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Embracing the New Era of China's economy and China-US Trade and Economic Cooperation
By Zhao Weiping, Chinese Consul General to Chicago at the Greater China Business Conference 2013


Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,


    I feel greatly honored to join you at the opening session of the Greater China Business Conference 2013 hosted by Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.


    Kellogg is a great name. And the Greater China Business Conference has become a very important annual event, not only for the students of Kellogg, but also for the business representatives and others in the Greater Chicago area who want to know better about China. The Conference is also a good evidence of the ever-growing relationship between Kellogg and China.


     The debate on the future development of China's economy has never ended in China and abroad. There have always been optimistic and pessimistic voices.


    It's true that the challenges for China's economy are numerous and tough.


    The external environment remains worrisome, especially as there are still uncertainties in the Western economy.


    Problems obviously exist in China's economy itself. It's too dependent on export and investment. The conflict between the downward pressure on economic development and excess production capacity has been growing. Enterprises' operating costs are increasing and their capacity for innovation is still weak. The growth of government revenue is slowing down while expenditures are rising. There are also potential risks in the financial sector.  


    With those problems in mind, you may easily have a negative impression on China's economy. But if you look at the whole picture, you may have a different feeling.


    Since China's adoption of opening up and reform policy 35 years ago, there have been many deciding moments, or "crossroads", in China's economic development. Many people, including some well-known economists, have predicted the collapse of China's economy for many times. Fortunately, at every such "crossroad", China has set itself in the right direction and marched on with great strides. This time, there will be no exception. 


    We do have reasons to be optimistic.


    First, the Chinese Government is well aware of the existing problems and working very hard to address them. Greater efforts have been made in stabilizing economic growth, adjusting economic structure and preventing inflation. More emphasis is given to improving the quality of the economy.


    Second, the potential of China's economy should not be underestimated. Industrialization is accelerating in China. Urbanization has an even longer way to go. Actually, we are talking about modernization for 1.3 billion people and urbanization for about 1 billion people. This has never happened in the history of the mankind. The economic potential to be released from this process may exceed many people's expectation.


    Third, deepening of reforms will provide continuous driving force to China's economy. As Chinese Premier LI Keqiang pointed out, "there is still room for improvement in our socialist market economy", "there is great space for further unleashing of productivity through reform". More actions of reform will be taken by the Chinese Government in fostering an "upgraded version" of China's economy.


    At the 18th National Congress of the CPC last November, China set up the goal of doubling its GDP and per capita income by 2020 on the basis of 2010. To achieve that, China will have to register an annual economic growth rate of 7.5%.


    In my opinion, China is in fact at the dawn of a new era of economic development. It is not easy for China to achieve its set goal. However, China is embracing this new era with firm determination.


    A new era of China-US trade and economic cooperation is also approaching.


    First, along with its economic growth and, in particular, its transformation to an economy driven by domestic consumption, China will increase significantly its demand for foreign goods and services. China's import of goods is expected to reach $10 trillion in the next five years. China will surely become an even more important export market for the US.


    Second, China's capacity of Overseas Direct Investment (ODI) will further strengthen. According to estimates, China's new ODI will reach $500 billion in the next 5 years. More Chinese investors will knock at the door of America. China's investment in the U.S. will become a new growth point for China-U.S. economic relations. Meanwhile, as China deepens its opening-up process, new opportunities will emerge for US investment in China. 


    Third, China's integration with the global economy will become even deeper. China and the US, as the two most important economies in the world, will have much more to cooperate with each other in addressing various challenges on global economy.


    Both China and the US need to be fully prepared for the new era of China-US trade and economic cooperation. On the government front, it is necessary for both sides to further enhance dialogues and consultations to deepen mutual trust and create a more favorable environment for bilateral economic cooperation. It is all the more important not to politicize trade and investment issues as happened here in the US from time to time.


    This year marks the new beginning of China-US relations as both our new Governments have come into office. Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Obama, through their recent phone conversation, have reaffirmed the commitments of our two countries to advance the cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit. They also agreed to explore a new-type major-country relationship between our two countries.


    I believe trade and economic cooperation will continue to be a major pillar of China-US relations. The people of our two countries will surely enjoy more benefits of cooperation in the new era of China's economy and China-US trade and economic cooperation.


    Thank you.

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