Speech by Zhang Junkuo

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

Zhang Junkuo, deputy director of the Development Research Center of the State Council, 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 Zhang Junkuo's speech titled "Joining Hands to Build a Prosperous and Harmonious 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road."

Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends,

Good Morning!

First of all, allow me to express my warmest congratulations on behalf of the Development Research Center of the State Council to you all on the convention of this forum! Themed "Building a shared destiny and constructing the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road together," the Forum was launched to probe connotations of the era, cooperative opportunities and paths for acceleration, thereby supporting the objective requirements to pragmatically accelerate development of the Belt and Road Initiatives and feed the practical demands of all countries along the Road in seek of cooperation and development. The timing is perfect.

During his visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia in September and October 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed important cooperative ideas – co-construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, sparking excitement throughout Asia.

Today, China considers the Belt and Road Initiatives to be major drivers for international cooperation and win-win development in the new era.

In accordance with the vision, blueprint and action plans, related ministries and commissions under the Central Government have worked out specific supporting measures, such as preparations for the establishment of the infrastructure investment bank of Asia and Silk Road Foundation. Relevant local governments have also taken action, joining the campaign to seize opportunities for growth.

Beijing’s vigorous sparkplug and promotion have won positive acclaim around the world, making "interconnection and interworking" a hot topic for international cooperation. Today, more than 20 countries have expressed intention to join the team of sponsor countries for the infrastructure investment bank of Asia.

The impetus for cooperation lies in conception. In late 2014, to enhance communication and consensus, the Development Research Center of the State Council launched an international symposium themed "Co-Construction of the Belt and Road: Historical Enlightenment and Opportunities of the Times" in Istanbul, Turkey, in collaboration with the Center for International Relations and Sustainable Development.

The Symposium drew nearly 40 governmental officials, experts, and scholars from 13 countries and regions along the Road, and accommodated common ground on many issues by promoting better communication. Here, I’d like to share agreements in eight sectors.

First, construction of the Belt and Road serve demand for common development in countries along the Road. It was widely agreed that the ancient Silk Road produced a historical legacy shared by all countries along the Belt and Road. It is a common aspiration for all of these countries to make every endeavor to bring the ancient Silk Road, a public product of global importance, back to life. Therefore, the project requires their joint efforts and participation.

Second, the Belt and Road should be jointly constructed with principles of "openness and inclusiveness, mutual benefits and win-win results, and equity and free will." "Openness and inclusiveness" should serve countries and regions within the Belt and Road as well as countries and regions alongside it.

Third, cooperation on the Belt and Road should be comprehensive, covering many sectors such as economics, culture, education, development policies, and environmental protection. Fourth, cooperation in economics and trade is believed to be the core goal of co-construction of the Belt and Road. Such a goal has its strengths: Economic cooperation can enlarge distribution space of resource factors, optimize developmental potential of countries along the line, bring tangible benefits to the people living along the line, and lay a solid foundation for cooperation in other sectors.

Fifth, co-construction of the Belt and Road requires infrastructural connectivity. The exchange of cargo, personnel and information requires a modern infrastructure network, a fundamental piece of the campaign. Not only will such cooperation help lay a cornerstone for cooperation in other sectors, but it will make it possible to enjoy an early harvest.

Sixth, adhering to "culture and inclusiveness" will provide basic protection as well as a cornerstone for effective cooperation during joint construction of the Belt and Road, which traverses a variety of countries with unique cultures. The campaign cannot not develop smoothly and sustainably without a peaceful, steady social environment characterized by cultural tolerance, exchange, mutual learning and harmonious co-existence.

Seventh, sustainable development of the eco-environment is playing an increasingly irreplaceable, prominent role in the co-construction of the Belt and Road. All parties agree that the campaign cannot proceed if the eco-environment is sacrificed. Rather, the campaign should benefit its protection. Eighth, cooperation of think tank will play an important part in accelerating the construction of the Belt and Road. Think tanks has become growing powers in government decision-making and navigating public opinion as decision-making faces a complicated situation, especially with the wide reach of the internet.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The points I’ve just mentioned are of great reference value for the study and ponder of how to effectively accelerate construction of the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. I think we should adhere to the following fundamental principles with regards to our teamwork:

First, we should develop an open regional spirit void of blocking and exclusiveness. History proves that only by insisting on openness and inclusiveness and mutual assistance for development can we guarantee sustainable peace and stability for the planet, long-term peace and order for the country, and an ever-improving standard of living for the people. The 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road aligns with the current trends of globalization, informatization and integration, respects the common ideals of people of all countries longing for peace and development, eliminates preconceived ideas, seeks common ground while shelving differences, and welcomes all forces and diversified resources to join efforts in establishing a regional economic cooperation system – open, inclusive, and balanced, with shared benefits.

Second, we should respect the diversity of civilization and focus on the harmonious co-existence of different civilizations. All civilizations rationally exist as they progress and evolve with their own unique advantages and strengths, which are all worth respecting and learning from. Only by infusing each other’s beauty, blending and co-existing across borders, time and space can global civilization sparkle vigorously, maintain vitality, and move forward continuously.

Third, we should follow objective economic law and establish long-term goals while working pragmatically. The 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road is highlighted by joint consultation, co-construction, and sharing. It focuses on enhancing initiatives and concentrating various resources to strengthen the establishment of a public platform for regional development, but at the same time, it aims to benefit all parties and assure sustainable cooperation.

Fourth, we should consider communication the core mechanism to settle differences and build consensus. Historically, the Silk Road served as a conduit for communication and mutual learning between East and West. Today, we should use our resources to communicate in a more efficient way to accelerate the campaign. These 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives suggest controlling and resolving differences and disputes peacefully through open and honest communication.

Ladies and gentlemen,

While the world experiences complicated and frequent changes, it is extremely important for us to make joint efforts to maintain stability, safeguard peace, eliminate poverty, accelerate common global development and manufacture regional public products that can traverse the Belt and Road. Today, we gather here in Quanzhou, a city with a long history and brilliant and vigorous culture, to construct and accelerate the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. We are here to make it happen in a down-to-earth manner, to make it strong, and to make it beautifully. Here, I’d like to share my insight on how to pragmatically accelerate construction of the Maritime Silk Road.

First, we should seek to develop interactively with the Silk Road. The Belt and Road should form a complete framework for regional cooperation. With respect to developmental planning, platform construction, mechanism design and project choice, we should look at a big picture with special emphasis as well as interaction. At the end of 2014, the Chinese government mapped out three strategies to optimize patterns of economic development, including construction of the Belt and Road, coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Province region and construction of an economic belt along the Yangtze River, and placed great value on enhancing relationships among the three groups. The connection of the Golden Waterway on the Yangtze River and the Chongqing new European international railway bring a benchmark land-water Chinese thoroughfare that enhances the interactive development of the Belt and Road.

Secondly, we should accelerate network construction in Free Trade Zones (FTZ) along the line. Cooperation between investment and trade is a decisive factor at the heart of the modern Silk Road. In 2014, China made remarkable progress in negotiations with South Korea and Australia for FTZ construction. Efforts can be made in accelerating FTZ negotiations between China and the Gulf Cooperation Council to upgrade the FTZ between China and ASEAN through jointly drafting a roadmap for cooperation in the Pan-Beibu Gulf region, which will weave a FTZ network flavored with a free-flow of travelers and trade. It is estimated that in the next five years, China’s accumulated imports will surpass US$10 trillion, its foreign investment will exceed US$5 trillion and its citizens will travel 400 million passenger times overseas. The construction of a comparatively high-level FTZ network will massively drive the development in regions along the line.

Third, we should pay special attention to breaking bottlenecks impeding infrastructure interconnection and interworking. Infrastructure is a cornerstone of furthering cooperation among the countries along the line. Efforts should be made to collaborate to fix bottlenecks and weaknesses in realms of rails, highways, pipelines, ports and communication – focus on major projects and engineering. But work must also be done to intensify construction of a platform for investment and finance to improve regional mechanisms, foster national and regional bond markets, broaden capital channels, innovate and utilize investment and financing modes such as PPP, effectively allocate current infrastructure and national-aid funds and to give full play to private capital to ensure sufficient capital for major infrastructure projects.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The year 2015 marks the end of implementation of the UN Millennium Development Goals. Over the last few years, many targets have been reached thanks to joint efforts from all sides. However, one fifth of the global population is still plagued by extreme poverty, and every day, over 30,000 people lose their homes due to wars and conflicts. Most countries along the Silk Road are developing and have significant populations of impoverished people. Therefore, our top priority is to develop – sustainably develop in particular – to eliminate poverty, improve living standards, maintain social stability, protect the environment and challenge climate change – all tasks counting on economic development. Opening and cooperation are the best ways to accelerate common development in the world today.

The 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road is a promising push for pursuit of common prosperity. So let us join hands to accelerate with one heart, make it happen, and write a new chapter of the history of global prosperity and development!

May the Forum be a great success!

Thank you!

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