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Chinese President Confident of Asia's Future

Chinese President Hu Jintao Saturday expressed "much confidence in Asia's future" in his keynote speech at the opening session of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) 2004 Annual Conference held in the southern China province of Hainan 

He said that in the past few years, with the support of the fellow Asian countries and the larger international community, the BFA has developed steadily, playing an increasingly prominent role in regional cooperation and demonstrating to the rest of the world the fervent desire of the Asian people for a win-win scenario through closer cooperation.


Coming into the 21st century, the international situation has continued to undergo profound and complicated changes. World multi-polarization and economic globalization are progressing amid twists and turns. Science and technology are advancing with each passing day.


"We have before us both development opportunities that we must seize and grave challenges that we must deal with," he said.


Despite the widespread conflicts and clashes of interest and increasing numbers of factors of uncertainty and instability, peace and development remain the overriding themes of the times. The world needs peace, countries desire development and people want cooperation. This has become an irresistible trend of history.


"We are glad to see that Asia has, on the whole, enjoyed stability, with peace, development and cooperation becoming the mainstream of an advancing Asia. With concerted efforts, Asian countries have freed themselves from the shadow of the financial crisis, overcome the impact of SARS and bird flu, succeeded in domestic economic restructuring, and quickened the tempo of industrial upgrading and transformation, promoted a robust regional cooperation, and increased the capacity to tide over potential risks. Asia retains its position as one of the world's most dynamic regions and a key growth point in global trade."


"All these have given us much confidence in Asia's future," he said.


China needs long, uphill battle for modernization


President Hu said that it still needs a long and uphill battle to make China's modernization program a success and deliver a prosperous life for all the Chinese people.


The president said that in the past 25 years, while pressing ahead with reform and opening up, China has put initially in place a socialist market economy, an economy that is open to the outside world.


China's productive forces and overall national strength have been constantly enhanced. With various social undertakings developing in full swing, the Chinese people as a whole have made the historical leap from subsistence to modest prosperity.


In the course of 25 years between 1978 and 2003, he said, China's economy grew by an average annual rate of 9.4 percent, with its gross domestic product (GDP), foreign trade and foreign exchange reserves jumping from US$147.3 billion, US$20.6 billion and US$167 million to over US$1.4 trillion, US$851.2 billion and US$403.3 billion respectively. China now is the world's sixth largest economy and the fourth largest trader.


"The reason why China has produced such tremendous changes is because we have adhered to the road of building socialism with Chinese characteristics and persevered in reform and opening-up, thus galvanizing the Chinese people's initiative, enthusiasm and creativity," Hu said.


Though China has achieved impressive results in its development, there are still many acute problems, such as overpopulation, weak economic foundation, underdeveloped productivity, highly uneven development, and a fairly sharp contradiction between the country's ecological environment and natural resources on the one hand and its economic and social development on the other. China's per capita GDP, though reaching the record high of US$1,000 last year, still ranks behind the 100th place in the world.


"To make China's modernization program a success and deliver a prosperous life for all the Chinese people still require a long and uphill battle," he said.


China's development strategy 


In building a well-off society of a higher standard in an all-round way for the benefit of well over 1 billion Chinese people, Hu said, China will quadruple its 2000 GDP to US$4 trillion with a per capita GDP of US$3,000, further develop the economy, improve democracy, advance science and education, enrich culture, foster greater social harmony and upgrade the texture of life for the people.


To achieve this goal, the country will continue to follow the guidance of Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thoughts of "Three Represents" and conscientiously act, in an all-round way, on the concept of people-oriented, comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development. 


This scientific concept of development crystallizes the successful experience of China's reform, opening-up and modernization drive in the past 25 years and that of other countries in their course of development, and reflects a new understanding of the issue of development by the Chinese government and people.


"We will take economic development as our top priority, aim ourselves to the all-round development of man, and follow a development path characterized by high productivity, affluent life and sound eco-system by properly balancing urban and rural development, development among regions, economic and social development, development of man and nature, and domestic development and opening to the outside world," the president said.


At the same time, China will continue to push vigorously its reform and opening-up program, concentrating on building and perfecting our socialist market economy and making it more dynamic and more open to the outside world.


"Taking the initiative in our own hands with independence and self-reliance in development is an important experience of ours. We persevere in reform, because we need to remove the institutional barriers that impede the development of productive forces and unleash the dynamism that exist in our society for development and creativity."


"In so doing, we mainly rely on institutional and technological innovation, on expanding domestic demand and on increasing the professional aptitude of our citizens. In the meantime, we firmly stick to our opening-up policy, taking an active part in international economic and technology cooperation, and making contribution to China's own development and the common development in the world."


"On our road to progress, we are still encountering the multitude of contradictions and problems, and the various risks and challenges. However, the Chinese people have the confidence and the capability to overcome all kinds of hardships and difficulties and make China's modernization and great rejuvenation a reality," Hu said.


China's development important opportunities for Asia 


President Hu Jintao said China's development is closely related to Asia's prosperity and a developing China generates important opportunities for Asia.


China has and will continue to make a positive impact on Asia in the area of development, Hu said.


As the world's biggest potential market, China has presided over in the past 25 years a steadily expanding and maturing market with import growing at an average annual rate of over 15 percent, which has made China the third largest importer globally and the largest importer in Asia, he said.


In 2003, China imported from the rest of Asia a total of US$272.9 billion worth of merchandise, up by 42.4 percent, with imports from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Japan, the Republic of Korea and India increasing by over 35 percent.


Direct investment in the rest of Asia by China has risen at an average annual rate of 20 percent in recent years. In 2003, more than 20 million outbound visits were made by Chinese nationals, as more and more Chinese tourists made Asian countries and regions their choice destinations.


With China's development, the size of its market and its overseas investment will grow even larger and still more Chinese will travel to the other parts of Asia for sightseeing, business and visit.


Hu said China's economy will integrate still more closely with Asian economy, giving rise to a new type of partnership characterized by mutual benefit, mutual complement and mutual assistance.


China's development contributes to peace and stability in Asia 


China's development contributes to peace and stability in Asia and a stable and prosperous China is in itself an important contribution to peace and stability in the continent, Hu Jintao said.


China since ancient times has had a fine tradition of sincerity, benevolence, kindness and trust toward its neighbors, Hu said.


The very purpose of China's foreign policy is to maintain world peace and promote common development, and China always practices what it preaches.


"Persisting in building good-neighborly relationships and partnership with the neighboring countries, we pursue a policy of bringing harmony, security and prosperity to neighbors and dedicate ourselves to strengthening mutual trust and cooperation with the fellow Asian countries, easing up hot spot tensions, and striving to maintain peace and tranquility in Asia," the president said.


China's development injects fresh vigor to regional cooperation in Asia 


China has been extensively involved in the various mechanisms of Asia-based regional cooperation, emphasizing its cooperation and coordination with all the parties and promoting regional economic integration, Hu said.


China has joined the fellow Asian countries in discussing the possibility of free trade areas, conducting various forms of security dialogues and cementing cooperation on the bilateral level while promoting regional cooperation, he said.


China to enhance good-neighborliness for Asian rejuvenation 


Hu Jintao said that China will enhance friendship and political trust and good-neighborliness as it sincere wishes to cultivate with other Asian countries an overall and close partnership geared to Asian rejuvenation.


This is a partnership that features equality and mutual trust politically, mutual benefit and win-win economically, exchange and emulation culturally, and dialogue and cooperation on the security front, Hu said.


As part of its efforts to this end, China will develop partnerships with other Asian countries on the basis of the United Nations Charter and the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, treating all countries as equals irrespective of size and committing to settling whatever disputes there might be through dialogue.


China hopes to see stronger high-level ties and interactions at other levels with other fellow Asian countries, and more timely consultations and coordination on major international and regional issues, the president said.


China to expand cooperation with other Asian countries


China will expand and deepen bilateral economic cooperation with other Asian countries, President Hu said.


In this regard, Hu said, China is ready to develop all-round economic cooperation with fellow Asian countries with emphasis placed on trade, investment, natural resources, information, pharmaceuticals, health service, environmental protection, transportation, science and technology, agriculture, poverty alleviation, and development of human resources.


China will continue taking practical steps to help other developing Asian countries with their economic development through preferential policies.


At the same time, China will encourage its enterprises to take Asia as their principal destination for "going global" strategy, and combines its western development strategy and the Northeast rejuvenation strategy with strengthened economic cooperation with the neighboring countries, the president said.


China to promote cultural interaction, personnel exchanges with other Asian countries 


China will promote cultural interaction and personnel exchanges with other Asian countries, President Hu Jintao said.


Hu said China is committed to stronger cultural exchanges in Asia, and encourages media cooperation to jointly build an Asia-wide cultural market.


China supports inter-culture and inter-religion dialogues in Asia, and advocates greater understanding and tolerance, and is ready to work with other Asian countries in promoting youth exchanges, and providing greater convenience for people's travel on public, business and tourist purposes, the president said.


China to accelerate regional economic integration in Asia


President Hu promised China's readiness to accelerate regional economic integration in Asia.


Hu said China hopes to study with fellow Asian countries on possible free trade arrangements of various forms consistent with prospective cooperation network of free trade areas in Asia.


China is ready to step up coordination with other Asian partners on macro-economic and financial policies and probe into the establishment of regional cooperation regime of investors, securities market, and financial institutions.


The president said China will work actively to promote the institutional building of all kinds of economic cooperation organizations with a view to consolidating resources, prioritizing the key areas and conducting performance-oriented cooperation.


China to facilitate security dialogue with other Asian countries


President Hu said that to facilitate security dialogue and military-to-military exchanges with other Asian countries, China will stick to its new security concept featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation.


China also hopes to establish a security relationship and cooperation featuring non-alignment, non-confrontation, and non-targeting at any third party, Hu said.


He said China will step up its cooperation and dialogue with other Asian countries in such security areas as regional counter-terrorism, combating transnational crimes, maritime security, and non-proliferation, giving full play to existing multilateral security mechanisms.


China is ready to set up a military security dialogue mechanism with other Asian countries and actively promote confidence-building cooperation in the military field, the president said.


China to work with other Asian countries for Asian rejuvenation


President Hu said that China's development cannot be achieved in isolation of Asia, and Asia's prosperity also needs China.


China will follow a peaceful development path holding high the banners of peace, development and cooperation, join the other Asian countries in bringing about Asian rejuvenation, and making greater contribution to the lofty cause of peace and development in the world, he said.


China to continue contributing to regional, global economic development


President Hu said that China's economy will keep a long-term robust development momentum and continue to contribute to regional and world economic development.


To this end, the Chinese government will strengthen and improve macro-control and give full play to the role of the market mechanism, the Chinese president said while answering a question raised by a US business leader at the opening ceremony of the BFA annual conference.


Asian economic integration to keep forging ahead


President Hu said that Asian economies will surely make constant progress in the process of regional integration, as long as they continue to deepen bilateral cooperation in various fields, enhance existing regional cooperation, gradually push forward Asian cooperation as a whole, while keeping communication and coordination with other countries, regions and international organizations.


Hu made the remark when answering a question from a participant of the BFA annual conference.


(Xinhua News Agency April 24, 2004)

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