Speech by He Lifeng

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, February 9, 2015

He Lifeng, deputy director of National Development and Reform Commission, delivers a speech at the Summit and Plenary Meeting of the International Seminar on the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative in Quanzhou City, Fujian Province, on Feb. 12, 2015. [Photo:China.org.cn]

The following is the full text of He Lifeng's speech titled "Jointly Building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and and Sharing Opportunities for Development and Prosperity"

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Hello, everyone! I am very glad to come to Quanzhou to attend the international seminar on the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. On behalf of Xu Shaoshi, Minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you my thoughts on jointly building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.  

The Maritime Silk Road has a long history. It burgeoned in the Qin and Han dynasties, fledged in the Tang and Song dynasties, flourished in the Ming Dynasty, and has continued until today. It is one of the most ancient sea lanes in the world. For thousands of years, the Maritime Silk Road has served as not only a traffic artery connecting China with the rest of the world, but also an important channel for people along the road to engage in economic cooperation and cultural exchanges, despite differences in their race, religion and cultural background. China and countries along the road have deepened their amiable relations and jointly written a chapter of friendship that has been passed on to this very day.

In the 21st century, profound changes have taken place in global political and economic situation. The ancient Maritime Silk Road is now brimmed with new vitality. The bustling road is bringing countries along it closer and closer. In October 2013, the 10th anniversary of the day China established strategic partnership relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Countries (ASEAN), President Xi Jinping delivered a speech at the Indonesian Parliament. He said that China will strengthen maritime cooperation with ASEAN countries and will collaborate with them to build the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. His remarks gained widespread international attention and was actively echoed by countries along the road, particularly ASEAN countries. While attending the China-ASEAN Expo in 2013, Premier Li Keqiang emphasized building the Maritime Silk Road together with ASEAN and driving the development of the hinterland. 

Jointly building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road conforms to the tide of global multi-polarization, economic globalization and social informatization. It will facilitate a free and orderly flow of economic factors, promote efficient resource allocation and market integration, strengthen economic policy coordination among countries along the road, and safeguard global free trade and open economic system. The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road serves the fundamental interest of China and the international community, for it embodies the common aspirations of human society and will add positive energy to global peace and development.   

For more than a year, we have actively pushed forward the development of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, strengthened communication and consultation with countries along the road, promoted result-oriented cooperation and achieved some preliminary results through joint efforts.

Local governments in China have acted proactively, contributing with the full force of their individual strengths. They have enhanced communication and consultation with relevant countries along the route, built new cooperative platforms and launched key cooperative projects in various fields. For instance, Fujian Province, sponsored by China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund, is actively preparing for the establishment of China-ASEAN College of Marine Sciences; it has also held the first China-Arab City Forum in Quanzhou, and a photo exhibition in Brazil to showcase cultural relics retrieved from the ancient Maritime Silk Road.

Ladies and gentlemen,

While jointly building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, we will pursue peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, and mutual learning and mutual benefit, following the principle of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness. We will comprehensively push forward result-oriented cooperation, with a focus on connectivity of policy, transport, trade, currency and the heart of people. We will build the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road into a road of peace, safety, friendship, win-win cooperation and persisting prosperity. 

To build the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, we will focus on building the passages from Chinese ports to India Ocean and Europe, and to South Pacific, respectively via the South China Sea. We will jointly construct a batch of maritime hub ports and deepen and broaden cooperation in various industries such as energy and resources, as well as cooperation in trade and investment.

To build the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, we are going to strengthen cooperation with countries along the road in the following areas:

First, we must promote infrastructure connectivity. Infrastructure connectivity is a priority in building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. We will beef up cooperation with countries along the road in three areas, namely, transportation infrastructure, energy infrastructure and communication networks. We will promote the harmonization of transport planning and technical standard systems of different countries, giving priority to connecting missing road sections, removing road bottlenecks, improving road conditions and jointly constructing international traffic arteries. We will work together to improve the safety of pipelines transporting oil, gas and other materials, push ahead the construction of cross-border power transmitting lines, and actively strengthen cooperation in the upgrading of regional power grids such as Southwest cross-border power lines, China-Russia power lines and Great Mekong Sub-region power grids. We will jointly push forward the construction of main communication network including cross-border optical cables between China and Myanmar and between China and Laos. We will begin building China-ASEAN information ports to construct an information silk road.   

Second, we must improve economic and trade cooperation. While consolidating traditional trade, we will cultivate new trade growth points together with countries along the road, and carry out widespread investment and trade cooperation in such fields as mechanical equipment, electro-mechanical products, energy and resources, and agricultural products, so that countries can give full play to their potentials and complement each other with their strengths. We should further develop trading models and invent new trading models, deepen bilateral and multilateral cooperation and policy exchanges among customs, standard and quarantine authorities in countries along the road, and facilitate customs clearance in border ports.   

Third, we must expand industry and investment cooperation. Most countries along the road are developing countries in a stage of rapid economic development. With highly complementary industries and large market potential, countries have ample space to expand industry and investment cooperation. In the future, in response to the trend of industrial upgrading in countries along the line, we will continue to encourage and guide Chinese companies to invest in these countries, build industry parks together, and set up research and development centers. This will promote industry upgrading, local job creation and corporate growth.

Fourth, we must enhance cooperation in energy and resources. We will, according to the principle of mutual benefit, continuously enhance cooperation in energy production, transportation and procession to stabilize supply and demand. Meanwhile, we will work together to boost energy efficiency, develop new energy sources, and improve energy processing capability.  

Fifth, we must expand financial cooperation. Financial cooperation will be expanded through various mechanisms, such as the China-ASEAN Interbank Association, Asia Infrastructure Development and the Silk Road Fund. The Silk Road Fund will finance infrastructure construction, resource exploitation, industrial cooperation, financial cooperation and other projects in countries along the route. We will continue to expand the scale and scope of bilateral currency exchange, as well as cross-border trade settlement in local currencies, to reduce exchange rate risks and settlement costs of regional trade and investment.

Six, we must enhance cultural and people-to-people exchanges. We will continue to promote friendly cooperation along the Maritime Silk Road. In the field of education, the Chinese Government will continue to provide more scholarships and trainings to personnel in countries along the route. In the field of culture, we will actively encourage countries along the route to launch cultural year activities and art festivals in other countries, as well as encourage colorful people-to-people cultural exchanges. In the field of tourism, we will work together with countries along the route to promote tourism and strengthen investment, and jointly design tourism products showcasing the Silk Road. In the meantime, we will further deepen cooperation in public health and poverty alleviation.

Seventh, we must strengthen cooperation in ecological environment protection. Responding to global climate change and achieving sustainable development are the common tasks of countries along the line. We will firmly promote ecological progress by building effective dialogue and interaction mechanisms together with countries along the route, jointly plan and implement key projects, and comprehensively promote ecological progress and environment protection, so as to build a green Silk Road together. 

Eighth, we must actively promote maritime cooperation. Currently, we have already established more than 30 relevant maritime cooperation mechanisms with Southeast Asia and South Asian countries, and launched a batch of maritime cooperation projects. In the future, we will expand and make good use of the China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund, deepen our cooperation in agriculture, fishery, connectivity, marine environment protection, navigation safety, maritime search and rescue, and disaster prevention and mitigation. We must actively push forward mariculture, pelagic fishery processing, new energy and renewable energy, sea water desalination, marine biological pharmaceuticals, ocean engineering technology, green industry and marine travel. We must also build a batch of joint marine economy demonstration zones, marine science and technology cooperation parks and training bases.

Ladies and gentlemen,

An old saying goes, "Actions speak louder than words." The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road is a grand project that will benefit people. It calls for people in these countries to pool their wisdom and strength, take overall and long-term interests into consideration, seek common ground while putting aside differences, and work together to write a new chapter and create a beautiful future for Asian economic integration.

As the starting point of the ancient Maritime Silk Road, Quanzhou has a favorable geographical location, relatively good economic conditions and a long history of exchanges with the rest of the world. It is also an important starting point for building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Fujian Province, with Quanzhou in its jurisdiction, will also play an important role in this initiative. 

Thank you!

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