interactions of all countries. Either in combating the coronavirus or recovering the economy, we must stay the course of openness and cooperation. President Xi Jinping reaffirmed in his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the 3rd China International Import Expo that China will join hands with all other countries to create opportunities in opening-up and tackle difficult problems through cooperation.

Li said that in the joint fight against the pandemic, China and ASEAN countries have always stood together and looked out for each other. As the pandemic continues to spread across the world, global recovery will be a difficult and tortuous process. Protectionism and unilateralism are rising. It is encouraging to see that the pandemic situation has largely stabilized in East Asia and is turning for the better. China-ASEAN trade and investment have grown despite the pandemic, and ASEAN has become China's largest trading partner. China will embrace a new development philosophy for high-quality development and move expeditiously to forge a new development paradigm. As China strives to expand domestic demand, we will pursue opening-up at a higher level. This will enable us to better match the two huge markets of China and ASEAN and contribute to the regional economic recovery and sustainable development.

Li Keqiang stressed that China has always regarded ASEAN as a priority in our neighborhood diplomacy. China firmly supports ASEAN's community-building, and supports ASEAN's efforts in strengthening its centrality in regional cooperation. China is ready to work with ASEAN to cement good-neighbourliness, adhere to the path of peaceful development, uphold multilateralism and free trade, and push for more concrete outcomes in various areas of our cooperation, make efforts to boost development on both sides, facilitate economic recovery within the region, and safeguard regional and global peace and stability. To achieve this goal, China makes the following proposals:

The first is to defeat COVID-19 together 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. China would like to launch the Liaison Mechanism for Public Health Emergencies with ASEAN at an early date and ensure the success of the third China-ASEAN Health Cooperation Forum.

The second is to focus on economic and trade cooperation and boost regional economic recovery. China welcomes the 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 promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation in the region and jointly construct the regional "fast-track" network.

The third is to create highlights in the digital economy and foster new sources of growth for cooperation. Our two sides need to leverage the opportunities of the Year of Digital Economy Cooperation to synergize digital development strategies and carry out innovative cooperation in various fields. The two sides also need to exchange experiences in digital governance and jointly safeguard data and cyber security.

The fourth is to promote sustainable development and strengthen preparedness for risks. China stands ready to step up cooperation on ecological conservation, environmental protection, disaster prevention and mitigation, climate change, and poverty reduction. China is ready to work with ASEAN to build a Partnership on Blue Economy, and support carrying out early harvest programs in fields such as maritime cooperation.

Li Keqiang pointed out that the situation of the South China Sea has on the whole been stable, which is attributable to the fact that China and ASEAN countries have deepened cooperation, actively managed differences, fully and effectively implemented the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and steadily advanced the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) consultations. As an upgraded version of the DOC, the COC will be a more substantive, effective and operable document. China remains firmly committed and determined to conclude the COC consultations at an early date. China calls on all parties to accelerate the consultations in a flexible and pragmatic way. China will positively consider convening face-to-face consultations in China, as soon as the COVID-19 situation allows, to advance the second reading of the COC. By so doing, we will demonstrate to the international community that China has the wisdom and capability to properly manage the situation in the South China Sea and safeguard its peace and stability.

Participating 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 ASEAN's partnerships. They appreciated China's support for the building of the ASEAN community and its centrality in regional cooperation, thanked China for its contributions to their fight against COVID-19, welcomed Chinese vaccines as a global public good, and looked forward to China's continued support for ASEAN to overcome the pandemic at an early date and achieve economic recovery. Both ASEAN and China support multilateralism and rule-based free trade, and welcomed the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership during meetings this time. ASEAN countries are willing to further implement the free trade agreement between ASEAN and China and its upgraded protocol, strengthen synergy of development strategies, promote cooperation in fields including people-to-people exchanges, digital economy, poverty reduction, food security, climate change, blue economy and cyber security, and continuously promote the development of the ASEAN-China partnership. ASEAN countries praised the progress made in the consultations on the second reading of the code, and hope to achieve a substantive and effective COC in a timely manner to jointly safeguard the peace and stability in the South China Sea.

The meeting issued the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity (2021-2025) and the Initiative on Building ASEAN-China Partnership on Digital Economy, and announced the decision to make 2021 the China-ASEAN Year of Sustainable Development Cooperation. The participating leaders also watched the video themed "China & ASEAN Jointly Fight the Pandemic and Promote Development".

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the meeting.

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