Work Hand in Hand to Build a Better Future for Asia in the 21st Century
Ladies and Gentlemen，
It gives me great pleasure to attend this First Annual Conference of Boao Forum for Asia. I would like to discuss with you issues concerning Asia's regional cooperation and development in the new century.
As the biggest continent on the earth， Asia takes up 60 percent of its population. It has abundant resources， long history and magnificent and exquisite cultures. With its stupendous changes and rise in the last century， Asia wrote a glorious chapter in the annals of its own development and left a brilliant hallmark on the advancement of human society. Looking into the new century， this great continent of many splendid ancient civilizations will surely embrace an even more colorful modern civilization.
In recent years， thanks to the joint efforts of Asian countries，there has been a growing awareness of regional cooperation featuring greater tolerance， equality and gradual progress while a situation of open， healthy and mutually beneficial cooperation is taking shape. APEC is making steady progress. The East Asia regional cooperation has gone ahead with full stream and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is functioning smoothly. Last November， China and the ASEAN members agreed to gradually build a China-ASEAN free trade area in the coming decade， and the various quarters are making contacts for an early launch of negotiations. These developments will provide important channels and mechanisms for wider exchanges and deeper cooperation among Asian countries and regions. However， compared with Europe and North America， Asia's regional cooperation is still rather backward. We have of late heard quite some insightful views on the orientation of regional cooperation in Asia. Now， I would like to make a few observations.
First， we should take economic cooperation as the key focus and develop all-round cooperation in a step-by-step fashion. Economic development is the primary task of Asian countries. Given our real needs and experience， such areas as trade， communications， agriculture， information and energy can be made priority areas of cooperation which will be gradually enlarged to include other areas.
Second， we should build on existing channels of cooperation to steadily broaden the scope of cooperation. As East Asia， South Asia and Central Asia are relatively independent geographically and different in ways of achieving economic development， it would be more advisable just for the sake of convenience and effectiveness to reinforce sub-regional cooperation as the first step and， on the basis， to actively explore the ways of a pan-Asiacooperation.
Third， we should further step up bilateral cooperation to consolidate the basis of regional cooperation. A closer cooperation at bilateral level will facilitate the smooth progressof regional cooperation， while regional cooperation will open evenbroader horizon for bilateral cooperation. The two can very well complement each other.
Fourth， we should ensure that the regional cooperation is an open one. Openness is in the tradition of Asian cultures. Cooperation by definition must not be self-reclusive or enjoyed only by members of an exclusive group. Instead， Asian countries should further enhance their cooperation with countries of other continents through such channels as APEC， ASEM and East Asia-Latin America Forum.
China is an Asian country. Over the past two decades and more， China has achieved rapid economic growth thanks to its unswerving pursuit of the reform and opening up policy， accelerated the development of its national economy， and improved its people's livelihood. In the new century， China's modernization drive has entered a new stage， and its national economy will keep developing at an annual growth rate of more than 7 percent. Such a new leap forward in China's reform， opening up and modernization drive willnot only bring enormous benefits to the Chinese people， but also deliver unlimited business opportunities， ushering in broad prospects for economic cooperation in Asia and around the world.
China's accession to the World Trade Organization represents the new starting point for its opening to the outside world. Our participation in worldwide economic cooperation and competition will assume greater scope and depth. China will open its door still wider to the rest of Asia and the world， to entrepreneurs and investors of all countries. We will honor our WTO commitments，opening more areas in a phased manner， lowering our tariffs and removing non-tariff barriers. We will continue to improve our ruleof law ， thus bringing about in China a market environment that isfairer， more transparent and more predictable. In the meantime， wewill energetically carry out our “going global” strategy， encouraging more Chinese firms of multiple ownerships to operate globally.
The Chinese people love peace. China's development needs peace.But an economically developed China will pose no threat to any country or region. China is， and will always be， an important force making for world peace and common development.
The people in Asia are diligent， talented and persistent in self-development. These qualities made Asia's magnificent achievements possible and promise an even brighter future for the continent. The Chinese people are ready to work hand in hand with the people in other Asian countries to build a better future for Asia.