“In its 40 years of reform and opening-up, China has taken both developed and developing countries’ development as its opportunity,” Premier Li Keqiang said while meeting with representatives at the third Understanding China Conference on Dec 17.
Over the past few years, China has learned a lot while expanding its opening-up and strengthening all-around cooperation with other countries. And China is willing to further expand its opening-up, and reinforce complementary advantages with other countries, achieving common development and prosperity, the Premier said.
Premier Li also heard speeches from former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, former British prime minister Gordon Brown, former Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, former Greek prime minister George Papandreou and former World Trade Organization director-general Pascal Lamy, and answered their questions.
The Understanding China Conference is an important platform for the world to understand China’s development. More than 30 former politicians, strategists, entrepreneurs and scholars attended the conference.
The delegates shared their concerns about the current international situation.
Zedillo said that world politics and the economy are facing unprecedented challenges.
Schmidt called for strengthened dialogue and cooperation in the era of globalization to make contributions to human progress.
Brown said that countries should join hands and promote the reform and improvement of international rules, avoiding a lose-lose situation due to protectionism.
Achievements in world peace and poverty alleviation over the past 70 years mainly benefited from multilateralism, free trade and a rules-based international order, the Premier responded. He added that the world should reinforce multilateralism and free trade under the complicated political and economic situation, and solve the problems arising in globalization and world trade in light of development.
He said it is necessary to uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, safeguard the framework and basic rules of the WTO, and solve problems through reform, rather than reversing globalization or even interrupting free trade.
Reform needs joint efforts from all over the world, he added.
China supports the reform and improvement of the WTO rules to advance with the times, and the reform must stick to the general direction of free trade, accommodate the concerns and interests of all parties, defend the development rights of developing country members, and narrow the gap between the North and the South, the Premier said, while responding to Lamy about how to reform the WTO.
“No matter what kinds of contradictions or frictions, the basic direction of safeguarding lasting peace and common prosperity and development of the world should not be violated,” the Premier said, quoting a Chinese saying that minor principles should be subordinated to major ones.
This basic direction is the major principle, because everyone wants a better world, he added.
According to Zedillo, the third Understanding China Conference was held at the right time, as China is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its reform and opening-up. Brown congratulated China on its great achievements in economic development, poverty reduction and education since the reform and opening-up policy was adopted.
Premier Li said China has seen remarkable achievements over the past four decades, which brought benefits to not only the Chinese people but the world at large, and was the result of painstaking efforts made by the Chinese people.
As it did in the past, the country’s development will rely on reform and opening-up in the future, the Premier said, adding that China will continue to promote reform and opening-up, and make efforts to create a level-playing field for both domestic and foreign companies and develop an open economy at a higher level.
China has become the second-largest economy in the world, but its per capita income is still below the world average, he said. According to current standards of any international organization, China remains a developing country, which is quite special from either a historical or a global perspective.
“Development is the foundation of and key to addressing all problems in China,” the Premier noted. “China will continue to pursue economic development as its central task and properly handle its internal affairs to maintain stable economic operation and boost high-quality development.”
“I’m paying close attention to some major economies, whose fluctuations are never gains for the Chinese economy,” Premier Li said. “On the contrary, I hope other countries could regard China’s development as an opportunity.”
A complete global industrial chain has been formed with the development of globalization, and it will suffer if any part of it goes wrong, the Premier said, adding that China has become a key part of the chain, and is providing irreplaceable energy to it.
“The prosperity of human society is not a zero-sum game, but the result of mutual development, so China is willing to complement its advantages with other countries to achieve win-win cooperation,” Premier Li added.
Responding to a question by Schmidt concerning IPR protection, the Premier said China will further improve related laws and regulations, strengthen the crackdown on IPR infringement, and will never break international rules in this field.
“We should continue to abide by the rules and consensuses we made in the past, push on reform and improve the global governance system,” Premier Li stressed.