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Speech by Consul General Hong Lei at Marquette University: Development Opportunities under the Belt and Road Initiative
2018/01/27

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon.

I’m very glad to visit Marquette University. As a famous educational institute in the U.S., Marquette University boasts a long history and generations of talents. It is my great pleasure to be here and discuss with you about the development opportunities under the Belt and Road Initiative.

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative. Proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, the initiative is a call for openness, inclusiveness, cooperation and mutual benefit and also an appeal for joint efforts to boost global economic growth, strengthen confidence in economic globalization and find ways for building a community of shared future for all mankind, which has been warmly received by the international community. Currently, over 100 countries and international organizations have supported and got involved in this initiative. Important resolutions passed by the UN General Assembly and Security Council contain reference to it. Thanks to our efforts, the vision of the Belt and Road Initiative is becoming a reality.

The Belt and Road Initiative promotes policy connectivity. China has enhanced coordination with the policy initiatives of relevant countries, such as the Eurasian Economic Union of Russia, the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, the Northern Powerhouse initiative of the UK and the Amber Road initiative of Poland. We are also promoting complementarity between China's development plan and those of Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Hungary and other countries. China has signed cooperation agreements with over 40 countries and international organizations and carried out framework cooperation on production capacity with more than 30 countries.

The Belt and Road Initiative enhances infrastructure connectivity. China has accelerated the building of Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway, China-Laos railway, Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway and Hungary-Serbia railway, and upgraded ports of Gwadar, Pakistan and Piraeus, Greece in cooperation with relevant countries. A large number of connectivity projects are also in the pipeline. Today, a multi-dimensional infrastructure network is taking shape, one that is underpinned by economic corridors such as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor and the New Eurasian Continental Bridge, featuring land-sea-air transportation routes and information expressway and supported by major railway, port and pipeline projects.

The Belt and Road Initiative increases trade connectivity. China has worked with other countries involved in the initiative to promote trade and investment facilitation and improve business environment. Total trade between China and other Belt and Road countries in 2014-2016 has exceeded US$3 trillion, and China's investment in these countries has surpassed US$50 billion. Chinese companies have set up 56 economic cooperation zones in over 20 countries, generating nearly 200,000 jobs for them.

The Belt and Road Initiative expands financial connectivity. China has engaged in multiple forms of financial cooperation with countries and organizations involved in the initiative. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has provided US$1.7 billion of loans for 9 projects in Belt and Road participating countries. The Silk Road Fund has made US$4 billion of investment. With distinctive focus, these new financial mechanisms and traditional multilateral financial institutions such as the World Bank complement each other. A multi-tiered Belt and Road financial cooperation network has taken an initial shape.

The Belt and Road Initiative strengthens people-to-people connectivity. Guided by the Silk Road spirit, the participating countries have pulled our efforts to build the educational Silk Road and the health Silk Road, and carried out cooperation in science, education, culture, health and people-to-people exchange. Such cooperation has helped lay a solid popular and social foundation for pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative. Every year, the Chinese government provides 10,000 government scholarships to the relevant countries. China's local governments have also set up special Silk Road scholarships to encourage international cultural and educational exchanges.

Last May, the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was successfully held in Beijing. 29 heads of state or government and representatives of three major international organizations attended the Leaders Roundtable. Many countries sent senior officials to the opening session, the High-Level Dialogue and other events. Mr. Matt Pottinger, Special Assistant to the U.S. President and Senior Director for Asian Affairs of the National Security Council, also led a delegation to attend the forum. Thanks to the collective efforts of all parties involved, the forum produced more than 270 cooperation outcomes under five categories and 76 sub-categories, which not only showed that the Belt and Road Initiative is action-oriented and project-based, but also reaffirmed its practical significance and far-reaching impact in tackling development challenges facing mankind and in advancing world peace and prosperity.

The Belt and Road Initiative responds to the trend of the times, conforms to the law of development, and meets the people's interests. It surely has broad prospects. The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation is a call for action and cooperation. Building on the forum’s success, China will pool the visions and strengths of all parties and work together to promote win-win cooperation through greater openness, and jointly make progress under the Belt and Road Initiative.

China will strengthen policy coordination and development strategy connectivity with relevant countries and deliver on action plans and cooperation projects. We will take solid steps in building economic corridors, engage in deeper international cooperation in industrial capacity and equipment manufacturing and promote cross-border connectivity. We will work to enhance the quality of trade and investment cooperation, build more industrial belts, develop more areas of growth and establish more economic circles, promote interconnected growth between countries in Europe and Asia, and boost steady recovery of the global economy. We will promote a sustainable development of the Belt and Road and make greater efforts in such areas as policy-making, economic and financial support, institution-building and security safeguards so that the initiative will advance on a rock-solid foundation of comprehensive and multi-tiered support systems. We will pool the resources of the governments, businesses, think tanks, media organizations and civil society so that all sectors will work together to bring about a steady and sustained development of the Belt and Road.

China will promote dialogue and reject confrontation, and build partnership, not alliance. We will strengthen equal and mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries and international organizations under the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, hopefully China's economic restructuring and upgrading will contribute to the development of other countries and our efforts on these two fronts will reinforce each other so that China's partnerships with other countries will be more robust and further enriched. We will expand our network of partnerships with countries along the Belt and Road, starting with our neighbors and then reaching out to the rest of Asia and Europe and eventually to other parts of the world to build a closer and stronger global "circle of friends".

China will take the vision of win-win cooperation as a guiding principle in building a community of shared future for mankind. The Belt and Road Initiative is defined by openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation. Such vision will also guide China's distinctive major-country diplomacy. While building the Belt and Road, we will endeavor to turn China's envisaged new type of international relations, which features win-win cooperation, into an international pursuit and practice. We will work with other members of the international community to jointly address global issues and challenges, explore a new model of global governance and promote a global governance system that is more fair and equitable so that we will make new contribution to building a community of shared future for mankind.

China and the U.S. are the largest developing country and developed country respectively and the top two economies in the world. China-U.S. relations concern not only the well-being of both peoples, but also world peace, prosperity and stability. For our two countries, cooperation is the only correct choice and a better future would only be achieved through win-win cooperation. During his meeting with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago in Florida last April, President Xi Jinping said that China welcomes the U.S. side to participate in cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. When President Trump paid his first state visit to China last November, President Xi pointed out that China and the U.S. should actively expand practical cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative. As China-U.S. relations enter a new era, the Belt and Road Initiative will bring new opportunities for deepening cooperation between our two countries.

First, opportunities in trade and investment cooperation. In recent years, China’s economy has maintained the momentum of stable and sound development. Economic vitality, impetus and potential has been continuously released. According to the latest statistics, China’s GDP reached US$12 trillion, an increase of 6.9% compared with last year. The total value of China’s imports and exports in 2017 registered a 14.2% growth. With the stable and healthy development of China’s economy and new progress under the Belt and Road Initiative,the potential of our domestic consumption and overseas investment will be further tapped. In November this year, China will hold the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai, which will provide a new platform for all parties to exploit the Chinese market. It is estimated that in the next 15 years, China will import US$24 trillion worth of goods, attract US$2 trillion inbound direct investment and make US$2 trillion of outbound investment, which will create huge business opportunities for the rest of the world, including the U.S..

Second, opportunities in infrastructure cooperation. Both China and the U.S. have great potential and demands in infrastructure investment and construction. U.S. enterprises enjoy rich experience and advanced technologies in construction and energy use, which enables them to seize the opportunities brought by the initiative and provide equipment, technologies and services to Chinese companies as well as countries along the Belt and Road. In this regard, some U.S. enterprises have already got a head start. Caterpillar, the world's top construction equipment manufacturer headquartered in Illinois, has been making full use of its global network to provide heavy machinery for construction projects in China and countries along the Belt and Road. General Electric has signed cooperation agreements with a number of Chinese enterprises to build power plants in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other countries. In 2016, GE received $2.3 billion worth of equipment orders from the Belt and Road projects, almost three times the total for the previous year.

Third, opportunities in modern services cooperation. The Belt and Road projects have high demand for funding. China and the U.S. can conduct cooperation under the framework of World Bank and IMF to complement the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund in providing financial support to such projects. Major financial institutions in the U.S. can also provide financing services to enterprises in China and countries along the Belt and Road. The U.S. has a well-developed legal service system. Many well-known law firms have a global practice network and rich experience in cross-border legal services,which is of significant value for Chinese companies engaged in trade, investment and projects along the Belt and Road.

Last October, the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China was successfully convened in Beijing and formulated a development blueprint for China in the next three decades. It is envisaged that by 2035, China will basically realize socialist modernization. By the middle of this century, China will become a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally-advanced, harmonious and beautiful. In his report to the Congress, President Xi Jinping stressed that China adheres to the fundamental national policy of opening up and will actively promote international cooperation through the Belt and Road Initiative so as to build a new platform for international cooperation and create new drivers of shared development. We sincerely hope that our American friends in all circles can seize the cooperation and development opportunities under the Belt and Road Initiative and make joint efforts with the Chinese side to expand mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation between China and the U.S. in the new era.

Thank you.

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