PEACE AND STABILITY. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang poses for a group photo with leaders attending the ASEAN, China, Japan and South Korea (ASEAN Plus Three or APT) Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Nov. 12, 2022. Li said countries should continue to commit themselves to safeguarding peace and stability and achieving development and prosperity in the region (Xinhua/Liu Weibing)

PHNOM PENH – Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said here on Saturday the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as China, Japan and South Korea should be committed to safeguarding peace and stability and achieving development and prosperity.

Li made the remarks when attending the ASEAN, China, Japan and South Korea (ASEAN Plus Three or APT) Summit chaired by Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen. The meeting was also attended by leaders of other ASEAN member states, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Noting that East Asia is an important driver for global growth, Li said the APT Summit is a major mechanism for East Asia cooperation.

Since being launched 25 years ago, the APT cooperation, thanks to peace and stability in the region, has promoted their own national socio-economic development, safeguarded regional financial and food security, and maintained the stability and free flow of international industrial and supply chains, he said.

Under the complicated and volatile international situation, the countries should continue to commit themselves to safeguarding peace and stability and achieving development and prosperity in the region and the whole world to improve the wellbeing of the people.

To that end, the Chinese premier put forward a five-point proposal:

First, they should keep the process of regional economic integration going. The countries should promote the full effectiveness and implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and release the maximum dividends of the free trade agreement. China supports the establishment of the RCEP Secretariat at an early date.

Second, they should maintain the stability of industrial and supply chains. The countries should adhere to opening up and coordinated development to push the optimization and upgrade of regional industrial and supply chains in stable and smooth operation.

Based on the support of APT small and medium enterprises service alliance, they should help regional enterprises to enhance innovation and digitization capacity and create more job opportunities.

Third, they should improve crisis response capacity. Li said the Chinese side supports building an APT storage center of emergency medical supplies and an APT rice emergency storage mechanism, promoting the effectiveness of the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization, and constantly improving the regional financial security network.

Fourth, they should deepen cultural, and people-to-people exchanges. The Chinese side is willing to take as an opportunity the launch of the ASEAN Directors-General of Immigration Departments and Heads of Consular Affairs Divisions of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs Plus Three Consultation mechanism to provide more policy support to facilitate personnel movement, Li said.

He said China is willing to optimize epidemic prevention and control measures according to changes in the Covid-19 pandemic situation, gradually increase international flights, and proactively facilitate the return of ASEAN, Japanese and South Korean students to resume their studies in China.

Fifth, they should work to enable sustainable development. The Chinese side is willing to carry out cooperation on the Global Development Initiative with all parties, take lead in conducting APT transition finance research and holding APT clean energy roundtables, and continuously deepen the low carbon partnership, he said.

Li said the Chinese side will also continue to advance the projects under the East Asian Cooperation Initiative on Poverty Reduction (phase II), improving the regional poverty alleviation.

China's economy has deeply integrated into the world, and China will stick to the basic national policy of opening up, Li said, adding that China is willing to bring new opportunities to other countries with its own development, and inject new impetus to the APT cooperation.

He said in the past decade, the Chinese side initiated more than 130 cooperative proposals or projects under the APT cooperation framework, most of which had been implemented thanks to the joint efforts of related parties.

The APT cooperation has gone through twists and turns, and the hard-won achievements should be cherished with greater care, Li said.

China is willing to work with the various parties in the APT to continue to build consensus and deepen pragmatic cooperation for a bright future of East Asia cooperation, Li said.

The participating leaders said China, Japan and South Korea are major cooperative partners of ASEAN countries, noting that the APT is the ballast of regional cooperation and has achieved important cooperative results in promoting regional economic development, safeguarding regional peace and stability, and jointly fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, among others.

They called on all sides to be closely united and strengthen cooperation in areas such as agriculture, interconnectivity, digital economy, financial security, public health, ecological environment, people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and sustainable development.

The leaders also called for implementing the RCEP well, safeguarding the security and stability of industrial and supply chains, enhancing regional economic integration, coping with global challenges, and promoting the APT cooperation to yield greater results, with an aim to achieve the long-term goal of building an East Asian Community.

The meeting released the ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation 1997-2022 in Commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of APT Cooperation. (Xinhua)