40 Years of Reform and Opening up: Path of China, Implications for the World and Role of Hong Kong

40 Years of Reform and Opening up: Path of China, Implications for the World and Role of Hong Kong

Speech by H.E. Xie Feng, Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the Hong Kong

Special Administrative Region

29 October 2018


The Honorable Chief Executive Carrie Lam,

Your Excellency Dominique de Villepin,

Your Excellency Yukio Hatoyama,

Your Excellency Li Zhaoxing,

Your Excellency Charlene Barshefsky,

The Honorable Ronnie Chan,

Distinguished Representatives from the Consular Corps, Chambers of Commerce and Business and Academic Communities,

Distinguished Guests and Friends from the Press,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  Reform and opening up is the most inspiring China story, which carries with it profound global significance. As this year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up, it gives me great pleasure to meet guests from around the world in Hong Kong, a city connecting China to the rest of the world and the place where the East and the West converge. Together, we will review the grand journey of reform and opening up, discuss its implications for the world and envision the unique role of Hong Kong in the new era. On behalf of the Commissioner's Office, I wish to extend a warm welcome to all of you present today. I also wish to express heartfelt thanks to our co-host the Better Hong Kong Foundation, and to Chinese People's 's Institute of Foreign Affairs, Asia Society Hong Kong Center, Phoenix Satellite TV, Global Times, Ta Kung Wen Wei Media Group and the South China Morning Post who have generously provided support.

  Ladies and Gentlemen,

  Reform and opening up has transformed China, and blazed a new trail for the nation. Over the past four decades, the Chinese people have forged ahead under the leadership of the Communist Party. We have relied on ourselves based on a keen awareness of the national realities. And we have also drawn on the successful experience of other countries. As a Chinese saying goes, "When confronted by mountains, we make a way through; and when blocked by a river, we build a bridge to the other side". Thanks to the efforts and perseverance of the Chinese people, we have been removing institutional hurdles standing in the way, and successfully embarked on a path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

  Following this path, China has made remarkable progress, with an annual GDP growth of 9.5% and external trade growth of 14.5%. China has become the second largest economy, the largest industrial producer, the largest trader in goods and the largest holder of foreign exchange reserve. Nearly 800 million Chinese people were lifted out of poverty, and a basic medical insurance system covering 1.35 billion people was established, together with an old-age insurance scheme covering over 900 million population.

  Following this path, China has made a historic transformation, from lagging behind to catching up with or even leading the times. In this process, the Chinese people have not relied on expansion or colonization, nor have we counted on others to deliver. Through hard work, we have achieved in a short span of four decades what took many countries over one hundred years to achieve towards modernization. We create a miracle in the history of mankind.

  This path suits China's national conditions. It has withstood the test of the times and it has received high recognition and extensive support from the people. We have proved with our own success story that there is more than one path leading to modernization. The Chinese people will remain firmly committed to this righteous path.

  Reform and opening up has benefited the whole world and promoted global peace and prosperity. As an important engine for world economy, China has contributed over 30% of the global growth in recent years, and has made major contribution in mitigating the Asian financial crisis and the global financial crisis. China is the largest trading partner of over 120 countries. The Chinese market has generated huge profits to foreign companies. China has made a total of 1.8 trillion US dollars of investment overseas, the second largest in the world, helping the recipient countries in economic development and livelihood improvement.

  China has become a staunch force for world peace, committed to addressing international disputes through peaceful means. We have resolved peacefully the boundary issue with most of our land neighbors. We have taken an active and constructive part in the settlement process of almost all the major hot spot issues, offering China's wisdom and China's proposals. Our country is the second largest financial contributor to United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and the largest contributor of peacekeeping personnel among the permanent members of the UN Security Council.

  China has become an important guardian of the international order, and is playing an even more important role in global governance. Since accession into the WTO, China has faithfully honored its commitments on goods, services, investment, intellectual property rights and transparency. We have actively integrated ourselves into the existing international regime, joining almost all the important inter-governmental organizations, and entering into over 300 international conventions. China is committed to economic globalization. We seek more connectivity and promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation through greater openness. We take a clear-cut stand against protectionism. We uphold the authority and effectiveness of the multilateral regime, champion democracy in international relations and actively contribute to the global response to challenges such as climate change.

  China has become a provider of public goods to the world. The Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI, is a China proposal aimed at opening ourselves wider and promoting common development with others. Under the BRI, countries jointly explore cooperation plans, contribute to the cooperation projects and share benefits together. The BRI is a symphony played by all countries, not a China solo. What has happened over the past five years shows that the though BRI is initiated by China, it generates opportunities for all and its fruits are shared by the international community.

  China's success in reform and opening up also demonstrates that opening up, cooperation and multilateralism are better than isolation, confrontation and unilateralism. Building roads is better than building walls.

  Ladies and Gentlemen,

  After four decades, socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era. Reform and opening up of China has reached a new starting point. Several days ago, President Xi Jinping paid another inspection tour to Guangdong Province, during which he made the solemn declaration to the world that China will further promote reform and opening up at higher levels and for more ambitious goals. China is sure to create an even greater miracle.

  Since beginning of this year, a series of major opening up initiatives have been delivered, including adoption of a revised negative list of foreign investment, greater openness in the financial sector, significant easing of market access in 22 areas for foreign investors, and big cuts on import tariffs on automobiles and some daily consumer goods. According to the latest report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, foreign direct investment dropped by 41% year-on-year globally in the first half of this year, with China a notable exception. FDI in China increased by 6%, making China the largest recipient of FDI. This is in effect a vote of confidence cast by the world on China's commitment to further reform and opening up. Next week, China will host its first international import expo in Shanghai. It will be the first time in history for a sovereign state to take the initiative to open its market and expand import. With the world's largest middle-income group, China is expected to become the largest market in the world in the near future. Its import will top two trillion US dollars every year. China has opened its arms to embrace the world by promoting reform and opening up in the new era. We hope that in turn, other countries will also keep their doors open to China.

  Ladies and Gentlemen,

  Hong Kong and the motherland have advanced and prospered together in the reform and opening up process. Our compatriots in Hong Kong have always been well-known for their pioneering spirit. It was the Hong Kong compatriots that became the trailblazers, or the first group of "crab-eaters", in the early days of reform. The first joint-venture in the mainland was established by a Hong Kong company. The first five-star hotel in mainland was built with money from Hong Kong investors, and the first auction of a state-owned land plot was completed with the participation of Hong Kong professionals. Even today, Hong Kong remains as the largest source of FDI to the mainland. Hong Kong has made historic contribution to China's reform and opening up. The city has also seized valuable opportunities from the reform process to create even greater splendor. Particularly, alongside the tempo of the reform and opening up, the "one country, two systems" has turned from a concept into reality in Hong Kong. This formula is full of vitality, making steady progress in the right direction.

  Reform and opening up in the new era needs Hong Kong's participation, and will enable Hong Kong to prosper further. Today, Hong Kong continues to be the most open and competitive city in the world and a major global financial, trading and shipping center. Under the leadership of Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the new SAR Government has set no easy goals, avoided no difficult tasks, and made proactive efforts. The SAR Government has focused on the pressing issues of developing the economy and improving people's livelihood. And it has taken a long-term perspective in fostering new growth drivers, seeking new opportunities and developing the innovation and technology sector. Last week, President Xi Jinping attended the inauguration ceremony of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. The whole nation is gearing up the new round of reform and opening up, developing further the Belt and Road Initiative, and promoting the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. During this process, Hong Kong will definitely contribute what the country is in need by bringing into full play its unique strength. Our Hong Kong compatriots will share both the historic responsibility of national rejuvenation and the pride of a strong and prosperous China.

  Ladies and Gentlemen,

  Reform and opening up has transformed China, ensured Hong Kong's great success and benefited the whole world. It has also connected the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation to the dream of the world for a better life for everyone on the planet. Let us build up common understanding and pool our strengths. Let us contribute to peace through dialogue, share prosperity with mutually beneficial cooperation, and seek common development alongside economic globalization. Together, we will build a community of shared future for mankind.

  Thank you.

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