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Deepen All-round Cooperation and Usher in a Brighter Future

Commentary

Deepen All-round Cooperation and Usher in a Brighter Future

Speech by H.E. Jia Qinglin

Chairman of the National Committee of

Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference

Of the People’s Republic of China

At New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre

Of Victoria University of Wellington

Wellington, 17 April 2012

The Honourable Minister Judith Collins,

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Neil Quigley,

Faculty and Students,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

It is my great pleasure to come to Wellington, the arts and cultural capital, in this beautiful autumn and to have the opportunity to meet with friends from across the sectors in New Zealand. Victoria University of Wellington has a time-honoured history and a proud reputation. Since its founding over a century ago, this university has produced numerous outstanding talents. This university has paid special attention to the study of the Chinese culture. It introduced the Chinese language courses more than 40 years ago and established the only institute in New Zealand dedicated to China research in 2009. All these efforts have contributed significantly to the people-to-people and cultural exchanges and cooperation between China and New Zealand. I wish to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to Victoria University of Wellington and friends present today and, through you, my warmest regards to the people of New Zealand.

New Zealand is a country blessed with beauty and abundance in the South Pacific. It is also known as the “land of the long white cloud” and for being “100% pure”. The stunning landscape of New Zealand that the famous films Avatar and The Lord of the Rings have unfolded to audience around the globe has overwhelmed them. The superb dairy products, rich varieties of kiwi fruit, mellow and nice wine, the unique Maori culture and internationally renowned film production technique are all signatory symbols of New Zealand. I visited New Zealand in 2001 and went home with very fond memories. Coming here again after 11 years, I am deeply impressed by the remarkable progress New Zealand has made. Before coming here, I toured the earthquake Red Zone in Christchurch and was encouraged by the progress people had made in rebuilding the area. I was also deeply touched by the optimism and resilience that the people of New Zealand have displayed. Today’s New Zealand has enjoyed political stability, economic development and social harmony with a very promising future. I am truly happy for what New Zealand has achieved in its economic and social development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Despite the great distance between China and New Zealand, the two peoples have had friendly ties throughout the centuries. As early as the middle of the 19th century, the first group of Chinese immigrants travelled thousands of miles across the ocean and arrived in New Zealand. They made important contribution to the development of New Zealand in the early days. Over the years, Chinese immigrants in New Zealand have worked together with local people and lived in harmony with them. Together, they have sowed the seeds of China-New Zealand friendship. In the 1920s Mr. Rewi Alley, the great son of the people of New Zealand and great friend of the Chinese people, went to China and devoted 60 years of his life to the liberation and development cause of China. In 1972, the old generation of leaders of China and New Zealand, with extraordinary political wisdom, opened the door to diplomatic relations between the two countries and thus opened a new chapter in China-New Zealand relations. In the past 40 years since then, thanks to the concerted efforts of the governments and people of both countries, China-New Zealand relations have made considerable progress. In particular, the leaders of our two countries reached important agreement in 2006 on establishing and developing an all-round cooperative relationship for mutual benefits and win-win results in the 21st century, ushering in a new stage in China-New Zealand relations.

Politically, China and New Zealand are good partners of equality and mutual trust. Our two countries have had frequent exchange of visits and contacts at the high level and at various other levels. New Zealand has adhered to the one China policy and upheld the right position on Taiwan and other issues vital to China’s core interests. China appreciates New Zealand’s position. The two countries have the same or similar views on many major international and regional issues. We had been in close consultation and cooperation in the United Nations, APEC, the Eat Asia Summit, the Pacific Islands Forum and other multilateral organisations. The sound political relations have served as a solid foundation for the development of all-round cooperative relationship between us.

Economically, China and New Zealand are good partners for mutual benefit. New Zealand is ahead of many developed countries in its business relations with China. New Zealand can claim many “firsts” in China’s external relations. It was the first Western developed country to conclude bilateral negotiation with China on China’s accession to the WTO, the first to recognise China’s full Market Economy Status, the first to launch negotiations with China on a bilateral free trade agreement and the first to sign and implement the FTA. It was also the first to sign and implement the free trade agreement with Hong Kong, China, making it the only country having free trade arrangements with both the mainland and Hong Kong. Over the past three years and more since taking effect, the FTA has served as a new engine behind rapid growing business ties between our two countries. Last year, our bilateral trade exceeded 8.7 billion US dollars, 2.3 times the trade when the FTA first took effect in 2008 and 970 times the trade in 1972 when diplomatic relations were established. China and New Zealand have increasingly enhanced their cooperation in the environmental protection, finance, telecommunication, energy resources, food safety and other fields. Our two countries are developing all-round, multi-level, wide-ranging and practical cooperation, which has injected inexhaustible energy into the overall bilateral relations.

Thanks to cultural and people-to-people exchanges, China and New Zealand have become good friends and have learned from each other. Exchanges and cooperation between the two countries in science, education, culture, tourism and other fields are thriving. People-to-people contacts have intensified. There are 29 pairs of sister provinces or cities between China and New Zealand. China has become New Zealand’s biggest source of international students and the fourth largest and fastest growing market of international tourists. In New Zealand, one out of every four international students is from China. The three Confucius Institutes and eight Confucius Classrooms established by China in New Zealand offer a platform for New Zealanders, especially the young people, to get to know the Chinese culture and traditions. More and more primary and secondary schools in New Zealand have offered Chinese language courses with nearly 13,000 people learning Chinese. The unique and special culture of New Zealand has also been introduced to the Chinese people through the Beijing Olympic Games and the Shanghai World Expo. Our two peoples have steadily deepened their mutual understanding and friendship, which has given an important boost to the sound and steady growth of bilateral relations.

There have been no historical grievances or conflict of fundamental interests between China and New Zealand. The industrial structures and resource endowment of our two countries are highly complementary. Our two people cherish friendly sentiments towards each other. Our relations are solidly founded on the good political and economic relations and people’s goodwill. I am confident that with the concerted efforts of the governments and people of our two countries, China-New Zealand relations will grow more mature and become a good example of peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation between countries with different social system, cultural backgrounds and development stages.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Through reform and opening-up in the last 30 years and more, China has successfully found a path of socialism with Chinese characteristics that suits the national conditions in China and has scored notable progress. Last year, we worked hard to consolidate and expand our achievements in responding to the international financial crisis and maintained the momentum of steady and relatively fast economic growth. China’s GDP reached 47.2 trillion RMB Yuan, up by 9.2% over the previous year. Its trade in goods stood at 3.64 trillion US dollars and its grain output over 570 million tons last year, registering an increase in grain output for the eighth year in a row. At the same time, we are soberly aware of the fact that China is still a developing country. Its per capita GDP is only one fifth that of New Zealand, ranking about 100th in the world. Its economic development is still suffering from a visible lack of balance, coordination and sustainability, with a few pronounced structural problems calling for gradual resolution. There is a long way to go before China can achieve modernization and we need to work long and hard for it.

With fast economic and social development in China and profound readjustment in the world political and economic landscape, the international community is showing greater interest in China. Will China change its opening-up policy? And will China continue to follow the path of peaceful development? Here I would like to answer these questions candidly and sincerely.

China will unswervingly work for steady and relatively fast economic development. Development is of paramount importance for China. It holds the key to all problems in China. Looking ahead, China has adopted the Outline of the 12th Five-Year Plan for national economic and social development, which calls for efforts based on Scientific Outlook on Development, focused on accelerating the transformation of the pattern of economic development, and aimed at promoting long-term, steady and relatively fast economic development and social harmony and stability. Last month, China successfully held the Fifth Session of the 11th National People’s Congress and the Fifth Session of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which clearly identified the targets and tasks for economic and social development this year. We will continue to work for progress without going for excessively fast development. We will promote steady growth, keep price levels in check, readjust economic structure, improve people’s well-being, continue reforms and promote harmony in line with the requirements of Scientific Outlook on Development and accelerate the transformation of the pattern of economic development. And we will continue to promote comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable economic and social development.

China will unswervingly expand opening-up. China owes its fast development over the past 30 years and more to reform and opening-up for future development. China has already opened its door to the outside world and will not shut it down. It will only open the door wider in future. At present, China’s general tariffs level has been reduced to 9.8%, far below the average level of developing countries. One hundred sectors in trade in services in China are now open to the outside world, close to the level of developed countries. During the 12th Five-Year Plan period, China’s total import is expected to exceed eight trillion US dollars and its investment overseas over 500 billion dollars, which promises huge opportunities for other countries. We will implement a more proactive opening-up policy, further expand economic and technical cooperation with other countries, work for balanced growth in foreign trade, encourage Chinese companies to engage in orderly overseas investment operation and cooperation and create a fair and transparent market environment so that we will be able to expand and improve an open economy in both breadth and depth and in both scope and quality.

China will unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development. The Chinese nation has long valued peace as most precious since ancient times. Our love for peace is deeply vested in our vein. The path of peaceful development is a long-term strategy choice China has made in light of its basic national conditions. It is also based on cool analysis and a scientific reading of the international situation. No matter what changes may take place in the world, China will always hold high the banner of peace, development and cooperation, stick to the independent foreign policy of peace and follow the path of peaceful development. We will seek development through maintaining peace and promote world peace through our development. What has happened shows and will continue to show that China is always a staunch force for world peace and common development.

China will unswervingly promote common prosperity of the world. Being a responsible member of the international community, China has always worked to promote common prosperity of the world. In recent years, China’s contribution to world economic growth has exceeded 10%. In tackling the international financial crisis, China has contributed significantly to world economic recovery. New Zealand and many other countries have acknowledged that their economic and trade relations with China, in particular, a big increase in their exports to China, have been the main driving force and brought them successfully out of economic recession and that China’s development is in the fundamental interest of all countries. China cannot achieve development and progress in isolation of the world, nor can the world achieve prosperity and stability without China. The faster China moves forward, the more opportunities it will offer the world and the bigger contribution it will make to global development. China will continue to seek and expand common interests with other countries. It will increase cooperation with the international community in joint efforts to respond to risks and challenges, share development opportunities and promote durable peace and common prosperity of the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The world is in a period of big development, major transformation and significant readjustment. China and New Zealand are both important countries in the Asia-Pacific region and members of significant international and regional mechanisms such as the United Nation, the East Asia Summit and APEC. As such, the two countries should strengthen the all-round cooperative relationship between them in the new circumstances. This serves the common interests of the two people, the interest of development of the two countries as well as peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. Not long ago, the New Zealand government released the first edition of China Strategy in light of its own national conditions and in reference to China’s 12th Five-Year Plan. This move linked up the two economic and social development strategies of our countries. On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and New Zealand, we are ready to work in synergy with New Zealand and seize opportunities to take the existing sound cooperative relationship in various sectors to a new high and bring more benefits to our two peoples. In this context, I would like to make a four-point proposal on further deepening the China-New Zealand all-round cooperative relationship.

First, continue high-level exchanges and increase political mutual trust. We will keep close high-level interactions with New Zealand, make full use of the exchange and consultation mechanisms in various sectors, and communicate with each other in a timely manner on the growth of bilateral relations and other important issues of mutual interest. We should increase understanding and knowledge of each other’s development direction and path, respect and accommodate each other’s core interests and major concerns, appropriately handle differences, and firmly keep to the right direction in moving our relations forward.

Second, bring into play the complementarity between us and expand practical cooperation. Having in mind the strong complementarity between the economic structures and based on the economic and social development strategies of the two countries, China and New Zealand should deepen their cooperation in traditional areas such as agriculture, forestry and animal husbandry, and we should at the same time actively expand cooperation in such areas as food safety, clean energy and infrastructural development to inject new vigor to the growth of our relations. China and New Zealand should make the best of such cooperative documents as the bilateral free trade agreement and the local currency swap agreement, encourage and support experienced domestic companies with good credit and with comparative advantages to make investment and start business in each other’s country. Moreover, we should jointly oppose protectionism and work hard to create a level playing field for investment by each other’s companies. During my visit, relevant departments and companies of our two countries have signed documents for cooperation in business, chemical industry and other fields. I am confident that these new cooperation projects will further enrich our practical cooperation.

Third, deepen cultural and people-to-people exchanges and build on popular support for our relationship. As we mark the 40th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between the two countries, we should encourage contacts and exchanges between academic institutions, the media, social organisations and the young people and at the local level, and step up cooperation in education, culture, science and technology, tourism and journalism through such platforms as sister cities and Confucius Institutes, so as to start a new wave of people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. The China Central Television will set up its first reporter station in New Zealand soon. The competent authorities of our two countries are vigorously negotiating a television co-production agreement. Such cooperation will further promote the mutual understanding between our two peoples.

Fourth, strengthen communication and coordination to defend common interests. Our two countries should increase communication and coordination under major multilateral mechanisms and on important international and regional hotspot issues, enhance cooperation in coping with climate change and the international financial crisis, pushing forward regional development, combating cross-border crimes and preventing and mitigating disasters. We should work together to take on challenges and make new contribution to harmony in the Asia-Pacific region and to enduring peace and common prosperity in the world.

New Zealand is an important country in the South Pacific region. China and New Zealand have shared interests in safeguarding regional stability and development. China respects the traditional and major influence of New Zealand in the South Pacific region, and appreciates the constructive role New Zealand plays in promoting regional economic and social development. China is ready to strengthen coordination and cooperation with New Zealand and work together for stability and development in the South Pacific region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As a famous Chinese saying goes, “A time-honoured friendship is as precious as gold, gold that never changes its colour even with repeated smelting.” China-New Zealand friendship and cooperation have withstood the test of time and vicissitudes of the world, and will embrace an even brighter future. Let’s join hands, follow the trend of the times, cooperate closely with all sincerity and good faith, build on past achievements, constantly inject new vigour to our traditional friendship, and push for greater development in our all-round cooperative relationship!

Thank you.