Speech at the 19th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization
H.E. Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China
Beijing, 30 November 2020
I am pleased to join you online for the 19th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). I wish to thank our host for the preparations it has made for this meeting.
Since the onset of COVID-19, SCO members, committed to the Shanghai Spirit, have joined hands to fight against the virus and upheld regional development and stability. President Xi Jinping attended, not long ago, the SCO Heads of State Meeting. We hope that all parties will work together to earnestly deliver the outcomes of the Meeting, steadily advance the SCO’s cooperation agenda and vigorously open up new vistas for its development in the post-COVID era.
The world economy is now confronted with the most severe recession since the end of World War II, with drastic contractions of international trade and investment and disruptions in the industrial and supply chains. In the meantime, the growing backlash against economic globalization and mounting protectionism and unilateralism have dealt a blow to the global governance system and multilateral institutions, posing daunting challenges to economic and social development of the region and beyond.
With a crisis comes both challenges and opportunities. Over the past 19 years since its inception, the SCO has risen to challenges, worked to turn crises into opportunities and maintained a sound and steady momentum of growth no matter how the world around us changes. With strong confidence and concerted efforts, we will be able to overcome the impacts of COVID-19, deepen cooperation in wide-ranging fields and achieve greater progress in SCO development. To this end, I wish to propose the following:
First, we need to actively foster a secure and stable environment for development. With uncertainties and destabilizing factors growing in the region, we need to work together to uphold regional peace and stability.
Joint counter-terrorism exercises must continue to be held in order to forestall sabotages by terrorist, separatist and extremist forces exploiting the pandemic. Institution building must be strengthened, and cooperation on deradicalization carried out to effectively address new threats and challenges such as cyber-terrorism and biosafety, and expand the breadth and depth of SCO cooperation on law enforcement and security. We need to guard against data security risks by implementing the Global Initiative on Data Security and work together to enhance data security governance capabilities. We will also cooperate with Afghanistan by making full use of the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group to support Afghanistan’s national reconciliation process and help it restore stability and development at an early date.
Second, we need to earnestly cement the foundation for integrated development. Promoting integrated and interconnected development in keeping with the general trend of the world economy is a sure path to economic recovery of regional countries. Following the direction set by the renewed Program of Multilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation, we need to leverage our complementarity and further substantiate areas of cooperation so as to set the economy on a recovery course.
Two weeks ago, China and other 14 countries signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement to establish the world’s most promising free trade area with the largest population and the most diverse membership. The RCEP will not only add new impetus to regional development and prosperity, but also serve as an important engine driving global growth. Within the framework of the SCO, we also need to improve liberalization and facilitation of regional trade and investment, and set about putting together institutional arrangements for SCO regional economic cooperation. We will further synergize Belt and Road cooperation with other member states’ development strategies and regional cooperation initiatives. The Agreement on International Road Transportation Facilitation must be earnestly implemented, and the formulation of an SCO program for road development accelerated, to promote high-quality connectivity in the region. While meeting pandemic control requirements, we need to build a regional network of “fast tracks” and “green lanes” to facilitate the flow of people and goods and contribute to economic reopening in our countries. We need to continue to explore viable approaches to the setting-up of an SCO development bank to energize financial cooperation under the SCO. Cooperation models for modern agriculture will be explored, and farm produce trade expanded to ensure food security in regional countries. China hopes to step up cooperation with other parties in trade in services and share the benefits of its growth. China will publish an index of its trade with other SCO members. We will accelerate the development of the China-SCO Local Economic and Trade Cooperation Demonstration Zone and the SCO demonstration base for exchanges and training on agricultural technologies. All these joint efforts will enable SCO practical cooperation to grow in greater depth.
Third, we need to vigorously leverage the catalytic role of scientific and technological innovation. The new round of technological revolution and industrial transformation is gathering momentum, promising broad prospects for the world economy. In this process, innovation is vital if we are to stay ahead of the development curve and lend strong impetus to the economic revitalization in our countries.
We need to improve the SCO cooperation mechanisms on innovation and explore growth areas such as smart city, artificial intelligence and big data. The boom in Internet economy hastened by COVID response should be well harnessed to promote the integrated development of the digital economy and the real economy and foster new industries and new business forms. We need to earnestly implement our cooperation document on intellectual property, protect and incentivize innovation and fully bring out the innovation potential. Concrete efforts are needed to remove barriers against the flow of innovation factors and foster an open, cooperative and non-discriminatory business environment for companies of all countries. China is making preparations for an SCO technological transfer center and will host the second SCO Member States Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition. We will work with other parties to ensure the success of the SCO Environment Information Sharing Platform and jointly promote high-quality economic development and green recovery.
Fourth, we need to actively pursue people-centered cooperation. Sustaining and improving people’s well-being is a priority for regional countries. Tackling the acute deficiencies and weaknesses in livelihood areas, we need to proactively carry out cooperation in such fields as medical care and health, poverty relief, education and culture so that our people get benefits from the SCO cooperation.
As we speak, COVID-19 is still ravaging the world. It is thus imperative that we expedite cooperation on the research and development of vaccines and drugs. COVID-19 vaccines, when developed and deployed in China, will be made a global public good. This will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability. This year, China is set to win the battle against extreme poverty. Despite the impact of COVID-19, we will lift out of poverty all the rural residents living below the current poverty line as scheduled, blazing a path of poverty eradication that suits China’s national conditions. We stand ready to carry out poverty reduction training with other SCO countries and contribute our share to livelihood improvement in the region. China suggests intensifying efforts in developing the SCO University, bringing more universities and disciplines into this network and cultivating more future-oriented professionals. China proposes establishing an SCO international museum alliance and signing a memorandum on the mutual translation of literary classics, with a view to promoting mutual learning among civilizations and bringing our peoples closer.
Peace and development remain the theme of our times. Openness and cooperation still represent the overwhelming trend. We need to uphold multilateralism and free trade and facilitate the improvement of the global economic governance system. We need to stay committed to fostering an open world economy and safeguard the smooth operation of global industrial and supply chains. Following a global governance philosophy emphasizing extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, we need to take an active part in WTO reform, promote equality of rights, opportunities and rules for all countries, and defend the legitimate rights and interests of emerging markets and developing countries. China supports the SCO in deepening cooperation with the United Nations and other multilateral frameworks and making joint efforts to safeguard the authority and effectiveness of the multilateral system and build a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind.
China is committed to a win-win strategy of opening-up and to sharing opportunities with the rest of the world as it pursues development. Let us work together with a common purpose and forge ahead to create an even brighter future for the SCO.