The Honorable President Xi Jinping, Chairman Ban Ki-moon and Secretary General Li Baodong of the Boao Forum for Asia and leaders from countries around the world,
I wholeheartedly congratulate you on the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Boao Forum for Asia.
Over the past two decades, the Boao Forum has sought solutions to global economic and social challenges. Through the Boao Forum, Asian countries have practiced the spirit of seeking common interests while acknowledging one another’s differences.
This spirit is the way to promote inclusiveness and mutual benefit. It also constitutes essential values and principles for overcoming the COVID-19 crisis facing all of humanity. I believe that the theme of this year’s Boao Forum “Join Hands to Strengthen Global Governance” was inspired by this spirit as well. I am grateful to the Chinese people who have provided support for the success of the Boao Forum. My words of encouragement are also meant for the relevant Forum officials.
Distinguished global leaders,
The world has taken note of an Asian spirit of inclusiveness that excludes no one. Korea, too, has been able to grow based on this spirit of sharing and considering neighbors first. Today, I would like to speak about ways to enhance Asia’s role and global governance while reflecting on Korea’s responsibility to surmount the crisis facing the world and achieve inclusive recovery.
First, there must be cooperation anchored in multilateralism that promotes inclusiveness. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the trade and investment environment to shrink and an “our country first” policy and protectionism to spread. In the short term, these can serve as walls to protect individual economies, but they will end up becoming barriers that impede global economic recovery.
In the post-COVID-19 era, the international community’s solidarity and cooperation will be paramount for coexistence and new prosperity. The future of humanity will also become sustainable when large and small countries as well as advanced and developing countries work together on an equal footing, respectful of each other. Therefore, we must use multilateral cooperation, which has strengthened inclusiveness, as a stepping stone to a new era. I hope that the RCEP agreement signed last year will help accelerate regional economic cooperation, restore confidence in multilateralism and advance free trade.
Second, there should be a collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic, beginning with Asia. No country can win the war against COVID-19 on its own in the absence of consideration for its neighbors. I highly commend the Chinese Government’s diverse efforts to support the fight against the virus, including the donation of vaccines to developing countries. For its part, the Republic of Korea will also further strengthen cooperation to overcome the pandemic through an equitable vaccine supply, the unimpeded movement of people across borders and bold fiscal investments. I hope that the Northeast Asia Cooperation Initiative for Infectious Disease Control and Public Health launched last year will help add substance to regional cooperation and that Asia will set an example to overcome COVID-19.
Third, joint action for a “green recovery” is a very urgent issue. The climate crisis requires the world’s collective response. Countries must formulate action plans tailored to their situations and take actions that are simultaneous and complementary. Koreans are moving toward 2050 carbon neutrality and are pushing a grand transformation into an eco-friendly, low-carbon economy through our Green New Deal.
We will further expand cooperation with Asian countries in such environmental areas as the supply of new and renewable energy, the response to marine pollution and the strengthening of water management capabilities. The 2021 P4G Seoul Summit will be held in May. I look forward to Asian countries taking interest and participating in the event so that it can be a venue to usher in a sustainable future by moving beyond the climate crisis.
Fourth, we must prepare for the future through new technology and cooperation on innovative governance. With the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating the reorganization of global value chains and the digitalization of production and supply systems, demand for technological advancement and innovation is growing all the more. The leading indicator of technological advancement and innovation is patents. Asia is spearheading innovation as Korea, China and Japan are among the five countries filing the most patent applications. If cooperation among Asian countries is strengthened, they will also play an important role in leading the future and responding to crises.
Korea will share its experiences and achievements as a digital powerhouse, including through our digital-focused Official Development Assistance program. In particular, we will double our efforts to cultivate the specialized talented individuals needed by each country, such as medical professionals and the technical workforces needed for manufacturing and IT.
Distinguished global leaders,
Humanity will eventually prevail over COVID-19. The inclusiveness and mutual benefit that have provided the power to overcome the virus will be the most useful spirits for ushering in a sustainable future.
As a founding member of the Boao Forum for Asia and a responsible middle-power nation, Korea will do all it can for common prosperity in Asia. I hope that the wisdom, experience and knowledge gathered at the 2021 Boao Forum today will prove a stepping stone for recovery and a leap forward for humanity.