Common responsibilities for regional peace and stability
Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from the speech by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the 13th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Astana on Dec 15, 2014.
Since last year's heads of government meeting in Tashkent, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member states have, acting in the Shanghai Spirit, scored new achievements in their cooperation in various fields. At the Dushanbe Summit last September, Chinese President Xi Jinping and the leaders of the other SCO member states put forward a number of significant initiatives to advance their practical cooperation. Currently, the international situation is complicated, development of various economies is becoming differentiated and certain regional turbulences have intensified. Given this backdrop, we need to further strengthen cooperation in the security and economic fields as well as in cultural and people-to-people exchanges so that we can seize opportunities and rise up to challenges.
First, we need to forge a strong shield for regional security and stability. The international political and economic situation is undergoing complex changes. China remains committed to the path of peaceful development, and it will be firm in its efforts to safeguard regional peace, stability and development. China will work to increase synergy and collaboration with other countries to jointly promote world prosperity and stability. Security cooperation mechanisms need to be improved to oppose terrorism in all its manifestations. It is important that countries give support to the government of Afghanistan in its efforts to achieve early national reconciliation and economic reconstruction, as this is conducive to regional stability and serves the common interests of all countries.
Second, we need to foster new highlights in regional cooperation. As the global economic recovery faces difficulties and the economic and trade growth of SCO member states is slowing down, we need to work together to realize industrial cooperation, trade and investment facilitation and financial cooperation, all at higher levels. We need to speed up regional economic integration, create new highlights for regional cooperation and foster new growth areas so as to ensure more dynamic economic growth.
The SCO member states are all at critical stages of development, when stabilizing growth and achieving structural adjustment and upgrading have become important. Cooperation between the various parties is now expanding from trade in natural resources and primary products to in-depth cooperation that involves equipment manufacturing and the building of industrial parks. Countries in the region have a huge market demand and China, for its part, has rich experience in infrastructure construction, has a strong equipment manufacturing capability and could provide cost-effective products. China wants to enhance cooperation with other SCO members in metallurgy, construction materials, transport, power generation, telecommunications, automobile assembling and food processing to complement each other's advantages and achieve win-win outcomes. China has reached an agreement with Kazakhstan on conducting cooperation in production capacity and is open to similar cooperation with other members of the SCO. Dialogue among SCO members could be stepped up on the platform of the SCO energy club so that we can deepen cooperation in energy processing, including oil refining, refined oil processing and in the coal chemical industry. At the same time, we may also encourage new energy projects such as wind, solar and hydro power projects, so as to jointly safeguard energy security. China's initiative to build a Silk Road Economic Belt has much in common with the development strategies of relevant SCO members. China hopes to strengthen consultation and cooperation with various parties to jointly promote industrial transformation and upgrading.
To establish a trade and investment facilitation mechanism that is results-oriented represents a general trend of economic development and regional cooperation of this region. The Program of Multilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation and the List of Activities on Further Development of Joint Projects signed by SCO member states need to be implemented in real earnest. China is ready to enhance policy coordination with other parties, reduce trade and investment barriers, widen market access and raise the efficiency of customs clearance to ensure a better flow of goods, technology, information and personnel. China will launch negotiations with Kazakhstan on a new investment protection treaty and is ready to increase imports from other member states to improve the trade balance. Different trade institutions and arrangements in the region may well complement each other, and China supports the SCO in setting up a dialogue with the Eurasian Economic Commission to jointly study how to tackle new problems occurring under new conditions of regional integration.
Funding support is necessary for both development and construction projects. China will officially start selection of the first batch of projects under the China-Eurasian Economic Cooperation Foundation, and China is open to the establishment of bilateral underlying funds to support the implementation of economic projects within the region. At the same time, it is necessary to bring into better play the role of such funds as the Silk Road Foundation. We hope that SCO member states will reach consensus to steadily advance the process of establishing an SCO development bank, which will serve as a long-term and stable financing platform of the region. China supports the Kazakh proposal of increasing currency swap and trade settlement in local currencies between SCO member states.
Third, we need to focus more on cooperation for people's livelihood and in cultural and people-to-people exchanges. The ultimate purpose of deepening security, trade and investment cooperation is to make life better for our peoples. China proposes that the SCO pay more attention to people's livelihoods, promote cooperation in projects related to people's livelihoods and create more job opportunities to deliver real benefits to people. China is ready to deepen agricultural cooperation with other member states, explore the establishment of a unified information platform for food and agricultural products and work for an SCO food security cooperation mechanism to be launched. China plans to allocate $50 million for the SCO's popularization of agricultural technologies and personnel training and hopes that such cooperation will bring more benefits to farmers and herdsmen of various member states. China is now working on a plan of green Silk Road envoys and will be happy to offer training in environmental protection to countries along the Silk Road. Cooperation in public health needs to be stepped up and efficient joint prevention and control mechanisms for infectious diseases need to be set up. China stands ready to provide health assistance to Central Asian countries within its capability.
As we Chinese often say, when watering flowers, make sure that water goes down deep to the roots; and when making friends, remember that best friends are those whose hearts are close. Countries need to intensify cultural and people-to-people exchanges to increase communication and mutual understanding among the people. Heart-to-heart communication will bring us closer to each other, enhance popular support for the SCO and make the concept of win-win cooperation a consensus of people of all member states. I hope that member states will actively foster friendly exchanges between various sectors, especially between our young people. Measures could be taken to simplify procedures for the application of visas and work and residence permits so as to facilitate people-to-people exchanges.
As it stands today, the SCO has become an important force for peace, development and cooperation on the Eurasian land bridge. Member states need to bear in mind their common responsibilities and mission, make joint and solid efforts and contribute more to safeguarding regional security and stability and promoting common prosperity and development. China supports Russia in all the work it undertakes as chair of the SCO in 2015. As host of the 14th meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of the SCO, China would like to invite all the leaders to go to China to attend the meeting next year.