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Address by H.E. Xi Jinping President of the People's Republic of China At the China-US Governors' Forum

2015-09-23 13:54

Seattle, 22 September 2015

Governor Jerry Brown of California,
Governor Jay Inslee of Washington,
Governor Terry Branstad of Iowa,
Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan,
Governor Kate Brown of Oregon,
Leaders of provinces and states,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

It gives me great pleasure to attend the third China-US Governors' Forum. Let me first of all extend warm congratulations on the successful opening of the forum and express my deep appreciation to leaders of provinces and states for your hard work over the years to promote China-US relations.

Just now, I listened attentively to your remarks. You all made very good points. Every time I interact with local leaders of China and the United States, I get much food for thought. During my visit to the United States in 2012, I attended a meeting between Chinese and American governors in Los Angeles. In 2013, I met with delegates of the second China-US Governors' Forum in Beijing. I still remember our conversations on sub-national cooperation. And your ideas on how to grow the relations between the two countries were still fresh in my memory.

Having worked for many years in local governments myself, I fully understand how challenging it is to be local leaders, as the job carries immense responsibilities. I am also deeply aware of the importance of sub-national cooperation to the growth of overall relations between countries. State-to-state relations ultimately rely on the support of the people and serve the people. Provinces and states are closest to the people. Without successful cooperation at the sub-national level, it would be very difficult to achieve practical results for cooperation at the national level. That is why I place great importance on China-US sub-national cooperation. Over the past 30 plus years, the growth of our relations has been achieved with the support of local governments and their people. Going forward, it will continue to draw strength from and deliver benefits to them.

The new momentum of dynamic growth of sub-national exchanges and cooperation between our two countries has been truly encouraging. Thirty-one Chinese provinces/regions/cities have established 43 sister province/state relations and 200 sister-city relations with 50 American states. Over the past 10 years, 42 American states have achieved triple-digit increases in their export to China. According to statistics of the American side, Chinese investment to the US over the past five years has expanded by over 8 billion dollars on average every year and the pace is still getting faster. For the five American states represented here, China is among your top four export markets and a major source of international students. Among the six Chinese provinces and cities around the table, some have the US as their largest trading partner, some have attracted tens of hundreds of American businesses, and some registered a 40% increase in their trade with the US in one single year. Exchanges and cooperation as such have truly benefited people of the two countries.

China-US relations have, on the whole, maintained steady growth, with deepening practical cooperation in all areas. During the visit, I hope to have in-depth exchanges with President Obama and people of all sectors of American society and draw a blueprint for the future development of our relations. As economic globalization continues to deepen, new breakthroughs in industrial upgrading are in the making, and factors of production are flowing at a faster pace across borders. These have provided broader space for sub-national exchanges and cooperation between the two countries.

First, the two sides need to tap into opportunities emanating from our huge economic aggregates. A big size means tremendous business opportunities. China and the US are the world's two largest economies. This is in itself a treasure house for cooperation between our provinces and states. As the world's largest economy, the US has a huge market and a strong capability to attract foreign products, investment and talents to its shores. In China, we have a population of over 1.3 billion. The provinces of Shandong and Sichuan each have a population of around 100 million. And the six Chinese provinces and cities represented here have a combined population roughly the same as that of the US. We in China are pursuing a new type of industrialization, IT development, urbanization and agricultural modernization, and implementing a strategy of innovation-driven development. This process will generate enormous demands for products, technologies and services from abroad. In the next five years, China is expected to import US$10 trillion of products and invest over US$500 billion overseas; and outbound visits by the Chinese people will exceed 500 million. We welcome closer cooperation between American states and their counterparts in China.

Second, the two sides need to take advantage of favorable policies of reform and development introduced by the two countries. Reform is a prevailing trend in today's world. China will stay committed to reform and opening-up, and Chinese provinces and cities are doing their part in pursuing reform and opening-up in various aspects. The US is restructuring its economy, re-industrializing and re-shoring its manufacturing sector. To ensure sustained economic recovery, it has made strategic plans to spur scientific and technological innovation and industrial upgrading. Some states have introduced measures to attract investment, which are even more favorable than what we implemented in the 1980s. These will create opportunities for cooperation. We encourage more Chinese provinces and cities to come to the US for exchanges and cooperation at a higher level to develop themselves and deliver more benefits to the local communities.

China is formulating its 13th Five-Year Plan for economic and social development. We will focus on a new round of opening-up at a higher level and speed up efforts to build an open economy. In this regard, we encourage well-placed provinces and cities to try out certain reform measures. For example, we have established four pilot free trade zones in Shanghai, Guangdong, Tianjin and Fujian based on a management model of pre-establishment national treatment and negative list. In Beijing, we have, on a trial basis, opened up six service sectors including finance, tourism and healthcare to foreign investors. We will take effective measures to ensure coordinated development between different regions and urban and rural areas, and accelerate the development of underdeveloped regions. We will advance the Belt and Road Initiative at a faster pace to build platforms for different parts of China to expand their external cooperation. For instance, Xinjiang is a core area of the Silk Road economic belt and Yunnan is a gateway to the southwest under the "Belt and Road" Initiative. The US and other countries are welcome to actively participate in the "Belt and Road" Initiative. All these measures will create opportunities for China-US sub-national cooperation.

Third, the two sides need to unlock more local potentials for complementary cooperation. The key to successful cooperation is to leverage our respective strengths. Many areas in China and the US boast unique local strengths, which are highly complementary. We need to make full use of these strengths in our cooperation. Just as a Chinese saying goes, "When eight immortals crossed the sea, each showed their own magic." Take agricultural cooperation as an example. Iowa is known as the "granary of the US" and Oregon is also a major agricultural producer. These two states can strengthen their cooperation with big agricultural producers like Shaanxi, Hebei and Heilongjiang provinces. California's HP has set up a global computer production center in Chongqing, where further cooperation in IT industry can be expected. Michigan, as the largest motor vehicles producer of the US, can also explore cooperation with China. In fact, Michigan may start with the six Chinese provinces and cities present today, as they all have a booming car industry. And the two sides can explore cooperation in a third market.

China is making great effort to protect the eco-system, which is a priority in its 13th Five-Year Plan. According to initial estimates, China's annual input into environmental protection in the past few years approached US$200 billion. At the local level, environmental input is also rising rapidly. China has the demand and the market, while the US has the technology and the expertise. Washington, with its strengths in environmental protection, coastline protection in particular, can step up its cooperation with those Chinese provinces that invest heavily in this area or coastal provinces in China. The first China-US Climate Leaders Summit recently held in Los Angeles was a great success. Many of our provinces or states are playing an exemplary role by setting emissions reduction targets more ambitious than national ones. Such efforts need to be recognized and encouraged. Exchange and cooperation in environmental protection at the local level should be part and parcel of our joint efforts to address climate change and promote sustainable development.

I deeply value the cultural and people-to-people exchanges between our two countries. Relatives and friends become closer if they visit each other more. This is also true for Chinese and Americans. Exchanges bring deeper friendship and more vigorous practical cooperation. Local governments from both sides need to engage each other extensively in areas like education, tourism, sports and youth and encourage more interactions between people from all walks of life.

I know as governors, you are most concerned about employment. Cooperation in the above-mentioned areas will promote growth and create jobs, thus bringing benefits to our peoples.

The Chinese provinces and cities represented today are each home to dozens of, or even over a hundred, universities. In some provinces, university students number over a million. When I was Governor of Zhejiang back in 2006, I attended a signing ceremony for a joint initiative between Wenzhou University and Kean University to establish the Wenzhou-Kean University. After years of efforts, this university was finally up and running last year and is making good progress today. Also in Zhejiang, nearly 100 primary and secondary schools have established sister-school relationships with their US counterparts with robust exchanges. We also need to explore various ways of education cooperation and nurture high-caliber people that meet the need of our societies in the future. In the next three years, China will support a total of 50,000 Chinese and American students to study in each other's countries, and the US will provide opportunities to as many as one million American students to learn Chinese by 2020. We will hold the China-US Tourism Year in 2016. These measures will provide more platforms for greater cultural and people-to-people exchanges at the sub-national level. I hope that we can all add building blocks to the bridge of Chinese-American friendship.

Chinese people often say, "Seize the moment", while westerners believe in "making hay while the sun shines." Now is the prime time for China-US sub-national cooperation. I hope you will seize the moment, build on the momentum and work together to write a new chapter of China-US sub-national cooperation.

Thank you.

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