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Speech of H.E. Ambassador Mrs. Ma Keqing at the Czech Champer of Commerce

2015/11/17

Dear Mr. Dlouhy,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning! I feel honored to be invited by the Czech Chamber of Commerce to this seminar today. I'd like to take this opportunity to share with you some updated information which you might be interested in.

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 growth. In the first three quarters of this year China achieved a 6.9% GDP growth. Given the slowdown in global growth, this growth rate has not come easily, because we are talking about a US$ 10 trillion economy, for which 6.9% growth actually generates more increase in volume than the double-digit growth in the past. And the 6.9% growth is in fact among the highest of the world's major economies. What is more encouraging is that China's economic structure is rapidly improving. Today, the services sector already accounts for half of China's GDP, and consumption contributes 60% to growth. Growth in high-tech industries is notably higher than the entire industrial sector. Consumer demands for information, cultural, health and tourism products are booming. Energy conservation, environmental protection and the green economy are thriving. New economic growth areas are rapidly taking shape.

China's steady economic development has also benefited the world. China contributed about 30% to global growth in the first half of the year. With commodity prices dropping markedly on the global market, the growth of China's foreign trade volume is slowing down. But even so, the actual amount of commodities China imported has continued to go up. China will adopt a more proactive import policy and place greater emphasis on the quality of imports and exports. And China will only buy more from the world to meet its growing domestic demands. China's outward investment has maintained rapid growth. In the first three quarters this year, China’s FDI overseas has reached USD 87.3 billion with a growth rate of 16.5%. The number of outbound tourists notably increased to over 100 million last year.

We believe that the Chinese economy is on the right track and its future will be even brighter. This is not unrealistic optimism. Our confidence is based on the sound foundation, condition and momentum of economic growth.

The Chinese economy is resilient and full of potential. China is going through the process of a new type of industrialization, IT application, urbanization and agricultural modernization, which all serve to generate strong domestic demand. China has a vast territory and diverse industries. That means, the Chinese economy is supported not by a single pillar but multiple pillars. It is highly resilient and shock-resistant.

Reform holds the key to China’s development. The ongoing structural reform is constantly delivering benefits. We have deepened market reform in finance, taxation, investment, financing and prices. We adopted a host of measures to lift restrictions on market access and promote fair competition. We also strengthened reform on structural adjustment. Reform in the financial sector has been advanced in accordance with market principles and rule of law. An open and transparent capital market that enjoys long-term, steady and sound development is being fostered. Meanwhile, we are stepping up risk management to make sure that no regional or systemic financial risk will occur. The high savings rate and large foreign exchange reserves means China has ample financial resources and tools.

China's reform is a process of continued opening-up and integration into the world. China will open still wider to the rest of the world. There will be no change in China's overall policy on FDI. Specific steps will be taken to attract more foreign investment through greater openness. This year we further expanded the areas open to foreign investment and cut by half the number of items where restrictions were imposed on foreign investment access. For example, some of the mining industries, manufacturing of chemicals and medicines have been open for the first time to foreign investors since this April. You can get more details from China’s official publication - Catalogue of Industries to Guide Foreign Investment. Moreover, to facilitate foreign investment, we have replaced the past practice of review and approval with the practice of record keeping. We will continue such efforts to make China one of the most appealing destinations for investment.

In the forthcoming 13th five-year plan 2016-2020, which is in the making, the Chinese economy will maintain medium to high growth. Priorities will be given to innovative development, coordinated development, green development and open development. It is expected that in the next 5 years, China’s economic development will benefit the 1.3 billion Chinese people and provide even more opportunities for the rest of the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year marks the 40th anniversary of China-EU relations. Through 40 years the China-EU relations have become increasingly mature and stable. As the largest group of developed countries and the biggest economy, the EU is an important partner for China. China-EU economic and trade cooperation has become an important foundation of the economic growth of Europe and the world at large. For the last 11 consecutive years EU has been China’s largest trading partner and China is now EU’s second largest trading partner. Last year the trade value between the two sides totaled USD 600 billion. Meanwhile, EU and China also expanded mutual investment. Last year EU’s investment in China was USD 6.23 billion, while China’s direct investment in EU reached USD 9.8 billion. This is historically the first time that China exceeded EU in mutual investment.

Moving forward, China will strengthen cooperation with the EU in fields of connectivity and infrastructure construction by multiple means such as joining the European Strategic Investment Plan and making breakthroughs in joint infrastructure construction. China will actively consider establishing a China-EU joint investment fund to boost the European Fund for Strategic Investments. China will also expand bond purchase from the European Investment Bank, give full play to financial arrangements such as the pan-European investment cooperation platform and the China and Central and Eastern Europe framework for investment and financing, give play to the role of RMB clearing bank, and make financial cooperation the strong bond of interest convergence of both sides.

In addition, China is willing to join hands with the EU to make breakthroughs in raising the level of trade and investment liberalization, with the aim to achieve a trade volume of 1 trillion USD by 2020.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since last April, when China and the Czech Republic restarted bilateral relations, tremendous progress has been made. The high level political exchange of visits was culminated by the visits of President Zeman to China last October and this September. Last summer Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli visited Prague, where the local leaders meeting between China and 16 Eastern and Central European countries was held. In April this year the President of the Chamber of Deputies Mr Hamacek and his delegation with over 200 members visited Shanghai to participate the international technology fair, where the Czech Republic was the partener country, so far the first and only one in the history of the fair. Two months later, the 16+1 health care summit was held here in Prague with the participation of Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong. In one week’s time, Prime Minister Mr. Sobotka will pay an official visit to China. And next year we will expect another high ranking Chinese leader to Prague. So you can see that our two countries are enjoying a good momentum at the political level.

Meanwhile, 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. From the beginning of this year, Chinese investors are accelerating their investment pace here. Our recent statistics show that there have been about 20 Chinese enterprises invested in Czech Republic, whose investments have covered manufacturing industry, financial services, telecommunication, culture and entertainment. Meanwhile, more Chinese companies are showing their interest in exploring the Czech market, especially the manufacturing, 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 Czech Chamber of Commerce, could 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.

One highlight in our cooperation is the direct flight between Beijing and Prague by Chinese Hainan Airline with its successful inaugural flight in late September this year. This brings easier access to business exchange.

Another highlight in our cooperation is the visa facilitation for our two countries’ investors, which means businessmen can get multiple visas for duration of 5 years.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I believe most of you have heard about China's new initiative of building a Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. China has issued the vision and action plan for jointly building the Belt and Road, and also set up the Silk Road Fund. The establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will be finalized by the end of the year. We welcome all the countries along the routes to participate 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 Czech Chamber of Commerce and all entrepreneurs present today could pay more attention to the Belt and Road initiative and 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.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

While visiting China, Prime Minister Mr. Sobotka will also attend the 4th leaders' meeting of China and Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC). The China – CEEC cooperation (or in short, we call it “16+1 cooperation”) is an important part of China-EU relations. In the past 4 years, the 16+1 cooperation has developed rapidly. Economic and trade cooperation has grown steadily. We’ve also achieved new improvement in financing cooperation and some breakthroughs in the sectors of direct flight, tourism and healthcare. This year’s 16+1 leaders’ meeting will issue the Mid-term Agenda and Suzhou Outline, which will set up new aims in the fields of trade and investment, connectivity, industrial capacity, finance, technology and people-to-people exchanges.

The Czech Republic is an active supporter and participant of 16+1 cooperation. You have been playing a leading role in the 16+1 cooperation of healthcare and local areas. We hope to expand and deepen the cooperation with the Czech Republic under the framework of 16+1 cooperation. We hope the entrepreneurs of both countries can involve more in the 16+1 cooperation.

China and the Czech Republic has entered a golden era in relations, an era of stronger economic ties, deeper trade links and closer relations between our peoples. We hope the entrepreneurs of both countries can take this momentum to develop their business and enhance their global competitiveness.

At last, I wish the Czech business delegation’s visit to China a full success. Thank you.



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