File photo: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. [Photo/fmprc.gov.cn]

On July 14, 2022, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi gave an interview to the Chinese central media after attending the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, visiting five Southeast Asian countries, and chairing meetings of China-Vietnam and China-Cambodia bilateral mechanisms in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The following is the full text:

Ⅰ. Q: Currently, the world has entered a new period of turbulence and transformation, and the risks and challenges facing the region are also on the rise. Against this background, what are the main considerations and outcomes of this trip to Southeast Asia?

A: China always takes Southeast Asia as a high priority in its neighborhood diplomacy. For nearly two years, facing the drastic changes in the world and the COVID-19 pandemic, both unseen in a century, China and Southeast Asian countries have risen to the challenges and overcome the difficulties together, making the region a model of anti-pandemic cooperation, a highland of recovery and development, and an oasis for peace and tranquility. The outcomes are witnessed by all. Currently, the world has entered a new period of turbulence and transformation, and it is necessary for regional countries to strengthen strategic coordination, enhance solidarity and collaboration, gain a firm foothold in the volatile and turbulent situation, set the right course, and reinvigorate efforts to jointly maintain the hard-won stable development.

During this trip, I visited five Southeast Asian countries, attended the LMC Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, delivered a policy speech at the ASEAN Secretariat, and held regular meetings of the intergovernmental cooperation committee with the Vietnamese side and the Cambodian side in China. During the trip, which has seen more than 60 events, the Chinese side focused on the two main lines of peace and development, highlighted major bilateral and multilateral issues, consolidated bilateral relations between China and its neighboring countries, and conveyed China’s voice on regional cooperation and global governance.

First, new progress has been made in building the community with a shared future with neighboring countries. China and Southeast Asian countries are linked by mountains and rivers, with integrated interests and similar ideas. Southeast Asian countries have confidence in the prospects of China’s development and expect China to play the role of the “main engine” and “stabilizer” in regional recovery. They are ready to consolidate traditional friendship with China and deepen all-round cooperation. During this visit, China and the five Mekong countries unanimously agreed to build a closer Lancang-Mekong community with a shared future. China and Indonesia have clarified the general direction of jointly building a community with a shared future, and will forge an exemplary model of mutual benefit, win-win results and common development of major developing countries, as well as a vanguard of South-South cooperation. China has reached an agreement with Thailand and Malaysia, respectively, on setting the joint building of a community with a shared future as a goal and vision for the first time. China and the Philippines have reached consensus on forging good neighbors helping each other, good relatives with mutual understanding and affinity, and good partners for win-win cooperation, and agreed to rise above maritime disputes and create a new “golden age” of China-Philippines relations. The Chinese side further discussed the building of a community with a shared future with the Vietnamese side and the Cambodian side, respectively, in China. China and Cambodia have agreed to renew the five-year plan for building a community with a shared future. China’s relations with its neighboring countries are being endowed with new connotations of the times.

Second, the interconnected development in the region has demonstrated new highlights. Connectivity and development are the core of the Belt and Road cooperation advocated by President Xi Jinping, and are also the common expectation of regional countries. China and the five Mekong countries agreed to build a stronger Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Economic Development Belt. China, Laos and Thailand will take the opening of the China-Laos Railway as an opportunity to smooth the flow of goods with convenient channels, promote economy and trade with better logistics, and boost the growth of industries with robust economy and trade. Efforts will be made to advance the vision of interconnected development of China, Laos and Thailand by forging a China-Laos-Thailand railway running through the north and south and connecting Europe and Asia. China and Malaysia discussed the long-term goal of linking up the middle line of the pan-Asia railway network, and planned to connect the China-Laos Railway and the China-Thailand Railway to accelerate regional integration. With the policy priorities of the new Philippine administration in mind, China and the Philippines planned to advance cooperation in the four key areas of agriculture, infrastructure, energy and culture, following through the blueprint for friendly cooperation. In addition, China, Indonesia and Malaysia will advance the high-quality development of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Corridor and the East Coast Railway. China and Malaysia have unanimously agreed to build the “Two Countries, Twin Parks” into an area of pioneering efforts for innovative development of economy and trade, and an area of demonstration for production capacity cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, foster new growth drivers such as green development and digital economy, and ensure the stability of industrial and supply chains.

Third, regional and international cooperation has shown a new atmosphere. After China successfully hosted the BRICS Summit, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand will also host multilateral mechanism meetings respectively this year. All countries in the region hope to jointly safeguard peace, strengthen solidarity and collaboration, and usher in a shining “Asian moment” for global governance.

In line with the Lancang-Mekong spirit, which puts development first, encourages equal consultation, promotes pragmatism and high efficiency, and enhances openness and inclusiveness, all parties attending the LMC Foreign Ministers’ Meeting agreed to set a “golden example” for regional cooperation. This year kicks off the implementation of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and ASEAN. President Xi Jinping’s proposal to build a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, beautiful and amicable home together has been broadly echoed and warmly received. The G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting adhered to the theme of “Recover Together, Recover Stronger”, sending Asia’s message on making concerted efforts to address the issues of energy and food security and on further improving global governance. China and Thailand agreed to push the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting to focus on the Asia-Pacific, development and the building of a Free Trade Area, so as to reinvigorate efforts in Bangkok to realize the Putrajaya Vision 2040.

II. Q: In recent years, the LMC has witnessed rapid development. Though having a late start among multiple cooperation mechanisms in the Mekong sub-region, it has caught up from behind. What is China’s consideration for the future development direction of the mechanism?

A: As a cause jointly initiated and advanced by the six countries, the LMC stays committed to seeking development, benefiting people’s well-being and laying stress on actions, making positive contributions to promoting regional prosperity and revitalization. Especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the six countries have jointly built “immune shields”, “development engines”, “bridges of friendship” and “happy homes”. China has provided more than 200 million doses of vaccine to Mekong countries. In 2021, the bilateral trade volume reached 398 billion U.S. dollars, up by 23 percent on a year-on-year basis, demonstrating the robust vitality of the LMC.

At this meeting, the six foreign ministers discussed and planned six key directions for the LMC in the next stage, and reviewed and issued six outcome documents. China put forward six plans benefitting Mekong countries. The meeting also made preparations for the leaders’ meeting in the second half of the year. The six foreign ministers unanimously held that in the face of the turbulent international situation, the six countries should steer the LMC on the right course, and innovate and upgrade the LMC to bring more benefits to the people of the six countries and set more examples for regional cooperation.

First, forge an area of demonstration for high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. Mekong countries, located at the junction of the “Belt” and the “Road”, and China have complementary advantages in aspects such as infrastructure, industrialization and agricultural modernization. We should deliver the benefits of the opening of the China-Laos Railway at a faster pace, deepen cooperation on the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, pursue high-standard implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, jointly safeguard the security of food, energy, finance and industrial and supply chains in the region, and set a model of sub-regional cooperation.

Second, forge an area of pioneering efforts under the Global Development Initiative (GDI). The starting point of the LMC is to boost development, improve people’s well-being and speed up the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. That’s completely consistent with the vision of the GDI. China has put forward more than 30 measures to implement the GDI, and Mekong countries, as close neighbors, will be among the first to benefit from them. We will vigorously carry out cooperation in fields such as agriculture, water resources, public health, digital innovation, and social and cultural exchanges, so as to set a model of pursuing common development in solidarity and coordination among developing countries.

Third, forge a pilot area for the Global Security Initiative (GSI). Beset by intertwined traditional and non-traditional threats, the security situation in the Mekong sub-region is complex and severe. As foreign ministers of Mekong countries said, without a peaceful and stable regional environment, it is impossible to truly achieve development. Since its launch, the LMC has treated political and security cooperation as one of its three pillars, and the joint efforts by the six countries to implement the GSI are an integral part of the LMC. We should uphold the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, safeguard regional peace and stability, and accumulate valuable experience for implementing the GSI in regional mechanisms.

President Xi Jinping stressed, only by working together can we accomplish big and great things with a far-reaching impact. China will work with the five Mekong countries to promote the building of the aforementioned three areas and build a closer Lancang-Mekong community with a shared future.

作者 admin_philip