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Keynote Speech at the Opening Ceremony of 15th East Asia Forum
--By H.E. Mr. Liu Zhenmin, Vice Foreign Minister of China
2017/07/20

(Changsha, June 30, 2017)

Your Excellency Mr. Du Jiahao, Secretary of Hunan Provincial Committee of the CPC,

Dear colleagues from 10+3 countries and ASEAN Secretariat,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Friends,

Good morning!

It's my great pleasure to join you in Changsha, a Cultural City of East Asia, for the 15th East Asia Forum.

On behalf of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, I warmly welcome all colleagues and friends from East Asian countries. I would also like to thank China Foreign Affairs University and China Council for the Promotion of International Trade for your good job in putting this Forum together.

Hunan is a cradle of the Chinese culture. It's famous for its rich cultural heritage and talented people. The ancient Chu Kingdom, of which Hunan was a part, had a reputation for nurturing top-level Chinese scholars. Today, Hunan is known for its broad vision and pioneering spirit. It has played a leading role in the rise of Central China and been an important window for cooperation between China and other East Asian countries. I wish to thank Hunan and Changsha for their hard work for this Forum.

East Asia Forum is the only platform for exchanges among government, business and academia under the ASEAN Plus Three(10+3) framework. Since its launch 15 years ago, the forum has become an important platform for strengthening communication, building consensus, enhancing mutual trust and deepening cooperation, and promoted exchange and cooperation among regional countries and East Asian integration.

Six years ago, China hosted the 9th Forum in Chengdu, which was my first time at the East Asia Forum. The in-depth discussion on regional integration during that forum left me with a deep impression. Six years later, China is again hosting the East Asia Forum and I am again honored to lead the Chinese delegation. I look forward to discussing with you matters of vital importance to East Asia cooperation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Friends,

This year marks the 20th anniversary of 10+3 cooperation. 20 years ago, with the strong momentum of globalization, regional integration and multi-polarity, countries in East Asia launched the 10+3 cooperation process in a joint fight against the Asian financial crisis. Since then, this framework has weathered two large financial crises, opened more than 20 cooperation areas and established over 60 dialogue and cooperation mechanisms. It is regarded as the main channel of East Asia cooperation and one of the most comprehensive and effective cooperation frameworks in Asia, making important contribution to dialogue and cooperation among regional countries and to regional development and prosperity. The regional cooperation has made positive progress.

In the process of 10+3 cooperation, regional countries have cultivated an East Asian cooperation culture, featuring three words that start with the letter C:

The first word is Consensus.

All member states support the centrality of ASEAN in East Asia cooperation, adhere to the principles of mutual respect, mutual benefit and consensus, accommodating the comfort levels of all parties, and keep broadening areas and deepening levels of cooperation. All sides have actively boosted common and sustainable development while speeding up their own development, actively promoted common and cooperative security while seeking their own security, discussed and took joint actions in response to common challenges while pushing forward dialogues and cooperation in various areas. All this has further enhanced the status of 10+3 cooperation.

The second word is Connectivity, which is crucial for deepening cooperation.

We have been pushing forward physical connectivity, supporting ASEAN in the implementation of the MPAC 2025, encouraging regional countries to speed up the building of infrastructures, including airports, ports, roads, bridges and facilities on energy and tele-communication.

We have been pushing forward economic and financial connectivity, speeding up the negotiations on RCEP and China-Japan-ROK FTA, and working on the building of a regional financial safety net with CMIM at its core.

We have been pushing forward people-to-people connectivity by establishing East Asia Forum, East Asia Business Council, NEAT and other dialogue mechanisms, and conducting programs such as exchanges of cultural cities, official visits and exchanges of universities.

We have been pushing forward connectivity of cooperation frameworks, increasing the complementarity and collaboration among the 10+3, other ASEAN-led frameworks and China-Japan-ROK cooperation.

Promoting connectivity is an important part of the Belt and Road Initiative. All 10+3 members sent high-level representatives to the Belt and Road forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing in May. The parties held in-depth discussions on regional connectivity and signed a great many cooperation agreements, injecting new vigor to East Asian connectivity.

The third word is Comprehensiveness.

We have expanded the scope of cooperation from traditional priorities of finance, food, energy, disaster management and poverty reduction to 24 areas of political and security, economy and finance, sustainable development and social and culture, and established a highly comprehensive cooperation mechanism.

In recent years, regional foreign exchange reserve pool of CMIM has been expanded to US$240 billion. AMRO has been upgraded to an international organization. Credit Guarantee and Investment Facility(CGIF) under Asia Bond Market Initiative has operated soundly. The 10+3 Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR) has started aid to disaster-affected area. Negotiation on RCEP is accelerating. The 10+3 has also increased attention to non-traditional security issues and actively conducted dialogue and cooperation in areas including disaster relief and control of infectious diseases.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Friends,

10+3 cooperation has come a long way and made great achievements in the past 20 years. Since we are now in Chairman Mao Zedong's hometown, I want to quote one of his famous lines, that is, "Nothing is impossible if you work hard enough". This is a bold statement full of positive energy and enhanced our confidence in strengthening the 10+3 cooperation. Standing at a new starting point, we should aim high and make big strides to bring 10+3 cooperation to a higher level and open a better future for East Asia cooperation.

To this end, I want to share with you some of my thoughts:

First, strengthen overall planning and institution building. 10+3 cooperation should be tailored to the regional situation and the needs of regional countries, which should guide the formulation of the work plans in a systematic way. We should exert the role of CPR+3, make full use of the 10+3 cooperation fund, encourage East Asia Forum and NEAT to provide constructive suggestions, and facilitate the setting-up of a 10+3 Unit in the ASEAN Secretariat. We should promote balance, coordination and synergy between 10+3 and other ASEAN-led frameworks to jointly contribute to East Asia integration. We should push forward a healthy, stable and sustainable China-Japan-ROK cooperation to reinforce 10+3 cooperation.

Second, set specific goals and approaches and work towards a shared vision. The East Asia Economic Community is an important target of 10+3 cooperation. It is also the only way towards the establishment of an East Asia Community and Asia community with a shared future. We should keep enhancing economic and trade cooperation, and move towards the EAEC by focusing on connectivity, free trade and financial cooperation.

We should take into account the different development levels and needs of regional countries, and pursue an economic community with East Asian features by tackling easier tasks first and setting reasonable goals. The experiences of the EU and ASEAN show that drawing a road map is an essential step for establishing an economic community. During the 10+3 Leaders' Meeting last year, Premier Li Keqiang of China proposed dialogues on the drafting of an EAEC blueprint. I hope that this forum could help an early drafting of the blueprint.

Third, deepen practical cooperation and provide enduring driving force. In the financial area, we should enhance the effectiveness of CMIM, conduct periodical evaluation, and explore the possibility of local currency contribution. We should support AMRO's bid to become a permanent observer of the UN General Assembly and build an authoritative monitoring platform of the regional economy.

In the area of food security, we should support enhancing the 10+3 APTERR for it to play a bigger role in stabilizing rice market and balancing supply and demand. In the area of free trade, we should endeavor to bring about early conclusion of RCEP and CJK FTA negotiations to contribute to the building of an Asia-Pacific Free Trade Area. In the area of sustainable development, we should enhance cooperation in poverty reduction, SME development, tourism and cultural exchanges in line with the spirit of "10+3 Statement on Promoting Sustainable Development" and push forward more effective implementation of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda in East Asia.

Fourth, create highlights of cooperation and inject new vitality. Since the low-hanging fruits are almost gone, we need to explore new directions for 10+3 cooperation. Given the complementarity of industrial structures of East Asian countries, China, Japan and ROK should leverage their strength in equipment manufacturing to conduct industrial capacity cooperation with ASEAN countries. The goal should be to innovate industrial cooperation model and push forward the upgrading of the East Asia economy.

SMEs have great potential in promoting regional economic development. Exchange and cooperation among them should be encouraged to push forward innovation and create employment. There is a great demand for infrastructure construction in East Asia. Relevant countries should make full use of finance, technology and expertise to help countries speed up infrastructure development and promote regional connectivity and integration.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Friends,

As distinguished members of government, business and academia, I hope you could make full use of the forum to contribute more wisdom, propose more initiative, build more consensus to raise 10+3 and East Asia cooperation to a higher level.

In conclusion, I wish the forum a complete success. Thank you!

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