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Consul General Hong Lei's Speech at the Asia Business Summit in Kansas

Dear Friends,

Thanks to the invitation of the Mid-America Asian Culture Association, I am very pleased to attend this Asia Business Summit and discuss China’s Belt and Road Initiative with everyone.

Five years ago, President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road initiative. The Belt and Road is a global public good and a platform for international cooperation. The Belt and Road is a Chinese plan, but it presents opportunities for all countries around the world, including the United States. It is not a solo performance of China, but a symphony in which all parties participate. At present, more than 100 countries and international organizations around the world have actively supported and participated in the construction of the Belt and Road. A large number of infrastructure and capacity cooperation projects under the Belt and Road framework have already taken root and promoted economic and social development of local communities. China's trade volume with countries along the Belt and Road reached 4 trillion US dollars. China has invested 60 billion U.S. dollars in relevant countries, creating more than 200,000 jobs. The Belt and Road construction has made significant progress.

In the process of building the Belt and Road, China and international partners have always upheld the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration. It fully embodies the characteristics of equality, openness, inclusiveness, and transparency. These are the fundamental reasons why the Belt and Road has been such a great success.

In fact, some US companies have taken the lead in seizing the opportunities generated by the Belt and Road, supplying equipment, and services to relevant Chinese companies and countries along the Belt and Road. In recent years, Illinois-based Caterpillar has sold a large quantity of heavy machineries and equipment to China and other countries to help build Belt and Road infrastructure projects. In 2017, Caterpillar’s sales in China doubled. It rose to the eighth largest companies among the 30 firms that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average, boosting the growth of the Dow Jones index last year. Likewise, General Electric (GE) has signed cooperation agreements with a number of companies in China to build power plants in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. In 2016, GE’s “Belt and Road” project equipment sales amounted to US$2.3 billion, almost tripled the 2015 amount. A few days ago, President of Emerson Electric, a Fortune 500 company based in Saint Louis, told me that Emerson had a strong willingness to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative and hoped to partner with Chinese companies to launch operations in third countries. I said that the Belt and Road Initiative is an open initiative. We are willing to work with US companies under the Belt and Road framework to create win-win results.

In October last year, the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China was held in Beijing, drawing a grand blueprint for the development of China over the next 30 years. By 2035, China will basically achieve socialist modernization. By the middle of this century, China will build a prosperous, democratic, civilized, harmonious and beautiful socialist modern nation, reaching the development level of a moderately developed country. China’s GDP in 2017 is US$12 trillion, and in 2050 it is estimated to reach US$43 trillion. China will provide the world with a larger market, more investment, more tourists and more students, bringing greater development opportunities to the world.

In the past 40 years since the reform and opening, China’s economy and society has undergone great changes. Foreign companies have played a positive role in this process. Last month, at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia, President Xi Jinping announced that China will adhere to the strategic choice of opening to the outside world, greatly expanding market access, creating a more attractive investment environment, strengthening the protection of intellectual property rights, and actively increasing imports. This is a new opportunity for international partners to develop economic and trade cooperation with China. China will also hold its first International Import Expo in Shanghai in November of this year. We welcome American companies to participate in the expo, promoting their products and exploring the Chinese market.

Many US companies are interested in the current state of intellectual property protection in China. China has made great efforts to establish an intellectual property protection system in the past 40 years. Before the reform and opening, China did not have the concept of intellectual property rights. After the reform and opening, we realized that intellectual property protection is one of the major concerns of foreign companies investing in China and an important prerequisite for attracting international investment. Therefore, we began to make every effort to establish an intellectual property protection system. We have formulated special legislations, strengthened administrative enforcement efforts, launched crackdowns on IP violations, and established intellectual property courts in three major cities, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. China’s Deputy Minister of Commerce recently stated that a US company told him that among the 31 IP cases they had filed in Chinese courts, they had won 28 cases. It can be seen that China's intellectual property protection system is indeed playing a role. Although we cannot say that China’s IP protection mechanism is very comprehensive, we have made real progress in establishing relevant mechanisms, giving foreign companies reliable legal solutions. Moreover, China plans to build an innovative country, which means that we will encourage more Chinese companies to innovate so as to promote development through science and technology advancement. Hence, protecting intellectual property rights is no longer an exclusive demand from foreign companies, it is now also the demand of Chinese firms. Therefore, we are determined have confidence in protecting the legitimate rights of Chinese and foreign companies.

The new stage of development in China and the United States has provided new possibilities for the economic and trade cooperation between the two nations. I hope that the US industry and business community will seize these new opportunities and succeed in economic and trade cooperation with China.

Thank you all!

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