Premier Li to at­tend East Asia Sum­mit


Im­me­di­ately af­ter the Group of 20 (G20) Hangzhou sum­mit on Sept 4-5, Premier Li Ke­qiang will visit Laos from Sept 6 to 9 to at­tend the 11th East Asia Sum­mit and pay an of­fi­cial visit to the coun­try.

Li’s visit is widely con­sid­ered an im­por­tant diplo­matic ac­tion to deepen China-ASEAN re­la­tions, and pro­mote co­op­er­a­tion among East Asian coun­tries.

ASEAN co­op­er­a­tion

This year marks the 25th an­niver­sary of the es­tab­lish­ment of di­a­logue re­la­tions be­tween China and the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN), and de­vel­op­ing ties with ASEAN is a pri­or­ity of China’s pe­riph­eral diplo­macy.

Over the past 25 years, the po­lit­i­cal, com­mer­cial, so­cial and cul­tural co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and ASEAN na­tions has all yielded sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ments. Now bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion has en­tered into a “pe­riod of ma­tu­rity” and needs to be up­graded.

To echo the need, Li will at­tend the 19th China-ASEAN (10+1) lead­ers’ meet­ing to plan fu­ture devel­op­ment of re­la­tions be­tween the two par­ties on the ba­sis of suc­cesses al­ready achieved.

Cur­rently, the global econ­omy is still trapped in the quag­mire of weak re­cov­ery. How to pro­mote eco­nomic growth and seek devel­op­ment are ma­jor chal­lenges of South­east Asian coun­tries, yet they also pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties and im­pe­tus for China-ASEAN prag­matic co­op­er­a­tion.

As ASEAN’s most ac­tive part­ner, China has al­ways been of­fer­ing wis­dom and strength for the devel­op­ment of ASEAN na­tions. In 2013, Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping pro­posed con­struc­tion of the 21st Cen­tury Mar­itime Silk Road with ASEAN coun­tries and es­tab­lish a closer China-ASEAN com­mu­nity of com­mon destiny.

In the same year, Premier Li ini­ti­ated the 2+7 co­op­er­a­tion frame­work while at­tend­ing the 16th China-ASEAN lead­ers’ meet­ing in Brunei, and out­lined to­gether with other ASEAN lead­ers the roadmap of the “di­a­mond decade.”

Wei Ling, di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute of Asian Stud­ies at China For­eign Af­fairs Univer­sity, said South­east Asian na­tions are very much con­cerned on how China would sup­port the ASEAN com­mon com­mu­nity build­ing in the fu­ture, es­pe­cially within the frame­work of the Silk Road Eco­nomic Belt and the 21st Cen­tury Mar­itime Silk Road Ini­tia­tive, also known as the Belt-Road Ini­tia­tive.

China’s Vice For­eign Min­is­ter Liu Zhen­min men­tioned that be­sides po­lit­i­cal mu­tual trust and prag­matic co­op­er­a­tion, China and ASEAN would also build peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes as the third pil­lar of bi­lat­eral re­la­tions, which would also serve as a new im­pe­tus to bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion.

New vi­tal­ity

One of the shad­ows against the up­com­ing East Asia sum­mit is the re­cent South China Sea Ar­bi­tra­tion farce. In re­cent years, as the East Asia co­op­er­a­tion and in­te­gra­tion process have been ham­pered by some out­side forces, the re­gional sit­u­a­tion has be­come com­pli­cated.

Ruan Zongze, ex­ec­u­tive deputy pres­i­dent of the China In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, said that most of the coun­tries con­cerned want to cool down the South China Sea is­sue.

Wei said many ASEAN coun­tries have ex­pressed the hope that the East Asia co­op­er­a­tion should re­fo­cus on econ­omy and devel­op­ment.

The Chi­nese premier will also at­tend the 19th ASEAN-China, Ja­pan and Repub­lic of Korea (10+3) lead­ers’ meet­ing, the main mech­a­nism for build­ing the East Asia eco­nomic com­mu­nity and pro­mot­ing co­op­er­a­tion in var­i­ous fields.

Although there have been twists and turns in the devel­op­ment of re­la­tions be­tween China, Ja­pan and South Korea, the 10+3 mech­a­nism has led to the achieve­ment of a se­ries of fruit­ful re­sults in fi­nance, food se­cu­rity and other ar­eas this year.

Ac­cord­ing to Liu, Li will urge all par­ties at the meet­ing to en­hance co­op­er­a­tion in ar­eas such as fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity, trade and in­vest­ment, agri­cul­ture and poverty al­le­vi­a­tion, in­ter-con­nec­tiv­ity and ca­pac­ity build­ing.

As for the East Asia Sum­mit, Liu said the premier will in­tro­duce China’s views on the sum­mit’s fu­ture devel­op­ment as “a strate­gic fo­rum guided by lead­ers,” and ad­her­ence to prin­ci­ples such as lead­er­ship by ASEAN, con­sen­sus on the ba­sis of con­sul­ta­tion, ac­com­mo­da­tion of the feel­ings of all sides, and driv­ing by the “two wheels” of eco­nomic devel­op­ment and po­lit­i­cal se­cu­rity.

Wei sug­gested that the East Asia Sum­mit em­pha­size prag­matic co­op­er­a­tion and re­gional in­ter-con­nec­tiv­ity, and re­turn to the path of joint co­op­er­a­tion to tackle chal­lenges such as ter­ror­ism.

China-Laos ties

Premier Li will also pay an of­fi­cial visit to Laos, the first dur­ing his term. The visit will surely pro­pel bi­lat­eral friendly co­op­er­a­tion to move for­ward, and pro­mote devel­op­ment of China-Laos com­pre­hen­sive strate­gic co­op­er­a­tive part­ner­ship.

Since the two coun­tries es­tab­lished diplo­matic re­la­tions 55 years ago, China and Laos have been trust­ing each other po­lit­i­cally, and co­op­er­ated fruit­fully in trade and in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion, bring­ing real ben­e­fits to both peo­ples.

Lo­cated at a unique ge­o­graph­i­cal po­si­tion, Laos is China’s im­por­tant part­ner in build­ing the Silk Road Eco­nomic Zone and the 21st Cen­tury Mar­itime Silk Road.

The two coun­tries signed a treaty last year on joint con­struc­tion of the China-Laos rail­way link­ing Vientiane to the China-Laos bor­der area in the north and Thai­land in the south, which is pro­gress­ing well.

The Lao gov­ern­ment also ex­pects to de­velop the coun­try’s in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion with the help of China’s Belt-Road Ini­tia­tive, and in­vite Chi­nese com­pa­nies to par­tic­i­pate in the ex­plo­ration of Laos’ rich hy­dropower re­sources.

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