Towards a Community with a Shared Future for All
Remarks by Ambassador Jiang Jiang at the Diplomat Forum of Model ASEM

Dear students and friends,

Let me begin by thanking the Asia-Europe Foundation for inviting me to this forum. It gives me great pleasure to share my observations with so many young students on such an important topic as Asia-Europe cooperation.

My association with the ASEM dates back 23 years ago. In 1996, as a young diplomat, I attended the 1st ASEM Summit in Bangkok, where I witnessed first-hand the beginning of a new partnership between Asia and Europe. I still recall how privileged I felt to be able to be part of that historic occasion. And later, I also attended the ASEM summit in Beijing in 2008.

I am pleased to note that over the past 23 years, ASEM has grown bigger and stronger. From the initial 25 partners to today’s 53, it has developed into a key cross-regional platform for cooperation in today’s global political and economic landscape. It has made important contribution to fostering closer ties between Asia and Europe in the economic, cultural, science and many other sectors and played a significant part in tacking the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and the global financial crisis in 2008. The success of ASEM is due in no small part to the fact that it is in keeping with the general trend of our times, namely, a multi-polar world, economic globalization and regional integration.

The world we live in is undergoing profound change. On the one hand, people around the world have a strong shared desire for peace and development. Economic globalization has linked the well-being of different countries closely together. And a new round of scientific and technological revolution represented by 5G, AI and the Internet of things is bringing transformational changes to the way we live and work. All this makes our world a community of shared interests.

On the other hand, we are witnessing rising unilateralism and protectionism, growing regional hot-spots, and continuous terrorism activities. The existing international order and multilateral trading system is under threat and the world is confronted with risks and challenges beyond our expectations.

I for one believe that we have come to a new crossroads. The choice we make between dialogue and cooperation, and confrontation and conflict will decide our own future.

Asia and Europe, two major forces for stability and home to leading economies of the world, account for nearly 60 percent of world population and 50 percent of global economic output. Our two continents have a special duty in the peace, prosperity and development of the world and the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. In this connection, I believe that in planning its future, ASEM should focus on the following.

First, multilateralism. Multilateralism has been at the center of ASEM since its inception. ASEM is committed to the principles of mutual respect, equality and seeking common ground while reserving differences. For ASEM, the varying ethnicities, cultures, religions and levels of development of its partners have enabled them to learn from and complement each other. In the current context, there is all the more reason for us to uphold multilateralism and safeguard the authority and effectiveness of the multilateral system. Countries must honor their commitments and abide by rules, not embrace or abandon them selectively and to one’s own liking. China stands ready to work with other Asian and European countries to uphold the international system with the United Nations at its core as well as the rules-based multilateral trading system, tackle global challenges through multilateral cooperation and defend and promote multilateralism.

Second, an open world economy. With our respective comparative advantages, Asian and European countries are fully capable of having more practical cooperation for win-win results.

The momentum of world economic recovery, albeit fragile, has not come easily. And to ensure sustainable economic growth, it is essential to foster a spirit of partnership and openness and push forward trade and investment liberalization and facilitation.

Countries are closely connected to each other through global industrial, innovation and value chains. No country can go its own way or easily “advance its interests at the expense of others”.

Resorting to protectionism or initiating trade frictions is no solution to a country’s development issues. It can only exacerbate volatilities in global markets, affect the well-being of all people and undermine the prospect of world peace and development.

China supports free trade and the WTO-centered multilateral trading system and follows a win-win strategy of opening-up. We want to share our development opportunities with all countries of the world.

Third, connectivity for the Eurasian continent. Connected by mountains and rivers, Asian and European countries are natural partners in connectivity cooperation. This is also what our people expect from us.

Better roads lead to better life. This is the conclusion that we have drawn from our own experience over the past forty years. The Eurasian continent spans much of the Northern Hemisphere. We should enhance both “hard connectivity” such as highways, railways, aviation and fiber optics and “soft connectivity”, that is, greater coordination in institutions, policies, rules and standards. In this way, we will be able to better integrate the resource endowments, demographic dividends and industrial advantages of all Eurasian countries. It will also facilitate the free flow of capital, know-how, service, data and other factors of production, which will generate enormous benefits.

The Belt and Road Initiative comes from China, but it belongs to the world. Its priority is to promote connectivity on the Eurasian continent. Its goal is to share development opportunities, expand common interests, achieve win-win and deliver benefits to the people of all Asian and European countries.

Last April, China held the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation,which saw the wide support and active participation of Asian and European countries and yielded rich fruits. We hope more Asian and European countries will join in the Initiative to lend fresh impetus to the development of Asia and Europe and present new opportunities for the sustained growth of the world economy.

Fourth, global governance reform. Non-traditional threats to security such as climate change, terrorism, cyber security are on the rise. Economic globalization and multilateral trading regime are under threat. It is high time that we enhanced global governance.

Asian and European countries should uphold a vision of global governance featuring extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits and the principle that global affairs should be managed by the people of the world through consultation.

We call for greater efforts to make global governance rules more democratic, the global governance system fairer and more equitable and provide sound safeguards for world peace and economic growth.

Reform does not mean starting everything anew or benefiting only a few countries. China believes necessary adjustments and reforms can be made to existing WTO rules, but its fundamental principles such as free trade must be upheld and the interests and concerns of all parties need to be fully accommodated. Special attention should be given to the rights and interests of developing countries to narrow the North-South gap.

Through mutual consultation and mutual understanding, countries should resolve differences through dialogue and find convergence of interests for all parties.

Last but not least, I want to stress that the success of ASEM needs the participation and support of people of Asian and European countries.

The Model ASEM conference is a good opportunity for Maltese friends, especially the young people to understand and support the work of ASEM in the interest of an even better future for Asia and Europe.

Thank you!

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