Editor’s note: The annual sessions of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top parliamentary body, and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China’s top advisory body, are on-going from March 3 to 16, which marks a pivotal year as the nation continues on to embark with its reforms and opening up policy, shifting towards a “New Normal” for economic growth rates, starting its 13th Five-Year Plan for social and economic development over the next five years and confronting challenges on the foreign policy front.
China Daily has invited Irish Ambassador to China Paul Kavanagh to express their views about China’s development.
[Q&A]Irish Ambassador to China Paul Kavanagh
Q1: Which reform policy of China over the past year has impressed you the most, and why?
Q2: What challenge do you think should be the number one priority for the Chinese government in 2016?
A: Ireland supports China’s economic reform program, adopted by the Third Plenum in 2013 and enlarged subsequently. Along with our European partners, we support the vigorous roll-out of the reforms which aim to place China’s economy on a more balanced, open, transparent, fair and sustainable footing going forward. The whole world has an interest in the successful accomplishment of China’s reform. This is why we pay careful attention to the degree of commitment across the entire system in China in response to the leadership’s reform priorities.
Q3: What’s your expectation for the Chinese economy in 2016?
A: Predicting the future is a dangerous pastime and I am not a professional economist. Nonetheless, I expect that China’s economic growth will continue to moderate in 2016, but that in due course the government will be in a position to announce that its GDP growth forecast for the year has been largely met.
I expect the government to this end to continue to apply as required an accommodative monetary and fiscal policy and to take action toward assuring achievement of its objectives concerning the value of the currency in a policy context that is liberalizing into the medium term. I expect that the authorities will want to engage continually in an increasingly transparent manner with international markets in this connection.
China in 2016, I expect, will continue to make a leading contribution to total world economic growth. I expect China’s trade and balance of payments surpluses to remain strong even as total world trade, and total China trade will continue to face challenges.
The big question concerns the composition of China’s economic growth as well as the depth and pace of the roll-out of many specific reforms so that the strategic objectives of the Third Plenum may be achieved as quickly as feasible.
Many economic actors, both in China and overseas, both in government and in business, will be paying very close attention to this. Time alone will tell how much progress is achieved during 2016.
Q4: What opportunities do you think China’s development in the coming five years will bring to your country and the rest of the world?
A: There are great compatibilities between the two economies of China and Ireland.
My country is a globally important center for world-leading, top quality and safe food; for high technology especially ICT and green technology; for world leading higher education and research through the English language in science technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as in business and commerce; for world class financial and other services; and as an outstandingly profitable and successful investment platform in the European market of 500 million people for non-European corporations (including Chinese corporations “going global” in Europe).
In 2015, Ireland’s GDP growth (7 percent) was the highest among the advanced economies worldwide. In 2014, our GDP growth (5.2 percent) was the highest in the European Union.
China has assets and strengths which can help Ireland to develop further.
Ireland has world-leading strengths and assets which are perfectly attuned to the needs and desires of China and her people.
Despite their differences in size, population and so forth, Ireland’s economic, trade and investment offerings are a perfect match for a China that is reforming and rebalancing for leadership in the twenty-first century.
China’s commitment to technological innovation, green technology, to food safety and financial liberalization are necessary and have been prioritized.
Ireland wants to partner China in these areas as China rebalances and goes global.
Q5: If you had a chance to talk with Premier Li Keqiang face-to-face, what would you want to ask him the most?
A: I have been honored to be in a position to engage directly on more than one occasion with Premier Li Keqiang, including in the course of his highly successful visit to Ireland in May, 2015.
Next time, I would ask him what he sees as the three greatest domestic challenges, whether economic or otherwise, which may be slowing down the roll-out of China’s reform program — and how more fully to persuade Chinese business and popular opinion as well as global opinion that these challenges are being met and overcome.