China's Domestic and Foreign Policies
Transcript of Consul General Zhao Weiping's lecture At Loyola University Chicago
I am very glad to be here and discuss with you on the issues concerning China's domestic and foreign policy. This is indeed a big topic. I think I'd better spend more time on answering your questions rather than making a long prepared lecture. As my opening remarks, I wish to emphasize the following three points:
First, China is now in the critical process of deepening reform in a comprehensive way. China has made great economic and social progress since its adoption of reform and opening-up policy in 1978, and as a result, the Chinese people today enjoy the highest living standards in history. As the second largest economy in the world, China's national strength has also been increased significantly.
However, the goal for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is far from achieved, and China still has a long way to go in its national development. With a population of 1.3 billion, China's per capita GDP only ranks after 80th place in the world. By the UN standard, more than 100 million Chinese people still live under the poverty line. Rapid economic growth over the past 30 years has brought about serious sideline problems such as degradation of environment, overcapacity of production and the imbalance of development among different regions. In the meantime, cases of government officials' corruption as well as social and judicial injustice have also been seen from time to time.
Under the new circumstances, it has become urgent and necessary for China to redouble its reform efforts in an even wider range of areas. Only reform will provide solutions for many problems confronting China today. That's why at the end of last year the Chinese government announced a comprehensive new package of reforms with more than 330 specific items to be carried out in the coming years in such areas as national governance and economic and social development. Just last month, the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee adopted a series of reform measures in advancing the rule of law in China.
The main purpose for economic reform is to rationalize the relationship between the government and the market so as to let the market play the decisive role and reduce the unnecessary interference of the government in economic activities. China's new strategy for economic development is to focus more on improving the quality of the economy rather than seeking a high growth speed.
China is now comfortable with an annual GDP growth rate of around 7.5%. While the growth speed is lower, the economic quality is better. Our goal is to maintain a medium-high growth rate of the economy which is more open and driven by innovation and domestic demand.
In advancing the rule of law, the important goal is to build a law-abiding government and promote judicial justice.
The Chinese government is firmly determined to implement all the reform measures it has announced, which has got the wide support of the Chinese people. We have many reasons to be optimistic on the success of the new round of massive reform program in China. China will for sure further progress and the Chinese people will live a better life year by year.
Second, China will unswervingly adhere to its path of peaceful development. Actually, China has adopted peaceful development as its fundamental strategy of national development. China strongly believes that it can only achieve its goal of development in a peaceful way, and there is no other choice.
China fully understands the importance of a peaceful international environment to its national development, and sincerely hopes to develop friendly relations with all other countries. It's simply a wrong assumption that the rise of China will pose a threat to other countries.
Facts have proven that China's economic miracle over the past three decades has made great contribution to the global economy. China has become an increasingly important export market for many countries as well as a key investor in many places of the world. In particular, China played a major role in helping the global economy recover from the financial crisis in 2008. According to an IMF assessment, China will contribute 27.8% to total world GDP growth this year. China is also actively involved in dealing with global issues such as climate change and the Ebola epidemic.
China has always been a staunch force in safeguarding world peace. China is the largest contributor of UN peacekeepers among the five permanent members of the Security Council. In international affairs, China always decides its position and policy on the issue's own merits and works to uphold fairness and justice. From Iranian and Korea nuclear issues to Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, none of the hotspot issues around the world was created by China. Instead, China has always supported the international efforts in solving regional issues peacefully.
China do have sovereignty disputes with Japan and the Philippines on some islands such as the Diaoyu Islands and the Huangyan Island. Although some countries have been playing up the disputes in an attempt to tarnish the image of China, China has in fact done nothing wrong. Instead, China has always been self-restraint. We hope to manage the disputes with relevant countries through bilateral dialogue.
The last point I want to make is that China attaches great importance to developing a sound bilateral relationship with the US. We sincerely hope to build a new model of major-country relationship with the US featuring "no conflict or confrontation", "mutual respect" and "win-win cooperation", as agreed by President Xi Jinping and President Obama last year. A good China-US relationship not only serves the fundamental interests of our two countries, but also benefits world peace and stability.
Due to different historical backgrounds and national conditions, it's natural that our two sides do have differences on certain issues from time to time. However, our common interests have far outweighed our differences.
Today China and the US are economically intertwined. Last year, the bilateral trade volume between our two countries reached over 520 billion USD and two-way investment stock exceeded 100 billion USD. The links between our two peoples have never been closer. 4 million people traveled across the Pacific last year, and there are about 270,000 Chinese students studying in American universities, accounting for one third of the total number of international students in the US. China and the US also share extensive interests on many international and regional issues.
The visit by President Obama to China last week was a great success. President Xi Jinping and President Obama reaffirmed the agreement to build a new model of major-country relations between China and the US. The two sides also achieved 27 concrete results, some of which are directly related to the general public, including reciprocal agreements on 10-year, multiple-entry visas for respective business travelers and tourists and 5-year, multiple-entry visas for students. The leaders' also agreed to accelerate the negotiations of the Bilateral Investment Treaty, which is certainly good news for the business communities.
Another important achievement of President Obama's visit was the China-US joint statement on climate change, in which both sides announced their respective post-2020 targets, which will give great stimulus to the global efforts in this regard.
In addition, the two sides agreed for the first time to establish a mutual reporting mechanism on major military operations and a code of safe conduct on naval and air military encounter.
We have every reason to believe that with joint efforts of both sides, China-US relations will embrace an even more promising future.