SCIO briefing on 'The Belt and Road Initiative: Progress, Contributions and Prospects'

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Xiao Weiming, director general of the Department of General Affairs at the Office of the Leading Group for Promoting the Belt and Road Initiative;

Song Lihong, director general of the Comprehensive Department at the Ministry of Commerce

Hu Kaihong, spokesperson for the State Council Information Office of China

April 22, 2019

China Business News:

While trying to meet the challenges from the complicated geopolitical and international trade landscape of China, the United States and Europe, our country is also undergoing domestic economic restructuring. How can we ensure a sustainable development and effective implementation of the BRI in this context? Thank you.

Xiao Weiming: 

That's a fairly broad question. I will have to answer it briefly. The China-U.S. trade friction has drawn worldwide attention, and the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation will be convened soon. Guided by the principles of openness, inclusiveness, and mutual benefit, we welcome all countries, including the United States, to participate in the BRI and the upcoming forum.

China and the United States are the biggest developing country and developed country in the world. We have huge potential for cooperation with complementary strengths. Last year, the GDP of the United States surpassed US$20 trillion, reaching US$20.5 trillion, while the GDP of China totaled US$13.6 trillion, about 66% of the U.S. figure. However, the per capita GDP of China is only about 15% of the U.S. level. Thus, there is still a big gap between us. We need to learn from the United States, and promote development through economic cooperation. There is enormous room for cooperation between the two countries.

In addition, China is a large market for American agricultural and high-tech products. Therefore, we have good reason to believe cooperation outweighs friction in the China-U.S. relationship. As for trade friction, it's normal for the two countries to have some disputes and differences in trade and opinion. I believe that more countries, including the United States, will gradually embrace the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, as well as "a five-pronged approach" [policy coordination, connectivity of infrastructure and facilities, unimpeded trade, financial integration, and closer people-to-people ties] to jointly build the BRI. 

When it comes to the European Union, China and it have long cooperation, and many of EU member states have become important partners to jointly build the Belt and Road. In particular, the EU strategy on Connecting Europe and Asia proposed by the EU dovetails neatly with the BRI, and the two sides are working to enhance the policy coordination. We welcome closer cooperation with the EU and its member states to produce more substantial benefits. Thank you.

Song Lihong:

Please allow me to add something. You asked just now what China's consideration is under the circumstance of facing a very complicated geopolitical situation when promoting Belt and Road construction. I would like to ask you when the geopolitical situation was not complex from World War II until now. And do you know how much the world economy has developed since then? 

Therefore, I do not think that is a problem. As long as countries uphold openness and cooperation rather than working behind closed doors, the general trend of cooperation will be unstoppable. The leaders of all countries have the ability and wisdom to solve these problems, and our people are more than capable of solving these problems with their collective wisdom. Our entrepreneurs are also able to continue strengthening cooperation even though facing complex conditions and various risks.

Your second question concerns China's economic restructuring. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the central government has held a view that China has entered a new normal in economic development. This means that we have shifted from a high to a medium-high growth rate, our economic structure have moved from low-to-medium level to medium-to-high level, and the driving force of our growth has changed from resource consumption to innovation. China's economy cannot achieve stable, sustainable and quality development without accelerating restructuring. Therefore, we must deepen the reform and open wider. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping has reiterated several times that China's door will never be closed, and it will only open still wider. Regional economy and global economy will make further progress and create more benefits only through continuous openness and cooperation, free flow of elements, better distribution of resources, and deepening integration of markets. 

Of course, when profits grow, we need to distribute them appropriately. But undoubtedly, they are beneficial to both the Chinese and global economies. Thank you.  

Hu Kaihong:

That's all for today's press conference. Thank you all.

By Li Xiaohua, Zhang Liying, Li Xiao, Gong Yingchun, Li Shen, Li Huiru, Zhou Jing, Liu Qiang, Zhang Jiaqi, Wu Jin, Zhu Bochen, Chen Xia, Zhang Rui, Li Yang, Wang Qian, Wang Yanfang, Huang Shan, Jennifer Fossenbell, Jay Birbeck, Laura Zheng

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