Home to ancient civilizations and emerging forces, the Asia-Pacific is a region with a long history and a splendid culture. Itboasts hard-working people, beautiful scenery, strong impetusfor development and a bright future.
Today’s Asia-Pacific accounts for 40% of the world population, 57% of the world economy and 48% of the world trade. As the fastest growing region with the greatest potential and most vibrant cooperation in the world, our region is a major engine for world economic recovery and growth.
Today’s Asia-Pacific has entered a new development stage. It has a high level of capital, technology, information and personnel movement. A big Asia-Pacific market is taking shape. Regional cooperation mechanisms are making good progress, while new initiatives and ideas keep cropping up.
Today’s Asia-Pacific is enjoying a rising standing in the world. A new round of revolution in science and technology, industries and energy is on the horizon. The increasingly close connection between Asia-Pacific economies has made regional economic integration all the more necessary and urgent.
But today’s Asia-Pacific also faces challenges of all sorts. The impacts of the international financial crisis linger. Recovery in some economies remains fragile. The Asia-Pacific has daunting tasks of raising the quality and efficiency of the economy and replacing old growth areas with new ones. There are different directions and priorities in accelerating the regional economic integration process, and various regional free trade arrangements keep emerging, making it difficult for some to make a choice.
Three years ago on this day, we discussed in Beijing the blueprint for Asia-Pacific cooperation. The Chinese people believe that three years is a good time to take stock of what one has achieved. In the past three years, the world economy has gradually rebounded, showing strong momentum of recovery since the outbreak of the international financial crisis. People in all sectors are gaining more confidence.
Those who recognize the trend are wise and those who ride the trend will win. We need to take note of the profound changes taking place in the world economy. At yesterday’s CEO Summit, I shared my thoughts on this subject. If Asia-Pacific economies seize the trend and take action, we can usher in a new round of development and prosperity for the world.
First, we need to promote innovation as a strong growth driver. Innovation is the most powerful lever for development. As new technologies emerge and the new industrial revolution gains momentum, we face a rare historic opportunity for innovation-driven development. We need to strive for both scientific and technological innovation and institutional innovation, build synergy between market and technology, and help bring to fruition new technologies, new business forms and models to fully unlock our development potential. This is why, in the context of APEC, we need to implement in real earnest the Roadmap on the Internet and Digital Economy we have drawn this year.
Innovation has proven to be essential to the emergence of new drivers for the Chinese economy in recent years. Thirty years ago, China’s first email was sent from Beijing. Today, China has 750 million Internet users, our on-line retail sales are growing by 30 percent a year, our “sharing economy” has reached 3.5 trillion yuan in size, and China’s mobile payment transactions have exceeded 158 trillion yuan. This example shows that as long as we keep exploring, we will see more opportunities and successes of innovation-driven development.
Second, we need to open up our economies to create more space for development. History has taught us that closed-door development will get nowhere, while open development is the only right choice. We need to remain true to APEC’s founding purpose: advance trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, build an open economy, uphold and strengthen the multilateral trading regime, and help rebalance economic globalization. We need to take determined steps toward a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific in line with the agreed roadmap, and herald a new round of development in the Asia-Pacific in the course of opening up.
Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up. In nearly four decades, China has opened its arms to embrace the world and achieved “leapfrog development” of itself in this process. Looking ahead, China will open still wider and its development will deliver even greater benefits to the rest of the world. Starting from next year, China will hold an International Import Expo. I am sure this new platform of mutually beneficial cooperation will help all parties to better share the opportunities of China’s development.
Third, we need to pursue inclusive development to enhance our people’s sense of fulfillment. Lack of inclusiveness in development is a problem facing many economies. We should redouble efforts to address this problem. To enable more people to share the benefits of development, efforts must be made to strike a better balance between fairness and efficiency, capital and labor, technology and employment. Greater attention must be paid to the impact of artificial intelligence and other technological advances on jobs. APEC members need to do a good job of implementing the Action Agenda on Inclusion formulated this year, and deepen cooperation on poverty reduction, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), education, fighting corruption, urbanization and women’s empowerment. All this will contribute to the well-being of the 2.8 billion people in the Asia-Pacific region.
China gives high priority to employment. We have worked to ensure that economic development is pursued in a way that supports job creation, encouraged business start-ups as a means to create more jobs, and paid particular attention to the employment of college graduates and other key groups. We have also provided the labor force with better education and training to tackle structural unemployment. In each of the past few years, we have created over 13 million new jobs in cities and towns. An important thing we have learnt from all this is that with better coordination and the right measures, economic restructuring does not have to come at the expense of employment. On the contrary, stable employment would allow greater leeway for reform and development.
Fourth, we need to enrich our partnerships and deliver benefits to all involved. As APEC economies, we have a stake in each other’s success and our future is closely connected. With a shared future in mind, we need to develop a stronger sense of community, harmonize our policies and create synergy. We need to foster a spirit of harmony in diversity, draw on each other’s strength, pursue mutually beneficial cooperation and draw on each other’s best practice in development. We should consider the interests of others while pursuing those of our own, and reduce the adverse spillovers of our domestic policies. As we have agreed on the direction and framework of an Asia-Pacific partnership, it is time to take solid steps toward this goal.
China has put forward the Belt and Road Initiative and is pursuing it in a spirit of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. This Initiative is well received and supported by various parties. The successful and fruitful Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing in May marked a new stage of full implementation. Going forward, China will deepen policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity with our Asia-Pacific partners, seek interconnected development and move toward a community of shared future.