|Speech by Ambassador Ma Keqing at the Meeting|
Dear Mr. Philip, Vice President of the Chamber of Deputies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I feel honored to be invited by the Czech-China Friendship Group of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament. I'd like to take this oppurtunity to share with you some important issues of our common interests.
First, about China's economy. The world is currently watching the performances of China's economy with some suspicions. It is true that China's economy is facing downward pressure and has entered a state of new normal. It is shifting gear from high speed to medium-to-high speed growth. In 2014 China's economy grew by 7.4%. The target for 2015 is 7%, which is much lower than we used to see in the previous years. Meanwhile a fundamental change is also taking place in China's economic growth. That is a change from an extensive model emphasizing scale and speed, to a more intensive one emphasizing quality and efficiency, and from being driven by investment to being driven by innovation. As a result, the energy intensity decreased, the share of domestic consumption in GDP rose and the services sector expanded. Most importantly, even with a lower growth, we have been able to create more jobs than before. So when looking at China's economy, one should not focus on growth rate only. As the economy continues to grow in size, around 7% still be quite impressive. The momentum it generates is larger than double digit growth in previous years. It is fair to say that China's economy still has much potential for a more sustainable growth. We will deepen reforms and opening-up, and make sure that China's economic and social development are both sound and stable.
China's economy will continue to bring opportunities of trade and investment for other countries, including the Czech Republic.
Second, about China's new initiative of building a Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. This initiative was put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Kazakhstan and Indonesia in 2013. The concept is based on the ancient Silk Road. It meets the development needs of China,as well as those of the countries along the routes, answers the call for regional and global cooperation, and will thus serve the common interests of relevant parties. The Belt and Road routes run through the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa,connecting the vibriant East Asia economic circle at one end and developed European economic circle at the other. It advocates openness, inclusiveness, mutual respect and all-win cooperation.
We have issued the vision and action plan for jointly building the Belt and Road. It focuses on developing connectivity of Asia, Europe and Africa, promoting trade and investment, and enhancing people-to-people and cultural exchanges. To facilitate huge projects, the existing mechanisms and financial tools will be utilized. In addition, Silk Road Fund has been set up and the Asian infractructure Investment Bank is being established.
The Belt and Road initiative has got positive response from about 60 countries and international organizations. We welcome all the countries along the routes to paticipate in the program. Located in the centre of Europe, and being a highly industrialized country with skilled labour force and some advanced technologies, the Czech Republic has many comparable advantages. I hope the deputies of the Chamber pay more attention to the Belt and Road initiative and advise the Czech relevant parties to seize the rare opportunities to join in and be an active part of the program, so as to further expand our bilateral cooperation to our mutual benefit.
Since last April, when we restarted our bilateral relatios, tremendous progress has been made. The high level political exchange of visits was culminated by the state visit of President Zeman to China last October. Prior to this, Chinese Vice Premir Zhang Gaoli visited Prague, where the local leaders meeting between China and 16 Eastern and Central European countries was held. At this moment, the President of the Chamber of Deputies Mr Hamacek and his delegation with over 200 members is in Shanghai to participate the international technology fair, where the Czech Republic is the partener country, so far the first and only one in the history of the fair. There will be a 16+1 health care summit two months later. We will expect another high ranking Chinese leader to Prague.
Our bilateral trade has witnessed double digit growth last year, a hard-won success against the weak recovery of the global demand. Two-way investments have increased slowly but surely. The Chinese companies are increasingly interested in exploring the Czech market, especially the manifacturing, as well as transportation infrastructure and nuclear energy sectors. It only takes time for the companies to get to know the other side’s markets better before they make decisions. I hope the Czech side, including the deputies, would help facilitate the Chinese companies' investments here. The Chinese side will continue to support the Czech companies' investments and operations in Chinese market, and will make more efforts to expand our imports of Czech commodities.
A highlight in our cooperation will be the direct flight from Beijing to Prague by Chinese Hainan Airline. If everything goes smoothly, the flight will be opened this autum. That means easier bussness doing and above all, an enormous promotion of people-to-people exchanges. It is estimated that an even bigger flow of Chinese tourists to your country will happen on the basis of 210,000 last year.
Last but not least, the role of the parliament in bilateral relations is very important. We highly appreciate the consistant efforts by the Chamber of Deputies especially by the members of Czech-China Friendship Group in promoting exchanges and facilitating cooperation between our two countries. Your support will still be keenly needed, since the two sides should honor the political consensus of respecting each other's core interests and major concerns, reached upon by our two leaders. We hope that the deputies from the Friendship group will stay committed to enhancing mutual understanding and win-win cooperation between our two peoples and two countries.