Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday called for taking the Asia-Pacific cooperation to a new phase to advance the building of an Asia-Pacific community with a shared future amid the COVID-19 pandemic and economic slowdown.

Citing a Malaysian saying “bukit sama didaki, lurah sama dituruni”, which means to climb the hill together and go down the ravine together, Xi highlighted the essence of the spirit of the Asia-Pacific family at the 27th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Beijing via video link.

The COVID-19 pandemic, mounting unilateralism, protectionism, as well as a backlash against economic globalization weighed on the region’s economy, which has seen its first negative growth in decades. The prospects of Asia-Pacific cooperation are crucial to regional development, people’s livelihoods, and the world’s future.

In his speech, Xi highlighted promoting openness and inclusiveness, accelerating innovation-driven growth, enhancing regional connectivity, and pushing for mutually beneficial cooperation, as the region endeavors to dig its way out of the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

President Xi said, “First, we need to stay open and inclusive. It is important that the Asia-Pacific should remain the bellwether in safeguarding peace and stability, upholding multilateralism, and fostering an open world economy.

We must stay as determined as ever to support the multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization at its core. Continued efforts are needed to press ahead with regional economic integration for the early realization of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). China welcomes the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and will favorably consider joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

We should pay no less attention to economic and technical cooperation. We need to further implement the APEC Strategy for Strengthening Quality Growth and the Action Agenda on Advancing Inclusion.

China will host a seminar on advancing economic inclusion through trade and investment to look for suggestions on how trade and investment policies could deliver broader benefits to people.”

He said, “Second, we need to pursue innovation-driven growth. The APEC Internet and Digital Economy Roadmap should be implemented in full to spur the dissemination and application of new technologies and strengthen digital infrastructure. We need to improve economic governance and foster an open, fair, equitable and non-discriminatory environment for businesses.

China calls for experience sharing among APEC members on how to control COVID-19 and achieve economic recovery with digital technologies. China also calls for improving the doing-digital-business environment, energizing market players, and tapping the potential of the digital economy.

Next year, China will host a workshop on digital technology-enabled poverty alleviation, in a bid to unleash the role of digital technologies in eradicating poverty in our region.”

“Third, we need to enhance connectivity. We need to continue to implement the APEC Connectivity Blueprint to facilitate the smooth, safe and orderly flow of people, goods, capital and data and achieve a seamlessly connected Asia-Pacific. China is ready to take active and well-thought-out steps with all other parties to set up ‘green lanes’, which will help make customs clearance more efficient, unclog bottlenecks, and reconnect disrupted links.

On China’s part, we hope to work with all Partners in high-quality Belt & Road Cooperation, which we believe will set up a bigger platform for connectivity in the Asia-Pacific and inject a stronger impetus into the economy of our region and the wider world,” President Xi added.

He said, “Fourth, we need to promote mutually beneficial cooperation. We need to deepen the Asia-Pacific partnership featuring mutual trust, inclusiveness and mutually beneficial cooperation and follow the approach of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits.

It is important that we advance practical cooperation on the basis of consensus, properly manage differences and disagreements, and keep Asia-Pacific cooperation in the right direction to ensure APEC’s sound development in the long run.

We support APEC in strengthening policy exchanges and capacity building in the areas of vaccine research, public health and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in a bid to contribute to anti-epidemic cooperation and economic recovery.”

In conclusion, President Xi said China is ready to work with all other parties in the Asia-Pacific to build and share a brighter future of peace and prosperity for our region and get ever closer to the goal of a community with a shared future for mankind.

Presided over by Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, the meeting, themed with “Optimizing Human Potential Towards a Resilient Future of Shared Prosperity”, gathered APEC economic leaders online where they have an in-depth exchange of views and reached consensuses on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and APEC’s vision for post-2020 cooperation.

During the meeting, the APEC economic leaders said that in the face of the challenge of COVID-19, all parties should seek common ground rather than make differences, while strengthening unity, deepening cooperation on vaccines, facilitating the movement of people and materials, overcoming the crisis as soon as possible and achieving economic recovery and growth.

They called for strengthening cooperation in trade and investment, scientific and technological innovation, and the digital economy, and deepening connectivity, while upholding the APEC spirit of equal partnership, common responsibility, mutual respect and mutual benefit.

These leaders said they will support the reform of the WTO, uphold multilateralism and the multilateral trading system, and foster a free, open, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent and predictable trade and investment environment.

They also said they will advance regional economic integration and the realization of the FTAAP, and strive to build an open, dynamic, resilient and peaceful Asia-Pacific community by 2040.

The “APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040”, the bloc’s new long-term blueprint for future cooperation, and the Kuala Lumpur Declaration of APEC Leaders 2020 were also adopted and issued during the meeting.