Singapore PM warns against rising protectionism in ASEAN address

World Today

World leaders are in Singapore for the 33rd ASEAN summit. The city-state is the current chair of the 10-country bloc of the Association of Southeast Asian nations. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong opened the meetings with a warning.

CGTN’s Miro Lu reports from Singapore.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong, is the ASEAN Chairman this year, welcomed leaders from the 10-member countries. He also welcomed its regional partners, which includes Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

During his opening address, Lee praised ASEAN’s efforts while stressing on the need for multilateral cooperation and pooling of resources to tackle key issues troubling the region.

Earlier in the day, the Chinese Premier addressed the 44th Singapore lecture where he touched upon several key issues, like relations between China and Singapore, free trade, and the South China Sea.

Premier Li also stressed the need for free and fair trade, and mentioned that China will adhere to multilateralism and resolving issues through dialogue.

On the issue of the South China Sea, Premier Li shared that China is working with other countries on a code of conduct, which would be finished within the next three years. He went on to say that China will never seek hegemony in the region and that Beijing wants a harmonious relationship in the region. He also expressed his wish to strengthen bilateral ties with Singapore and the ASEAN nations.

It is going to be a busy couple of days for Chinese Premier Li Keqiang as he attends the ASEAN-China Summit, the ASEAN Plus Three Summit, and the East Asia Summit. Premier Li is likely to work towards strengthening trade relations with ASEAN nations and other regional partners, and emphasize the need for multilateral cooperation.

He will also push for RCEP negotiations to be completed by next year. Premier Li expressed confidence during his speech that an announcement on ‘substantial progress’ is more than likely at the RCEP Summit on Wednesday.