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Ex-HK exec upbeat on future

By Hezi Jiang in New York (China Daily USA) Updated: 2016-01-26 11:28

 Ex-HK exec upbeat on future

Tung Chee-hwa (center), former chief executive of Hong Kong, Zhang Qiyue (right), Chinese consul general in New York, and Fred Teng, president of the America China Public Affairs Institute, pose for a photo during a Monday luncheon at the Yale Club in New York. Hezi Jiang / China Daily

"There are a lot of things we still have to do," said 78-year-old Tung Chee-hwa. "But I'm full of hope."

The former chief executive of Hong Kong gave a speech on "China's past, present and future, and her relationship with the United States" during an America China Public Affairs Institute luncheon on Monday at the Yale Club in New York.

He was joined by Zhang Qiyue, Chinese consul general in New York, and a roomful of guests - many having come all the way from Washington, where the city was shut down due to the blizzard.

Now serving as the vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and chairman of the China-United States Exchange Foundation, Tung said he was optimistic about China's future.

As he put it, it's China's goal in the next few decades to reach "a well-developed economy, a fair distribution of wealth, a decent living standard, a healthy living environment, a civil and upright society, and a just society governed by the rule of law".

Acknowledging that the road was fraught with challenges, Tung offered many reasons to be optimistic.

He believes that China will benefit from the enormous size of the economy and the growing numbers in the middle-class market, the country will grow with persistent reform, and new market sectors such as renewable energy, digital economy and high-speed rail will be the answers to the decline in low-cost labor manufacturing.

Tung said he has confidence in China's financial position backed by $3.5 trillion in foreign currency reserves with zero external debt, the country's leaders who continue to challenge old thinking and make fresh changes and the hardworking Chinese people with their determination to succeed.

On US-China relations, Tung emphasized that it has never been China's intention to lead the world. "The perspective is erroneous," he said. "What China would like, like so many other developing nations, is to have a larger voice, to ensure that the needs of the developing world can be met."

Using the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as an example, Tung said that it was set up only because Asia's infrastructure development needs cannot be met by the World Bank or the Asian Development Bank.

Tung said he hopes the US will join the AIIB. "If the US and China can work together, many challenges can be overcome," he said. "There will be no limit to the common good we can do together around the world."

Asked for his take on China's stock market, Tung said it was one of the many things that China had to work on.

"It will eventually reach maturity. Give it some time," he said.

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