Answer the Call of the Era and Work Together for Asia's Future
Keynote Speech by Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Hailong
15 September 2011
Secretary-General Zhou Wenzhong,
Today, young talents from across Asia gather here to discuss the topic of "Asian Economies in Remodeling: What We Can Do". This fully speaks to your sense of mission and responsibility. Young people are the hope of their country and nation. Asia's future lies in the enterprising spirit of its young people, and young people's future depends on Asia's prosperity.
I was your age once. How I envy the fortune and opportunities your generation enjoys! But I also understand the heavy tasks and challenges your generation faces. We live in a time of great development. With booming economic globalization and technological revolution, soaring productivity and new inventions across the board, more people have been lifted out of backwardness and poverty, and the living standards of mankind and human civilization have reached a new high.
We live in a time of great changes. The rapid development of modern transportation and telecommunications have made the earth smaller, the world flatter, people closer to each other, and state-to-state relations deeper.
We also live in a time of great challenges. Human subsistence and development are beset by such issues as climate change, food security, resources depletion, natural disasters and non-communicable diseases. The September 11 attacks are ten years behind, yet terrorism and extremism still threaten the security of all countries. The world has not walked out of the shadow of the international financial crisis, and many developed countries are deep in a debt crisis. North Africa and West Asia are still in turmoil. The institutional challenge facing developed countries sheds a dim light on the prospect of the world.
In a word, our era fills us with encouragement and hope for future, but also pressures and worries.
In this world of fast development and profound changes, Asia, with its unique oriental wisdom, positive mindset and enterprising spirit, has achieved remarkable progress and "made a difference". Asian economy is on the upward track and Asia's international standing is on the rise.
In a world swept by the current of change, Asia is an oasis of peace and prosperity. It is not that Asia is free from problems or disagreements, but that Asian people have found the way to control conflicts and resolve problems. The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, initiated by Asian countries, have become the basic principles guiding state-to-state relations. Seeking common ground while preserving differences, pursuing the middle way and harmonious coexistence represent the essence of Asian people's wisdom over hundreds of thousands of years. They are a contributing factor to Asia's stability and prosperity.
In the shadow of the international financial crisis, Asia is an important engine for global growth and innovation. With diligence, intelligence and the spirit of working together in times of adversity, Asian people have not only created a splendid history, but also worked a miracle of steady and rapid growth. In 2010, Asia's economic growth reached as high as 8.2%, and GDP totaled USD$15.78 trillion, accounting for nearly 30% of the world's total. According to authoritative international financial institutions, by mid-century, Asia will take up half of the world economy. Asia is not only the continent with the largest size and population, but also home to the largest number of engineers and innovations. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, China, Japan and the ROK rank among the world's top five in terms of patent application, and China's application increased by 56% from the previous year.
Admist the cacophony of voices about the clash of civilizations, Asia stands out as a model of openness and inclusiveness. Though Asia has the most diversified ethnic groups and religions, and Asian countries are at various development stages, there is a high degree of harmony among major civilizations. In many Asian countries, Buddhist, Islamic and Catholic buildings stand side by side, and their believers live in harmony. In the Hanging Temple at the foot of China's Hengshan Mountain, I saw Laozi, Confucius and Sakyamuni worshiped under the same roof. Asian people are modest, honest and eager to learn. They not only draw upon all fruits of human civilization with an inclusive mind, but also make invaluable contribution to the diversity of world civilization.
As Asians, we have every reason to be proud of Asia and confident about Asia's future. On the other hand, we also note that the lingering effects of the international financial crisis are still being felt, and worldwide economic, financial, scientific and technological and market competition have become more intense. Many Asian countries are at a lower development stage with high reliance on foreign economy. Destabilizing factors still affect this region with hotspot issues popping up from time to time and devastating disasters frequently hitting the region. These have a direct impact on the development of Asian countries and its people's well-being. To sustain the sound momentum of growth and proactively adapt to a changing world, Asian people must find strength in their own wisdom and act in line with their national realities seize opportunities and address challenges in search of an overall approach. To promote the development of Asia, I think we need to bear in mind the following points.
First, we should give equal importance to innovation and tradition. Innovation is the source and engine of growth. Asia has made impressive achievements in its economic development, yet we should keep a creative mind, enhance our innovation abilities, and foster and capitalize on new areas of growth, so as to sustain Asia's economic growth and prosperity. Reform and innovation, however, are neither negation of nor departure from the past. Asian people cherish many fine traditions such as self-reliance, diligence, frugality and mutual assistance. These are cherished treasures handed down from older generations. We should innovate while carrying forward traditions, and seek development through innovation.
Second, we should balance speed and quality. In recent years, Asia's economy averaged a higher annual growth rate than the world, and became an important driving force behind world economic recovery and growth. Growth is always the precondition for development, which is particularly true for Asian countries. However, the "GDP or GNP-first" theory no longer applies, as it is a lopsided pursuit of material wealth. Such pursuit of development speed is not healthy. Instead, we should pay more attention to the quality of growth. Yesterday, I attended the Summer Davos in Dalian. This year's theme is "Mastering Quality Growth", which is highly relevant to the current economic situation in Asia. Asian economy should grow from "quantity" to "quality". And to realize high-quality and rapid growth of Asian economy, we should rely on a sound structure, improved legal, standard-setting, policy-making and institution-building systems, and better technologies and management.
Third, we should balance development and the environment. The development and prosperity our generation enjoys should not come at the expense of our children and grandchildren. While Asia enjoys rapid economic growth, it suffers from excessive resources consumption, environmental pollution and ecological degradation. Such a development model cannot sustain. We should leave verdant mountains and clean water to the future generations and revitalize the ecosystem. Asian countries should conserve resources, protect the environment, and stick to the path of green and low-carbon development in order to promote balanced, coordinated and sustainable social, economic and environmental development.
Fourth, we should equally promote growth and people's well-being. The fast economic development and prosperity of Asia should not just benefit a small number of people, still less make the rich richer and the poor poorer. The recent turmoil in West Asia and North Africa and the large-scale riots and protests in Europe have a direct connection with the income gap, uneven distribution of wealth and social injustice there. We must bring the benefits of development to people all across Asia, and narrow the gap of development dividend. Most countries in Asia are developing countries with a large population. To ensure and improve people's well-being has always been the fundamental purpose of Asia's development. Everything we do is for the purpose of bringing a better life to Asian people. We should achieve inclusive growth, lay a solid material foundation to improve the life of Asian people, and create more opportunities for vulnerable groups and young people, so that everyone can enjoy the opportunity for development, and lead a happier and more decent life with dignity.
Fifth, competition and cooperation should complement each other. The era of globalization is one of competition, but more importantly, it is an era of cooperation. Sound competition drives social progress. Most Asian countries are developing ones similar in development stage and industrial structure. Competition and conflicting interests are hardly avoidable. Yet the areas for cooperation far outnumber those for competition. In the face of growing international challenges, Asian countries have common interests in maintaining regional stability and promoting development. We should seize opportunities, deepen regional cooperation, draw on each other's strength and achieve win-win progress.
China is a member of the big Asian family. Over the years, China's development endeavor has benefited from Asia's development, and China has in return made unremitting efforts for the peace, development and prosperity of Asia.
China is an Asian country. Geographically, China has more neighbors than any other Asian country, and is connected with almost every part of the region. Culturally, China is both an important cradle of civilization and a place where different civilizations meet. In the long course of history, the Chinese civilization and other Asian cultures have interacted with each other, they have all contributed their part to the splendid oriental civilization. Since the dawn of the new century, China and Asia have developed side by side in a mutually reinforcing way. Together, we have opened a new era of Asia's development.
China's prosperity contributes to the prosperity of Asia. Historic changes have taken place in China and the Chinese society in recent years. China has benefited from the economic prosperity of Asia, and contributed to common prosperity of Asia through its own development. We have deepened partnerships with various countries, actively participated in regional cooperation and become an important driving force for the development of Asia. In 2010, China's trade with Asian countries reached US$931.6 billion, accounting for one third of China's total foreign trade. China has become the biggest trading partner of Japan, the ROK, India, Mongolia and ASEAN. We are now a major export destination for Asian countries. The China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA) inaugurated in 2010 is home to 1.9 billion people, making it the most populous free trade area, and a model of free trade area among developing countries. Practice has shown that China can not achieve its development without a prospering Asia, while Asia needs China for greater development.
China is a good neighbor, good partner and good friend of Asian countries. We cherish friendly cooperation with Asian countries. China pursues friendship and partnership with its neighbors and commits itself to working with other countries in Asia to build a peaceful and stable regional environment featuring equality, mutual trust, and win-win cooperation. During the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the 2008 international financial crisis, China and other Asian countries worked closely together to tide over the difficulties. When natural disasters struck, such as the Indian Ocean Tsunami and earthquake in Japan, China empathized with people in the affected countries, and provided timely support. In cases of differences, China insists on seeking solution through consultation and dialogue, thus playing a constructive role in safeguarding regional security and stability.
The world is changing, so are Asia and China. Yet I want to emphasize here that China's policy of seeking harmony and friendship with its neighbors remains unchanged. Whatever change may take place in China, it will only generate greater opportunities and a stronger driving force for Asia's development and prosperity. Like many other Asian countries, China faces rare historical opportunities for national rejuvenation, and needs to maintain stability, eradicate poverty and shift economic development model. We are fully aware that without a favorable regional environment, all the afore-mentioned goals cannot be attained. China will continue to pursue a win-win strategy of opening-up, and expand and deepen our common interests with Asian countries. China will take an active part in regional cooperation, step up exchanges and cooperation with Asian countries in economy and trade, culture, finance, infrastructure and tourism, so that we can jointly build a harmonious and prosperous Asia.
Hong Kong is one of the most liberal and dynamic economies in Asia. I had the privilege of working in Hong Kong for over three years, which happened to cover the SARS period. I saw how Hong Kong's economy had emerged from the trying time with the help of the mainland. I also got to know many young people of Hong Kong, and was deeply impressed by their dedication to excellence, professionalism and innovation. Today, back in Hong Kong, I feel very much at home.
Hong Kong enjoys a superb geographical location. Being an important international financial, trade and navigation hub, Hong Kong plays an irreplaceable role in China's reform, opening up and modernization endeavors. Hong Kong and the mainland have drawn on each other's strengths, conducted win-win cooperation and achieved common prosperity. Hong Kong has withstood the severe challenge of international financial crisis and maintained its vigor and vitality. According to the World Competitiveness Yearbook of 2011, released by the Lausanne-based International Institute for Management Development, Hong Kong tops the country list on par with the United States. This fully demonstrates Hong Kong's strength in government efficiency, business environment, legal system and quality of service. It also shows the international community's confidence in Hong Kong's promising future. At the world goes through profound adjustment and change and countries speed up the transformation of development pattern, broad international connections and a strong contingent of talents will put Hong Kong in a more advantageous position.
The central government will give strong support to the development of Hong Kong. The 12th Five-Year Plan, for the first time, contains a separate chapter on the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and Macao. The chapter is much more substantial than in the past, and the contents are more systematic, detailed and focused. It fully demonstrates the central government's care for Hong Kong and its expectation for Hong Kong's participation in the development of the country. During his visit to Hong Kong last month, Vice Premier Li Keqiang announced multiple policies and measures to support Hong Kong's development and strengthen economic and financial cooperation between the mainland and Hong Kong. We believe that with tireless efforts by Hong Kong compatriots, including all of you present today, the "pearl of East" will enjoy an ever brighter future!
A famous Chinese thinker Liang Qichao insightfully observed, "When a country's youth are wise, prosperous and strong, the country will be wise, prosperous and strong." The rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and Asia and the progress of the world depend on the hard work and ingenuity of the younger generation's career development. Prosperity of today's Hong Kong and the motherland provides a broad stage for the younger generation to establish your career. The Y. Elites Association of Hong Kong brings together young leaders of various social sectors, and has an important role to play in promoting the development of Hong Kong, of China and of Asia. To this end, I have the following advice for my young friends from Hong Kong:
First, develop your abilities to better serve Hong Kong. Young people should aim high. The return to the motherland has opened greater opportunities for Hong Kong. Its development requires a large number of talented people with devotion to Hong Kong, high aspirations and a strong sense of responsibility. I hope all the young friends present here will work hard to serve Hong Kong with greater skills and competence, temper your character in practice, and keep challenging yourself to higher standards.
Second, keep the motherland in mind while taking a global perspective. The motherland is a reliable and strong support for Hong Kong's stability and prosperity. The younger generation of Hong Kong should know what is happening in Hong Kong, and more importantly, what is happening in China and around the world. You need to know the past, present and future of the motherland, and fulfill your own ambitions along with rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. You also need to take a global perspective, learn from achievements of all civilizations to enrich your life and bring out your best.
Third, assume your responsibilities and work together for a better future. A hero is a product of his time. Young people should follow the trend of the times and dare to undertake important missions. I suggest you think more about the long-term issues concerning the development of Hong Kong and the entire nation, make the best use of Hong Kong's high level of internationalization and contribute your share to the development of Asia and the world by contributing to the prosperity of Hong Kong and China.
The venue of today's meeting, the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, looks like a giant bird ready to fly. As we are gathered here for the Boao Youth Forum, I wish Hong Kong greater development in a great era. I wish all the young friends present greater achievements!
To conclude, I wish this forum a full success and continued success in the future!