On Nov. 15, 2011, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a briefing for Chinese and foreign media. Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin, Deputy Director-General Liang Wentao of the Department of Asian Affairs at the Ministry of Commerce, and Deputy Director-General Xu Chaoqian of the Department of International Cooperation at the Ministry of Science and Technology briefed the journalists on the background, main activities and important implications of Premier Wen Jiabao's attendance of the series of meetings for East Asian leaders and visit to Brunei. They also answered questions from journalists. Deputy Director-General Tian Qi of the Information Department moderated the briefing with the participation of nearly 100 Chinese and foreign journalists.
Liu Zhenmin said that from Nov. 18 to 19 Premier Wen will attend the series of meetings for East Asian leaders to be held in Bali, Indonesia, including the 14th China-ASEAN (10+1) Leaders' Meeting, the Summit on the 20th Anniversary of the Establishment of China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations, the 14th ASEAN Plus China-Japan-ROK (10+3) Leaders' Meeting, and the 6th East Asia Summit. Invited by President Susilo of Indonesia which holds the rotating presidency of the ASEAN, Premier Wen Jiabao will head the Chinese delegation to attend the series of meetings for East Asian leaders. Meanwhile, Premier Wen will also attend China-Japan-ROK Leaders' Meeting. From Nov. 20 to 21, Premier Wen will pay an official visit to Brunei at the invitation of Brunei Darussalam head of state Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah.
Liu Zhenmin said that Premier Wen's attendance of the series of meetings for East Asian leaders is another major multilateral diplomatic activity of Chinese leaders in 2011 and his visit to Brunei is an important bilateral diplomatic activity of Chinese leaders to a neighboring country. These events are of great significance to promoting China-ASEAN relations, China-Brunei relations and East Asian cooperation.
I. Premier Wen's Attendance of the Series of Meetings for East Asian Leaders
Liu Zhenmin said that the series of meetings for East Asian leaders are held in the context that the profound repercussions of the international financial crisis have not yet been eliminated, the world economic recovery remains weak, and the East Asian economy maintains sustained growth as a whole. In general, promoting regional cooperation and realizing common development is not only the common aspiration of the countries in the region, but also the main content for the series of meetings for East Asian leaders.
Liu Zhenmin said that China has always attached great importance to the East Asian cooperation and is an active participant in such cooperation. China will participate in the meetings in a spirit of increasing mutual trust, deepening regional cooperation and promoting mutual benefit and collective win. China has the following expectations for the series of meetings for the East Asian leaders.
First, to increase solidarity. Maintaining regional stability and creating a favorable environment for development is in line with the common interests of the participating countries. It is hoped that the meeting will continue to uphold the principles governing the East Asian cooperation such as mutual respect, equal treatment, mutual benefit and collective win, strengthen communication, enhance mutual trust, build consensus, and create a good atmosphere for the development and cooperation in East Asia.
Second, to deepen cooperation. It is hoped that the meetings will take into account the current international economic situation, have dialogues on maintaining the vitality of the East Asian development and achieving sustainable development, and promote pragmatic cooperation of various mechanisms. It is also hoped that the meetings will enhance the inherent dynamism of East Asia, better respond to food and energy security, natural disasters and other global challenges, and improve the quality and level of development.
Third, to promote cooperation of various mechanisms in parallel. Over the years, various mechanisms such as ASEAN, 10+1, 10+3, China-Japan-ROK, and the East Asia Summit, which have been formed in East Asia, have been growing in parallel. China supports the ASEAN-led East Asian cooperation, which should remain open and inclusive, with various mechanisms complementing each other and growing in parallel. Countries outside the region are also welcomed to participate in these mechanisms and play a constructive role in them.
Liu Zhenmin said that this year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of dialogue relations between China and ASEAN. The Summit on the 20th Anniversary of the Establishment of China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations will be of great significance. The summit will review the development course of China-ASEAN relations over the past 20 years and make strategic plans for the future development of bilateral relations. Premier Wen Jiabao will reiterate China's policy and position of adhering to good-neighborly friendship, common development, mutual benefit and collective win and raise initiatives on deepening bilateral cooperation in a wide range of areas including politics, economy, trade, interconnectivity, society and culture. The summit will issue a "joint statement" to show the political will of China and ASEAN to deepen strategic partnership. After the summit, the board-unveiling ceremony for "China-ASEAN Center" will be held. At the 10+3 leaders meeting, Premier Wen Jiabao will evaluate the positive progress of 10+3 cooperation and its contribution to economic growth in East Asia. He will also raise initiatives on deepening 10+3 cooperation on a wide range of areas including finance, free trade zone, food security, interconnectivity, society and culture so that 10+3 can play an active role in driving sustainable development of the region. This year, Russia and the United States will formally join the East Asia Summit, which the Chinese side welcomes. It is believed that they will play a constructive role in promoting the East Asian cooperation. China supports the positioning of the summit as a strategic forum, the adherence of existing principles of cooperation and the leading role of ASEAN. At the East Asia Summit, Premier Wen Jiabao will have an in-depth exchange of views with the participating leaders on the future development of the summit, the regional and international situation and other issues and work with the participating countries to push the summit to achieve positive outcome in education, finance, energy, public health, disaster management and other key areas of cooperation. China also supports the summit to strengthen cooperation in interconnectivity, comprehensive economic partnership in East Asia and other areas. China expects to exchange views with Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) on trilateral cooperation as well as on international and regional issues of common interest at the China-Japan-ROK tripartite meeting.
Liu Zhenmin said that China believes that with the concerted efforts of all parties, the series of meetings for East Asian leaders will yield positive results and promote East Asian cooperation further towards the direction of mutual benefit and collective win.
Liang Wentao said that with the joint efforts of China and ASEAN, the bilateral economic and trade cooperation has achieved fruitful results, which can be reflected in the following four aspects:
First, rapid development of bilateral trade. 1) China-ASEAN trade volume grew rapidly. From 1991 to 2010, the trade volume between China and ASEAN increased from US$7.96 billion to US$292.8 billion in just 20 years' time, an increase of 36 times. From January to October this year, the bilateral trade volume reached US$295.9 billion, up by 25.7% compared with the same period last year. It is expected to surpass US$350 billion in 2011. In October 2010, Premier Wen proposed the goal of lifting the trade volume between China and ASEAN to US$500 billion within five years at the 13th China-ASEAN Leaders Meeting. It is believed that with the concerted efforts of China and ASEAN countries, this goal can be achieved. 2) The status of China among ASEAN's trading partners and the status of ASEAN among China's trade partners continued to rise. The percentage of China-ASEAN trade volume in China's total foreign trade volume rose from 5.9% in 1991 to 9.8% in 2010. ASEAN has become China's third largest trading partner. From 2009, China has become ASEAN's largest trading partner. 3) The trade structure was constantly optimized. In recent years, the major commodities of bilateral trade are migrating from primary products to manufactured products, especially with the status of high-tech products gradually rising in bilateral trade. In 2010, the import and export of electromechanical and high-tech products between China and ASEAN exceeded US$110 billion, accounting for one third of total bilateral trade.
Second, continuous expansion of two-way investment. ASEAN is not only an important source of foreign investment into China but also the destination of first choice for Chinese enterprises to invest in. In 1991, the ASEAN countries invested US$332 million in China. In 2010, the contracted investment of ASEAN countries in China amounted to US$11.77 billion and the actual paid-in investment reached US$6.32 billion. As of end of September 2011, the cumulative mutual investment has exceeded US$81.4 billion in total. Recently, the investment from Chinese enterprises in ASEAN is growing rapidly. China's cumulative investment in ASEAN countries was only US$150 million in 1991. As of the end of 2010, China's cumulative direct investment to ASEAN reached US$14.35 billion.
Third, wide-ranging areas of economic cooperation. In April 2009, China announced providing US$15 billion credit for ASEAN countries in the next three to five years, which has provided strong support for ASEAN countries in big infrastructure projects, industrial development, disaster relief and personnel training and has achieved good results. The Phase-I capital for China-ASEAN Investment Cooperation Fund was already in place and over US$300 million of substantial investment has been made to ASEAN countries. Over the past 20 years, China has provided various forms of assistance to ASEAN within its capacity and implemented over 400 infrastructure and social welfare projects in ASEAN, covering agricultural cooperation, irrigation projects, fertilizer plants, cement factories, hospitals, schools, and other areas. China also helped ASEAN countries build railways, convention centers, and sports facilities. The assistance covered a wide range of areas including agriculture, animal husbandry, fishery, water and power, transportation, radio and television, culture, education, health, and food processing. As of end of September 2011, China trained more than 9,000 talents for ASEAN countries with the use of foreign aid fund, covering economy, finance, agriculture, information and communications, transport, tourism, SMEs, industry, media and other fields and having played a positive role in driving economic development and social progress of ASEAN countries.
Fourth, completion of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area. Since its completion on January 1, 2010, China-ASEAN Free Trade Area has been progressing smoothly. The trade and investment between China and ASEAN continues to grow, the economic integration continues to deepen, companies and people have benefited from the free trade zone and the goal of mutual benefit and common development is achieved. During the series of meetings for the East Asian leaders, China and ASEAN will sign related cooperation documents to consolidate and improve the free trade area. In addition, the contents of Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) economic cooperation have become increasingly pragmatic and the feasibility study for the Pan-Beibu-Gulf economic cooperation was successfully completed. Up to now, 6 sessions of China-East ASEAN Growth Area Senior Economic Officials Meeting have been held. The Eighth China-ASEAN Expo was successfully held last month in Nanning, Guangxi.
Liang Wentao stressed that the expansion of areas of China-ASEAN trade and economic cooperation and the improvement of cooperation levels have brought tangible benefits to companies and the people of the region. China attaches great importance to developing economic and trade relations with ASEAN countries and is willing to work with ASEAN countries to further strengthen cooperation in bilateral trade and mutual investment, mutually beneficial economic cooperation and the economic and trade cooperation under the regional framework.
Xu Chaoqian said that the cooperation between China and ASEAN countries in science and technology is mainly reflected in two aspects:
First, bilateral cooperation. China has signed the intergovernmental agreements on science and technology cooperation with 8 of the 10 ASEAN countries and has established the Joint Science and Technology Committees (JSTC) with Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Under the bilateral joint science and technology committee mechanism, the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology worked together with the science and technology administrations of ASEAN countries and supported more than 1,000 long-term collaborative research projects and short-term exchange and inspection projects, covering agriculture, ocean, energy, disaster prevention and reduction, health, environment and many other fields. Good results were achieved.
Second, multilateral cooperation. China is actively involved in the science and technology cooperation under the Asian regional cooperation mechanisms such as China-ASEAN (10+1), ASEAN plus China-Japan-ROK (10+3), China-Japan-ROK, and the East Asia Summit and is playing an increasingly important role in these mechanisms. Through China-ASEAN joint science and technology committees, 10+3 senior officials meeting for science and technology cooperation, and China-Japan-ROK science and technology ministers meeting, all parties are actively expanding areas of cooperation and exploring effective cooperation models. Under the above frameworks, the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology organized a series of events such as joint research projects, new energy development and utilization forum, agricultural cooperation forum, water management cooperation, workshop on capacity-building for adaptation to climate change, training on hybrid rice technology, training on fruit trees cultivation technology, and advanced technology exhibition at China-ASEAN Expo, which played a positive role in increasing mutual understanding and strengthening economic and trade exchanges.
Xu Chaoqian said that China hopes to further strengthen science and technology cooperation with countries in the region, share development experiences and promote common prosperity in the principle of mutual benefit and through joint research and development, science and technology personnel exchange, dialogues on innovation policies, technical demonstration and training, and other activities .
II. Premier Wen's Visit to Brunei
Liu Zhenmin said Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Brunei Darussalam aims to strengthen the traditional good-neighborly and friendly relations with Brunei Darussalam, promote mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields in a full-fledged manner, and jointly draw up the blueprint for the future development of bilateral relations.
Since the establishment of diplomatic ties 20 years ago, China-Brunei relations have been developing smoothly and productively. The exchanges between the leaders are frequent and the economic and trade cooperation has developed rapidly. Last year, the bilateral trade volume reached US$1.03 billion, up 142.8% compared with 2009 and the goal set by the leaders of the two countries was reached. Bilateral cooperation and exchanges in education, culture and other areas are also expanding.
During the visit, Premier Wen Jiabao will hold talks with His Majesty Sultan Hassanal, meet with members of the royal family of Brunei, and exchange views with them on deepening bilateral friendly cooperation in various fields and other issues of common interest. The two sides will sign a series of cooperation documents covering energy, forestry, health and other areas.
Liu Zhenmin finally pointed out that Premier Wen Jiabao's official visit to Brunei will further enrich the connotation of China-Brunei mutually beneficial cooperation and further promote good-neighborly and friendly cooperative ties between China and Brunei. It is believed that with concerted efforts of both sides, Premier Wen's visit will be crowned with a complete success.