Speech by Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping at the 2012 New Year Reception for NGOs
(Beijing, 16 December 2011 )
It is a great pleasure for me to get together with friends old and new to celebrate our friendship and the coming of the new year on such a beautiful night. I wish to begin by extending, on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China and in my own name, seasonal greetings and sincere thanks to friends who have cared for and supported the work of NGOs in the past year.
The year 2011, which is coming to an end, witnessed great changes in the international situation. Peace and development, as the theme of our times, have been more pronounced. The trend toward a multi-polar world, economic globalization and informatization is gaining momentum. Countries have become more interconnected and interdependent. At the same time, the international situation is still fraught with uncertainties, with increasing destabilizing factors in world economic recovery and turmoil in some countries and regions. Global challenges, including terrorism, energy security, cyber security and natural disasters, are indeed severe. In the face of unprecedented new challenges and opportunities, the pursuit of peace, development and cooperation has become the call of the time and shared aspiration of the people. The year 2011 also witnessed major progress in China's peaceful development. We celebrated the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China and commemorated the 100th anniversary of the 1911 Revolution. We launched the 12th Five Year Plan for Economic and Social Development and maintained steady and fast growth of the economy. We kept to the path of peaceful development, stayed committed to promoting friendly cooperation with countries around the world, and made unremitting efforts to world economic recovery and peace and stability of the international situation.
Also in the past year, NGOs within and outside China enjoyed vigorous and fruitful development. Over 440,000 social organizations have been registered with civil affairs departments across China. They have been active in various fields and playing an indispensable and unique role in providing social services and promoting programs for public good. Many foreign NGOs have come to China and cooperated with their Chinese partners in carrying out a lot of activities and programs in public health, education, environmental protection, charity and social welfare. With their experience, they have played a supplementary and facilitating role in the economic and social development of China, and enhanced China's exchanges and cooperation with the rest of the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Chinese government attaches great importance to the role of NGOs. New progress was made by the Chinese government in social administration innovations in 2011. At the beginning of the year, General Secretary Hu Jintao called for "real efforts to make social administration more scientific, and for building a socialist social administration system with Chinese charateristics". "Innovations in social administration" was incorporated as an important part into the Report on the Work of the Government for the first time this year, and a number of significant documents on this subject have been issued and implemented. Leaders of the Central Government pointed out that to meet the needs of all-dimensional opening-up, the administration of and service for overseas NGOs operating in China should be strengthened according to law to give full play to the role of NGOs in promoting China's economic and social development. Over the past year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other ministries have beefed up exchanges and cooperation with overseas NGOs. For example, the New Year Reception for NGOs was held for the first time early this year. Assistance has been provided for relevant organizations to carry out cooperative projects on poverty reduction in some areas of Yunnan and Guizhou provinces. In light of the technical problems that arose after the Regulations on the Registration and Administration of Permanent Representative Offices of Foreign Enterprises took effect, administrative measures for the transition period have been adopted and implemented to address the immediate difficulties confronting overseas NGOs. More importantly, competent authorities in China are stepping up efforts to improve relevant laws and regulations with the aim of better safeguarding the lawful rights and interests of overseas NGOs in China and protecting their legitimate exchanges and cooperation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In 2012, the Communist Party of China will hold its 18th National Congress, and China will make new progress in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and advancing the socialist modernization drive. As China accelerates innovation in its social administration system and improvement of its laws and regulations, NGOs, including those from overseas, are having unprecedented new opportunities. I would like to stress once again that the Chinese government welcomes overseas NGOs and supports them in conducting friendly cooperation in China. We sincerely hope that they will take account of the real needs of China's economic and social development, follow the Chinese laws and regulations, continue to carry out practical cooperation with legal Chinese organizations in poverty reduction, disaster relief, environmental protection, education, medical care and charity, and contribute to friendly exchanges between the Chinese people and people of other countries and China's economic and social progress. The Chinese government will, as always, facilitate friendly exchanges and cooperation of overseas NGOs in China.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
According to China's lunar calendar, the year 2012 will be the Year of the Dragon. As the cultural symbol of the Chinese nation, dragon is an embodiment of great enthusiasm and pioneering spirit. We look forward to strengthening cooperation with you in the new year and making our cooperation as energetic as a dragon!
I now propose a toast,
to the friendly cooperation between Chinese and foreign partners, and
to the health of all our guests.