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Work Together to Open a New Chapter In China-ASEAN Relations

Wen Jiabao, Premier of the State Council of

The People's Republic of China

The 10th ASEAN-China Summit

Cebu, the Philippines, 14 January 2007

Your Excellency President Arroyo,

Dear Colleagues,

The year 2006 was of special significance for China-ASEAN relations. We met in Nanning in October for the ASEAN-China Commemorative Summit and celebrated the 15th anniversary of ASEAN-China dialogue relations. We reviewed the progress and successful practices in the growth of China-ASEAN friendly relations and cooperation in the past 15 years and mapped out a strategic plan for the future growth of our relations. We signed the Joint Statement of ASEAN-China Commemorative Summit. This Summit, which built on past achievements and was future oriented, opened a new chapter in China-ASEAN relations. I wish to take this opportunity to express my thanks to you for your contribution to the success of the Summit and the growth of China-ASEAN relations.

Dear Colleagues,

Today, we are meeting again on the beautiful island of Cebu to further exchange views on advancing China-ASEAN friendship and cooperation. We are glad to note that new progress has been made in the following fields over the past year:

Politically, the two sides have maintained close high-level contact and conducted fruitful dialogue and consultation at various levels. The two sides reached initial agreement on the follow-up activities in implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and adopted the annual plan of action. The China-ASEAN regional security seminar was successfully held in Beijing in July last year, inaugurating the process of institutionalizing China-ASEAN defense and security dialogue.

Economically, as implementation of the Agreement on Trade in Goods of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area began in July 2005, tariffs on more than 7,000 ASEAN and Chinese commodities were lowered, and our trade has maintained steady growth. The two-way trade volume in 2006 reached US$160.8 billion, up by 23.4% over the previous year.

The Agreement on Trade in Services of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area that we are going to sign today is another major achievement in China-ASEAN economic cooperation and trade. It will mark a key step forward in the building of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area and lay the foundation for full and scheduled completion of the China-ASEAN FTA.

Honoring its commitment, China has provided US$750 million of concessional loans to relevant ASEAN countries over the past year. China will provide the remaining loans in the next two years.

The building of the Greater Mekong River information superhighway is well under way, and the building of China-ASEAN information superhighway has started. Today, we will sign the relevant document on cooperation in this field.

China-ASEAN cooperation in other fields is also making steady progress. The mechanisms of meetings between telecommunications ministers and between health ministers have been added to the seven existing mechanisms of ministerial meetings, and the first meetings of the new mechanisms were held.

The China-ASEAN ministerial meeting on new communicable diseases and the China-ASEAN Cultural Week which China proposed in 2005 have been successfully held, and preparations are under way for the tour exhibition of applicable Chinese technologies.

In celebration of the 15th anniversary of ASEAN-China dialogue relations and the China-ASEAN Year of Friendship and Cooperation, we jointly set up the China-ASEAN youth camp, held a cultural performance in front of Angkor Wat of Cambodia, organized China-ASEAN tour of friendship and compiled the ASEAN-China Documents Series.

In international and regional affairs, we have maintained good coordination and cooperation. China consistently supports ASEAN in playing a leading role in East Asia cooperation.

China is pleased with the substantive and fruitful progress in its cooperation with ASEAN across the board in the past year.

Dear Colleagues,

At present, China is building a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way, and ASEAN is accelerating the process of building an ASEAN community. We have both entered a new historical period of development. In the coming year, we should continue to strengthen and enrich China-ASEAN strategic partnership in accordance with the agreement reached at the Commemorative Summit and the Joint Statement of ASEAN-China Commemorative Summit, and upgrade our cooperation. To this end, I wish to make the following proposals:

First, strengthen political mutual trust.

We should maintain regular high-level exchange of visits and strengthen strategic communication between leaders of the two sides on regional and international fora such as the East Asia Summit, APEC, ASEM and the United Nations.

We should actively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea to promote practical cooperation and joint development in the South China Sea and ensure its stability.

We should further promote defense cooperation and enhance mutual understanding and confidence among our militaries. China offers to host a China-ASEAN peacekeeping seminar in the second half of this year.

Second, bring China-ASEAN economic relations and trade to a new level

We should, on the basis of implementing the Agreement on Trade in Goods and the Agreement on Trade in Services which is going to be signed this time, speed up talks on investment agreement and complete the building of China-ASEAN FTA as planned.

China welcomes more ASEAN businesses to China and encourages established Chinese companies to invest in ASEAN countries. China will favorably consider setting up in ASEAN countries, on the basis of mutual benefit, a number of economic and trade zones which have sound infrastructure and complete industrial chains, are well connected with other sectors and will spur local economic development. I hope this will bring the China-ASEAN win-win cooperation and common development to a higher level.

To support the building of China-ASEAN FTA, China proposes to strengthen cooperation between the customs and inspection and quarantine authorities of the two sides. China offers to host the first China-ASEAN ministerial consultation on quality inspection this year.

China is ready to speed up discussions with ASEAN and sign an MOU on establishing the China-ASEAN Center for Promoting Trade, Investment and Tourism.

China proposes that a strategic plan for China-ASEAN transport cooperation in the next 10-15 years be formulated to facilitate coordinated development of regional transportation, improve integrated transport network, and facilitate communication and transportation.

Third, carry out cooperation in non-traditional security fields

China will enhance cooperation with ASEAN in combating transnational crimes, maritime security, disaster reduction and relief, prevention and control of communicable diseases and environmental protection.

China invites ten ASEAN countries to take part in the training course on reconstruction and management of disaster-hit areas in May 2007 to promote exchanges and cooperation between disaster management agencies of the two sides.

China proposes to establish a China-ASEAN mechanism for regular information sharing on communicable diseases and public health emergencies. China is prepared to host a China-ASEAN symposium this year to review the progress made in prevention and control of human infection of highly pathogenic avian influenza. China will train 20 professionals in this field for ASEAN in the coming two years.

China proposes that environmental cooperation be incorporated into the overall China-ASEAN cooperation framework and that a ministerial dialogue mechanism for this purpose be set up at an appropriate time.

Fourth, actively support ASEAN community building and integration

ASEAN will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year. China applauds ASEAN's achievements in development. It has started implementing the decisions announced at the ASEAN-China Commemorative Summit. The US$1 million that China pledged to the ASEAN Development Fund has been delivered. China's General Administration of Customs has been designated to undertake the Project to Facilitate the Process of Customs Reform and Modernization in Cambodia, the Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam, which is part of the Initiative of ASEAN Integration.

China has drawn up a plan to train 8,000 professionals in various fields for ASEAN in the next five years.

China will provide financial support to the building of the bridge spanning the Mekong River on the Kunming-Bangkok road, covering half of the expenses needed by the Laos in building the bridge. China will also accelerate the construction of the Chinese section of the Kunming-Singapore railway to facilitate its early completion.

To help ASEAN countries narrow the digital divide, China's Ministry of Information Industry will sponsor this year a project on the technical options, policies and models of building the information system in rural areas in ASEAN countries.

China will also use its Special Fund for Asian Regional Cooperation to run a number of agro-technology training programs and workshops for ASEAN countries this year.

In addition to deepening the ongoing sub-regional cooperation programs such as ASEAN-Mekong Basin Development Cooperation and Greater Mekong Sub-Region Development, China proposes actively exploring the possibility of Pan Beibu Gulf Rim economic cooperation.

Fifth, expand social, cultural and people-to-people exchanges

Young people represent the future of China-ASEAN friendship. To enhance exchanges and cooperation among the young people should be one of our top priorities. China will invite some 300 young people from ASEAN countries, as the first group of 1,000 young people from ASEAN countries invited to visit China in the coming five years, to participate in youth camp and summer camp activities in China this year. China will set up a China-ASEAN youth training base in Guangxi, China.

To promote China-ASEAN media exchanges, China will host the third China-ASEAN High-Level Seminar on Media Cooperation this year.

China will also work closely with ASEAN in promoting sports exchanges and exchanges between non-governmental friendship groups, mutual recognition of degree and diploma, and exchange of teachers, students and young volunteers.

Dear Colleagues,

China and ASEAN are geographically close to each other. We have similar cultures and complementary economies. We are both friendly neighbors and important strategic partners. We need each other in our respective development endeavors, and we are bound by common interests. The growth of China-ASEAN friendship and cooperation serves the fundamental interests of both sides and regional peace, stability and prosperity. China-ASEAN relations are now in a new stage of building on past success to ensure future growth. We should seize the opportunity to deepen win-win cooperation and open a new chapter in China-ASEAN relations.

Thank you.

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