Work Together to Build a 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road

Xi Jinping: The Governance of China I Updated: 2021-12-11

Work Together to Build a 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road* 

October 3, 2013 

China and the ASEAN countries are close neighbors sharing kinship. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the China-ASEAN strategic partnership, and our relationship is at a new historical starting point. 

China places great importance on Indonesia's standing and influence in ASEAN. We wish to work with Indonesia and other ASEAN countries to ensure that China and ASEAN are good neighbors, good friends and good partners who share prosperity and security and stick together through thick and thin. Through our joint efforts, we can build a close China-ASEAN community of shared future so as to bring more benefits to both China and ASEAN and to the people in the region. 

To achieve this goal, we should take the following steps: 

First, build trust and good-neighborly ties. Trust is the very foundation of both interpersonal and state-to-state relations. China is committed to forging a relationship with the ASEAN countries featuring sincerity, friendship, and enhanced mutual political and strategic trust. 

There is no one-size-fits-all development model in the world or an unchanging development path. Both the Chinese people and the people of the ASEAN countries have embraced change and innovation with an open mind, and searched and found, in a pioneering and enterprising spirit, development paths in keeping with their specific national conditions that conform to the trend of the times. These efforts have opened up a broad prospect for their economic and social development.

We should each respect the other's right to independently choose social system and development path as well as the right to explore and pursue new ways of economic and social development, and improve its people's lives. We should have full confidence in each other's strategic choice, support each other on issues of major concern, and never deviate from the general goal of China-ASEAN strategic cooperation. 

China is ready to discuss with the ASEAN countries the conclusion of a treaty of good-neighborliness, friendship and cooperation in a joint effort to build good-neighborly relations. China will continue to support ASEAN in enhancing its strength, building the ASEAN community, and playing a central role in regional cooperation. 

Second, work for mutually beneficial cooperation. As a Chinese saying goes, "The interests to be considered should be the interests of all."1 China is ready to open its door wider to the ASEAN countries on the basis of equality and mutual benefit and enable the latter to gain more from China's development. China is prepared to upgrade the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area and increase two-way trade to US$1 trillion-worth by 2020. 

China is committed to enhancing its connections with the ASEAN countries. China proposes the establishment of an Asian infrastructure investment bank to support the ASEAN countries and other developing countries in our region to strengthen links in infrastructural development. 

Southeast Asia has since ancient times been an important hub along the ancient Maritime Silk Road. China will strengthen maritime cooperation with the ASEAN countries, and the China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund set up by the Chinese government should be used to develop maritime partnership in a joint effort to build the Maritime Silk Road of the 21st century. China is ready to expand its practical cooperation with the ASEAN countries across the board to meet each other's needs and complement each other's strengths. This will enable us to jointly seize opportunities and meet challenges in the interest of common development and prosperity. 

Third, stand together and assist each other. China and the ASEAN countries are intimate partners, and we share the responsibility for regional peace and stability. In the past, the people of China and the ASEAN countries stood together in the fight to take our destiny back into our own hands. In recent years, our peoples have stood side by side and forged strong synergy in responding to the Asian financial crisis and the international financial crisis, and in responding to the Indian Ocean tsunami and China's Wenchuan earthquake. 

We should cast away the Cold War mentality, champion the new thinking of comprehensive security, common security and cooperative security, and jointly uphold peace and stability in our region. We should have deeper cooperation in disaster prevention and relief, cyber security, combating cross-border crimes and joint law enforcement to create a more peaceful, tranquil and amicable home for the people of the region. 

China is ready to work with the ASEAN countries to improve the China-ASEAN defense ministers' meeting mechanism and hold regular dialogues on regional security issues. 

With regard to differences and disputes between China and some Southeast Asian countries on territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, peaceful solutions should be sought, and differences and disputes should be properly handled through equality-based dialogue and friendly consultation in the overall interests of bilateral ties and regional stability. 

Fourth, enhance mutual understanding and friendship. As a Chinese saying goes, "A tall tree grows from a small seedling; and the building of a nine-story tower starts with the first shovel of earth."2 To ensure that the tree of China-ASEAN friendship remains evergreen, the soil of social support for our relations should be fertile. Last year saw 15 million people traveling between China and the ASEAN countries, and there are over 1,000 flights between the two sides each week now. Increased interactions have nurtured a deeper bond between us and made our people feel ever-closer to each other. 

We should encourage more friendly exchanges between the young people, think tanks, parliaments, NGOs and civil organizations of the two sides, which will generate further intellectual support for the growth of China-ASEAN relations and help increase the mutual understanding and friendship between our peoples. China is ready to send more volunteers to the ASEAN countries to support their development in the cultural, educational, health and medical fields. China proposes to designate 2014 as the year of China-ASEAN cultural exchanges. China will provide the ASEAN countries with 15,000 government scholarships in the coming three to five years. 

Fifth, be open and inclusive. The sea is vast because it is fed by all rivers. In the long course of human history, the people of China and the ASEAN countries have created splendid and great civilizations renowned throughout the world. Ours is a diversified region where various civilizations have assimilated and interacted with one another, and this has provided an important cultural foundation for the people of China and the ASEAN countries to gain from each other's experience. 

We should draw on the experience gained by other regions in development, and welcome countries outside the region to play a constructive role in promoting development and stability in the region. The outside countries, on their part, should respect the diversity of our region and do their part to facilitate its development and stability. The China-ASEAN community of shared future is closely linked with the ASEAN community and the East Asian community. The two sides need to give full rein to our respective strength to enhance diversity, harmony, inclusiveness and common progress in our region for the benefit of both our people and the people outside the region. 

An increasingly cohesive China-ASEAN community of shared future conforms to the trend of the times of seeking peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit and meets the common interests of the people of Asia and the rest of the world. This gives it a broad space and huge potential for growth. 

Part of the speech at the People's Representative Council of Indonesia.


1  A scroll hand-written by Yu Yu-jen (1879-1964), an educator, scholar, calligrapher and politician as well as one of the founders of the Kuomintang of China. It was a gift to Chiang Ching-kuo (1910-1988), former chairman of the Kuomintang of China. 

2 Lao Zi or Dao De Jing.

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