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Introductory Speech by H.E. Ambassador Yang Yanyi, Head of the Chinese Mission to the EU, at the Executive Roundtable: Partner China

(From Chinese Mission to the European Union)


Introductory Speech by H.E. Ambassador Yang Yanyi, Head of the Chinese Mission to the EU, at the Executive Roundtable: Partner China

February 8, 2017

Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to attend the opening session of the "Executive Roundtable: Partner China". On behalf of the Chinese Mission to the EU, I would like to extend our warm congratulations and pay high tribute to all the participants who have long been committed to China-EU partnership and cooperation.

As this forum opens, the world is confronted with increasing uncertain and unstable factors. The world economy remains sluggish. The immediate impact and long-term consequences of Brexit has become a global concern. The Middle East is mired in aggravating tension. And there is growing backlash against globalization.

Yet, against all the odds, a new round of scientific, technological and industrial revolution is in the making, change in international division of labor is accelerating and global value chains are being reshaped, adding new dimensions to economic globalization. Domestically, the Chinese economy remains on an upward trajectory on the basis of steady performance and comprehensive reform and transformation.

Most importantly, it is the shared commitment of the international community to work together in a spirit of partnership for win-win outcomes. The successful G20 Hangzhou Summit held last September underscored the importance of building an open world economy, reviving the twin engines of international trade and investment, and creating opportunities for more people to benefit from economic growth in a globalized world.

The fact that this forum has chosen "Partner China" as its central theme speaks volume of the spirit of partnership and importance the German business community attaches to making China a long-term and reliable partner.

It is fair to say that in the spirit of partnership, China and the EU have maintained a vast, complementary and growing relationship.

Our economic linkages are robust – by November last year, total trade value between China and the EU reached 547 billion US dollars, and two-way investment has gathered momentum. The EU's direct investment in China reached 8.8 billion US dollars and China's non-financial direct investment in the EU reached 7.3 billion US dollars. The EU remains China's biggest trading partner, the second largest exporting market and the top partner for imports.

Our two sides enjoy close people-to-people ties, and our institutionalized dialogue mechanisms are functioning smoothly and effectively.

Our communication and coordination within the G20 has contributed to improving global economic governance.

Facts have proven that despite their many differences, differences in historical back ground, in social systems and in levels of economic development, China and the EU have much broader common interests and have created opportunities for deeper, broader, and sustained cooperation with the maturing of their partnership.

Against the backdrop of the complex and fast changing international landscape and fundamental transformation in global political and economic structure, it is all the more important and significant that China and the EU build on the record of the past four decades and shape the future of their relationship in the spirit of partnership.

We are committed to building trust and confidence between China and the EU. History has taught us that sound and stable relationship relies on strong political foundation and strategic trust. China remains committed to peaceful development and has sufficient political will to consolidate comprehensive strategic partnership with the EU for long-term stability and prosperity of the world.

We are fully aware that as a major player in the global system and highly interdependent with the rest of the world, China's growing weight means that its domestic and foreign policies invariably affect other countries. Hence, it is in China's own interests to pursue common development and share opportunities and interests through opening-up and achieve win-win outcomes.

To suggest that China "is putting the future of Europe in jeopardy" is absurd, groundless and strategically and politically misleading. The fact is just the opposite: China's peaceful development benefits the EU and the world; a prosperous and stable China, well integrated into the world community, is a major force for peace, prosperity and stability. We hope the EU side develop a deeper and objective understanding and appreciation of China and stay committed to the vision of working with China as true partners and moving China-EU relations on a positive and right track.

We are committed to expanding economic and trade cooperation with the EU with priorities given to building synergies between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Investment Plan for Europe, accelerating negotiations on the China-EU Investment Agreement, exploring cooperation in digital area, strengthening links between respective innovation platforms, and deepening cooperation under the China-EU Partnership on Urbanization.

We are committed to moving forward and working on some of the global strategic issues and addressing common challenges. As agreed by Premier Li Keqiang and Chancellor Angela Merkel during their latest telephone talk, China and Germany and China and the EU should advance trade and investment liberalization and facilitation by enhancing cooperation and send a strong, stable and predictable signal to the market and jointly safeguard the existing international system and order.

With this in mind, China will intensify communication and coordination with Germany to ensure the G20 Hamburg Summit a full success and support the G20 to play a bigger role in global economic, trade and investment governance.

Last but not least, we are committed to managing differences and trade frictions with the EU in a constructive way. We hope and believe our European partners will also follow the same approach and always keep the big picture in mind. If we learn to see conflicting issues against the larger picture of growing common interests, they will be in the right perspective. We cannot and we must not allow differences and disagreements dominate our bilateral agenda and derail the overall relationship.

Before I conclude, I wish to shed light on China's economy.

In 2016, China's economy grew by 6.7%, still one of the highest in the world. Household consumption and the services sector have become the main drivers of growth. In the first three quarters of 2016, added value created by services accounted for 53% of the GDP and domestic consumption contributed to 71% of economic growth. Household income and employment have steadily risen, while per unit GDP energy consumption continues to drop. Our efforts to pursue green development are paying off. The energy consumption per unit of GDP dropped by 5.2% year on year. A total of 11 million urban jobs were created and the gap between urban and rural income continued to narrow.

The performance of China's economy has steadily improved: new driving forces are becoming stronger; new businesses are emerging; and many regions and sectors are going through encouraging transformation.

The year 2017 will be a year that will witness major political event in China, the convening of the 19th National Congress of the CPC, and further implementation of the 13th Five Year Plan.

Guided by the vision of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development, we will stick to the basic tone of making progress while maintaining stability, and firmly pushed forward reforms with priority given to supply-side structural reform, foster a new economic structure, and strengthen new forces driving development to ensure steady and sound growth of China's economy.

China's development will present greater opportunities to the world. It is estimated that in the next five years China will import US$8 trillion of goods, introduce US$600 billion of foreign investment and invest US$750 billion overseas and Chinese tourist will make over 700 million outbound visits. All this means a bigger market, more capital, a greater variety of products and more mutually beneficial cooperation for countries around the world, including the EU.

As reiterated by President Xi Jinping in Davos last month, China will not shut its door to the outside world, instead open itself even wider. We will give greater access to foreign investment. We will create a rules-based and enabling business environment in line with international standard, and ensure that there is a level playing field for all companies in China, both domestic and foreign. We hope that other countries will also keep their doors open to Chinese investors and keep the playing field level for us. And we will fully engage ourselves in economic globalization by supporting the multilateral trading regime and global improving economic governance.

In conclusion, I wish to quote a saying in China, "Like a boat sailing upstream, you will slide back if you don't press forward." Today, we have a positive relationship with the EU and the chance for a very positive future. I hope and believe business communities of both China and Europe will seize the growing opportunities, capitalize on our close partnership, sustain the momentum of our robust economic links and strengthen business ventures in our respective lands.

I am sure when judged by history we will be proven that we did make the right choices. We didn't just talk about a cooperative and comprehensive partnership. We worked together. We delivered results. We rose up to the aspirations of our peoples to make the world a better place. That is our vision and that is our commitment for this most important China-EU partnership featuring openness, inclusiveness and win-win outcomes.

Thank you very much! And I wish all of you a very Happy and Prosperous New Year, the Year of the Rooster!

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