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Statement by Mr. Cui Tiankai, Assistant Foreign Minister of China and Head of the Chinese Delegation at the General Debate Of the 62nd ESCAP Commission Session

2006-04-10 00:00

Mr. Chairman,

Fellow Delegates,

I am very glad to come to this beautiful city of Jakarta again for the 62nd UN-ESCAP Commission Session. I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to the Indonesian Government and ESCAP Secretariat for their thoughtful arrangements.

Mr. Chairman,

Since the world entered the 21st century, economic globalization has further developed, the trend of regional integration become clearer and competition grown fiercer. Yet, the Asia Pacific region remains the fastest-growing and most dynamic region with a promising prospect for development. Nevertheless, if one fails to see far ahead, he will face trouble close at hand. The Asia Pacific region needs to be fully aware of the challenges in its development and try to improve the development potential and competitiveness. Poor infrastructures in many countries of the region are bottlenecks to economic and social development and the efforts to achieve the MDGs. And the region lacks a fully accessible, convenient and efficient intra-regional network to meet the need of faster regional economic integration.

For the Asia Pacific region, to accelerate the building of infrastructure depends, first of all, on the countries in the region, on the ability of their governments to weigh situation properly, and to invigorate their economies by gradually improving transportation, energy, telecommunication, water conservancy and other areas of infrastructure through institutional innovation, enhancing investment environment, strengthening macroeconomic planning and increasing public fiscal spending. At the same time, in the context of economic globalization and regional integration, enhancing international and regional cooperation can be an important impetus for infrastructure development for all countries in the region. In this connection, we propose the following priorities.

1. Increase dialogue and experience-sharing. In the building of infrastructure, the developed countries in the region are experienced and some fast-growing developing countries have also gained experience or drawn lessons. All this should be shared by all countries. We should make the best use of the platforms of regional cooperation to discuss and review policy options and promote successful models of planning, development and management of the infrastructure. Mutual learning and mutual assistance will help countries avoid making detours. This is the way for us to achieve parallel progress in economic growth and poverty reduction with due attention to resource conservation and environmental protection, and eventually push forward development on all economic and social fronts.

2. Build platform for government-business cooperation. In infrastructure development, governments have an irreplaceable and key role to play in formulating and enforcing policies and laws, while businesses, experienced in market operation and rich in expertise and professionals, are eager to be involved. In infrastructure cooperation between countries in the region, government-business partnership should be encouraged so as to stimulate a sound interaction on planning, developing policies and laws and even concrete projects. This is a way to most efficiently mobilize and allocate resources, public and private, for infrastructure development. In this area, the Asia Pacific Business Forum jointly launched by the Chinese Government and ESCAP can play an active part.

3. Broaden access and increase input. It is estimated that in the next five years, developing countries in this region are to suffer an annual capital shortfall of US$180 billion for infrastructure development despite a fairly satisfactory size of capital in the region. The key is how to put it into best use. We need to rely on our collective wisdom to work out a market-based financing model that meets different needs. At the same time, we should give full play to ADB and other existing institutions, and explore new mechanisms such as the Asia Bond Market.

4. Provide supportive policies for greater inter-connectivity. Lacking intra-regional hardware inter-connectivity and supportive software, potential for overall regional development has not been fully unleashed. To solve this problem, we need to carry out practical cooperation for greater hardware inter-connectivity and better supportive software for business operation and management and streamlined customs procedure, and on this basis, establish an intra-regional network to achieve economy of scale. The GMS Cross-Border Transport Agreement signed under the Greater-Mekong Sub-region (GMS) Economic Cooperation Program is a welcome step forward and provides valuable experience.

Mr. Chairman,

ESCAP enjoys broad representation in the Asia Pacific region. We suggest that this important platform for cooperation and development should continue to give play to its strong capabilities of organization and coordination to pool information and expertise, do more policy research and promote practical cooperation for real progress in infrastructure development and other areas. The Chinese Government highly appreciates and supports ESCAP's role and will continue to strengthen its good cooperation with ESCAP.

Mr. Chairman,

China wishes to congratulate the convening of the Pacific Leaders' UNESCAP Special Session. To enhance mutually-beneficial cooperation with Pacific Island Countries, China proposed to inaugurate the China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Forum. At the opening session of the Forum's first ministerial meeting, Premier Wen Jiabao made solemn pledges to support and assist Pacific Island Countries in achieving sustainable economic and social development on all fronts. These include: to provide RMB 3 billion yuan of preferential loans in the next three years, give zero-tariff treatment to the majority of exports to China from the least developed countries in the region that have diplomatic ties with China, cancel their debts that became mature at the end of 2005 and extend by ten years the payment of debts contracted by other island countries that became mature at the end of 2005, and to provide training to 2,000 government officials and technical staff from the island countries over the next three years. The China-Pacific Island Countries Economic Development and Cooperation Guiding Framework was also signed. With this Forum as a good opportunity, China is ready to expand friendly cooperation with Pacific Island Countries to achieve common development.

Mr. Chairman,

The Chinese Government has all along attached importance to infrastructure development. Since the reform and opening up, the Chinese Government has increased investment, carried out reforms and opening up so that service quality and capacity of infrastructures including highways, railways, ports, airlines and telecommunications have been largely improved. That has helped boost economic growth, laying a solid foundation for sustainable, steady and balanced economic and social development of China.

While working for self-development, China has always been an advocate for mutual benefit, common development and prosperity for all through international and regional cooperation. At the Summit in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the UN, President Hu Jintao put forward a five-point proposal on assistance to developing countries, covering tariff, debt relief, credit, disease prevention and control, human resource development, etc. China has also taken an active part in intra-regional cooperation such as ASEAN plus China, Japan and ROK, APEC, Greater Mekong Sub-region Economic Cooperation Program and ESCAP.

China has made contributions to intra-regional cooperation on infrastructure development. The waterway improvement project for the upper reaches of the Mekong River carried out by China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand was completed and put into operation in May 2004. China has stepped up the improvement of the section of the Kunming-Bangkok Highway on the Chinese territory. It has also provided US$30 million to build one third of the section on the Lao territory, which is to be completed in February 2007. The eastern, middle and western section plans of the Pan-Asia Railway on the Chinese territory have been included into China's Medium-and-Long-term Plan for Railway Network. China has also acceded to the Inter-governmental Agreement on Asian Highway Network, the GMS Cross-Border Transport Agreement and the GMS Power Trade Operating Agreement, creating conditions for economic cooperation between China and Southeast Asian countries.

Mr. Chairman,

China is in a crucial period of building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects. In the recent Eleventh Five Year Plan for Economic and Social Development, China set its main development goals. The per capita GDP of 2000 shall be doubled by 2010. The energy consumption per unit of GDP shall be reduced by 20% within five years with significantly improved energy utilization efficiency. Environmental degradation shall be curbed. The socialist market economy shall be improved and more open. To attain those goals, China will rely on its domestic market, make independent innovations, optimize industrial structure and step up the building of a resource-conserving and environment-friendly society to promote all-round and balanced development. China will also stay firm on reform and opening up to realize sustainable, steady and fast economic growth through sound interactions with regional and world economy. According to that Plan, China's development over the next five years will be more scientific, balanced and harmonious, which will uplift people's lives and bring about more opportunities for the Asia Pacific region and the world as a whole.

Mr. Chairman,

We now live in a more open world, an era of all-round competition and a development environment with profound changes. Only by seizing opportunities and deepening cooperation, can the Asia Pacific region raise its overall competitiveness and achieve common prosperity and progress. China will take an active part in economic globalization and regional integration, link its own interests with those of the world, take its own development and prosperity as a part of the development and prosperity of the region and the world and make its due contribution to peace and development of mankind.

Thank you!

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