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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Holds a Briefing for Chinese and Foreign Media on Li Keqiang's Attendance at the East Asian Leaders' Meetings on Cooperation
2020-11-12

On November 11, 2020, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a briefing for Chinese and foreign media on Premier Li Keqiang's attendance at the East Asian leaders' meetings on cooperation via video link. Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui and Assistant Minister of Commerce Li Chenggang briefed on his attendance and answered questions from Chinese and foreign journalists.

Luo Zhaohui said Premier Li Keqiang's attendance at the East Asian Leaders' meetings on cooperation was China's important multilateral diplomatic move towards neighboring countries after the 5th Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee. The meetings, which are held under a special background at a special time, are of special relevance. The global pandemic is spreading at an accelerating rate, against the backdrop of a gloomy world economy and rampant unilateralism and bullying. As an important member of the East Asian regional cooperation, China took the lead in the fight against COVID-19 and recovery of economic growth. In this context, the meetings should send the following important messages to the outside world. First, we need to boost confidence and enhance unity. Confidence is more important than gold. Unity and cooperation are the only weapon against the pandemic. Second, we need to deepen anti-pandemic cooperation. Lands apart, sky shared. China and other countries in the region have helped each other after the COVID-19 outbreak. All parties should further deepen the cooperation on public health. Third, we need to focus on economic recovery. Economic globalization, trade liberalization and regional cooperation are vital to joint anti-pandemic effort, economic recovery, and supply chain and industrial chain stabilization. China is willing to build the network of "fast lane" and "green lane" for personnel exchange and flow of goods with other countries in the region to support work resumption and lead economic recovery. Fourth, we need to navigate regional cooperation and properly handle differences. All parties should firmly adhere to multilateralism, uphold ASEAN centrality, abide by important principles of consensus-building, accommodation of each other's comfort levels and not referring bilateral disputes to multilateral systems, and maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Luo Zhaohui said China-ASEAN (10+1) cooperation begins to show four features from this year. First, vibrant anti-pandemic cooperation. At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, ASEAN countries actively provided assistance to China, and China returned the favor by dispatching medical teams, sharing pandemic prevention and control experience, and offering anti-pandemic supplies to help these countries in their fight against the pandemic. Now both sides are focusing on the cooperation on vaccine research and deployment. Second, high-level "cloud diplomacy". President Xi Jinping strengthened strategic guidance on bilateral relations and regional cooperation by the means of phone calls and correspondences with leaders of ASEAN countries. Premier Li Keqiang attended the Special ASEAN Plus Three (China, Japan and Korea) Summit on COVID-19. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi keeps close in-person and online contact with foreign ministers of ASEAN countries. Third, rebounding economic and trade cooperation. In the first three quarters, the bilateral trade volume reached USD 481.81 billion, a year-on-year increase of 5 percent, making ASEAN the largest trade partner of China for the first time. China's investment in ASEAN increased by 76.6 percent compared to last year, which shows our trust, expectation and emphasis on each other. Fourth, increasing political consensuses. Both sides share strong political wills on maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea, and move forward the consultations on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea amid the pandemic. They have reached considerable consensus on supporting multilateralism and free trade, and attached greater importance to the cooperation on non-traditional security, especially on public health security.

Luo Zhaohui said China's neighboring countries will first benefit from the building of a new development pattern. At the 10+1 leaders' meetings, China will put forward nearly 20 cooperative initiatives and practical measures on recovering economic growth, deepening anti-pandemic cooperation and upgrading the China-ASEAN relations, in order to build a stronger China-ASEAN community of shared future. 10+3 is the main channel of East Asian cooperation. China is willing to work with all parties within the 10+3 framework to maintain open and unimpeded flow of industrial chain and supply chain in the region, promote East Asia's leading role in the global fight against the pandemic, and help with the regional and global economic recovery and sustainable development. China stands ready to work with all parties to exchange in-depth views on the ASEAN Summit's future development, uphold the Summit's current position, advance political and security cooperation and social and economic development, and stay focused on East Asia and the Asia Pacific. China expects the signing of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) during the meetings as scheduled, which will fully demonstrate the willingness of countries in the region in supporting multilateralism and free trade, and deepening economic and trade relations. At the China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, China will hold high the banner of free trade and multilateralism, and put forward important opinions on enhancing trade and investment cooperation, building industrial chain and supply chain in the region and deepening regional economic integration.

Li Chenggang said that since the beginning of this year, China-ASEAN trade and investment has maintained strong growth, with both sides becoming each other's largest trade partner for the first time in history. Remarkable achievements have been seen in the past 10 years since the establishment of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Zone (FTA). Both sides will continue to improve the FTA's development, and bring more benefits to the enterprises and peoples of both countries in the next 10 years. During the meetings, Premier Li Keqiang will exchange in-depth views on deepening mutually beneficial economic and trade cooperation, alleviating the adverse impact of COVID-19, maintaining the stability of industrial chain and supply chain, and facilitating economic recovery and sustainable development.

Li Chenggang said all parties of the RCEP, led by the ASEAN, have actively promoted the negotiations in various fields. Until now, the negotiations in all fields and the legal review of all the documents have finished. Under the ongoing active consultations among all parties, the RCEP is expected to be signed during the leaders' meetings, which will play an active role in promoting the development of global free trade and multilateral trading systems.

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