China in the changing world

Updated: 2013-11-03 08:18

(China Daily)

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Editor's note: This is the full text of the speech made by Premier Li Keqiang at the opening ceremony of 21st Century Council meeting in Beijing on Friday.

Distinguished guests,

Ladies, gentlemen,

Dear friends,

Good evening! First, on behalf of the Chinese government, I wish to extend a sincere welcome to all the distinguished guests and friends coming from afar. Let me also express warm congratulations on the opening of the 21st Century Council Conference in Beijing.

Prior to the conference, the council gave me a question list covering the challenges that China faces in its development, measures of reform and opening-up, the concept and role of international governance, etc. This shows that you hope to learn more about China and the role it plays on the international stage. The council has decided that the theme of this conference would be "Understanding China". The two words many look simple but they carry a profound meaning. I appreciate the council's choice of the theme because it shows that you have a keen interest in China and wish to observe China up-close, perceive China in an all-around way, and especially envision China's future.

For the international community to read and understand China, I believe the following three points are very important - things we have followed in the past and will remain committed to in the future.

First, we give top priority to development and people's livelihood, and stay focused on the central task of economic development. China is a large country with a population of more than 1 billion. The international community has little disagreement over the fact that, in the past three decades, China has cut its population living below the poverty line by more than 600 million according to the standard of the World Bank - enabling them to enjoy the basic right to survival and human dignity. This would not have been possible without development. Currently, according to the standard of the World Bank, China is just a middle-income country and nearly 200 million of its people still live under poverty. Hence, China still needs to develop itself. In fact, in the past 30 years, no matter what kind of challenges we encounter, we have always placed development on the top of our agenda, and we have achieved an annual economic growth of 9.8 percent on average. That is what has brought China to where it is today. On the other hand, our economy is now faced with a series of deep-seated and structural problems. There would not be sustainable development without economic transformation. Therefore, we have decided to build an upgraded version of the Chinese economy, focusing on improving the quality and efficiency of development. While growing the economy, the people's livelihood is our top concern. We will work hard to ensure that personal income will rise in tandem with economic growth, strengthen the social safety net and continually improve people's livelihoods. Our people want not only a better material life, but also a richer cultural life and social justice. We are accelerating institution building to provide equal rights, equal opportunities and fair rules; promote the equity of education employment and entrepreneurship; push forward vertical mobility among people of different social ranks; and ensure the rights of individuals to development to drive social progress.

Second, we stick to the policy of reform and opening-up to enhance the driving force for development and vitality of the market. The reform and opening-up policy has opened the splendid chapter of China's development. We have broken the rigid system of the planned economy and pushed for market-oriented reforms, injected the spirit of reform and innovation into the various dimensions of the country's development and progress and have taken the path that fits China's national conditions while learning from the achievements of different civilizations in the world. China's reform has now entered the deep water zone. We will deepen the reform comprehensively, eliminate deep-seated obstacles, and promote structural reforms in order to continually unleash the dividends of reform. Reforms will continue to deepen in the fiscal, financial, pricing and enterprise fields which you have a keen interest in. Opening-up is another crucial engine of China's development. It can advance and drive reform. China has actively participated in economic globalization, joined the World Trade Organization and enlarged multilateral and regional cooperation to integrate the Chinese economy into the world economy. China's share of world trade has sharply increased from less than 1 percent more than 30 years ago to the current 10.5 percent. The Chinese people have greatly benefited from opening-up and China will take larger steps in this regard. The China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone was launched recently. The zone will advance reform and opening-up through various measures, including streamlining administrative procedures and delegating power to lower levels. This illustrates China's determination and confidence in enhancing the opening-up.

Third, we are dedicated to building a peaceful international environment and stable neighborhood to pursue mutual benefit and win-win progress. The world security order established after World War II has generally kept the world in a peaceful tune. Since the end of the Cold War, the world economy has got on the fast track of development and countries have begun to vigorously pursue development and cooperation. A host of emerging countries have been on the rise. China has gained rare opportunities in this process and made considerable achievements. We dearly cherish those opportunities. There is no precedent for China to follow to achieve modernization. Being the largest developing country with a huge population, China will undoubtedly encounter many challenges and difficulties in this course. But we will go all out to resolve the problems that may lie ahead as realizing modernization is the common dream among China's 1.3 billion people. To deal with the difficulties successfully, one needs a peaceful international environment and stable neighborhood. China will continue to reinforce its friendly relations and cooperation with neighboring countries, and actively promote relations with all countries around the world. In the principles of reciprocity and mutual benefit, China will do its best to carry out cooperation with all countries in the hope of creating greater opportunities for common development. China is committed to the path of peaceful development and will stay on this path in the future.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The world today is undergoing transformation and there are both great opportunities and many risks. Our world is like a global village where countries have become more interconnected and interdependent. People of the world aspire to live in a stable and prosperous world and lead a stable and happy life. This represents the common interests of all countries which should be advanced and expanded. China will continue to make its own contribution to this end.

China is an important contributor to the world economy. With several decades of fast economic development, stability and trust, growth and potential, development and cooperation have become the key words that China transmits to the world. In the years ahead, the Chinese economy will continue to grow at a medium to high rate. There's still a long way to go for China to achieve modernization. China's modernization will not only benefit the Chinese people, but also be good news to people around the world. The future development of China is about economic transformation and upgrading; about expanding domestic consumption and advancing the new type of industrialization, IT application, urbanization and agricultural modernization; and about pursing green growth. This will bring new opportunities to the balanced development of other economies and the world's sustainable development.

China is an active player in building global governance. We devote ourselves to maintaining the global system with the United Nations as its core. We call for greater democracy in international relations and have participated in and advanced relevant reforms with a constructive attitude. Now the regional economy is undergoing reorganization and structural adjustment. We hope to see progress in the multilateral trading regime like the Doha Round negotiations and greater liberalization and facilitation of regional trade and investment so that these "two wheels" will forge ahead in parallel. China has reached consensus with ASEAN countries on building the RCEP. The RCEP and the TPP may interact with and promote each other. To tackle climate change, guarantee food and energy security, and strengthen public health meets the interests of all people. China will enhance communication and cooperation with the international society to address the challenges in traditional and non-traditional security areas in the world.

China firmly defends peace among all humanity. The Chinese people love peace. They suffered deeply from foreign bullying and strife and hence long for peace in the world. The notion that "a strong country is bound to seek hegemony" is not China's political philosophy, development logic or cultural tradition. "Do not do to others what you would not like others to do to you" is what we believe in. China will never assume an expansionist policy. China honors its words and matches its words with results-oriented actions. Lately, China has reached consensus with ASEAN countries on maintaining peace and tranquility in the South China Sea and on joint development in the South China Sea with some countries. For outstanding historical issues, we advocate settling the problem by dialogue in keeping with the larger interest of peace, cooperation and development. To build a peaceful world requires the concerted efforts of the international society. China is a responsible big nation and will play a constructive role in the process. To fight terrorism in various forms and prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is the common wish of the international society and also China's position and practice.

Ladies and gentleman,

The 21st Century Council gathers together political leaders, intellectuals and entrepreneurs with a strong sense of responsibility and international influence. You are all wise and knowledgeable. I believe the conference will spark new ideas under its theme, helping the world to know a true China and China to know more about the world. This way, there will be deeper mutual appreciation between China and the world and the world we live in will enjoy more understanding and harmony and fewer disputes and misunderstandings.

I wish all the distinguished guests and friends a pleasant stay in China. Thank you.

(China Daily 11/03/2013 page2)