A keynote speech made by Premier Li Keqiang at the 44th Singapore Lecture on the South China Sea and a regional free trade pact caught foreign media’s attention.
More than 500 people from Singaporean political, business and academic circles attended the lecture.
Premier Li expressed the hope that talks on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea will be completed within three years. Reaching agreement on the Code of Conduct will not only be beneficial to China and ASEAN countries, but also conducive to free trade, which is in the interest of all sides, he said.
Agence France-Presse said it was the first time that a clear timetable for Code of Conduct talks appeared.
A new chapter of China-ASEAN relations begins, the Jakarta Post of Indonesia reported.
Agence France-Presse and United News of India noted the Premier’s statements on hoping to finalize negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership in 2019.
“It (the partnership) is going to deliver real benefits to the people of our region,” “It’s going to send a message to the international community that we stand by free trade … with rising protectionism and strains on free trade, we need to advance the RCEP negotiations,” Agence France-Presse said, quoting the Premier.
In the nearly one-hour speech, Premier Li took an unequivocal stand on Chinese economic development, multilateralism and free trade and answered questions.
Singapore’s Lianhe Zaobao website offered a live broadcast of the speech. Premier Li said the door will only open wider and China will continue to deepen reform.
Singapore’s The Straits Times cited Premier Li’s statement that despite the downward pressure of the economy, China will continue to open the market and streamline business and tax regulations, instead of taking massive stimulus measures.
Singapore’s Business Times reported Premier Li’s remarks on encouraging Singaporean investment.
“China will not stop in its opening-up … Reform and opening-up have brought China to where it is today,” The Associated Press quoted Premier Li in an article “Chinese premier says reforms, not stimulus, vital for growth.”
The report also noted that the Chinese government will strictly crack down on infringement of intellectual property rights, and enterprises committing other forms of fraud to build a market-oriented, rule-based and international business environment.