Honorable Guests, Friends, Ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to attend the Boao Forum for Asia 2004 Annual Conference today. Let me begin by extending, on behalf of the Chinese government, my warmest welcome to all of you present here.
In the past few years, with the support of the fellow Asian countries and the larger international community, the Boao Forum for Asia 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 multipolarization 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. 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 this gives us much confidence about Asia's future.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Both in history and the present-day world, a country can emerge victorious from tough international competition and enjoy faster development only when it gets along with the tide of the times, seizes the opportunities for development, blazes a trail suited to its national conditions and relies on wisdom and resourcefulness of its own people.
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, China's economy grew by an average annual rate of 9.4 percent, with its 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.
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 requires a long and uphill battle.
We have already set a clear goal for the first 20 years of this century. Namely, in building a well-off society of a higher standard in an al-round way for the benefit of well over one billion Chinese people, we will quadruple the 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, we will continue to follow the guidance of Deng Xiaoping theory and the important thoughts of the "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 the 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.
To achieve this goal, we will continue to push vigorously our 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.
Ladies and gentlemen,
China is an Asian country. China's development is closely related to Asia's prosperity. China has, and will continue to make a positive impact on Asia in the area of development.-- A developing China generates important opportunities for Asia. 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. In 2003, China imported from the rest of Asia a total of US$272.9 billion worth of merchandise, up by 42.4percent, with imports from ASEAN, Japan, ROK 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. 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. A stable and prosperous China is in itself an important contribution to peace and stability in Asia. China since ancient times has had a fine tradition of sincerity, benevolence, kindness and trust towards the neighbors. The very purpose of China's foreign policy is to maintain world peace and promote common development. 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.
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. 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.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is China's sincere wish to cultivate with the fellow Asian countries an overall and close partnership geared to Asian rejuvenation, 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. To this end, China will take the following steps:
First, enhancing friendship and political trust and good-neighborliness. China will develop partnerships with other Asian countries on the basis of the UN 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.
Second, expanding and deepening bilateral economic cooperation. China is ready to develop all-round economic cooperation with fellow Asian countries with emphasis 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. 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.
Third, accelerating regional economic integration. 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 its 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. 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.
Fourth, promoting cultural interaction and personnel exchanges. 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. China 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.
Fifth, facilitating security dialogue and military-to-military exchanges. China will stick to its new security concept featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation, and hopes to establish a security relationship and cooperation featuring non-alignment, non-confrontation, and non-targeting at any third party. 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.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
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.
(Xinhua News Agency April 24, 2004)