Following is an English version of the full text of the keynote speech by Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli at the opening plenary of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2017 on March 25: Work Together to Advance Economic Globalization and Create a Better Future for Asia and the World.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
Welcome to beautiful Hainan to attend the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2017. President Xi Jinping attaches great importance to this annual conference and has sent a letter of congratulations. Here, on behalf of the Chinese government, I wish to extend warm welcome to all the distinguished guests attending the conference.
The theme of this year’s annual conference, “Globalization and Free Trade: the Asian Perspectives”, conforms to the trend of the times and answers the calls of the parties concerned. It is well targeted and highly relevant to the current situation. I hope that the participants will seek new inspirations through in-depth discussion on the theme of the conference, build consensus on economic globalization and free trade, and make positive contribution to stability, development and prosperity of Asia and the world.
Asia’s development cannot be achieved without the world, and the prosperity of the world would be impossible without Asia. Asian countries have enjoyed rapid development over the past decades through participation in economic globalization. Embracing rather than rejecting economic globalization, they have all along taken an active part in and given firm support to economic globalization and free trade. They have benefited from economic globalization and also made important contribution to this process.
・ Through economic globalization, Asian countries have realized leapfrog development and created the “Asian miracle”. After the end of the World War II, the newly independent Asian countries seized the opportunities brought by economic globalization and implemented the strategy of trade for growth and economic catch-up. Building on their comparative advantages, they have taken an active part in international division of labor and regional cooperation and embarked on a fast track of economic development. Many Asian countries have registered sustained high-speed growth. As a result, today’s Asia has grown into the most vibrant and promising region in the world.
・ Through economic globalization, Asian countries have provided driving force for global growth and offered the “Asian opportunities”. In particular, since the outbreak of the international financial crisis, Asia has served as a major engine for the recovery and growth of the world economy, contributing to nearly half of global growth. In recent years, Asian countries have been active in conducting outbound investment and international economic cooperation. The large population and growing middle-income groups in Asian countries have provided a huge consumption and investment market. Countries in the world are all turning their eyes to the east, hoping to take the ride of Asia’s development and seize the opportunities it presents.
・ Through economic globalization, Asian countries have found a path of modernization with Asian features and accumulated the “Asian experience”. In line with their realities and development stages, Asian countries have integrated into economic globalization through their own ways, means and pace. While embracing modern industrial civilization, countries in Asia have maintained the Asian traditions and national characters, and moved up from the lower end to the middle and higher ends in the global industrial, supply and value chains. Following the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, we have strengthened cooperation and exchanges in all fields. Combining market rules and government regulations, we have maintained sound and steady economic performance. We have steadily advanced regional cooperation in keeping with the principles of openness and inclusiveness, and created a diversified and dynamic Asia. In particular, when confronted with the impact of the Asian financial crisis and international financial crisis, we have extended mutual assistance in the spirit of unity and worked together to bring Asia back to the path of prosperity.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends,
President Xi Jinping shared his insights on economic globalization in January when speaking at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos. He pointed out that economic globalization resulted from growing social productivity and is a natural outcome of scientific and technological progress. It has powered global growth but also created new problems. The pitfalls in this process must be taken seriously. In the face of both opportunities and challenges, the right thing to do is to seize every opportunity, jointly meet challenges and chart the right course for economic globalization. He emphasized that we should act proactively and manage economic globalization as appropriate so as to release its positive impact and rebalance the process of economic globalization. We should follow the general trend, proceed from our respective national conditions and embark on the right pathway of integrating into economic globalization at the right pace. We should strike a balance between efficiency and equity to ensure that different countries, different social strata and different groups of people all share in the benefits of economic globalization.
These important views shared by President Xi Jinping have pointed the way for overcoming the difficulties and challenges facing the world economy and promoting the prosperity and progress of human society. In pursuing development and reform, we need to keep up with the changes in the world, follow the trend of the times, and promote Asian experience and vision. We need to work together to advance economic globalization and free trade and jointly create a community of shared future for Asia and mankind.
First, we should all be committed to peaceful development. Without a peaceful environment, economic globalization cannot be realized. All countries should keep to the path of peaceful development, foster and practice a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and jointly maintain a peaceful and stable environment for development. Major countries shoulder primary responsibilities for maintaining world peace. They should step up strategic communication, increase strategic mutual trust, respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, play a constructive role in international and regional affairs, and refrain from pursuing selfish interest at the cost of regional stability and strategic balance. To address regional tensions and differences, the parties concerned should stick to peaceful settlement of disputes through dialogue and consultation. It is important to step up cooperation in the nontraditional security fields, and jointly tackle global challenges such as terrorism, climate change, refugees and natural disasters.
Second, we should vigorously promote innovation-driven development. Innovation is the primary driving force for global growth. The G20 Hangzhou Summit adopted the Blueprint on Innovative Growth and formulated specific action plan, which is crucial for reinvigorating global growth. In line with the consensus of the Hangzhou Summit, we should stimulate and drive growth through innovation and reform to build an innovative world economy. It is important to promote innovation in macroeconomic policies, introduce an effective package of fiscal, monetary and structural reform policies, and address both symptoms and root causes with a multipronged strategy. We should be determined to push for the adjustment of economic structure and shift in growth model, in order to create more space and momentum for growth. It is important to seize the opportunities brought by the new round of scientific, technological and industrial revolution, employ new technologies, develop new economy, cultivate new driving forces, and foster new industries, new models and new businesses to unleash social creativity and market dynamism.
Third, we should lead the way toward open development. We should advocate the philosophy of open development, build an open world economy, and promote shared benefits and integrated interests in building value chains and markets. We should re-energize trade and investment as the engines of growth, firmly uphold the multilateral free trade regime represented by the WTO, make free trade arrangements more open and inclusive and build networks of economic cooperation and free trade oriented to the whole world. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of ASEAN, and the 20th anniversary of the ASEAN Plus Three (China, Japan and the ROK) cooperation mechanism. Regional cooperation in East Asia now stands at a new historical starting point. We should continue to deepen China-ASEAN cooperation, ASEAN Plus Three cooperation, Lancang-Mekong cooperation, East Asia Summit (EAS), Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) and other regional cooperation processes. We should work for the full and effective implementation of the protocol for the upgrade of China-ASEAN FTA, conclude negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) at an early date, and push for the building of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) to lay a solid foundation for a community of shared future in Asia.
Fourth, we should actively pursue shared development. We should improve the philosophy and modality of development, work hard to address uneven development and make economic globalization more inclusive and universal. Countries should strive to balance the relations between capital and labor, growth and distribution, and efficiency and equality, so as to ensure equal access to development opportunities, share the fruits of development and uphold social equity and justice. We should step up North-South dialogue and South-South cooperation, help underdeveloped countries integrate into the global industrial chain, encourage developing countries to increase capacity for self-development and intensify efforts of poverty reduction and implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We should aim at realizing balanced development at a global level so that the light of economic globalization will shine upon every corner of the world.
Fifth, we should strive to promote equitable development. We should adapt to the new changes in world economic landscape and push for the reform of the global economic governance system to provide strong guarantee for global growth. In international economic cooperation, we should ensure equality for countries in decision-making, rights and obligations. We should stick to multilateralism, uphold the authority and effectiveness of multilateral system, push the G20 to transform from a crisis-response mechanism to a long-term governance mechanism and solidify its position as the premier platform of global economic governance. We should continue to push forward quota and governance reform of the IMF to give emerging market economies and developing countries more representation and say. We should work together to ensure good implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change and promote balanced economic, social and environmental progress.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends,
The Chinese economy is now on a steady course. It has entered a new normal, with major changes in its growth speed, model, structure and driving forces. Yet the fundamentals supporting long-term and positive growth have remained unchanged.
In 2016, despite a sluggish world economy, China recorded a 6.7 percent growth in GDP, which was among the fastest in the world, and contributed to more than 30 percent of global growth. Growth in jobs, totaling 13.14 million in urban sectors, also exceeded projections. Initial progress was achieved in supply-side structural reform. Over the year, steel production capacity was cut by more than 65 million metric tons and coal by over 290 million metric tons. With accelerated pace of economic restructuring, consumption played a major role in economic growth, and the value added created by the service sector rose to 51.6 percent of GDP. Stronger measures were taken against pollution in air, water and soil, and the process of ecological conservation was accelerated. The general framework for carrying out reform in various sectors, like the beams and pillars of a house, has been put into place, injecting new and strong impetus to economic and social progress. The people are living better lives. The rural population in poverty was reduced by 12.4 million. The economy has registered a slower but stable performance with good momentum for growth. It has stayed within the proper range, with marked improvement in quality and efficiency. New progress has been made in social security and social programs. All this has put the implementation of the 13th Five-Year Plan off to a good start.
This year, the Communist Party of China (CPC) will hold its 19th National Congress. It is also a crucial year for the implementation of the 13th Five-Year Plan and for deepening supply-side structural reform. The just-concluded “NPC & CPPCC Sessions” have made specific plans for the government’s work this year. In the report on the work of the government delivered by Premier Li Keqiang, the following targets have been set for this year: GDP growth of around 6.5 percent, or higher if possible in practice; CPI increase at around 3 percent; over 11 million new urban jobs and a steady rise in import and export volumes. Under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, we will strive for balanced economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological progress and coordinated implementation of the Four-Pronged Comprehensive Strategy, seek progress while keeping performance stable, follow the new vision of development, adapt to, understand and steer the new normal in economic development. With the focus on improving the quality and efficiency of development, we will strive to deliver a good performance in maintaining stable growth, advancing reform, promoting structural adjustment, improving people’s well-being, and guarding against risks so as to keep the economy on the track of sound and steady development and uphold social harmony and stability.
China remains committed to the strategy of opening-up. China will not shut its door to the outside world, but only open even wider. We will vigorously improve the environment for foreign investment, give greater access to foreign investment in the service, manufacturing and mining industries, support foreign-invested companies in seeking listing opportunities and issuing bonds in China and ensure that foreign companies will be treated the same as domestic companies in license application, regulatory standards, government procurement and access to policy incentives under the Made in China 2025 initiative. We will put in place a nationwide list-based management system, deepen reform to streamline administration, delegate powers and improve regulation and services, and further reduce taxes and fees to lower the burden on enterprises and protect the legitimate rights and interests of investors. We will build the 11 pilot free trade zones, including the one in Shanghai, with high standards, and promote the good practices across the country. We will enhance IPR protection and encourage fair competition to make the Chinese market more transparent, standardized and attractive. In the coming five years, China is expected to import US$8 trillion of goods, attract US$600 billion of foreign investment and make a total of US$750 billion of outbound investment, and Chinese tourists will make 700 million overseas trips. During this year’s Spring Festival alone, 6.15 million Chinese tourists traveled overseas, leaving their footprints in 1,254 cities in 85 countries and regions and spending RMB100 billion yuan during these trips. The steady and sound development of the Chinese economy will provide an even stronger driving force for the stability and growth of the world economy. The interconnected development of China and a large group of countries will bring about greater balance in global economic growth.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends,
In the face of the profound changes in international political and economic landscapes, China will remain a force for peace, stability, justice and equity. We will continue to make our contribution to world peace and global development and uphold the international order. We will stay committed to an independent foreign policy of peace, unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development, and work for the building of a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation and a community of shared future for mankind. We are ready to develop friendship and cooperation with all other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. Following the principles of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness, we will strengthen connectivity and friendly ties with neighboring countries and promote good-neighborliness, mutual trust and common development in our neighborhood. China is ready to work with its Asian neighbors and all countries in the world to make new contribution to peace and development of mankind.
With the vision for common development of the world, President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road Initiative in the autumn of 2013. Characterized by extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, the Belt and Road builds on the complementarities of various parties to promote mutually beneficial cooperation and common development for the benefit of the people. Three years on, the Initiative has been endorsed and supported by more than 100 countries and international organizations. More than 40 of them have signed cooperation agreements with China in areas such as connectivity, industrial capacity cooperation and financial support. A number of major projects have been launched and delivered early harvests in boosting local economy, generating jobs and improving people’s lives. In May this year, China will host the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, during which participants will have an opportunity to explore cooperation plans, build cooperation platforms and share the outcomes of cooperation. They will look for solutions to the economic challenges of the region and beyond and unleash new drivers for interconnected development so that greater benefits will be delivered to the people through the building of the Belt and Road.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends,
As a Chinese poem reads, “While the mighty river winds through the mountains, it never changes course and always flows east.” Economic globalization and free trade, like a big river, will never be blocked by mountains or stopped by undercurrents and shallow shoals, but always surge ahead toward the vast ocean of world economy. Let us work together to push forward economic globalization and free trade and create a better future for Asia and the world.
Finally, I wish the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2017 a full success.