On the evening of the 28th of September, Chinese Consul General in Edinburgh, Mr. Pan Xinchun and his wife held a reception at the Consulate General to celebrate the 67th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Rt. Hon. Ken Macintosh MSP, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, Mr. Alasdair Allan MSP, Minister for International Development and Europe of the Scottish Government attended the reception. The celebrations were also participated by more than 200 guests, including Provosts, representatives from the Consular Corps, industrial and commercial circles, culture and education sectors, media and Chinese communities, Chinese institutions and Chinese students in Scotland.
Consul General Pan made a keynote speech as follows,
Sixty-seven years ago, the founding of the People's Republic of China opened a new era in China's history, inaugurating a path for Chinese people to achieve national prosperity and rejuvenation. Since then, especially since the reform and opening up almost forty years ago, Chinese people have made great achievements one after another in developing their country. Within decades, they have achieved the success of development which took developed countries over a hundred years to obtain. The livelihood of the Chinese people has been markedly improved, the overall national strength substantially increased, and its international status dramatically strengthened. Today, China has become the world second largest economy, the biggest trading nation to over 120 countries. It is also the second largest country in outbound foreign direct investment as well as the largest exporter of outbound tourists which saw more than 120 million tourists travel abroad last year. More than 700 million people have got rid of poverty.
This year, against the backdrop of complicated international situation and weak growth of the world economy, China has made continued progress in its development.
The economy has maintained moderate and steady performance. During the first half of this year, China's GDP grew by 6.7 percent, contributing to over 25 percent of global economic growth. The national per-capita disposable income registered a real increase of 6.5 percent, while 7.17 million new jobs were created. The economic structural transformation and upgrading have progressed steadily. The service sector has maintained rapid growth, accounting for 54.1 percent of GDP. Hi-tech industry grew by 10.2 percent. Consumption contributed 73.4 percent to economic growth, up by 13.2 percentage points. The total retail sales of consumer goods grew by10.3 percent. The quality of China's economic growth has improved with energy consumption per unit of GDP dropping by 5.2 percent. The exchange rate of RMB remains stable, while the internationalization of RMB is gathering speed which will see the inclusion of RMB in the SDR basket by the IMF coming into effect on 1st October.
China has turned into a big manufacturing power. According to 2016 Global Innovation Index, China is among top 25 countries in the global ranking of innovation, thus becoming one of global R&D centers. This year China continues to lead the world in cutting edge technologies. In June, China's supercomputer has been declared the world's fastest, capable of performing some 93 quadrillion calculations per second. In August, China launched the world's first quantum satellite Micius, consolidating the lead in international quantum communication research. In September, China launched its second space laboratory Tiangong-2, a big step towards building a space station. In the same month, China's space telescope FAST measuring five hundred meters in diameter, the world's largest, began to operate.
China's new silk road named "One Belt, One Road" initiative has gained strong momentum. So far, over 100 countries and international organizations have already participated in the initiative, with over 30 countries signing agreements for cooperation and more than 20 countries joining infrastructure projects such as railway and nuclear power station construction. International Organizations such as the UN also take a positive approach to the Initiative. Financial cooperation, evidenced by Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund, has been deepened. Some influential projects have been materialized, while Chinese enterprises have established 46 zones for cooperation with countries along the routes. Developed from scratch, the progress and fruits of the "One belt, One road" have far exceeded expectations.
While China strives to promote its development, it also adheres to an independent foreign policy of peace as China sends the biggest number of peacekeepers among the permanent members of the UN Security Council. It has made significant contributions to safeguarding world peace and promoting common development, as well as dealing with global challenges.
In early September, the 11th G20 Summit was successfully held in China's Hangzhou City, the largest in G20's history. The G20 Leaders' Communique of the Hangzhou Summit was adopted, setting out the direction, goals and steps for G20 cooperation. It reached the Hangzhou Consensus, providing a blueprint for building an innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive world economy. The parties are determined to add new momentum to the world economic growth and make new contributions to global development.
Last week, during the 71st UN General Assembly, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang stated China's position on the current world's hot issues, and detailed China's plans to deal with them, which received positive response by the international community. In particular, Premier Li claimed that China plans to provide an additional $100 million in assistance to concerned countries and international organizations to address the refugee crisis.
2016 also marks a harvest year for China-Scotland relations. Our cooperation in fields of high level exchanges, trade and investment, culture and education etc have yielded wealth of fruitful results.
Political ties have been strengthened by frequent exchanges with some important visits to Scotland by senior Chinese delegations. Such as H.E. Mr. Du Qinglin, Member of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Party and vice Chairman of National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Meanwhile, many Chinese local government delegations also visited Scotland. These exchanges greatly deepened our mutual trust and boosted co-operation between the two sides.
Our trade and investment cooperation have achieved new progress. The joint venture for manufacturing electric buses by a Chinese automobile company BYD and a Scottish company has been carrying on smoothly. The reciprocal International Creative Industries Incubation Centers in both Chinese Shenzhen and Edinburgh have been successfully operating for one year. China's State Development and Investment Corporation (SDIC) invested in two large-scale offshore wind farms in Scotland this year. China Railway No.3 Engineering Group, Sinofortone Group signed a MOU worth 10 billion pounds with the Scottish Government. Some senior Chinese business delegations also visited Scotland to explore opportunities for investment and cooperation.
Cultural interactions and people-to-people exchanges are also active. This August Vice Minister of Culture Mr. Xiang Zhaolun visited Scotland and attended the 3rd Edinburgh International Culture Summit. About forty Chinese artistic troupes participated in the Edinburgh Festival this August, twice that of last year, including a famous Chinese conductor at the age of 91 and youngsters with autism who presented the orchestral performance on the international stage for the very first time in their lives, bringing rich and colorful Chinese culture to the Festival. Meanwhile, Shanghai Culture Week, Tourism Pictures Exhibition of Beijing, Pictures Exhibition of Charming Shanghai were also successfully held in collaboration with the Scottish side.
Our education cooperation is another bright spot. All Scottish universities are enjoying close links with Chinese universities in various fields such as management, student exchanges and scientific research. More and more Scottish students are learning Chinese language and culture. A week ago, I attended the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the first Confucius Institute in Scotland at Edinburgh University, and the Annual Conference of Confucius Institutes at Glasgow University. So far, five Confucius institutes are established here with over 20 thousand local students from more than 200 local primary and secondary schools learning mandarin. By the way Scotland has got most Confucius Institutes in the world by population proportion. Meanwhile, around ten thousand Chinese students have chosen Scottish universities for their higher education.
Exchanges and co-operations in other fields such as local government exchanges, police cooperation and tourism are also fruitful. The local government and city to city links continue to develop. Apart from 5 Chinese cities with sister city relationship in Scotland, this year saw the Jiading District of Shanghai and South Ayrshire establish friendly and cooperative relations. Police cooperation has made a breakthrough with Police Scotland establishing ties with its Chinese counterparts from Shandong Province. People-to-people exchanges also increased rapidly, which saw over 100 thousand Chinese tourists visit Scotland last year, while the number of Scottish visitors to China also significantly increased. The relevant organizations are working hard on the direct flight between China and Scotland.
Hereby, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to friends from all walks of life in Scotland for your ongoing commitment and support of the development of China, as well as the Sino-Scottish relations.
Looking ahead, Chinese people have every confidence in its future, and will realize its Two Centenary Goals for Development. In 2021, China will finish building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. In 2049, China will turn into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, and harmonious. The development of China will further benefit the world including Scotland. We are committed to working with you to make our friendship and cooperation a huge success in the years ahead.