President Hu Jintao gave a written interview to Le Figaro of France on 2 November before attending the G20 Summit in Cannes. He answered questions on such topics as China's relations with France and with Europe, the G20 Summit in Cannes and the international economic and financial situation.
On China-France relations and the two countries' cooperation under the G20 framework, Hu Jintao said that he came to France this time to attend the G20 Summit in Cannes and to discuss with leaders of other G20 members ways to promote strong, sustainable and balanced growth of the world economy. He also looked forward to meeting with President Sarkozy again.
Hu Jintao noted that he paid a successful state visit to France last November, and reached agreement with President Sarkozy on building a new type of comprehensive strategic partnership that is mature and stable, based on mutual trust and mutual benefit and oriented towards the world. He met with President Sarkozy in Beijing on two occasions in March and August this year. They had in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations, world economic situation, G20 affairs and major hot spot issues, and further increased the mutual trust between the two countries. In recent years, China-France relations have moved ahead steadily along the course charted by the leaders of the two countries, with frequent high-level exchanges, robust business ties, and increasingly dynamic people-to-people exchanges. The two sides have kept close communication and coordination on major international and regional issues.
Hu Jintao pointed out that the current international situation continues to undergo profound and complicated changes. Being major countries with important influence in the world, both China and France should enhance coordination and cooperation, work jointly to tackle global challenges, and actively contribute to world peace, stability and prosperity. China is willing to enhance exchanges and dialogue with France in various areas at multiple levels, deepen practical cooperation in such traditional areas as nuclear power and aerospace, and explore cooperation opportunities in sustainable development. China is also ready to enhance people-to-people exchanges, work for the success of the Year of the Chinese Language and the Year of the French Language, increase the number of exchange students, and uphold the sound growth momentum of bilateral relations.
President Hu Jintao stressed that the Chinese side is committed to coordinating and cooperating with the French side under the G20 framework. The Chinese side supports France's efforts to host a successful G20 summit and is willing to work with the French side to ensure positive and practical outcomes of the summit, and play an active role to restore strong growth of the world economy at an early date.
On world economic and financial situation and China's expectations of the G20 summit, Hu Jintao pointed out that the world economic recovery is slowing down, with a noticeable increase of destabilizing factors and uncertainties. Major economies are experiencing economic slowdown, and some developed countries are facing sovereign debt problems. The international financial markets are volatile, and various forms of trade and investment protectionism are gaining momentum. G20 members need to enhance cooperation and jointly promote strong, sustainable and balanced growth of the world economy. To reach this objective, the Cannes Summit should make efforts in the following three areas.
First, continue to demonstrate the spirit of standing together in times of adversity and pursuing win-win cooperation. All members need to continue to make joint efforts to enhance macroeconomic policy coordination, and send a clear signal of working together to cope with major challenges of the world economy. Members should consolidate the hard-won fruits of the economic recovery and boost market confidence.
Second, focus on major and urgent challenges in world economy and finance. The Summit should properly handle such issues as the sovereign debts and high and fluctuating commodity prices. At the same time, it should promote the reform of the international monetary and financial system, oppose trade and investment protectionism and promote multilateral negotiations on free trade.
Third, continue to address the development imbalance between the North and the South. The Summit needs to put in perspective and appreciate the positive contribution of the emerging markets and developing countries to world economic recovery and growth, accommodate their legitimate concerns, increase their representation and voice in global economic governance, and create a sound external environment for their sustainable development.
When asked how China views the rebalancing of the global economy, Hu Jintao said that the international community should put the relationship among strong growth, sustainable growth and balanced growth in perspective. To enable sustainable growth is a long-term objective; to achieve balanced growth through economic restructuring is an objective need; and to ensure strong growth is the top priority for today's world economy and the precondition for balanced and sustainable growth. The pressing task for the G20 at the moment is to secure growth and pursue balance in the course of growth.
Hu Jintao urged the international community to identify the right causes for the imbalances of the world economy. He said that the imbalances are manifestations, rather than the causes, of the underlying problems plaguing global economic and financial systems. The causes of the world economic imbalances are structural, including the imbalances in the global economic structure, international distribution of labor and the international monetary system. To address these imbalances, countries around the world should make joint efforts to adjust their economic structure. This is a long-term process which won't be accomplished overnight.
Hu Jintao stressed that at previous G20 summits, leaders of China and other countries had made it clear that the greatest imbalance in the world economy today is uneven development between the North and the South, and that the goal to address the imbalances is to promote common development. Only by helping developing countries to achieve faster development and share growth and prosperity with the rest of the world, can we put the global economic recovery on a firm footing, expand the global aggregate demand, and sustain world economic growth. This is also why China firmly supports the G20 in focusing on the issue of global development.
Hu said that since the outbreak of the international financial crisis, China has put in place forceful policies to stimulate domestic demand. China's GDP has grown by over 9% annually and import and outbound investment have also grown rapidly. In the first three quarters of this year, China's GDP and retail sales grew by 9.4% and 17% respectively, and import and export was up 26.7% to US$1285.1 billion. All this contributed significantly to the recovery and growth of the world economy. China is accelerating the shift of the economic growth model, adjusting the economic structure and building a long-term mechanism to expand domestic demand so that economic growth will be driven by consumption, investment and export in a balanced way. China's trade surplus relative to GDP dropped from 7.5% in 2007 to 3.2% in 2010. In the next five years, China's consumption will maintain a high growth rate, and the total imports are expected to exceed US$8 trillion. China's continued economic growth will make further contribution to the world economy.
When asked about the economic and financial stability in Europe, Hu Jintao said that recently, some European countries are facing some difficulties on the sovereign debt issue, which have attracted a lot of international attention. We have noted that leaders of the countries concerned said on many occasions that Europe has the resolve, ability and resources to solve the sovereign debt issue. The recently held EU summit produced some new measures and ideas, which demonstrated the will of Europe to work closely together for a solution. We hope these measures will help Europe stabilize its financial markets, overcome current difficulties and promote economic recovery and development. China sincerely hopes to see stability of the euro zone economy and the euro itself.
On China-EU relations, Hu Jintao said China views Europe as an important player on the world stage and supports European integration. China is ready to work with the European Union to deepen mutual understanding and trust, expand and deepen practical cooperation in various areas, strengthen an equal partnership based on mutual respect, friendship and mutual trust, deepen a cooperative partnership of mutual benefit and common development, build a harmonious partnership featuring mutual learning and rich diversity, and advance an inclusive and open global partnership oriented towards the future, as it will not only contribute to China's development and to Europe's economic recovery, but also serve world peace, stability and prosperity.