Remarks by Ambassador Qu Zhe at the Reception for Estonia-China Parliamentary Group
2015/05/14

(Ambassador's Residence, 13th May 2015) 

Madam Chair Ms. Mailis Reps,
Members of the Group,
Dear friends,

Good evening!

Thank you for taking time to attend today's event. My wife and I are pleased to welcome you here at my residence. First of all, let me congratulate you all for your successful election to the Riigikogu. I am delighted to meet old friends again, and it is always great to see new friends joining in this group.

As this is the very first gathering for the group, it is my duty to brief you about the latest economic developments in China as well as the bilateral relations of our two countries.

For China's economy, I will only focus on some recent developments rather than the achievements for the past thirty years. This April, figures released showed that the growth of China's economy has slowed down to only 7% in the first quarter of this year, and average growth for this year will probably be the weakest in many years. Pessimists say China's economy is about to have a hard landing or even collapse. This is in no way a correct interpretation. After over thirty years' of high speed growth, China's economy has indeed entered a state of new normal, which gives two major characteristics. First, the economic growth slows to its appropriate level as the economy expands. China's economy is now the world's second largest, with total GDP nearly 2/3 of that of the US. It is unrealistic to maintain a high speed growth with this enormous size, not to mention the lingering impact from the slow recovery of world economy from the crisis. Second, China has initiated to give greater priority to adjusting the structure of development by shifting from an extensive model that emphasized scale and speed to a more intensive one emphasizing quality and efficiency, and from being driven by investment in production factors to being driven by innovation. The country's economy grew by 7.4% last year, with 7% increase in labor productivity and 4.8% decrease in energy intensity. China is also shifting the balance away from investment and towards consumption, which will put China's economy on more stable ground. The services sector expanded at a faster pace last year, creating 13 million new urban jobs, a record that makes slower growth tolerable. 7% growth anticipated this year would contribute 14% growth of the world economy in 2015. So, when we look at China's economy, we shouldn't focus on growth rate only. As the economy continues to grow in size, around 7% growth would be quite impressive, and the momentum it generates would be larger than growth at double digits in previous years. Therefore, it is fair to say that the Chinese economy is highly resilient and has much potential.

The China-Estonia relations are now at a new stage. There have been a number of important meetings and visits since last year. Prime Minister Taavi Roivas and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang had a successful meeting last December in Belgrade. Both leaders agreed to bring our cooperation to a new level. Mutual exchange of visits by the Foreign Affairs Committees of China's National People Congress and Estonia's Riigikogu took place and further enhanced mutual understanding. Foreign minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus visited China earlier this year, discussing a range of issues with her Chinese counterpart in Beijing. The pragmatic cooperation is also expanding. Bilateral trade reached 1.3 billion US dollars in 2014. Later this month, the Joint Commission on China-Estonia Economic Cooperation will meet in Beijing, deliberating how to better promote investment, trade and economic cooperation between our two countries. We have also signed various agreements on avoidance of mutual taxation and mutual recognition of higher education qualifications. Many cultural exchange programs are going on quite well throughout the year. Cooperation under the framework of China-Central and Eastern European Countries has also made remarkable progress.

The Estonia-China parliamentary group has been always one of the biggest groups in the parliament. Over the years, the group has played a positive role in promoting friendship between our two countries and peoples. I appreciate that and commend you for all the efforts you have made. I hope you, as members of the Estonia-China Parliamentary Group, will get a positive message across and help people around you to better understand China and the significance of our bilateral relations. I am more than happy to work with you in promoting all-round cooperation between our two nations.

At last, I'd like to make a toast:

To your successful election to Riigikogu;

To the health of all my friends in Estonia-China Parliamentary Group;

And to the friendship between China and Estonia!

Cheers!

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