Mr. Marin Thomson, Chairman of NZCTA,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to join you at this Round Table Luncheon, and have the opportunity to meet friends, old and new, from both the government and business community. First of all, I would like to express my sincere thanks to NZCTA for organizing such a timely discussion. My special thanks also go to everyone present here for your valuable support to the development of China-New Zealand cooperation in various areas, especially for your contribution to the fast growing trade between our two countries.
I know my friends present here and in New Zealand are very much interested in what is going on in China, which direction China is heading to, whether China is going to continue its reform and opening up, what benefits China's Belt and Road Initiative could bring to New Zealand and the world, etc. So today I would like to take a few more minutes to address these questions.
Firstly, with regard to which direction China is heading to, I'd like to start with the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China convened in Beijing last October and the two sessions, namely NPC and CPPCC, held in Beijing this March which attracted world-wide attention.
The 19th CPC National Congress outlined an ambitious blueprint and two step goals for building China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful by the middle of this century. General Secretary Xi Jinping stated in his report that China has entered into a new era, and emphasized that the CPC strives for both the wellbeing of the Chinese people and progress of the entire human kind. He also declared to the world that China will stay committed to peaceful development and a win-win strategy of cooperation. China stands ready to share its development dividends with all other countries in the world. China's way to achieve the dream of national rejuvenation is different from the traditional powers. The mission of China's diplomacy in the new era has been identified, which is to work with all other countries to forge a new form of international relations based on mutual respect, fairness, justice, and win-win cooperation, and to build a community with a shared future for humankind featuring long lasting peace, universal security, common prosperity, inclusiveness and openness as well as clean and beautiful world.
March is usually a special political month for China because the very important two sessions of NPC and CPPCC are held in this month every year. But this year's annual two sessions were of special significance. President Xi Jinping was re-elected and new leadership of state organs has been formed. The Constitutional revision, confirming the various goals for the new era outlined at the 19th CPC Congress, has been adopted. The two sessions also set out a series of goals for economic and social development in 2018, laid a solid foundation and set the tone for the development of various causes in China in the following five years.
Currently we are in the middle of a transition in the Chinese economy from high-speed growth to high-quality growth. We will concentrate on supply-side structural reforms, upgrade the quality, efficiency and drivers of growth and raise total factor productivity for the sustained and sound development of the economy. China's development is a great contribution to the whole world. Over the past five years. China's economy contributed 30% to the world economic growth which was the combined total of US, Japan and Europe.
Secondly, with regard to the question whether China will continue to carry out the reform and opening up policy, I want to stress here that China's door will not close but open wider to the outside world. This year is the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up. Opening up has been instrumental to china's economic and social transformation in the past 40 years, which greatly promoted its development and delivered tangible benefit to the Chinese people. Reform and opening up policy is the only way for China to achieve further development. In his speech at the world economic forum annual meeting in Davos last year, President Xi Jinping reaffirmed China's commitment to uphold free trade and pursue opening up as a fundamental state policy. With Chinese economy so integrated to the global economy, closing door will only hinder our own progress. We strongly believe protectionism, unilateralism and power politics are against the tide of the world. China is a staunch supporter and advocator of free trade, multilateralism and win-win cooperation.
To deepen reform and opening up, the Chinese government will roll out new stronger measures. China's import tariffs are at the medium level internationally. We are committed to bringing them down still further, especially for high demand consumer goods. On the other hand, China runs a deficit in trade in services. Further opening of the services sector will entail a cost, but it will make the sector more competitive. We plan to widen access to elderly care, health care, education and financial services. We will ease or lift the cap on foreign ownership in some sectors. We will also make the manufacturing sector fully open. There will be no mandatory requirement for technology transfer, and intellectual property rights will be better protected.
The negative list for inbound investment will be shortened and access continuously widened this year and in the coming years .We aim to merge the three laws governing foreign investment into one law, and fully honor our commitment to foreign investors of pre-establishment national treatment. This will provide Chinese consumers with more options and stimulate the upgrading of Chinese products and services and that of the overall economy.
Just now I listed some further steps of opening-up China is going to take covering services, manufacturing and products. I hope our friends in New Zealand could seize these opportunities.
Thirdly, with regard to what benefits the Belt and Road Initiative could bring to New Zealand and the world, I am very pleased to say that the BRI has maintained a very good momentum and achieved many early harvest with concerted partners. Since President Xi first put forward the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013, it has gained wide support around the world. Last May, senior officials from over 140 countries and representatives of over 80 international organizations attended in Beijing the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. At the forum, we reached a consensus to jointly promote BRI cooperation. To date, China has signed intergovernmental agreements on Belt and Road cooperation with more than 80 countries and organizations. China has made over US$50 billion of outbound investment under the Initiative, which has brought nearly 200,000 jobs to relevant countries. A cooperation platform originating from Eurasia, extending to every continent and linking the oceans, the Belt and Road Initiative has shown broad prospects and enormous potential.
A large number of BRI projects are underway and have added huge momentum to the economic and social development of our partner countries. For example, in Greece, a Chinese group undertook the operation of the largest seaport, ramped up the container volume and put it back in the same league as Europe's largest ports. Chinese people believe that actions speak louder than words. The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China is aimed at providing the world with public goods. It focuses on international economic cooperation and follows the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits; geopolitical contest or a zero-sum game is neither our purpose nor our practice. We encourage all countries, big and small, to discuss the BRI as equals, to draw on each other's comparative advantages, to tap our potential and to secure win-win cooperation outcomes for all our peoples. The Belt and Road is a platform for open, transparent and inclusive cooperation. We welcome all countries that endorse the Silk Road Spirit to join us.
As a global public good, the BRI of course abides by international rules. As a platform for international cooperation, it naturally follows market principles. The joint communiqué of last year's forum committed to this and emphasized the importance of economic, social, fiscal and environmental sustainability of projects. We sincerely ask for ideas from all parties, so that we will together make a success of the Belt and Road Initiative. Our goal is not only to strengthen the physical connectivity of infrastructure, but also to improve the institutional connectivity of policies, rules and standards. BRI projects must be high-standard as well as results-oriented, high-quality as well as economically viable, beneficial to the world as well as to China.
New Zealand is the natural extension of 21st maritime Silk Road and it is the first western country to sign the BRI cooperation agreement with China. We cherish this pioneering policy and are looking forward to working with New Zealand on more projects on the BRI. As for my Consulate General, my colleagues and I have been working very hard to push forward the cooperation. Early harvest has been achieved in many areas such as non-stop flights, financing, tourism infrastructure and people to people exchanges.
We have great potentials in our cooperation with New Zealand. China's efforts to work together with our New Zealand friends toward a better and stronger relationship will keep going on. A sound relationship between our two countries is not only in the interests of both countries and peoples, but also conducive to the Asia-pacific and the whole world. We look forward to making full use of the high economic complementarity of our two countries to broaden and deepen the cooperation in the areas of tourism, technology innovation, aviation interconnection, energy conservation, environmental protection, food safety, infrastructure, cultural exchanges and many others.
This November, China will host the first-ever International Import Expo in Shanghai. It will provide important opportunities for all New Zealand businesses to introduce their products and services to Chinese market, and build their brand names in China and the whole world. It is my sincere hope that the New Zealand business community will seize this opportunity, and actively participate in the Expo, making contribution to the pragmatic cooperation between China and New Zealand.
Thank you so much for your attention!