Statement of President Aquino during the 13th ASEAN-China Summit

Statement
of
President Benigno S. Aquino III
During the 13th ASEAN-China Summit

[October 29, 2010; Hanoi, Vietnam]

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Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung,
Prime Minister Wen Jia bao
My colleagues in ASEAN,
Excellencies and distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good Afternoon.

Allow me first to extend my warm welcome to His Excellency Wen Jia bao, for his presence today in this important annual gathering of Leaders. Your participation today shows the importance you give ASEAN-China relations and signifies the key role of ASEAN in further developing the political, economic, and social architecture of the region.

Allow me also once again to extend my sincere appreciation to the Government and People of Viet Nam for their excellent hospitality for our 13th Summit.

I am proud to represent the Philippines at our Summit meeting today, my first as President of my country.  This summit is a good opportunity to review and assess our regional cooperation with China, a strategically important Dialogue Partner of ASEAN, and to convey my views on the proper direction for its future course.

Excellencies,

Discussions of an evolving regional architecture in Asia continue fruitfully, signifying our region’s firm intent to consolidate our capabilities to jointly foster peace and progress for our region’s peoples. The Philippines views regional security as a valuable element in the evolving Asian architecture.  The preservation of peace and stability in our region is an imperative if we are to continue to prosper and develop.

The security situation in northeast Asia, in particular, has been a constant challenge to our regional stability. The Philippines encourages China to exercise its influence, and strive for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks framework in the immediate time possible.  We view this framework as the most effective forum to find solutions to peace in the Korean peninsula.

In the East China Sea, we also view with grave concern the tensions in the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands. We earnestly urge both China and Japan to settle the incident arising from the collision of their sea vessels, through dialogue and peaceful means.

The Philippines, along with the rest of ASEAN, believes that the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Protocol is a vital instrument towards nuclear non-proliferation. We therefore reiterate our call made at the Review Conference of the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in New York in May 2010 for the early signing of Nuclear Weapon States to the Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Protocol.

At the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and ASEAN Regional Forum in Hanoi last July, the South China Sea issue was discussed.  My government will remain faithful to the spirit and principles of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), as we have seen that over the past several years there had been an absence of any serious physical tension in this part of our region.  We are of the firm view that it is in the best interest of the region to transform this potential flashpoint into a zone of peace, friendship and cooperation through sustained consultation and dialogue between ASEAN and China. It is an encouraging sign that the process of consultations and dialogues between ASEAN and China on this issue has resumed this year, with the convening of our Joint Working Group and the plan to convene the next Joint Working Group in China later this year. We hope that we can also soon convene an ASEAN-China Senior Officials’ Meeting on the DOC to further find ways forward on this critical matter.

In the light of growing security concerns in the region, we acknowledge China’s interest in enhancing security dialogues with ASEAN.  In the past year, ASEAN and Chinese defense officials and experts have come together to continue their exchanges in the field of security cooperation. Specifically encouraging were the convening of two important events: the 3rd ASEAN-China Security and Defense Dialogue in Beijing in March attended by defense officials and academic experts, and the very first ASEAN+China Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (AMMTC + China) which aimed to establish more concrete cooperation to address non-traditional security threats.

We look forward to even further formalizing defense and security cooperation with China through the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus) meeting held earlier this month.

We had worked together to establish stronger cooperation to confront and address non-traditional security threats as well. We acknowledge China’s participation and contributions to the recently-concluded 10th Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC) which the Philippines hosted in Manila.

The recent global financial crisis, and the slow and fragile process of global economic recovery, still poses potential threats to our region.  While the global economy is slowly re-emerging from the negative impact of the 2008 global crisis, we in ASEAN must continue with our economic engagements with China to provide an effective protection against future economic slowdowns.

Global economic security is a necessary element of sustainable development that will foster economic growth across the regions of the world. China continues to grow as powerful and influential global economic player. Most noteworthy is China’s recent rise in terms of voting power in the World Bank, China now being ranked third, behind only the U.S. and Japan, and ahead of all other European economic powers. We hope that China’s emergence as a global economic player comes with it a strong voice advocating the concerns of the developing economies, including those in ASEAN, in international economic and financial governance.

At the regional level, we thank China for its full support in seeing through the operationalization of the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization which was launched by our Finance Ministers earlier this year.  The CMIM aims to provide another layer of defense for our region against future financial crises.

The entry into force of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement this year which covers the important elements of trade, investments and services, can be a necessary safeguard to both ASEAN and China against the threats of another economic recession.  The Philippines joins China and the ASEAN Member Countries in putting into place the appropriate legislative measures that will permit all of us to fully implement our commitments and responsibilities as laid down under the Free Trade Agreement.

I am glad to inform you that despite the global economic slowdown, the Philippine economy has continued to grow. For the first six months of this year GDP grew by a record 7.9 percent, my country’s highest in over three decades. My government is putting in place measures to ensure that economic growth becomes more equitable and reforms to further enhance the domestic climate for investors. I invite you to take a more serious look at opportunities to invest in my country.

With this in mind, I encourage China to utilize the US$10 billion ASEAN-China Investment Cooperation Fund that will establish infrastructure projects supporting regional interconnectivity that will certainly spur regional economic growth.  The “nautical highways” continue to remain prime interest for us in the Philippines under ASEAN’s regional connectivity programs. Given our unique geographic location, the Philippines, in particular, looks forward to the development of “nautical highways” to ensure that we remain connected to our neighbours in the region. Forging Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) will support connectivity in ASEAN and we look forward to the strong support of China and our other dialogue partners for this initiative. My government hopes to use Public Private Partnerships for building much needed development projects and at the same time provide a reasonable rate of return for the private sector.

We must further support the expansion of regional trade, investment, and tourism and cultural exchanges, and this can be done through the full operationalization of the ASEAN Centre in Beijing, which was established under the Memorandum of Understanding which our Ministers signed last year in Thailand.  The Philippines is currently in the process of completing its domestic internal procedures to ratify the Memorandum of Understanding.

On another front, the destructive impacts of climate change continue to pose a threat to the development of our region.

Those who contribute least to the process of climate change, such as the Philippines, producing only one third of one percent of the global greenhouse gases, are also, ironically, the most vulnerable to the devastation inflicted by forces of nature. Adverse climatic conditions disrupt agricultural productivity and economic livelihoods, diminish capacity to sustain food security, and endanger biodiversity and ecosystems that put millions of our peoples at risk.  The Philippines’ multiple vulnerabilities thus demand that we prioritize adaptation to ensure that our communities become more resilient. Just last week, my country was hit by the strongest storm so far this year, but pro-active preparation prevented the massive loss of lives. Nevertheless, the damage to homes, structures, and crops has been significant, needing once again the use of scarce government resources for rebuilding.

In relation to this, threats and damage brought about by natural disasters can be better addressed through regional cooperation in disaster risk reduction and management. The Philippines as the current chair of the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM) is at the forefront in the crafting the ACDM’s five-year Work Plan that will put in place the necessary mechanisms for the region to address natural disasters.  We seek the support of China and other dialogue partners in assisting ASEAN in implementing the Work Plan through the provision of appropriate resources.

Health pandemics, another form of threat to our peoples’ lives, have afflicted our region in the past years – including SARS, the avian flu, and the AH1N1 virus.  We therefore welcome China’s interest announced during the 3rd ASEAN-China Health Ministers Meeting to collaborate with ASEAN in five (5) areas of cooperation, namely: the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, health policy development, infectious diseases, traditional medicine, and non-communicable diseases.

We acknowledge the high level of achievements in ASEAN-China cooperation in the past years that have served to strengthen regional ties.    The current ASEAN-China Plan of Action (2006-2010) is set to expire this year with outstanding accomplishments, and we look forward to the full implementation of the new successor Plan covering 2011 – 2015.

Finally, we support the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations in 2011, and the Philippines calls for joint socio-cultural activities as our contribution to the celebration.   We look forward for a productive and fruitful ASEAN-China Cooperation in the coming years.

Thank you.

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