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Opening Remarks by Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong At APEC Informal Senior Officials' Meeting

China National Convention Center, 10 December 2013

Dear Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

As Chair-Designate of the Senior Officials' Meeting for APEC 2014, allow me to begin by extending warm welcome to the senior officials and heads of delegations attending this informal SOM meeting. The Chinese team will work closely with you to ensure productive APEC cooperation in the coming year.

Thanks to the organizing efforts and stewardship of Indonesia, the host of APEC 2013, the leaders' meeting in Bali has achieved fruitful results in three key areas, namely attaining the Bogor Goals, promoting connectivity and infrastructure development, and advancing sustainable growth with equity, which injected new vitality into APEC cooperation. On behalf of all of us present and as SOM Chair-Designate for APEC 2014, let me express sincere gratitude to Mr. Yuri O. Thamrin, the SOM Chair for APEC 2013, and the Indonesian team under his leadership, for their outstanding job and hard work.

Before we start our formal discussion, I wish to share with you some personal views on APEC cooperation in the coming year. I have a strong feeling that the upcoming year of 2014 will be a year full of opportunities.

As I see it, the opportunities come from the strong desire of all parties in pursuit of growth. The international financial crisis has brought serious difficulties to the developed economies as well as major shocks to the emerging economies. Instead of giving in, the economies concerned have shown great courage and determination to promote growth and have worked hard to achieve that result. There have been recent signs of improvement in the world economy, yet such recovery is not solidly-based. We need to focus on addressing deep-seated problems restricting growth, speed up structural reform, promote innovative development, strengthen macro-policy dialogue, and turn our joint commitment in pursuit of growth into collective actions, so as to contribute to the strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth of the global economy.

The opportunities come from the dynamism of the Asia-Pacific economy. Despite internal and external risks and challenges, the Asia-Pacific is still an engine for global growth. We need to seize this opportunity, commit ourselves to an open growth model featuring innovative development, interconnected growth and converging interests, build an open and inclusive Asia-Pacific market, and fully unleash its growth dynamism, market vitality and cooperation potential. This way, we will foster a favorable environment for the sustained and sound development of the Asia-Pacific economy and the global economy as a whole.

The opportunities come from the reform and innovation of economies in the Asia-Pacific region. Take China as an example, the recently held Third Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee laid out the strategy for deepening reform in all sectors in China. Major reform measures covering 15 areas, 60 articles and nearly 300 items were proposed. These reforms cover a wide scope and have an intensity that is never seen before. Economic structural reform has been prioritized, with a focus on the relationship between the government and the market, allowing the market to play a decisive role in the allocation of resources. The Plenum also proposed to build a new system of an open economy, and to expand China's converging interests with other countries and regions. In the next five years, China will see over US$10 trillion of imports, US$500 billion of outbound investment, and 400 million overseas trips by Chinese tourists. All these will bring huge opportunities to the mutually-beneficial cooperation between China and other Asia-Pacific economies.

I believe these are opportunities not only for economies in the Asia-Pacific but also for APEC. With the global economy undergoing profound transformation, APEC should demonstrate a high level of ambition and forge ahead in a pioneering spirit. It should take the initiative to adapt to changes in the international landscape and meet the most immediate and urgent needs for development on the part of all member economies. To be specific:

First, we need to tap into new driving forces. APEC may explore the possibilities of practical cooperation in such areas as promoting reform of the economic structure, advancing innovative growth deepening convergence of the industrial chain and the value chain, and developing green economy, sustainable energy and blue economy. Efforts in this regard could enable the Asia-Pacific to take the lead in forming new clusters of growing industries in the world and create new driving forces for economic growth and for long-term development and common prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

Second, we need to make new achievements. APEC has been a front-runner in promoting regional economic integration and trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, as evidenced by the establishment of the Bogor Goals, now a banner of APEC. We must not allow ourselves to rest on the past laurels. On the contrary, we should strive for new progress and make new achievements in the traditional areas where APEC has an advantage and, on the basis of achieving the development vision set out by the Bogor Goals, add new dimensions to the Asia-Pacific partnership.

Third, we should have the courage to solve difficult problems. Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific has entered a period when thorny issues have to be solved, as I am afraid there are no longer too many "low hanging fruits" for us to pick easily. We need to show the courage to move first and face the problems in regional cooperation with a forward-looking and strategic vision. We should meet challenges head on and be readily willing to take risks as we explore the path of regional cooperation amidst the background of globalization. We need to contribute our share of experience to global economic governance, tackle the difficult problems concerning development and reform and readily put into practice important and frontier theories in relevant areas to boost our cooperation.

Fourth, we must enhance reform within APEC. APEC should compare not only its present with its past, but also itself with the G20 and other new mechanisms. It needs to reform and improve itself constantly to improve its performance in cooperation and, at the same time, draw upon the experience and practices of other international and regional mechanisms in order to explore new areas of cooperation and maintain its own vigor and vitality.

As I speak, I see a heavy responsibility befalling every colleague present here. At this informal SOM meeting, we will discuss the follow-up efforts of the Bali meeting and work out arrangements for next year. We need to contribute to the theme and priority topics for APEC 2014. I believe our discussion today will boost confidence, pool wisdom and open up new ideas for APEC cooperation next year. We have reasons to believe that APEC 2014 will provide more positive energy to the process of regional integration, and inject new vitality into the innovative development, reform and growth of Asia-Pacific economies. It will also lay the ground for building connectivity for the long-term development and common prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. Success of APEC 2014 will not be a success only for China. It will, more importantly, be the success for APEC economies and for the Asia-Pacific partnership that is oriented towards the future.

Thank you.

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