Honorable Premier Li Keqiang, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and business leaders from the three countries,
Chengdu is well known even to Koreans as a city in “The Romance of the Three Kingdoms.” Among countless linkages that connect Korea, China and Japan, there seems to be nothing like “The Romance of the Three Kingdoms.” The virtuous governing of Liu Bei, who embraced the importance of a great cause, and Zhuge Liang’s loyalty are the spirits of Asia. Here in Chengdu, where the traditional meets the contemporary and time-honored history and innovation are harmonized, it is all the more meaningful to attend this business summit together with the Premier and the Prime Minister.
I extend my congratulations on the opening of the 7th Korea-China-Japan business summit to mark the 20th anniversary of our trilateral cooperation. I am grateful to Chairman Gao Yan of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, Chair Nobuyuki Koga of the Japan Business Federation and Chairman Park Yongmaan of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
China has long advanced global civilizations, and Japan has demonstrated from early on that it could overcome the West even with regard to modern science and technology. Korea has played its role as a bridging nation, promoting trade and cultural exchanges and maintaining its identity even while surrounded by major powers.
While bearing a resemblance, our three countries have developed our own refined philosophies, cultures and religions in accordance with respective characteristics. Asia’s advanced civilizations were spread to the West via an oceanic Silk Road, ushering in the Age of Exploration and Renaissance. When our three countries opened and engaged in vibrant trade, splendid cultural heritage flourished, as evidenced by China’s Tang Dynasty, Japan’s Heian period and Korea’s Silla Kingdom.
In the 20th century, our three countries achieved the most dynamic growth in the world. We have also witnessed rises in our global standing, accounting for one-fifth of the world’s population, one-quarter of global GDP and one-fifth of all trade. Having emerged as the world’s second-largest, third-largest and 11th-largest economic powerhouses, respectively, we are now ushering in the era of Asia together.
Now we are newly opening up a future of free trade and solidarity and fulfilling our responsibilities for the sake of unity in Asia and global prosperity while enhancing our competitiveness respectively through constant innovation.
Besides economic prosperity, it is precisely our people-centered development – based on the humanism pursed by our three countries – that will resolve global issues such as climate change and lead a sustainable world.
Today, I am truly delighted to discuss a future of solidarity, cooperation and common prosperity with leaders from the business community.
Distinguished business leaders,
Compared to the year 1999, when the Korea-China-Japan summit was inaugurated, trilateral people-to-people exchanges have quadrupled; trade has increased fivefold; and investment twelvefold. Our industries have advanced beyond steel and shipbuilding to the cutting-edge IT industry, and we’ve helped one another achieve economic growth through the division of labor and cooperation.
We are actively advancing into other countries together. By pooling capital, technological prowess and experiences, our three countries are jointly building large infrastructure such as LNG plants and steel mills.
The scope of cooperation is expanding to encompass the areas of the environment, disaster relief, healthcare and medical services. In addition, regional exchanges and interactions among our young people are deepening thanks to the Pan-Yellow Sea Rim Economy and Technology Exchange Conference and the CAMPUS Asia Program.
Together, we will build upon the strength of mutual benefit to surmount the repercussions of low global growth and protectionism. Spearheading the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we will proceed toward a new era of shared prosperity.
To this end, I propose three ways to cooperate.
First is cooperation to strengthen the free trade order.
We have grown by seeking to perform on a global scale while lowering trade barriers and encouraging innovation. Free trade is a safeguard that allows companies to build mutual trust and reduce uncertainty in the future. This mutually beneficial development that supports business activities and promotes shared growth by defending the free trade order must be continued.
In October, we reaffirmed the value of free trade as we concluded the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement. We will use Asia’s strength to further expand the free trade order by advancing follow-up negotiations for the Korea-China FTA in regard to service and investment and the Korea-China-Japan FTA negotiations.
Leaders in 5G telecommunications, we are preparing for the increase in data usage spurred by digital trade. I hope that our three countries jointly researching e-commerce will bring about consumer protection and safety as well as system improvements with regard to electronic payments and shipping, thereby spearheading the moves to liberalize global digital trade.
Second is cooperation to foster new industries in response to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Just as we have enhanced our competitiveness together by establishing value chains in manufacturing, we can work together in nurturing new industries through exchanges and cooperation in response to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
China is building high-tech industries based on its huge market. Japan is a long-established technological innovation powerhouse. Korea is an information and communication technology leader. When we join forces, we can secure optimal capabilities for innovation in new industries such as data, networks, artificial intelligence and healthcare as well as bring about innovation in manufacturing.
I anticipate that our three countries will become a pivot that drives mutual growth with Asia by conducting joint research and development, preparing international standards and promoting exchanges among innovative startups.
Third is working together for peace in Northeast Asia.
China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative, Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy and Korea’s New Northern and New Southern policies all link continental and maritime regions. The consistent goal is to bring people’s hearts and minds together as well as to support peace and prosperity for all.
Starting with the East Asian Railroad Community initiative, if we establish an energy community and economic community, along with a system for regional peace and security, opportunities will multiply for enterprises. Opening up a new Silk Road and the Northern Sea Route will truly complete continental and maritime network linkage.
I’d like to see businesses from our three countries extend their collaborative efforts to develop economically beyond Northeast Asia to include ASEAN member states and other countries. I also look forward to them working together to develop the Asia-Pacific region’s economy so that a peace economy is achieved for all of Asia, whereby peace drives the economy and the economy nurtures peace in a virtuous circle.
Premier Li, Prime Minister Abe and business leaders from our three countries,
Our three nations share a proverb that goes, “Close neighbors are better than distant relatives.” We have the world’s oldest shared history and culture as neighboring countries. By working together, we can tread the path of progress toward abundance. The business leaders gathered here are key players in bringing our nations’ proximity even closer, thereby fostering greater trust.
The Asian Century, which was triggered by the East Asian miracle, will widen and deepen through the Asian spirit of mutual benefit. I am confident that if business leaders lead the way, the power of mutual benefit among our three nations that begins with economic matters will open up a new future for both Asia and the world.