Break the Ice through Inclusive Cooperation
– Keynote Speech by H. E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the 2018 "Young Icebreakers" 10th Anniversary Dinner
Bright Courtyard, London, 19:30, 5 June 2018
Chairman Perry, Chairman Sun Yu, Young Icebreakers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be back at the "Young Icebreakers" anniversary dinner.
This is the ninth time that I am celebrating your anniversary with you during my eight years as Chinese Ambassador to the UK. I have seen with my own eyes how "Young Icebreakers" have grown from strength to strength in the past ten years!
To quote a Chinese idiom, "a good sword deserves ten years' honing". On the occasion of your tenth anniversary, let me extend to you my heartfelt congratulations. I also want to thank you all for your contribution to China-UK exchange and cooperation.
Sixty-five years ago, the 48 Group broke the hard ice of western embargo against China and started the flow of trade between China and the UK. That is how they have come to be known as the "Icebreakers". The first decade of the 21st century saw the birth of the "Young Icebreakers", who have been given the mission to carry forward and renew the "Icebreakers" spirit.
As we enter this new era, we have before us these questions: Do we still need the "Icebreakers" spirit? What "hard ice" is there to break? How can we break it and move forward? Let me share with you some of my thoughts.
The world today is undergoing profound changes unseen in centuries. Peace and development remain the theme of the time. But the world is far from being peaceful. Unilateralism is on the rise. Protectionism is rampant. Populism is spreading. Uncertainties and destabilising factors are increasing. Trade protectionism is becoming a weapon in the hands of a certain country to provoke trade dispute that put the global economy at risk.
These chaotic developments reveal three dangerous logics: The first is that international relationship is a "zero-sum game" where one country's gain is another's loss. The second is that a country may put itself above international trade rules. The third is that the "Cold War" mentality and ideological bigotry is still prevalent in the world today. These are the "hard ice" that we must break.
Then, how do we break these "hard ice"? How can we move forward towards a prosperous future? I believe that the answers can be found in how China has achieved development. That is China's solution.
The first answer is inclusive cooperation. This is how China has achieved development. Our history tells us that openness brings progress, whereas isolation leads to backwardness. This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up. In 40 years' time, China has achieved a transition from seclusion and semi-seclusion to all-round openness and deep integration in the global economy. China is now the largest industrial producer, the largest trader in goods, the second largest trader in services, and the largest overseas investor and host of foreign investments.
Looking ahead, China will continue to build up its opening-up layout. The western parts of China will become more open. Free trade zones will make further progress. The opening of free trade ports will be explored. These will facilitate all-round opening-up by linking east and west, and connecting the land and the sea. At the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference in April, President Xi made solemn commitments on four major opening up measures that China will take. These include significantly broaden market access, create a more attractive investment environment, strengthen protection of intellectual property rights, and expand imports.
Recently, China announced a succession of tariff cuts on cars and consumer goods. This involves over one thousand product lines and fully demonstrated China's firm resolve to open up further. In the words of President Xi, China's door of opening-up will not be closed and will only open even wider.
The second answer to how to break the ice is mutual benefit. The ancient Chinese wisdom has it that "to establish oneself, help others establish themselves; to achieve success, help others succeed." The moral is, always seek mutual benefit. One flower does not make spring. China believes in mutual benefit. That is why China joined the World Trade Organisation, founded the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and put forward the Belt and Road Initiative. In this process, China has made important contribution to the sustainable development of the global economy. This has been particularly true in the aftermath of the international financial crisis of 2008. China has maintained mid-high growth rate, contributed over 30% to world economic growth for years in a row, and become an engine for global recovery.
Today, China is leading a world trend with its new four great inventions, namely high-speed rail, e-commerce, mobile payment and bike sharing. These could provide new driving force for global economic growth. China also invites every country to board the "fast train" and share the benefit of China's development, and to stay committed to openness, connectivity, cooperation and mutual benefit. To this end, China will host its first-ever International Import Expo in Shanghai in November. We welcome the participation of international businesses, including British companies. This will be a great opportunity to take a share of the Chinese market and benefit from China's development.
The third answer to how to break the ice is assuming the responsibility of a major stakeholder. China is ready to embrace the world. We believe that "a partnership forged with the right approach defies geographical distance". No country can achieve development in self-isolation; No country can alone address the many challenges facing mankind. The world is already a community with a shared future, where interests are intertwined and countries are deeply interdependent.
This is the backdrop of the Belt and Road Initiative that China has proposed and has been actively promoting. This Initiative is open, transparent and inclusive. It follows the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefit. It will respect the law of the market and international rules. And it is a new platform, a new mechanism and a new format for open economic cooperation. The Belt and Road Initiative will surely bring concrete benefit to all those who are ready to play a part in it.