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Speech by Consul General Hong Lei at Harold Washington City College: China's Development Brings Opportunities to the World
2017-05-05 10:53

China’s Development Brings Opportunities to the World

——Speech by Consul General Hong Lei at Harold Washington College, May 4th

Dear friends,

It is a great pleasure and honor to visit the Harold Washington City College of Chicago and share with you China’s development and reform as well as its contribution to the world. It is my hope that you can get a better understanding of China and China’s diplomacy from my speech.

To start with, let’s go back through the history of China’s development. China has made significant contribution to the human society throughout history with its splendid civilization that has extended for five thousand years. In ancient times, China was for long the world leader in agriculture, and contributed to human progress with extraordinary development achievements. Studies reveal that until the mid-19th century, China’s GDP and per capita GDP were the world’s highest. Before the 16th century, China contributed 173 of the world’s top 300 innovations and discoveries.

So the question is: why does China contribute less to the world in modern times than it did back in history? According to Deng Xiaoping, this has something to do with foreign powers’ century-long invasion of China following the Opium War as well as the corruption of reactionary governments in China’s history.

Repeated invasions by foreign powers, particularly from the West, from 1840 to 1949, and China’s corrupt ruling class and backward social system reduced China to a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society. There was constant warfare, an unstable society, economic depression, no security of livelihood, and extreme poverty.

The founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949 ushered in a new era for China’s development. The PRC has provided full development opportunities and conditions to the people, and vast scope to realize that right. Through more than 60 years of effort, China’s overall national strength has greatly increased; standards of living have achieved a historical leap from poverty to moderate prosperity; the people’s right to development in economy, politics, culture, society and environment has been effectively protected. In 2016, China’s GDP exceeded 11 trillion dollars, second only to the US. China feeds more than 20 percent of the world’s population with less than 10 percent of the world’s arable land. Through more than 30 years of reform and opening-up, China has lifted 700 million people out of poverty, accounting for more than 70 percent of the global reduction in poverty. China has established the world’s largest social security system, and average life expectancy had grown from 35 years in 1949 to 76.34 years in 2015, ranking high among the developing countries. The level of education has soared: in 1949, more than 80 percent of the national population was illiterate, and the enrollment rate of school-age children was only 20 percent. In 2015, net enrollment rates were as follows: primary school-age children – 99.88 percent; nine-year compulsory education – 93 percent; high school – 87 percent. The enrollment rate for higher education has reached a level approaching that of medium-developed countries. According to the “China National Human Development Report 2016” released by the United Nations, China’s Human Development Index (HDI) in 2014 ranked 90th among 188 countries, already in the high human development group.

What role will a developed China play in the world? China has made a strategic choice to play a greater role in upholding world peace, prosperity and stability and make greater contribution to the world.

First, China is committed to injecting strong impetus to global economic growth.

China’s increasing and upgrading domestic market will provide a bigger market to the world. In the past 30-odd years since the reform and opening-up, China’s economy has acquired an ever growing share in the world’s total. According to statistics by the World Bank, the share of China’s GDP in the world economy has increased from 1.2% to 9.3% from 1979 to 2010 with an annual growth of 0.3 percentage points measured at the constant price of US dollar in 2010. China’s annual contribution to the world economy has reached 30.5% during this period of time, ranking the first among all countries. In 2015, people with relevantly high income account for 20% of China’s urban population with a total number exceeding 150 million.their per-capita disposable income has reached 10,000 dollars with a total consumption power equivalent to that of several medium-size countries combined, which will bring vitality to each and every market they go to. In 2020 when China successfully builds a moderately prosperous society in all aspects, the vast and mature Chinese market will bring unprecedented opportunities to the world.

China’s foreign trade and investment will create great opportunities to the world. In the coming five years, China is expected to import $8 trillion of goods, attract $600 billion of foreign investment and make $750 billion of outbound investment. Chinese tourists will make 700 million overseas visits. All this will create a bigger market, more capital, more products and more business opportunities for other countries.

The Belt and Road initiative will enable relevant countries to get on a free ride of China’s development. In 2013, President Xi Jinping put forward the initiative to build the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. The Belt and Road initiative inherits the legacy of the ancient silk road featuring peaceful cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and win-win results, in a bid to share China’s development opportunities with other countries. The "Belt and Road" area has become the most dynamic economic cooperation corridor in the world with great potentials. Along the corridor, there are more than 60 countries and regions, with a total population of about 4.4 billion and total economic output of about 21 trillion US dollars, accounting for about 63% and 29% of the world total respectively. In fact, the Belt and Road area is the largest and most extensive coverage of the emerging economic zone in the world. China has established the Silk Road Fund, initiated the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and set up the Lancang-Mekong River cooperation mechanism, in order to provide financing support for the Belt and Road countries to coordinate programs on infrastructure, resource development, and industrial and financial cooperation. In terms of the trade data, in January 2017, China's trade with major Belt and Road countries such as India, Russia and Saudi Arabia increased by 23.6%, 44% and 46.9% respectively, making it a major highlight of global trade. At present, trade volume between China and countries along the Belt and Road accounts for more than 25% of China's total foreign trade. In terms of the investment data, in 2016, China invested 14.53 billion US dollars in 53 fellow Belt and Road countries, accounting for 8.5% of China's total foreign investment in the same period. In terms of the cooperation project, a number of major landmark projects have been put into operation or construction. At present, China has established 56 economic and trade cooperation zones in 23 countries, with more than 1,200 Chinese enterprises investing more than 18.5 billion US dollars, creating output of more than 20 billion US dollars annually, nearly 1.1 billion tax revenue and 250,000 local jobs. In terms of GDP growth, according to PwC statistics, due to the implementation of new infrastructure projects, the GDP growth rate of Belt and Road countries and regions was 4.6% in 2016, exceeding the average growth rate of 3.6% in developing economies.

China has provided substantial development aid to the world. Since 2008, China has been the largest export market of the LDCs, and absorbed about 23 percent of their exports. To improve economic growth and standards of living in the developing countries, China will set up a South-South Cooperation Fund, increase its investment in the LDCs, write off certain countries’ debts, establish an International Development Knowledge Center and further the Belt and Road Initiative. In the coming five years China will implement six “One Hundred Programs” targeting developing countries – 100 poverty reduction programs, 100 agricultural cooperation programs, 100 trade aid programs, 100 eco-protection and climate change programs, 100 hospitals and clinics, and 100 schools and vocational training centers. One hundred and twenty thousand training opportunities and 150,000 scholarships will be made available to developing countries in China, and 500,000 vocational technical personnel will be trained. China will set up a South-South Cooperation and Development Academy, and give the World Health Organization US$2 million in cash aid.

Second, China is committed to making remarkable contribution to upholding world peace.

The Chinese government is committed to building a new type of major-country relationship featuring non-confrontation, non-conflict, mutual respect and win-win cooperation with powers in the world. China-US relations are one of the most important bilateral relations in the world, and have been forging ahead and made historic progress in the past 38 years since the two countries established diplomatic ties despite ups and downs. Last month, President Xi Jinping and President Trump met at Florida where they had in-depth, friendly and long conversations and discussions. They spoke highly of the historic achievement of China-US relations, agreeing to strive for greater development at a new starting point and deliver more benefits to the two countries and people. A sound and health China-US relationship is not only in the interests of the two countries and people, but also the world at large. We have a thousand reasons to make the China-U.S. relationship work, and not one single reason to break it. China is willing to work with the US to extend practical cooperation on bilateral, multilateral and international issues, manage sensitive issues in a constructive manner and move forward bilateral relations on the right track.

China was the first country to sign on the UN Charter.China's foreign policy has been imbued with the letter and spirit of the UN Charter. To date, China has sent 33,000 military, police and civilian personnel to join UN peacekeeping missions. Currently there are 2,600-plus Chinese peacekeeping personnel involved in 10 UN peacekeeping operations, making China the most active permanent member of the UN Security Council in terms of supplying peacekeeping personnel. In order to support and improve peacekeeping operations, China will join the new UN peacekeeping standby mechanism, take the lead in establishing regular peacekeeping police force units, and organize peacekeeping standby forces. In the coming five years, China will train 2,000 peacekeeping personnel for other countries, launch 10 demining aid programs, provide US$100 million of non-reimbursable military aid to the African Union, and allocate part of the China-UN Peace and Development Fund to support UN peacekeeping operations.China joins other countries in safeguarding international peace, opposes all forms of terrorism, and supports international and regional cooperation in fighting terrorism, in order to create an environment of peace and harmony that promotes development and thereby consolidates peace.

China has contributed the Chinese solution and wisdom to settlement of international thorny issues. China has taken an extensive part in the settlement of global hot-spot issues. Decades ago, we actively advanced the Indochina peace process, called for and realized the peaceful settlement of the Cambodian issue and initiated the Six-Party Talks for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Now, we are actively promoting peaceful solutions for hot-spot issues from the Syrian issue, Ukraine, to the Middle East and South Sudan issues. China always champions justice when handling hot-spot issues, and strives to make independent, objective and unbiased judgment based on its merits. China prioritizes peaceful settlement in any negotiation and mediation. Whether in good or bad times, we always firmly stand for resolving relevant issues through dialogue, and oppose resorting to war or imposing unilateral sanctions. When we come to a crucial point in resolving the issue, China always manages to accommodate every party, bring about a Chinese solution and contributes the Chinese wisdom. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, we are aware of our responsibilities for world peace. China's vote at the Security Council can be counted on to always promote international fairness and justice and uphold the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries and small countries. In a similar vein, China has never exercised its veto but to check the instinct of war.

Recently the Korean nuclear issue has been under the spotlight. China has a quite firm position that regardless of whatever happens, China is committed to the stated goal of denuclearization and resolving the issue through dialogues and negotiations.Recently, China has put forward the "suspension-for-suspension" proposal according to the development of the situation on the Korean Peninsula after the proposal of "dual-track" mechanism which is intended to advance and achieve two tracks of the denuclearization as well as building peace mechanism in the Korean Peninsula according to the principles of synchronization, reciprocity and accommodation. The "suspension-for-suspension" proposal is to propel the two sides on the Korean Peninsula issue back into negotiation table through the suspension of DPRK's nuclear missiles tests and the joint military exercises of the US and the Republic of Korea (ROK), so as to start the first step of the "dual-track" mechanism. The schemes China brings up combine the short-term goal with the long-term goal and complement one another. They not only focus on solving the most pressing concerns of all sides, but also pave the road for the denuclearization.

Third, China is committed to playing a great role in improving global governance.

China is committed to improving global economic governance and regional cooperation. China propels inclusive and mutually-beneficial development, while participating in global development agenda. Regarding North-South economic cooperation as the main focus, China continues to expand South-South, tripartite, regional economic cooperation, and cooperation with emerging economies and, at the same time, explore more effective means of win-win cooperation. To realize common development, the Chinese government endeavors to involve more countries and regions in the Belg and Road initiative, relying on existing bilateral and multilateral mechanisms such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, ASEAN Plus China (10+1) Summit, ASEAN Plus China, Japan and the ROK (10+3) Summit, East Asia Summit, China-JAPAN-ROK cooperation, APEC, Asia-Europe Meeting, Asia Cooperation Dialogue, Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, China-Arab States Cooperation Forum, China-Gulf Cooperation Council Strategic Dialogue, Greater Mekong Subregion Economic Cooperation Program, and Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation.

China is actively involved in global development agenda. China was the first to voice support for the sustainable development strategy. It has supported and implemented the “United Nations Millennium Declaration,” and achieved 13 of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. While effectively improving the protection of its own people’s right to development, China has also promoted the common development of the world. It has helped the international community to pass and implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and issued “China’s Position Paper on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and “China’s National Plan on Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” At the G20 Hangzhou Summit, China joined other countries in formulating the “G20 Action Plan on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and the “G20 Initiative on Supporting Industrialization in Africa and Least Developed Countries,” adding impetus to the overall development of all countries and developing countries in particular. In September 2015 China and UN Women co-organized the Global Summit of Women, and implemented the goals related to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

China is committed to fulfilling international conventions to propel global sustainable development. China was among the first countries to formulate and implement a national climate change plan, and pledged to achieve its 2020 goals laid out in the “National Plan on Climate Change (2014-2020)” and 2030 goals set out in the “Enhanced Actions on Climate Change: China’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” released in 2015. Over the years, China has taken effective policy actions to honor its commitments. Moving along the path toward low-carbon development, China enacted the “National Plan for Reducing Ozone-depleting Substances” and achieved ahead of schedule its first-stage hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) phase-out goal as part of its commitment to the “Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.” China’s reduction of ozone-depleting substances accounts for approximately half of the total reduction by developing countries. China has eliminated the production, use, and import and export of 17 of the 26 types of persistent organic pollutants listed in the “Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants,” and reduced the dioxin emissions of three industries that are major emitters of dioxins by more than 15 percent. Furthermore, the state has established the National Committee for Biodiversity Conservation, enacted the “China Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan (2011-2030)” and signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury. China is an active and constructive participant in international talks on climate change, and makes robust efforts to bolster the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. China has made significant efforts in moving the Paris Agreement on greenhouse gas emissions mitigation toward adoption and taking effect, making it one of the fastest major international agreements ever to enter into force and further contributing to the world’s sustainable development.

Dear friends,

Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, the Party’s Central Committee, with Xi Jinping as its core, has set the “people’s wish for a better life” as its goal of governance, and defined the Two Centenary Goals. That is, to enable the people to live prosperous lives and complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020, the centenary of the CPC (founded in 1921), and to bring China’s per capita GDP on par with that of moderately developed countries, and build China into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, and harmonious by the centenary of the PRC (founded in 1949) in the mid-21st century.

To achieve the Two Centenary Goals, the CPC strives to promote coordinated progress in economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological areas, and to implement the Four-pronged Comprehensive Strategy, viz., building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, driving reform to a deeper-level, fully implementing the rule of law, and strengthening Party discipline. Based on economic growth, the Party will continue to build the socialist market economy, promote democracy, advanced culture, ecological progress, and a harmonious society, and ensure that the people are better-off, that the nation grows stronger and more prosperous, and that the environment is clean and beautiful, and that China’s development is protected and promoted in a more solid and effective manner.

Proceeding from the new starting point, we will open up wider to achieve greater mutual benefit and win-win outcomes. To pursue a win-win strategy of opening-up and open up China in a more comprehensive, profound and diversified way is a strategic choice of ours. China's opening-up will not stall, still less will it reverse course.

We will continue to be fully involved in economic globalization and support the multilateral trading regime. We will expand access for foreign investment, facilitate such investment to promote fair and open competition and create a sound business environment. We will also accelerate negotiation on FTAs and investment treaties with relevant countries and the development of high-standard pilot free trade zones in China. While carrying out market-based reform of the RMB exchange rate in an orderly manner and phasing in the opening of domestic capital market, we will continue efforts to make the RMB an international currency and further internationalize China's financial sector.

Here, I wish to stress that the new mechanisms and initiatives launched by China are not intended to reinvent the wheels or target any other country. Rather, they aim to complement and improve the current international mechanisms to achieve win-win cooperation and common development. China's opening drive is not a one-man show. Rather, it is an invitation open to all. It is a pursuit not to establish China's own sphere of influence, but to support common development of all countries. It is meant to build not China's own backyard garden, but a garden shared by all countries.

We sincerely hope that the international community will have a deeper appreciation of China's time-honored cultural traditions, and respect its sovereignty, security, territorial integrity and social stability, which the Chinese people hold dear. We hope that it will appreciate China's need to settle, step by step, various difficulties in development it faces as the largest developing country, and the aspiration of the Chinese people to shake off poverty and live a prosperous life. We also hope that the international community will have confidence in the Chinese people's sincerity and determination to achieve peaceful development, and support China's pursuit of peaceful development.

Looking back at the past and looking ahead to the future, we are convinced that a prosperous and developing China, a democratic, harmonious and stable country under the rule of law, will make more contribution to the world. The Chinese people will make unremitting efforts together with other peoples to bring about a bright future for mankind.

Thank you!

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