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Diplomacy
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Saudi visit was successful and productive – PBBM

by Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

Although the visit to Saudi Arabia was brief, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said that it was a successful and productive one with various engagements accomplished to reaffirm the Philippines’ commitment to the partnership between the GCC and ASEAN countries, as well as to promote the country to prospect investors. In his arrival speech on Saturday following his visit to Riyadh, the President ticked off his accomplishments, mentioning the business-to-business agreements that would guarantee additional employment for Filipino workers. President Marcos described the ASEAN-GCC Summit held in Riyadh as a landmark event, adding that it was the first time that ASEAN and GCC Member States gathered together to discuss regional and international issues and on future cooperation. The six GCC member countries are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates while Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam compose the ASEAN. “The Summit provided an opportunity to project the Philippines’ long-standing promotion of a rules-based international order, which is essential to the maintenance of peace, security, and stability in our regions which sit astride two of the most vibrant sea-lanes of trade and communications in the world,” President Marcos said. The President said that the Summit also provided an opportunity for the Philippines to secure a US$120-million Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that would establish a 500-person capacity training facility in the country to upskill Filipino workers in the construction industry. “The facility aims to train at least 3,000 Filipinos a year and more than 15,000 in the next 5 years, ready for deployment at any time,” President Marcos said. Another three business-to-business agreements were also discussed among Saudi and Philippine human resource companies “for the training and employment of Filipinos across a wide range of industries including healthcare; hotel, restaurant, and catering; and maintenance and operations, amongst other operations.” “These agreements are expected to generate more than USD 4.2 billion and additional 220,000 jobs for Filipinos over the next few years,” he said. President Marcos also reported resolving the outstanding bilateral issue with Kuwait at the sidelines of the Summit, including working out the lifting of the deployment ban of Filipino workers. “Now, that will end and we will now return to the normal state of affairs with the Kuwaiti government,” he said. The President said he also had the opportunity to meet with the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, and he referred to their discussion as “very encouraging,” with anticipated capital investments pledged by the government of Saudi Arabia to the Philippines. “We exchanged views on issues of common concern to our two countries, and I expressed hope that we can sustain the momentum of high-level exchanges as we expand cooperation in key areas of mutual benefit to our peoples,” President Marcos said. In his arrival speech, President Marcos reiterated his commitment to continue to advance the country’s interest and at the same time, expand the Philippines’ partnership with ally nations. “Let me assure you that we will continue to advance our national interests as we further expand our partnerships abroad,” Marcos said. In his speech during the Summit, President Marcos emphasized further cooperation in key areas including energy and food security and enhancement of logistic chains. He also called for safeguarding of rights and welfare of Filipino workers. President Marcos arrived at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City at 2:50 p.m. Saturday. PND

Energy & Economics
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Keynote address the Closing Ceremony of the World Food Forum

by Michael D. Higgins

Director-General, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Dear Friends, Young and Old, This week, as we have gathered here at the World Food Forum in the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in Rome to discuss the necessary transformation of our agri-food systems, we must not only be conscious of targets missed or imperfectly achieved, but of the need for courage, and to generate new capacity to move to new models of better connection between economy, social protection, social justice and ecology. We are confronted with a climate and biodiversity emergency that cannot be handled by the tools that produced it or by the architecture of how we made decisions before. We are called upon to, once and for all, tackle with alternatives and sustained effort and innovation, the vicious circle of global poverty and inequality, global hunger, debt and climate change, our interacting crises. That is the context in which sustainable food systems must be achieved. I ask you all gathered today to respond in the most meaningful way within your capacity, within your generation, in a way that includes all generations, to the challenge set out by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in his recent statements: This is how the Secretary-General put it: “The Sustainable Development Goals aren’t just a list of goals. They carry the hopes, dreams, rights and expectations of people everywhere. In our world of plenty, hunger is a shocking stain on humanity and an epic human rights violation. It is an indictment of every one of us that millions of people are starving in this day and age.” It can be put right but we must change and there is work involved in upskilling in such a way that we can not only identify and critique assumptions of failing models but be able to put the alternative models in place. We have had so many broken promises. Only 15 percent of some 140 specific targets to achieve the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals are on track to be achieved. Many targets are going in the wrong direction at the present rate, and not a single one is expected to be achieved in the next seven years. However, we have some reasons to be hopeful. When I look around this room today, I see so many engaged and committed people, including young people who have the enthusiasm, energy and creativity needed to tackle the serious structural causes of food insecurity and global hunger. But it is important to acknowledge that young people are not alone in seeking authenticity of words delivered into actions that have an ethical outcome. There are those who have spent their lives seeking a fairer world, one in which hunger would be eliminated – as it can be. We must recognise their efforts. We must work together to harness this collective energy and creativity into strong movements that will deliver, finally, a food-secure world for all. This will require, I suggest, moving to a new culture of sharing information, experiences, insights. As the cuts have taken effect, we must take the opportunity of developing a view, post-silo culture, of sharing insights, and I see FAO as uniquely positioned for this. As Glenn Denning, Peter Timmer and other food experts have stated, achieving food security is not an easy task given how food hunger is “deeply entwined with the organisation of economic activities and their regulation through public policies”, given, too, how governments and markets must work together, how the private, public and third sectors must work together. All of our efforts must have the character of inclusivity. Each of us as global citizens has a responsibility to respond. To ignore it would be a dereliction of our duty of care to our shared planet and its life-forms including our fellow humans and future generations. The Secretary-General’s pleas in relation to the consequences of climate change are given a further terrible reality in the increased and spreading threat of hunger, a food insecurity which is directly affected by the impact of climate change. For example, figures published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations show that 26.2 percent of Africa’s population experienced severe food insecurity in 2021, with 9.8 percent of the total global population suffering from undernourishment the same year. It is time for us all, as leaders and global citizens, to take stock of how words are leading to actions, to increase the urgency of our response to what is a grave existential threat and to achieve change. It is clear, as the Secretary-General’s powerful statement shows, that we need to begin the work of reform in our international institutional architecture, such as UN reform at the highest level, including the Security Council and the Bretton Woods institutions, if we are to achieve what the Secretary-General has suggested is the challenge to “turn a year of burning heat into a year of burning ambition”. Let us commit then to sharing purposes, projects, resources, seeking a new culture for sustenance solutions. Those of us who have spent much of our lives advocating UN reform believe that its best prospects are in the growing acknowledgement of the importance of the vulnerabilities and frustrated capacity of the largest and growing populations of the world being represented, not only nominally but effectively, through a reform that includes reform of the Bretton-Woods Institutions. As Secretary-General Guterres has said on a number of occasions, it is time to reform what are 1945 institutions, including the Security Council and Bretton Woods, in order to align with the “realities of today’s world”. We have to acknowledge too that the development models of the 1950s and 1960s were part of the assumptions that brought us to the crises through which we are living. New models are needed and the good news is that a new epistemology, our way of looking at the world, of sufficiency and sustainability, is emerging. We are seeing good work already occurring. Good development scholarship is available to us. I reference, for example Pádraig Carmody’s recent book, Development Theory and Practice in a Changing World. Such work builds important bridges from the intellectual work that is so badly needed and is welcome at the centre of our discourse on all aspects of interacting crises, including global hunger, and the need to link economy, ecology and a global ethics. What we must launch now is a globalisation from below. Replacing the globalisation from above that has given us a burning planet and threatened democracy itself, with a globalisation from below of the fullest participation, we can establish and indeed extend democracy, offering accountability and transparency of our work together. Writers such as Pádraig Carmody are not alone in suggesting that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals provides the opportunity for moving past the worst contradictions of failed models and dangerous undeclared assumptions. The demise of hegemonic development theory and practice may be a result of several factors, such as the rise of ultra-nationalism around the world, the increasing importance of securitisation where the most powerful insulate their lives from the actions of the excluded, and the existential threat posed by the climate crisis. Such research adds to the growing body of development literature that argues for a pro-active, structural-focused, tailored approach to development. The Hand-in-Hand Initiative of the FAO, details of which were discussed at this week’s parallel session, is a most welcome initiative, one that aims to raise incomes, improve the nutritional status and well-being of poor and vulnerable populations, and strengthen resilience to climate change. It heralds a belated recognition too of the insufficiency of a reactive emergency response to famine and hunger crises. It suggests a move towards one that tackles the underlying structural causes of hunger. Young people will need patience and to dig sufficiently deep to achieve these necessary changes. They are right in seeking to be partners, so much more than being allowed as attendees. Hand-in-Hand recognises the importance of tailor-made interventions to food security, using the best available evidence in the form of spatial data, validated on the ground through local diagnostics and policy processes, to target the most food insecure, the most hungry, the poorest. It recognises that context-specific employment and labour market policies are part of the sustainability challenge. I believe that evidence from below is crucial to achieving globalisation from below and that it can be achieved by a reintroduction of new re-casted anthropology guided by, among others, the new African scholars now available, whose work is empirical and peer-tested, can be invaluable in giving transparency on projects and investments – a strategy for fact-gathering for empowerment of rural people so like the 1955 fact-gathering with rural people of the FAO – first published in 1955 and used by me in 1969! Young people must be about upskilling to be able to critique all of the assumptions guiding the policies on to their lives. A key objective for us now must be to strengthen institutional capacity on the ground, not only at the strategic level, but also fundamentally, so that the public, farmers, and other stakeholders’ institutions are enabled to participate in territories-based agri-food systems. Such a move is fundamental to a successful food security strategy. Our institutional architecture and the multilateral bodies within it, must be made fit for purpose if we are to tackle effectively and meaningfully our contemporary food insecurity crisis which is worsening according to the 2023 Global Report on Food Crises, with 258 million people across 58 countries suffering acute food insecurity. Perhaps most crucially, we must acknowledge, as United Nations Programmes such as the Hand-in-Hand Initiative does, the critical importance of partnership and collaboration in addressing global hunger. We must do everything we can to ensure cross-sectoral co-ordination, foster coherent development actions, under a common, shared vision. We must end all wasteful competitive silo behaviours, create a culture of openness and co-operation. The FAO is well positioned to lead on this with its new invigorated partnerships with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Co-operation in the development and implementation of new models will be key to the achieving of any targets that seek to be sustainable and inclusive. For example, I suggest it will achieve best results if funders, such as the African Development Bank, are enabled and funded to work closely with research institutes, both at the national and international level, but particularly take account of field studies conducted over time at local level in the new anthropology so as to ensure that findings from the latest research feed into the design and implementation of any financial supports and investments. By providing a platform, a shared interactive transparent space for national authorities and producers, national and global businesses, multilateral development banks and donors to discuss and advance ways and means to finance the supported national food programmes, initiatives such as Hand-in-Hand are proving to be an effective flagship programme of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. Co-operation must work both ways. For example, the parts of the so-called ‘developed’ world suffering from problems of high levels of obesity and food wastage must learn from the deep knowledge and wisdom existing in the most populated continents, as well as the science, which points to a new ecological revolution, one in which agroecology – the bringing of ecological principles to develop new management approaches in agroecosystems – can play a fundamental role, especially for the poorest of our global citizens. We have seen the destructive impact of colonial models of agronomy promoting an over-reliance on a small number of commodity crops, herders incentivised to become less mobile and store less grain in order to maximise commodity crop production, and increasing imports in conditions of near monopoly of seeds, pesticides and fertilisers. This had the deadly effect of opening up farmers not only to the full force of extended droughts, the ravages of variable climate conditions, and a reliance on non-indigenous inputs, but also to global spaces where they have insufficient influence. We must retreat from these dysfunctional food systems model, with their related dependencies, with urgency and embrace models of sufficiency and effective local markets and see the value of making our way too that includes agro-ecological models that promote food security and development opportunities for the poorest people on our fragile planet. Adaptation and responding to the already changing climate is crucial for all of us, and especially in the most food-insecure nations. We must restore degraded ecosystems, introduce drought-resistant crops, ensure accessible digital services for smallholder farms, while creating new, sustainable green jobs for young people so that we may forge a smart, sustainable, climate-resilient development path for the continent. This week we have to acknowledge the many challenges we face including, inter alia, the energy, climate and biodiversity crises, war and conflict which exacerbate food insecurity, ensuring enabling policy environments, and reaching the long-term goal of sustainable food system transformation. Any agri-food initiative, be it for Africa, the Middle-East, Central or South America, or other food-insecure regions, must place inclusivity at its core. Specifically, more vulnerable, smallholder farmers must be targeted for inclusion as programme beneficiaries, not just large-scale, industrial level farmers and ever-expanding commercial plantations. Research has shown that irresponsible agri-business deals are sometimes falsely legitimated by the promotion of alleged achievement of Sustainable Development Goal Number 2 at any cost, without care as to consequence, ignoring the reality that smallholders need enabling policies to enhance their role in food production; that food insecurity is linked to rights, processes, and unequal access to land resources; and that dispossession disproportionately affects women farmers. On this latter issue of gender, achieving zero hunger requires gender-inclusive land and labour policies. Actions must prioritise the inclusion of women and girls who are more food insecure than men in every region of the world. Women must have a right to land recognised and enshrined. The gender gap in food security has grown exponentially in recent years, and will only deteriorate further in the absence of targeted intervention. Women are obviously the most impacted victims of the food crisis, thus they must be a part of the solution. Women produce up to 80 percent of foodstuffs. Empowering women farmers can thus serve as a transformative tool for food security. However, female farmers have, research tell us, limited access to physical inputs, such as seeds and fertiliser, to markets, to storage facilities and this must be addressed. Climate change, and our response to it, addressing global hunger and global poverty, exposing and breaking dependency is a core theme of my Presidency. It is the most pressing existential crisis that our vulnerable planet and its global citizens face. Throughout the world, young people and the youth sector have been at the vanguard of efforts to tackle climate change. Young people have demonstrated, time and again, how well-informed and acutely aware they are of the threat that climate change poses, as well as its uneven and unequal impacts. May I suggest to all of you that, as young innovators and future leaders in your respective fields, you will be at your best, achieve the greatest fulfilment for yourself and others, when you locate your contribution within a commitment to be concerned and contributing global citizens. Take time to ask how is my energy in the tasks of hand and brain being delivered and for whose benefit. May I suggest, too, that you will be remembered and appreciated all the more if you work to ensure that the results of science, technology are shared and that all human endeavours are allowed to flow across borders for the human benefit of all and with a commitment to ecological responsibility and inclusivity. Offer your efforts where they can have the best effect for all. Locate yourselves in the heart of the populated world, as Nobel Laureate William Campbell did with his research on river blindness. Changing our food systems is, however, let us not forget, an intergenerational challenge that requires an inter-generational approach. We must now empower youth to be in the driver’s seat to build a new, better, transparent model of food security in a variety of different settings. Let us endeavour, together, in our diverse world, to seek to build a co-operative, caring and non-exploitative global civilisation free from hunger, a shared planet, a global family at peace with nature and neighbours, resilient to the climate change that is already occurring, one based on foundations of respect for each nation’s own institutions, traditions, experiences and wisdoms, founded on a recognition of the transcendent solidarity that might bind us together as humans, and reveal a recognition of the responsibility we share for our vulnerable planet and the fundamental dignity of all those who dwell on it. Thank you. Beir beannacht.

Diplomacy
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Russia-North Korea talks

by Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin and Chairman of State Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Kim Jong-un held talks at the Vostochny Space Launch Centre. Following the talks with participation of the countries’ delegations, the two leaders held a one-on-one meeting. * * * President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Chairman, I am delighted to see you again and to welcome you to Russia. This time we are meeting at the Vostochny Cosmodrome, just as we agreed. We are proud of the way this sector is developing in Russia, and this is our new facility. I hope that it will be of interest to you and your colleagues. However, our meeting is taking place at a special time. The People’s Democratic Republic of Korea has recently celebrated the 75th anniversary of its founding, and we established diplomatic relations 75 years ago. I would like to remind you that our country was the first to recognise the sovereignty and independence of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. This year we mark 70 years since the end of the war for independence and the Korean people’s victory in that war. It is a landmark date because our country also helped our friends in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to fight for their independence. Of course, we need to talk about our economic cooperation, humanitarian issues and the situation in the region. There are many issues we will discuss. I would like to say that I am glad to see you. Thank for accepting our invitation to come to Russia. Welcome. Chairman of State Affairs of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea Kim Jong-un (retranslated): I express my gratitude to you for inviting us despite your being busy with state affairs. Our visit to Russia is taking place at a very important time. The Russian side is giving a warm welcome to the delegation from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. From the moment we arrived in Russia, we could feel the sincerity of our Russian friends. On behalf of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, I express my gratitude to you and to the people of the Russian Federation. I also thank you for paying so much attention to our visit to Russia. We have been able to see with our own eyes the present and the future of Russia as it builds itself as a space power. Right now, we are having a meeting at a very special moment, right in the heart of the space power which is Russia. As you mentioned, the Soviet Union played a major role in liberating our country and helping it become an independent state, and our friendship has deep roots. Currently, our relations with the Russian Federation are the top priority for our country. I am confident that our meeting will serve as another step in elevating our relations to a new level. As you have just mentioned, we have many issues pertaining to the development of our relations, including politics, the economy and culture, in order to contribute to the improvement of the well-being of our peoples. Russia is currently engaged in a sacred battle to defend its state sovereignty and security in the face of the hegemonic forces that oppose Russia. We are willing to continue to develop our relations. We have always supported and will continue to support every decision made by President Putin, as well as the decisions of the Russian Government. I also hope that we will always stand together in fighting imperialism and building a sovereign state. Once again, I express my gratitude to you for providing us with the opportunity to visit Russia and for paying so much attention to our visit. Vladimir Putin: Thank you. <…>

Diplomacy
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Speech of Danish Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen - We will pursue a clear-sighted and realistic China policy

by Lars Løkke Rasmussen

This week I travel to China for the first time as Danish foreign minister. I was there at the end of 2017. At that time, I was prime minister and Xi Jinping had been president for four years. It was clear that there were major political changes underway in China - but also that there was still a desire for engagement and cooperation with the outside world. Here, six years later, the picture is different. China continues to pursue its interests in the world. But now with greater assertiveness and more muscle, and China is trying more directly to change the world order as we know it to China's own advantage. And they go to great lengths to protect their political system from outside influence. We in the West are therefore forced to relate to China in a different way.  And that is exactly why I look forward to setting foot on Chinese soil again. Because even if we disagree politically on a number of things, not least in terms of values, China cannot be avoided. Neither economically nor politically. China is the world's largest economy when adjusted for purchasing power. China's GDP is on par with Europe's combined. China is now and in the coming years indispensable for the value chains of our business life. We also need China to solve the climate crisis. The country accounts for 30% of global emissions of greenhouse gases. Without China, we simply cannot achieve our climate ambitions. Just like China, it is a producer of many – indeed too many – of the technologies and raw materials that form a central part of our own green transition. Over the past many years, we in the West have become too dependent on China in several critical areas. There is no doubt about that. We have been somewhat naive for a long time. But we cannot react by decoupling ourselves from China now. It is simply not possible. We must be pragmatic idealists, as I call it, and pursue a committed, clear-sighted, and realistic China policy. This means, first of all, that we must free ourselves from critical dependencies. We must minimize our risk and become more resilient. In plain Danish, we in Denmark and Europe must be able to stand on our own two feet to a greater extent. The time when we perceived the whole world as one big factory is over. We must look after our supply chains at the seams. This applies to energy, critical raw materials, and technology. And then Denmark and the EU must pursue a more robust and strategic trade and industrial policy. Denmark, the EU, and our allies have significantly tightened their approach to China in recent years. It is wise and necessary. We must continue to address the challenges with China when it comes to interests, values and security with our partners and allies. The latter is important because Denmark cannot cope with Chinese power on its own. No European country can do that alone; for that, the size ratio is too unequal. Therefore, it is alpha and omega that we stand together in the EU on our approach to China in close dialogue with the USA and our allies in NATO. At the same time, pragmatic idealism means that we must not overrule. Driving from one ditch to another doesn't help. Europe must not become generally protectionist and we must cooperate with China on our common interests. My trip to Beijing and Shanghai has three purposes. Firstly, to agree a new Danish-Chinese work programme. Secondly, to open doors for Danish business so that they can deliver the green solutions the Chinese demand. And thirdly, to have an honest conversation with the Chinese government about our bilateral relations, about developments in the world and the things we see differently. There are many issues to discuss with China. Over the past 10 years, China has increased political control over its own population and suppression of fundamental freedoms. In Hong Kong, democracy and freedom of assembly and speech no longer exist. Uighurs are oppressed in Xinjiang. And in Tibet, a slow erosion of ethnic Tibetan culture and identity has long been underway. There is also the conflict over Taiwan. Half of all the world's containers are sailed through the Taiwan Strait, so the relationship across the strait has consequences for the whole world. Also, for the EU and Denmark. We emphasize that the conflict is resolved peacefully without violence, threats, or coercion. Like the USA and most other countries, Denmark pursues a one-China policy. This does not change the fact that we have strong economic and cultural ties to Taiwan. And many Danes have – like me – sympathy for the democratic governance reform that has been chosen in Taiwan. In light of Russia's aggression against Ukraine, it is also clear that China's close partnership with Russia is worrying. China has neither condemned the invasion nor demanded that Ukraine's full territorial integrity be restored, just as China is helping to spread Russian disinformation. In return, China has emphasized that it will not support Russia's aggression militarily. It is an important commitment and signal, and we must take them at their word. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China has a special responsibility to engage actively in the peace dialogue to end the war in Ukraine. We look at many things differently. When it comes to human rights, we must continue to hold China to international obligations. At the same time, the trade and climate conditions are such that we have to cooperate in those areas. Our current work program with China expired in 2020, so it is long overdue for renewal. Several have argued that Denmark should end the cooperation. I don't think that would be in Denmark's interest. At the same time, it would be a significant and wrong political signal not to renew it at all. But we have known for a long time that the program should look different. It used to be quite broad – even too broad, in retrospect. The new program must be more focused. We will cooperate with China on climate, green energy, environment, sustainable food production, green shipping, and health. For example, we can help China reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. It is good for both the climate and for Danish exports. It is important for us to focus the cooperation on the green areas in particular. If we only want to cooperate and talk with those we completely agree with, then I wouldn't have many places to go as Secretary of State. And that would not be good for either the economy or the climate. And not good for the overall political situation either. China is constantly seeking cooperation with countries around the world. They have global ambitions. They are not only asserting their influence in Asia, but also in Africa and Latin America. They offer themselves as partners in very specific ways without demands for democracy and human rights. Construction of highways and railways. Expansions of airports. Mining. China has invested billions of dollars in major construction projects across the African continent and created a huge debt burden. That kind of counts. Also, when it comes to votes in the UN. We in the West have to deal with that. Considered and strategic. We must strengthen existing partnerships and build new alliances based on equality and respect. We need to think more about building relationships. Education. Research. Exchange. We must also be present out there – in Africa, Asia, and Latin America – with offers for concrete collaborations. And get off the moral high horse a little. China's changed face could perhaps be glimpsed in 2017, when I was in China last. Now the challenge is clear to everyone. We must be critical of a number of China's global ambitions and their political system at the same time as we cooperate on trade and climate. This requires a committed, clear-sighted, and realistic China policy.

Diplomacy
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Meeting with the Deputy Premier of the State Council of China, Zhang Guoqing

by Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin met with Vice Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China Zhang Guoqing. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Zhang Guoqing, friends, I am very pleased to see you and to welcome you to Russia, to Vladivostok. China has traditionally participated in this forum for many years now. I had the pleasure of welcoming the President of the People's Republic of China to it. He participated in person, spoke here, and then took part in the forum in the videoconference format. I would like to take this opportunity to ask you to convey my best wishes to the President of the People's Republic of China, with whom I have friendly work-related and personal relations. This certainly helps promote bilateral relations and ties between our countries. We know you well as a very business-like person. You headed a major company and now engage in matter of industry. As far as I know, you have already had the chance to meet with your counterparts, deputy prime ministers [Yury] Trutnev and [Denis] Manturov. The latter is in charge of the industrial block in the Government. I would like to note that thanks primarily to the efforts of our governments and business circles, Russia-China relations in this area – the area of economic cooperation – have reached a very high level. Of course, this is a derivative of what has been achieved in the political sphere, but nevertheless the results are more than good, they are excellent, and every year our trade grows by almost one third. This year, too, over the first seven months of it, the trade is up by about the same amount, I think, 24 percent – to as much as 120 billion. The goal President Xi Jinping and I have set – to reach the US$200 billion mark in trade – can be achieved very soon, already this year. I am confident that our relations will keep the current pace. We are glad to welcome you, and I would like to thank you for your decision to come and take part in the Eastern Economic Forum. Welcome. Vice Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China Zhang Guoqing (retranslated): Thank you, Mr President, for the opportunity to meet with you. First of all, I would like to pass on to you sincere regards and best wishes from President Xi Jinping. We also wish to offer heartfelt congratulations on the successful organisation of the 8th Eastern Economic Forum. Under the strategic direction of President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin, China and Russia have deepened their overarching partnership and strategic cooperation in this new era. Our relations have maintained a consistently high dynamic. As you rightly noted, our countries have provided resolute mutual support in matters concerning our key interests. We are deepening political cooperation and trust and multiplying our mutual interests, bringing our nations closer. Our multi-dimensional practical cooperation is moving forward progressively, and the range of our bilateral cooperation is constantly expanding. Mr President, you noted the volume of our trade for the first seven months of this year, but in the first eight months of this year, the bilateral turnover reached US$155.1 billion, which is 32 percent higher year-on-year. We have every reason to believe that the goal set at the highest level, to reach US$200 billion in bilateral trade, will be achieved earlier than the end of the year. Last March, President Xi Jinping made a successful state visit to Russia, during which a new large-scale plan for developing China-Russia relations was outlined and new guidelines were set. Currently, the Chinese nation, under the true leadership of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, centred around comrade Xi Jinping, is promoting the comprehensive Chinese modernisation focused on high-quality development. We are ready to share development opportunities and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation with our Russian colleagues. Vladimir Putin: We highly value and appreciate the fact that, as you mentioned, the President of China made his first foreign visit after his re-election to Russia. This indicates that the relations between Russia and China have reached an unprecedented and historic level in the past few years. As you said, we will continue working together.

Defense & Security
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Keynote speech by President von der Leyen at the Philippines Business Forum

by Ursula Von der Leyen

Ladies and Gentlemen, It is very special for me to be in Manila and once again to experience first-hand the famous Filipino hospitality. Each time I visit, I am struck by the warmth, intelligence, and honesty of the people I meet. You make everyone feel at home, even 10,000 kilometres from home. While visiting your beautiful country, I have also learnt a proverb of yours. It says: ‘Be like a rice stalk: the more grain it bears, the lower it bows'. I believe a country's proverbs can tell a lot about its people.  And this proverb certainly describes the people of the Philippines: always humble, especially in success. Right now, the Philippines is booming. Thanks to your resilience, dynamism, and work ethic, your economy grew by close to 8% last year. You are among the fastest growing emerging markets. Your Development Plan, as outlined by President Marcos, is prioritising good governance, cutting red tape, and speeding up permitting for strategic investments, for example in renewables and semiconductors. Not only does this make the Philippines an even more attractive trade and investment destination for European firms, but Filipino companies are also beginning to thrive in the European market. IMI, for example, has expanded its micro-electronics business to become the 14th largest manufacturing solutions provider in Europe. Or consider the Philippine port-handling giant, ICTSI. It operates a container terminal in the Adriatic Sea, and recently signed another 30-year lease to operate a port in the Baltic. It is worth mentioning, as well, that there are around 50,000 Filipino sailors manning ships with European flags. You make trade happen. And you never boast about any of this. So allow me to begin by thanking all the Filipinos who are contributing every day to the friendship and economic partnership between Europe and the Philippines. These examples show that the ties between our countries are already strong. But the time has come to lift our partnership to the next level. Because we have much more in common than our geographic distance would suggest. I see three main fields where we share interests and values, and we are just made to work together. First of all, international security. Both the Philippines and Europe believe in a global order that is based on the principles of the UN Charter, such as the respect for every nation's sovereignty and territorial integrity. And this order is now threatened, in both our regions. Second, economic transformation. We are both modernising our economies, with a focus on the green and digital transitions. And in parallel, we are de-risking our trade and investment. Europe and the Philippines are natural economic partners more than ever before. And third, on democratic values. Because economic progress can only be coupled with social progress, for all people in our societies. Let me begin with security. The Philippines have helped build the rules-based global order, as a founding member of the United Nations, ASEAN, and the World Trade Organisation. And last year, you stood up to uphold the global order, when Russia sent its tanks into Ukraine. Both the European Union and the Philippines – along with over 140 countries – have clearly condemned Russia's war of aggression against a sovereign, independent member of the United Nations. And we Europeans will continue to support Ukraine and to uphold the UN Charter for as long as it takes. But another permanent member of the UN Security Council – China – has yet to assume fully its responsibility under the UN Charter to uphold the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. This is happening against the backdrop of China's more assertive stance in your region. Europe has constantly called on China to respect the sovereign rights of states within their exclusive economic zones. China's show of military force in the South and East China Seas and in the Taiwan Strait directly affects the Philippines and our other partners in the region. But it could also have global repercussions. And any weakening of regional stability in Asia, the fastest-growing region in the world, affects global security, the free flow of trade, and our own interests in the region. So whether we talk about Ukraine or about the South China Sea, our security is connected. That is why the EU has been enhancing its engagement in the Indo-Pacific. We aim to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific, to reinforce respect of international law and address global challenges. With the Philippines, we are deepening our security partnership, particularly on maritime security and on cyber cooperation. And we want to do more.  Ladies and Gentlemen, We cannot choose our neighbours, but we can choose who we do business with, and on what terms. This leads me to my second point. We, Europeans, are clear-eyed when it comes to diversifying and de-risking our trade and investment. We made the mistake with Russia, thinking that we could manage our geopolitical differences through business. Before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Europe relied heavily on energy imports from Russia. When the Kremlin started the war, Russia tried to blackmail us with cutting its gas supplies. 80% in eight months. This triggered a severe energy crisis, but we withstood. We saved energy, we diversified to like-minded partners, and we invested massively in home-grown renewable energy. Today, we are stronger than before and more independent. And we have learnt our lesson. We will not make the same mistake again. When it comes to the key inputs needed for our competitiveness, such as critical raw materials, we should never rely on one single supplier. This is the core of our de-risking strategy. And I know that this is not only Europe's strategy. The Philippines, for instance, exports 90% of its nickel ore to China, instead of processing it inside the country to create more jobs and added value. But this can change. That is also why I am here in Manila today. The Philippines and the EU have a major opportunity to step up our partnership on both trade and investments. Let me focus on investments, first. Europe has just launched a plan for boosting infrastructure investments in strategic sectors in partner countries. It is called Global Gateway, and for ASEAN, we have put forward an investment package worth EUR 10 billion in public funds until 2027. But it is not only about the money. It is also about the method. European investments come with the highest environmental and labour standards, as well as with a strong focus on creating local value chains. Take the raw materials examples. Unlike other foreign investors, we do not want to invest only in the extraction of raw materials. We can also support you in building local capacity for processing, powered by new clean energy infrastructure. Global Gateway seeks to create good jobs right here because this also strengthens our supply lines. Global Gateway seeks to promote investments that move Filipino sectors up the value-chain. And we look forward to working with the Asia Development Bank, based right here in Manila.  You are experts in the region, and we share similar priorities.  So it is only natural that we work hand-in-hand. Moreover, the Philippines are a natural leader in digital innovation. The Philippine Venture Capital Report of 2023 observed an explosion of new activity in the country's start-up ecosystem. Your e-commerce market value increased by 33% in the last three years alone. The people of the Philippines are five years younger than the global average. So it is no surprise that your economy is so dynamic. The Philippines can become a new digital hub in the region. But as entrepreneurs everywhere, Filipino entrepreneurs need infrastructure investment. This is where Global Gateway can truly make a difference. And we are already working on the ground, or rather, in space. Together with the Philippines Space Agency, we are building the first earth observation system in Southeast Asia. In parallel, Nokia is investing in 5G infrastructure. Why does this matter to Filipino innovators? Because the European Copernicus satellites will be made available for space-based services here in the Philippines, like disaster risk management against typhoons, or satellite navigation, which is fundamental for aviation, drones, and autonomous driving. This is part of a larger digital economy package that we are finalising with the government. We are even exploring a possible extension of the new fibre submarine cable that will connect Europe to Japan via the Arctic. We would create a direct data connection between our regions to de-risk and open up new opportunities for both our economies. New investments could also lead the way for more trade between Europe and the Philippines. The EU is your fourth largest trading partner, accounting for nearly 8% of your trade. This is thanks to our current trade preferences scheme. But there is much untapped potential in our trade relationship. Let me give you an example: A few months ago, I was in South Korea. There I saw the impressive positive impact of the trade deal we have concluded. In a little over a decade, EU trade with Korea has more than doubled. This is what happens when you give people and business the opportunity to work across borders. New doors open for innovation. And the most important: People benefit. So let us make progress. Our trade agreements with Singapore and Vietnam are already delivering. And Europe wants to conclude free trade agreements with other ASEAN countries. I believe, like President Marcos, that the timing and conditions are right for us to solidify our bilateral trade relations. That is why we have taken the decision to relaunch our negotiations for a free trade agreement between the Philippines and the EU. Our teams will begin right away a scoping process to identify what we need to do to overcome any remaining gaps before we can get back to negotiating. This should take no more than a few months. Let us seize this window of opportunity, and make it work. Trade agreements today are about much more than eliminating tariffs and quotas. They are about shared commitments, values, and principles, including on human and labour rights. And this leads me to my last point. Our democracies – all of them – are work in progress. None of them is perfect. But they are all perfectible. Your new government has taken some important steps for human rights here in the Philippines. Each one of our democracies is different. But we all share the same universal values, and the same direction of travel. The path towards better democracies is one that we can and should walk together. Ladies and Gentlemen, The Philippines and the European Union may stand at the opposite sides of the world, but our destinies are linked more than ever before. We see it with geopolitics and climate change. We see it in the connection of our value chains. We have a similar outlook on the Indo-Pacific. And we have strong economic ties. Europe wants to be a trusted partner to the Philippines as it grows into its economic potential. We want to be partners who stand eye to eye. Partners who put people and their values first. Having met so many wonderful people here in the Philippines, who are proud of their country, hardworking, and humble, I am excited for what we can achieve together. I know you are proud of your Bayanihan spirit. And I really hope that we can build the same spirit of community between us, in Europe and the Philippines. Salamat, thank you very much and have a wonderful evening.