Broad Prospects for Win-Win Cooperation Between China, Japan and the ROK
--Remarks by H.E. Wen Jiabao Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China At the Lunch Meeting of the Third Trilateral Business Summit
Tokyo, 22 May 2011
Prime Minister Naoto Kan,
President Lee Myung-bak,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have been looking forward to meeting you here in Tokyo. First of all, I wish to once again express, on behalf of the Chinese people, sincere sympathies to the Japanese people who suffered the devastating earthquake and tsunami. I also wish to pay high tribute to friends from the business sectors who have long contributed to the growth of our business ties and deeper friendship between the people of China, Japan and the ROK.
The first decade of the 21st century was a decade of major adjustments and changes in the international political and economic landscape. It was also a decade of deepening trilateral cooperation between our countries. Over the past ten years, we seized the major development opportunities offered by economic globalization and regional economic integration, and gradually established a future-oriented comprehensive cooperative partnership led by economic cooperation and trade. Together, we responded to the severe challenges of the international financial crisis and major natural disasters, jointly worked for the resolution of regional hotspot issues, stepped up all-round cooperation in the G20, APEC and other multilateral mechanisms, and demonstrated a strong resolve of acting together to meet challenges and shouldering responsibilities. Today's East Asia is one of the most dynamic and promising regions in the world. It leads the robust economic growth in Asia and serves as an important engine for world economic recovery. China has become the biggest trading partner of Japan and the ROK. Last year, our trade with Japan and the ROK both reached a record high, totaling about US$300 billion and over US$200 billion respectively. Japan and the ROK are main sources of foreign investment in China. They have set up about 100,000 enterprises in China with a total investment of more than US$120 billion.
Growing economic cooperation between the three countries serves the fundamental interests of our people and contributes to the prosperity and stability of Asia and beyond.
This morning, I had in-depth exchange of views with Prime Minister Kan and President Lee on expanding trilateral practical cooperation, and we reached important consensus. Here, I wish to make the following points.
First, we should further expand trade among the three countries.China, Japan and the ROK are among the world's top ten trading nations. However, trade among us only accounts for about 11 % of our total external trade. There is great room for it to grow. Recent years have seen changes in our trade mix as intra-industry trade expands rapidly and trade in intermediate goods takes up a much larger proportion in total trade. This reflects the deepening economic links and division of labor among the three countries. We should seize this trend, further open up our markets, lower tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and expand cooperation in customs, quality inspection, transportation and personnel entry and exit to create a sound environment for intra-regional trade. To establish a China-Japan-ROK free trade area is the common wish of the business communities of our three countries. The Joint Study on the FTA, conducted by representatives from the government, business and academia of the three countries, has made good headway. It may be concluded within this year ahead of the original schedule and formal negotiations may be launched next year. China stands ready to work with utmost sincerity to advance this process. In our trade with Japan and the ROK, China runs a fairly large deficit. Yet we have always viewed the issue with a positive attitude. We do not practise trade protectionism and hope that we can gradually achieve trade balance in the course of development.
Second, we should further deepen trilateral investment cooperation. Japan and the ROK are major global investors. Chinese enterprises have also begun to invest abroad. Yet mutual investment among the three countries is less than 10% of our total overseas investment. This means our cooperation in this field holds great potential. An important and pressing task now is to improve the trilateral investment cooperation mechanism and remove the obstacles hindering corporate investment. Since 2005, the three governments have worked hard on a trilateral investment agreement. So far, 12 rounds of negotiations have been held, and agreement on the majority of issues has been reached. China is ready to do its best and work with Japan and the ROK for concluding the negotiations before the end of the year. Let me reiterate that the Chinese government welcomes foreign companies, including those from Japan and the ROK, to invest and do business in China. All foreign-invested enterprises established in China according to law enjoy national treatment and enterprises of all types will receive effective protection of their intellectual properties and other lawful rights and interests. We hope that the governments of Japan and the ROK will also provide convenience for Chinese companies to invest in their respective countries.
Third, we should further develop green economy and circular economy. In view of the low per capita share of resources in our countries, to develop green economy and circular economy and achieve sustainable development is our common goal. China wants to enhance cooperation with Japan and the ROK on renewable energies such as wind and solar power. China proposes that the three countries establish a trilateral innovation alliance on renewable energy between the industry, academia and research institutions to better integrate our comparative strengths in technology, production and market. This year, China will host an international forum and exhibition on new energy cooperation, and will invite representatives from the government, business community, universities and research institutions of the three countries to discuss such cooperation. Leaders of the three countries agreed two years ago to establish the China-Japan-ROK Circular Economy Model Base. The Chinese government is willing to take effective steps in an effort to launch the construction of such a model base in China within this year, and we support similar bases to be established in Japan and the ROK.
Fourth, we should further strengthen cooperation in disaster prevention and mitigation, and post-disaster reconstruction. Frequent natural disasters pose a daunting challenge to us all. The three governments have agreed to strengthen cooperation on disaster management and explore the possibility of establishing cooperation mechanisms on information sharing and emergency relief. China suggests that the three countries conduct a joint study on earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes in Northeast Asia and is willing to provide start-up fund for the project. China will continue to assist Japan in its disaster relief efforts in the light of Japan's needs, and will send a trade and investment promotion delegation to Japan to discuss post-disaster reconstruction cooperation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our cooperation now stands at a new starting point. I hope friends from the business sectors will seize the opportunity and momentum, actively participate in trilateral economic and trade cooperation, and make greater contribution to the all-round development of the trilateral relations and better lives of our people.