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TEXT: Remarks by Wang Yi at the Opening Ceremony of the 7th China-South Asia Expo, August 16, 2023, Kunming. Distinguished Guests and Friends, Good morning!

It gives me great pleasure to join you in Kunming, the beautiful "Spring City", to attend the opening ceremony of the 7th China-South Asia Expo and the 27th China Kunming Import & Export Fair. On behalf of the Chinese government, I would like to extend warm congratulations on the opening of this China-South Asia Expo, and sincere appreciation to all those who have long been committed to friendly cooperation between China and South Asia!

China and South Asian countries are linked by mountains and seas and with a shared future. We appreciate each other in the process of civilizational rejuvenation and ride the wave of globalization hand in hand. By following the trend of history and accelerating development and revitalization, we have grown into the fastest-growing and most dynamic region in the world. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the China-South Asia Expo.

It also marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative and China's neighborhood diplomacy guideline that advocates amity, sincerity, mutual benefit, and inclusiveness, both proposed by President Xi Jinping. Over the past decade, China and South Asian countries have respected each other as equals, worked together in the same direction, and achieved fruitful results in cooperation in various fields.

We have actively promoted high-level interactions, strengthened strategic guidance, consolidated solidarity and cooperation, supported each other's core interests, and respected each other's development paths.

We have properly handled disagreements by seeking common ground while reserving differences. We have stuck together to address challenges, as passengers in the same boat should do. By so doing, we have jointly safeguarded the security and development environment in the region.

We have kept advancing Belt and Road cooperation, seeking synergy between development strategies, and leveraging complementary advantages. Gratifying progress has been made in connectivity, infrastructure, trade, and investment.

A batch of major projects, including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the 8th Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge in Bangladesh, and the Colombo Port City in Sri Lanka, have been implemented one after another. Since 2013, the volume of goods traded between China and South Asian countries has increased from less than 100 billion U.S. dollars to nearly 200 billion U.S. dollars, with an average annual growth rate as high as 8.3 percent.

We have conducted in-depth friendly exchanges, upheld the vision of openness and inclusiveness, carried out people-to-people and cultural exchanges in various forms, and built multi-level platforms for non-governmental exchanges. Through these efforts, we have brought new vitality to the millennium-old cultural interactions and laid a solid foundation of public support for cooperation between the two regions. In the face of such disasters as earthquakes, floods, and pandemics, Chinese rescue and medical teams and local people have overcome difficulties together.

With a large number of anti-pandemic supplies and vaccines continuously delivered to the people of South Asia, we have written a new chapter of friendship between China and South Asia in the new era.

Distinguished guests and friends,

President Xi Jinping has stressed that China's development will bring more new opportunities to all countries. China will always hold high the banner of peace, development, cooperation, and win-win results, unswervingly promote high-standard opening up, and realize Chinese modernization through high-quality development, thus benefiting the people of all countries.

As China's close neighbor, South Asian countries are welcome to get on board the "express train" of China's development to share the dividends brought by it. China and South Asia, huge markets with a combined population of more than 3 billion, account for about one-fifth of the global economy and enjoy enormous cooperation potential and broad development space.

China is ready to work with all South Asian countries to seize historical opportunities, strengthen solidarity and coordination, foster new drivers for development, build a community of development, and continuously make new contributions to the enduring peace, stability and prosperity of the region. To this end, we would like to propose the following suggestions:

First, deepen strategic mutual trust. We should further increase high-level mutual visits, make good use of cooperation mechanisms, enhance mutual trust, expand common understandings, and consolidate solidarity. We should support each other in international and regional affairs, advocate open regionalism, foster close regional cooperation, jointly safeguard the interests of developing countries, and defend international fairness and justice together.

Second, deepen connectivity. We should take the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to be held this autumn as an opportunity to strengthen exchanges and cooperation within the Belt and Road framework with South Asian countries.

We should actively seek support from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund, advance the development of such backbone corridors as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the China-Nepal cross-border railway, accelerate the construction of key corridors, key nodes, and key projects, and facilitate and upgrade unimpeded regional economic flows.

Third, deepen economic and trade cooperation. We are ready to further promote trade facilitation, improve rules of origin, and seek greater synergy among institutional standards related to information, custom clearance, and quality inspection, among others.

We should follow the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits to boost and upgrade investment cooperation, and forge closer bonds in global industrial and supply chains. We will protect the legitimate rights and interests of foreign-funded enterprises in accordance with the law, and create a market environment featuring equal treatment and fair competition. South Asian enterprises are welcome to increase investment in China.

Fourth, deepen people-to-people and cultural exchanges. We hope that with closer interaction, the two sides will forge even closer bonds, just as relatives and friends do. We should fully leverage business, non-governmental and academic channels and platforms to expand people-to-people and cultural exchanges, tighten the bonds, upgrade traditional friendship, and create a more cohesive and diverse social foundation for regional cooperation.

Distinguished guests and friends,

The door of China will open still wider to the world. Yunnan is the main gateway for China's opening up to South Asia and Southeast Asia. The Belt and Road Initiative, the Yangtze River Economic Belt, the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, and Lancang-Mekong Cooperation converge here, creating unique conditions for the China-South Asia Expo and making it an important platform for promoting exchanges and cooperation between China, South Asia, and even countries around the world.

You are welcome to make use of this grand event to explore more cooperation opportunities, achieve more cooperation results, jointly promote the development and revitalization of Asia, and create a better future together.

To conclude, I wish this China-South Asia Expo a complete success! Thank you!

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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