Your Excellency Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China,
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Heads of Government,
Honourable Ministers, Business Leaders and Captains of Industry;
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to be here in this beautiful city of Boao to participate in today’s Forum and speak on the theme of Asia’s New Future: Towards a Community of Common Destiny.
It provides a space for us all to exchange views on how Asia can achieve continued peace and growth in today’s evolving, challenging and fast moving geo-political environment.
This common destiny is no longer a dream, but is within our grasp with the right ingredients and sufficient will.
There is an old Chinese proverb that goes: “Do not fear going forward slowly; fear only to stand still”.
“Standing still” is not one of the characteristics of our continent, as has long been widely acknowledged. Everyone has heard of the “Asian dragons” or “tigers”, and our era has been talked of as being “the Asian Century” for over 25 years.
Now, however, is the time to ensure that this promise becomes a reality.
Asia has already proved its strength and resilience, weathering the world financial crisis far better than many other economies in large part due to what we are already doing together. Intra-Asian trade is flourishing – in fact, globally, it is the fastest growing trade route – and in 2013 it represented around 25 percent of the continent’s annual exports.
Yes, we are diverse, in culture, race and religion. But look what we can do together.
Last October Malaysia was one of 21 countries to sign up to the founding of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The bank predicts that number may grow to 35 by the March 31 deadline. Within the last few weeks first Britain, then Germany, France and Italy, all agreed to join us as founder members. Europe’s largest economies have every confidence that the AIIB will play a huge role in shaping the future. And they don’t want to miss out on that opportunity.
For us in Malaysia, the theme of today’s forum could not be more appropriate. We are chairing ASEAN this year, and reaching for Asia’s Common Destiny complements the vision to establish an ASEAN Community by the end of 2015.
We believe that working in partnership, respecting the principles of tolerance, dialogue, moderation, sustainability and inclusivity, and by focusing on the people – just as President Xi Jinping’s Chinese Dream does – this is how we can maintain growth and build our common prosperity.
‘Our People, Our Community, Our Vision’ has been adopted as the theme for Malaysia’s Chairmanship of ASEAN. All development must be inclusive and no single community should be marginalised or left behind. We will ensure that fair emphasis is given to sustainable and equitable economic development.
For we recognise that in an interconnected world, trade and wealth creation are not zero-sum games. Communities and nations need not fear each other’s’ successes. Cultivating spheres of cooperation rather than competing spheres of influence will lead to progress for all.
If we can do that – and there is no reason to think we cannot – then Asia’s New Future will be brighter than ever. It is time to fully embrace our Common Destiny of peace, development and prosperity for all.