Opening remarks by H.E. Qu Zhe at the Fourth Baltic-China Annual Business Conference
2015/06/09

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear friends,

It gives me great pleasure to join you in this beautiful season of Estonia at the 2015 Baltic-China Annual Business Conference and exchange views with all of you on how to enhance the economic and trade cooperation between China and Baltic countries. At the outset, I would like to thank the organizers for arranging this event.

The theme of the conference is self-evident -- "when smart firms meet a huge market". With a population of over 1.3 billion, China is indeed a huge market. With a vision to expand business to one of the world's largest and most dynamic markets, business leaders like you are certainly talented and smart. And I am looking to all of you to express yourselves fully and contribute your insightful views to the cooperation between China and Baltic countries.

I believe all of you are interested in China's recent economic development. To enable business leaders and all guests here today to better understand China's economy, I wish to shed some lights on the prospects of our current economic performance.

While the current world economic recovery process is still facing twists and turns, as a major economy in the world with over 30 years' of high growth, China's economy has entered into what we call a state of "new normal". Facing this challenging environment, instead of adopting strong economic stimulus or easing monetary policy, the Chinese government has vigorously promoted reform and economic readjustment, by giving greater priority to quality and efficiency. And the development model is shifting from being driven by investment in production factors to being driven by innovation and consumption. As a result, we have maintained steady economic performance. In spite of facing downward pressure, China's economy still registered 7.4% growth last year. Since the beginning of this year, China's economy has also kept a stable development momentum. Figures released this April showed that the growth of China's economy has slowed at only 7% in the first quarter of this year, and the average growth for this year will probably be the weakest in many years which is anticipated at 7% around. Given the sheer size of China's economy, this speed of growth is impressive, and the momentum it generates is larger than at double digits in previous years, even a 7% growth rate will amount to an increment of 800 billion US dollars. As China becomes one of the engines of the world economy, 7% of growth anticipated this year for China would contribute 14% growth of the world economy in 2015. This is a clear demonstration of great resilience and untapped potential of the Chinese economy.

To maintain steady and moderate growth, China will take numerous measures to push its economy to develop at a medium-to-high growth rate and toward a medium-to-high level. At present China is accelerating the pace of economic structural upgrading. The focus of this effort is to encourage grass-root start-ups and innovation. The goal is to give the economy new vim and vigor by making innovation a new driver of the economy. Besides, China will also implement a new round of higher-level opening-up. In the coming five years, China will import more than US$10 trillion of goods, Chinese investment abroad will exceed US$5000 billion, and more than 500 million outbound visits will be made by Chinese tourists. With all of these, the Chinese economy will surely continue to bring more opportunities of trade, growth, investment and cooperation development opportunities to Baltic countries and rest of the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A very frequently quoted phrase these days which is also a hot topic attracting world attention is "One Belt, One Road", -– short for the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. This initiative was put forth by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Central Asia and Southeast Asia in September and October of 2013. The aim of the initiative is to strengthen connectivity between Asian, European and African countries, to promote trade & investment and build a regional economic cooperation structure that is open, inclusive, balanced and mutually beneficial to all sides. And the ultimate goal is to encourage growth and cooperation along the routes. The initiative covers more than 60 countries along the Eurasian landmass and has received positive responds from many countries. With a view to sharing this vision and turning it into reality, not long ago the Chinese government released a document called "Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road". It outlines how countries can come together with China to build "One Belt, One Road". This document identified five priority areas for cooperation. They are policy coordination, facility connection, trade liberalization, financial integration and people-to-people communication.

This initiative is China's idea, but everyone's opportunity. It is an open and inclusive one, not China's solo performance, but a grand symphony of all the countries along the routes following the principles of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. Thanks to the concerted efforts of relevant parties, substantive progress has been made in the establishment of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, or AIIB. The Silk Road Fund has been launched, and constructions of a number of infrastructure connectivity projects are moving forward. One example is that China is working with central and eastern European countries on the possibility of a new land and maritime corridor linking the Hungary-Serbia high-speed railway to the port of Piraeus in Greece. Quite a few Asian and European countries are stepping up port, railway and many other infrastructure development, and planning industrial parks, special zones, etc. These early harvests have pointed to the broad prospects the "Belt and Road" initiative will bring. Furthermore there are many such projects in the pipeline and with good market prospects.

I believe that as the initiative has been gradually carried out, the improved connectivity between Asia and Europe will enhance the economic and trade exchanges between China and Baltic countries. We welcome companies from the Baltic region to take part in the initiative, share the opportunities and pursue a win-win development. I am also confident that with the support of their peoples and business communities and with joint efforts by people from all works of life, the economic and trade cooperation between China and countries in the Baltic region will be further developed onto a new high which will bring benefits to both sides.

To conclude, I wish this Baltic-China Annual Business Conference a complete success, and all of you a very good health!

Thank you.

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