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Ambassador Luo Linquan delivered a speech at the Institute of International and European Affairs
(2012-11-29)

China and Its Role in the Wider World

Ambassador LUO Linquan’s speech at IIEA, 27 Nov.2012

Dear Chairman Halligan, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

Good Afternoon. Today I am delighted to give a speech at IIEA. As a leading think tank of Ireland, IIEA has established a China group, and invited a few eminent Chinese experts to deliver speeches here, which is quite helpful in promoting mutual-understanding between China and Ireland. Great Irish writer, playwright and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, George Bernard Shaw, a strong friend of China, once said "If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas." Today my topic is “China and Its Role in the Wider World”, and I hope we could exchange ideas in depth.

Since I arrived in Dublin in August last year, many Irish friends have been talking to me: China is such a big fast developing country and it is too far away from us, how could we get to know China better? The just concluded 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) National Congress, I believe, could be a platform for other countries, including Ireland, to have a better understanding of China in a comprehensive way. Based on the Party Congress report, I wish to talk about China and Its Role in the Wider World with the following three parts.

Firstly, China is a big developing country.

When asked about the image of China, the Irish Ambassador to China, Mr. Declan Kelleher, said that the first coming to his mind is China’s high growth rate, which could be true of many Irish friends. China has, indeed, achieved great success since Reform and Opening up in 1978, especially in the last 10 years when the Chinese economy averaged a yearly growth rate of over 10% and its GDP has overtaken UK and France in 2005, then Germany in 2008 and surpassed Japan in 2010, ranking China as the second largest economy in the world. Now China has become the world’s largest exporter, the second largest importer and the largest emerging market and contributes over 20% to the world economic growth. The progress of Reform and Opening up of China is not only transforming China itself, but also having profound effects on the whole world.

Despite great progress in its economic development, China remains the biggest developing country in the world with a population of 1.3 billion. Every achievement could look negligible while being divided by 1.3 billion, and any problem could become a huge headache while being multiplied by 1.3 billion. The per capita GDP of China in 2011 is 5432 US dollars, which is only one seventh of the Irish. China is faced with pressing challenges on its way of modernization drive such as an unsound industrial structure, uneven development between urban and rural, widening gap between rich and poor and growing constraints of environment and resources on economic development. As newly elected General Secretary Xi Jinping said in his inaugural address, the Chinese people “wish to have better education, more stable jobs, better income, more reliable social security, better medical and health care, more comfortable housing conditions, and a more beautiful environment. They want their children to have sound growth, have good jobs and lead a more enjoyable life. To meet their desire for a happy life is our mission.” The Party Congress report has set goals of completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020, and double China’s 2010 GDP and per capita income for both urban and rural residents. It is the first time to set these two goals at the same time, the total value of GDP and per capita income, which ensures that all the people share the fruits of development and pushes forward common prosperity. The report also lays great stress on promoting ecological progress, to transform the development model to a green one and build a beautiful country.

Secondly, China is a big country which sticks to the path of development with its own characteristics.

Some Irish friends have a keen interest in the 18th CPC National Congress and raise a question with me, given that only 8 years to go until 2020, is it possible to achieve the goals mentioned above, and what is the path to China’s future? I firmly believe the goals are certainly attainable. China’s GDP grew by 9.3% in 2011 and as estimated by Chinese experts, its GDP will double in 2020 as long as it could keep an annual growth rate of 7%, which is consistent with realities in China. As for the concerns about a recent slowing down in the Chinese economy, I would like to say it is partly due to the weakening global economic recovery, and also a result of the Chinese government’s initiated measures of strengthening macro-control and adjusting economic structure. Since the beginning of 2012, we have attached more importance to steady development, focusing on expansion of domestic demand especially consumption demand and these measures have achieved significant results. China’s GDP expanded 7.7% in the first three quarters in 2012, with CPI increasing 2.8% and total trade volume expanding 6.2%. China’s economic growth has been stabilized. Looking forward, strong vitality and enormous potential is expected in the Chinese economy, and the long-standing upward trajectory remains unchanged.

We have faith in the future, as we have found a path of development which suits the national conditions of China. It is definitely a tough historic challenge to achieve renewal of the Chinese nation and modernize the country, which is large in size and population and once backward in its economic and cultural development. The unique national conditions of China mean that China cannot simply copy other countries’ model and practice, but only has to seek a path suitable for itself. With decades of efforts, China has opened and developed the road of Socialism with Chinese characteristics, which proves to be of great superiority and vitality. In the past decade China has managed successfully to make the Chinese economy one of the first in the world to achieve a recovery and rebound, and avoid series of setbacks in China's economic development, becoming the engine and stabilizer of the world economy recovery. We concentrated our forces on major tasks and successfully overcame the hardship of the SARS plague in 2003 and the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, and we held Beijing Olympics and Shanghai Expo with a big success. We will unswervingly follow the path in the future.

Thirdly, China is a responsible big country.

At present, relations between China and the world are under historic change. The world focuses more on China now than before. What will China’s development bring to the rest of the world? This issue is the focus of the whole world. The Party Congress report declares again, that China will unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development, uphold world peace and promote common development and prosperity of all countries. China's rise is an opportunity, rather than a threat to the rest of the world.

Firstly, China, as the most populous developing country, to run itself well is the most important fulfillment of its international responsibility. China has to feed close to 20% of the world's population with 7.9% of the world's farmland and 6.5% of the world's fresh water. Since the reform and opening-up over 30 years ago, the Chinese people, once inadequately fed and clad, have been leading a decent life on the whole and more than 200 million people have been lifted out of poverty. During the last decade alone, over 67 million people from rural areas have shaken off poverty, which is equivalent to the size of the French population. It is a significant job and great contribution to the world for meeting 1.3 billion people’s requirements for food, housing, clothing, education and medical care, maintaining a stable and relatively fast growth of economy and society.

Secondly, China has made important contribution to the stable development of the world economy. China pursues an opening-up strategy featuring mutual benefit and win-win results. Since its entry into the WTO in 2001, China has imported goods worth nearly 750 billion US dollars every year, and created over 14 million jobs for those exporting countries and regions. In addition, China provides assistance to other countries and regions as its capacity permits. By the end of 2009, China had given assistance worth 32 billion euros to 161 countries and over 30 international and regional organizations, reduced and canceled 380 debts incurred by 50 heavily indebted poor countries and least-developed countries. Following the international financial crisis in 2008, China has taken an active part in the G20's efforts to build a global economic governance mechanism, promoted the reform of the international financial system. It has sent large overseas purchasing missions and helped countries in difficulties.

Thirdly, China plays an important role in safeguarding world peace and meeting global challenge. China is always a strong supporter of the United Nations, and has dispatched about 21,000 personnel on 30 UN peacekeeping missions, which is the highest number among the permanent members of the UN Security Council. China is a member of over 100 intergovernmental international organizations, a party to over 300 international conventions, and an active participant in building the international system. China has played a constructive role in addressing international and regional hotspot problems. For instance, it calls for resolving the Korean nuclear issue, the Iranian nuclear issue and other hotspot issues through peaceful talks, and has helped to establish the Six-Party Talks mechanism on the Korean nuclear issue. China is the first developing country to formulate and implement the National Climate Change Program. It is also one of the countries which have made the greatest efforts in energy saving and emission reduction and which have made the fastest progress in developing new and renewable energy sources in recent years.

Fourthly, China's peaceful development has broken away from the traditional pattern where a rising power was bound to seek hegemony. China's path of peaceful development is a choice of inheriting the Chinese historical and cultural tradition of “unity without uniformity” and "you should not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you". China’s path of peaceful development is a choice determined by China's basic national conditions and a choice that represents the global trend. The practice for several decades has proved that it’s a right choice and we have no reason to change it. The Party Congress report again stressed that China will “never seek hegemony and never go in for expansion”, and will “get more actively involved in international affairs, play its due role of a major responsible country, and work jointly with other countries to meet global challenges”. Meanwhile I would simply emphasize that China will not create troubles but neither will it fear troubles. We are firm in our resolve to uphold China's sovereignty, security and development interests and will never yield to any outside pressure.

Looking forward to the next decade, there are full of opportunities in China’s development. Opportunities will be found in China’s carrying out strategic adjustment of the economic structure and in all around opening up and exchanges between China and the rest of the world. We have the confidence and ability to achieve longer-term, higher-level, better-quality development, and to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects. I believe that China’s development will be an opportunity to other countries including Ireland, and will continue to contribute to the peace and development of the world.

Lastly I wish to take this opportunity to talk about China-Europe relations and China-Ireland relations.

China and Europe are major economies in the world as well as important forces in the international setup. Since the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2003, China-EU relations have achieved leapfrog development. The China-EU trade quadrupled to 560 billion US dollars compared with ten years ago. EU companies’ investment in China aggregated over 80 billion US dollars, and Chinese investment in EU countries has increased scores of times, with China-EU relationship becoming one of the world's most influential bilateral relations. China remained confident about the future of European integration, and has provided firm support to Europe since the outbreak of the debt crisis. We contributed 43 billion US dollars to the IMF, and provided assistance to Europe within our capabilities through purchasing European treasury bonds and increasing imports from Europe.

Since China and Ireland established diplomatic ties 33 years ago, the bilateral relationship, based on mutual respect, equal treatment and seeking a common ground while reserving differences, has become a model of friendly co-existence for countries with differences in size, social systems, and cultural traditions.

The Vice President of China, Mr. Xi Jinping, paid a successful official visit to Ireland in last February and just one month later Taoiseach Enda Kenny paid a successful official visit to China. China and Ireland declared establishing a strategic partnership for mutually beneficial cooperation to elevate the bilateral relations to a new high. Against the backdrop of the world financial crisis, according to the Chinese statistics, the bilateral trade reached 4.01 billion US dollars from January to August this year, up by 6.7% year on year. The Irish exports to China reached 2.68 billion US dollars, up by 11.6%. With the ever-increasing exchanges on education, culture and science, Ireland hosts more Chinese students than any other EU country on a per capita basis, and the 2 Confucius Institutes in UCD and UCC and over 70 Confucius Classrooms here in Ireland provide good platforms for the Irish friends who are fond of the Chinese culture. Riverdance will go for a performance tour throughout China at the end of this year. I am convinced that China and Ireland could take advantage of our complementarities in technology, market and talents, and have a promising future for cooperation. Let us join our hands together to bring China and Ireland forward into greater win-win cooperation.

Thanks a million, Go raibh maith agat.

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