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  • Chinese Premier Li Keqiang poses for a group photo with other leaders attending the 22nd ASEAN-China, Japan and South Korea (10+3) leaders' meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, Nov. 4, 2019.

    Chinese Premier Li Keqiang poses for a group photo with other leaders attending the 22nd ASEAN-China, Japan and South Korea (10+3) leaders' meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, Nov. 4, 2019. | Photo: Xinhua

Published 4 November 2019

Li urged leaders to work together to build an open world economy so as to forge ahead economic globalization to a “direction of openness, inclusiveness, balance and win-win cooperation.”

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called Monday on all East Asian nations to maintain the region’s cooperation on the right track, upholding multilateralism and free trade at the  14th East Asia Summit (EAS) in Thailand.

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Li urged leaders to work together to build an open world economy so as to forge ahead economic globalization to a “direction of openness, inclusiveness, balance and win-win cooperation.”

The Chinese official said the summit should keep the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the center, maintaining the current regional collaborative structure in order to promote political and security cooperation, social and economic development.

Participants at the meeting also included leaders from 10 ASEAN countries, South Korea, Russia, Japan, India, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as senior officials from the United States.

According to the World Bank, growth in developing East Asian and Pacific (EAP) economies is projected to decelerate in the near term. Regional growth is projected to decline from 6.3 percent in 2018 to 5.8 percent in 2019 and to 5.7 and 5.6 percent in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

The slowdown reflected a broad-based decline in export growth and manufacturing activity, especially affected by the ongoing trade war between the world’s two major economies: China and the United States. 

“High and rising debt levels in some countries are also putting limits on their abilities to use fiscal and monetary policies to ease the impacts of the slowdown,” the World Bank’s October economic update for the region reads. 

For this reason, China is pushing to strengthen the ties already cemented within the region. ASEAN leaders present at the summit agreed that “East Asia should not be a chessboard for a big-power game,” expressing their opposition to the zero-sum game.

Noting that 15 member states of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) have concluded all text negotiations and essentially all market access negotiations, Li said it is a major breakthrough in the construction of an East Asia free trade area, which would boast the largest population, most diversified membership and the greatest potential for development.

According to Xinhua, all parties are committed to finishing the talks on Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and welcome the progress made in the Code of Conduct (COC) with regards to the South China Sea issue.

The Chinese PM said the first reading of the single draft negotiating text has been completed ahead of schedule, and the second reading has been launched. 

Parties concerned are striving for an agreement on the COC by the end of 2021.

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