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Full text of Li Keqiang's speech at opening ceremony of Boao Forum
2014/04/11

Jointly Open up New Vistas for Asia's Development

Speech by H.E. Li Keqiang

Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China
At the Opening Plenary of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2014
Boao, April 10, 2014

Dear Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

In the lovely spring, I am delighted to meet with friends from 52 countries and regions at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2014 in the beautiful island of Hainan. On behalf of the Chinese government, I wish to extend warm congratulations on the opening of the annual conference and a hearty welcome to all forum participants.

The Boao Forum for Asia has entered its 12th year, and it has become an important platform with an Asian focus and a global vision. "Boao", the site of the Forum, means "enchanting water and abundant fish" in Chinese, and I think it is a symbol of the Forum's fruitful achievements. Attending this year's annual conference are many heads of government from Asia-Pacific and Africa, and a great number of business leaders, and think tank and media representatives. Friends, both old and new, are meeting here to discuss ways to boost development of both Asia and the world. Exchange of views will create new vision, and more interactions bring friends closer. I hope that you will be fully engaged in forum discussions, and I look forward to benefiting from your insights.

Our world today is undergoing profound changes. The international architecture faces new adjustment. Uncertainties and destabilizing factors affecting the global and regional environment are increasing. Hotspot issues emerge from time to time. The world is moving towards multi-polarity amidst twists and turns. The global economy is in profound adjustment. Developed economies have seen new changes, while emerging economies have encountered new challenges, and many countries are on different economic trajectories. The global recovery has been a slow and difficult process and growth remains lackluster. To achieve strong, sustainable and balanced growth is still a daunting challenge facing all of us.

Asia is at a crucial stage of development. Asia is one of the most dynamic regions in the world. It boasts one third of the global GDP, over 4 billion people and ample supply of labor force. It enjoys distinct advantages as a late comer and has tremendous untapped development potential. That said, most Asian countries are developing nations, with low per capita GDP and uneven regional development. Over 700 million people in Asia still live below the international poverty line. Asia is faced with the huge challenge of growing the economy and improving people's livelihood. And Asian countries have to address both old problems and new ones. Ultimately, the key to solving Asia's problems lies in development. It is development that will change the world and shape the future. Development therefore remains the top priority of Asian countries.

To sustain its development momentum under the new conditions, Asia needs to find a dynamic source of development to re-energize itself. The theme of the annual conference: "Asia's New Future: Identifying New Growth Drivers" cannot be more relevant and is crucial to Asia and the world. Here, I wish to share with you my views as follows:

First, we should stick to the overarching goal of common development and build an Asian community of shared interests. In the age of economic globalization, no Asian countries can achieve development in isolation from each other, still less can they pursue development as a "zero-sum game". Rather, with our interests closely entwined, we the Asian countries need to seek mutually beneficial cooperation where "one plus one can make more than two" and even produces a multiplying effect in which "two times two makes more than four". The impact of the international financial crisis still affects us. Macro-policy adjustments made by developed countries have added uncertainty to the environment for development. Some Asian countries have experienced economic slowdown, rising inflation, and even capital flight and currency depreciation. Pessimistic views about the prospects of emerging economies have resurfaced. Faced with these new developments and new problems, we countries in Asia should continue to act in the spirit of solidarity in face of difficulties, turn our strong economic complementarity into mutual support for each other's development, expand convergence of interests and achieve mutually beneficial coexistence and win-win development.

In the past decade and more, intra-regional trade in Asia has expanded from US$1 trillion to US$3 trillion, and its share of total trade of all Asian countries increased from 30% to 50%. Yet this is still far less than that in the EU. Regional economic integration meets the interests of all Asian countries. We need to work in unison to promote trade liberalization and investment facilitation, and upgrade regional and sub-regional cooperation. The negotiation on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is the largest trade agreement negotiation with the most extensive participation in Asia, and the RCEP is integration of existing mature free trade areas. Being highly inclusive and based on Asia's industrial structure, economic model and social tradition, the RCEP is a phased-in arrangement that accommodates member countries at different levels of development, and it does not exclude other regional trading arrangements. China will work with all other parties to accelerate the negotiating process. At the same time, the launching of a feasibility study on a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) may be considered to maximize the benefits of trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific. China takes an open position towards the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). As long as the TPP is conducive to the development of global trade and the fostering of an equitable and open trading environment, China is happy to see its conclusion. We are committed to upholding the central role of the WTO multilateral trading system in global trade development. Both the RCEP and the TPP should become important supplements to the multilateral trading system, and these two mechanisms should go hand in hand and reinforce each other. We hope that agreement can be reached on the RCEP by 2015. As a Chinese saying goes, "When everybody puts firewood in the fire, the flame rises high." As long as the Asian countries make concerted efforts, we can ensure that Asia will continue to serve as an important engine driving the global economy.

Second, we should foster a general environment for integrated development and form an Asian community of common destiny. Economic integration is central to achieving common development in Asia. Asia's beautiful future hinges upon not only the development of each and every country but, more importantly, the common progress of the whole region. As a Chinese adage aptly puts it, "A single thread cannot be spun into a cord. And a single tree cannot create a forest." We the Asian countries need to deepen result-oriented cooperation in all fields, pursue integration through opening-up and development through integration, strengthen economic ties, seize the opportunity of innovation-driven development, and thus hold the destiny of development in our own hands.

Infrastructure connectivity is a basic condition for integrated development. Countries in the region should join hands and speed up infrastructure construction including rail, road, air and water transportation. China is ready to work with countries involved to draw up plans for building the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and upgrade China-ASEAN FTA. China will continue to promote the important projects of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road this year. China is ready to intensify consultations with relevant parties in and outside Asia on the preparations for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and hopes that the bank can be officially launched at an early date. Industrial complementarity is a key aspect of integrated development. We the Asian countries should take advantage of our geographical proximity to deepen cooperation across the upstream, mid-stream and downstream industrial chains, and build an industrial network and economic system that draw on our respective comparative strengths. The destiny of the Asian economy hinges on reform, innovation and structural adjustment. Asian countries need to ride the global trend of new technology revolution, enhance exchanges, and draw on each other's experience to advance scientific and technological progress and personnel training, especially young people, boost the "new economy" featuring green development, energy, environmental protection and the internet so as to seize an advantageous position in future development and raise industrial and economic competitiveness. This will not only increase the internal impetus for achieving sustained development in our region, but also create new opportunities for global economic recovery.

Third, we should maintain the general environment of peaceful development and build an Asian community of shared responsibilities. Regional turbulence courts disaster while stability in the neighborhood brings prosperity. Asia owes its progress to a peaceful and stable regional environment, and peace and stability are the fundamental safeguards for Asia's development. Sixty years ago, China, India and Myanmar jointly initiated the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, which have become basic norms governing international relations. These principles embody Oriental wisdom and represent a major contribution to human civilization, and we should pass on the vision of peaceful coexistence from generation to generation. A close neighbor is better than a kinsman afar, and close neighbors can become best friends. To achieve peace and stability in Asia, we the Asian countries should build consensus, make active efforts and jointly fulfill our due responsibilities. We should promote security dialogue and consultation, strengthen cooperation on non-traditional security issues, including disaster management, maritime search and rescue, counter-terrorism and combating transnational crimes, and actively explore the establishment of a regional security cooperation framework in Asia.

Here I wish to emphasize that China is committed to peaceful development. We pursue a neighborhood policy of building amity and friendship, and we are firm in our resolve to uphold China's territorial sovereignty. We also follow a clear-cut policy of seeking peaceful solutions to disputes. We will give full support to initiatives that help strengthen maritime cooperation. We will not accept acts that undermine stability in the South China Sea. We Chinese believe in repaying kindness with kindness and meeting wrongdoing with justice. We value friendship and never treat friends unfairly, and we also stand by principles and firmly uphold our fundamental position. A peaceful and stable South China Sea is in the interest of all littoral countries, including China. China is ready to steadily advance consultation on a code of conduct in the South China Sea within the framework of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and work with other countries to ensure peace, stability and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. China loves peace and cherishes development. It is ready to work with other countries in the region to build a peaceful, prosperous and open Asia and maintain peace, stability and tranquility in our neighborhood by enhancing political mutual trust.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Asia's development is important to the future of the world, and China's development is closely bound up with Asia.

To keep China's economy running within a proper range is both a basic target of China's current macro-control and its medium-to-long-term policy goal. We have set this year's target of economic growth at about 7.5%. The word "about" indicates that there is a range for the GDP growth. As long as there is fairly sufficient employment and no major fluctuations, the actual GDP growth will be considered to be within the proper range, be it slightly higher or lower than the 7.5% target. Statistics show that urban employment continued to increase, individual income, corporate profits and fiscal revenue registered steady growth, consumer prices remained stable, growth of electricity consumption started to rise and there were positive dynamics in structural adjustment. In short, the Chinese economy has got off to a stable and good start. On the other hand, the upturn of the Chinese economy is not yet on a solid footing, downward pressure still exists, and difficulties in some fields must not be underestimated. These problems show the impact exerted on China by the complex international environment; they also reflect the deep-seated economic challenges that have become prominent and the economic slowdown that China faces.

Preparedness ensures success. Faced with this complex situation, we need to calmly assess the current developments, stay focused, and take initiatives as called for. In exercising macro-control, we will endeavor to strike a balance between aggregate supply and demand, focus on improving the economic structure, ensure proper policy intensity of macro-control in the light of changing situation and take targeted and differentiated measures as appropriate. Last year, we pursued creative thinking and methods in exercising macro-control and gained new experience in this regard. We will not resort to short-term massive stimulus policies just because of temporary economic fluctuations and we will pay more attention to sound development in the medium to long run and strive for sustained and sound economic development. With all the principles established and policy options at our disposal, we can handle all possible risks and challenges. China's development has strong resilience. We have the capabilities and confidence to keep the economy functioning within the proper range.

There are conditions in place for the Chinese economy to achieve sustained sound growth. China has a big economy and large foreign exchange reserves. With broad market space, there is much room for coordinated progress in advancing the new type of industrialization, IT application, urbanization and agricultural modernization. In particular, population in the central, western and northeastern regions accounts for over 60% of the national total, and per capita GDP has just exceeded US$5,000. Efforts to narrow the gap between urban and rural areas and among different regions will unleash huge potential of growth. We have introduced a series of policies to advance reform, adjust structure and benefit the people, and more such measures are under consideration. All these will have a sustained effect of ensuring steady growth.

Steady growth is possible only with a solid foundation just as long distance can be covered only by a vehicle with a high-powered engine. The Chinese economy has the basis for steady growth. It not only enjoys good conditions for maintaining medium to high speed growth in the time to come, but also inexhaustible impetus for sustained development. Under the theme of identifying new growth drivers, we will make multi-pronged efforts in the following three areas:

First, we will create impetus by deepening reform. The market has huge vitality and the people have indefinite creativity. We will work harder to streamline administration and delegate more power to lower level governments. We will introduce a system of listing government powers, consider the adoption of a management model based on a negative list approach, accumulate useful experience through the development of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone and spread it to other areas. This will enable us to expand market access, foster a better business environment, encourage fair competition, develop a law-based economy, unleash greater dividends of reform, spark social creativity, and stabilize market expectations. Opening-up is also a kind of reform and can boost reform. We will carry out a new round of opening-up at a high level. An important part of this endeavor is to further open up the services sector, including the capital market. For example, we will actively create conditions to establish a Shanghai-Hong Kong stock exchanges connectivity mechanism, and further promote two-way opening-up and healthy development of the capital markets on the mainland and Hong Kong. We will continue to raise the level and quality of opening-up through deeper integration with the international market.

Second, we will create impetus by adjusting economic structure. We will narrow urban-rural and regional development gaps and address the unreasonable industrial structure to push forward structural adjustment through structural reform. We will speed up efforts to improve the services sector, which is our weak link, extend the pilot VAT reform to postal, telecommunications and other services sectors, use tax tools to develop producer and consumer services, and use more private capital to increase the supply of old-age support, health, tourism, cultural, sports and other services. We will implement a new type of people-centered urbanization, address the bifurcation between urban and rural areas and within cities, and grant urban residency in an orderly manner to rural people who have moved to cities. The government will increase support and use market tools to rebuild more rundown areas. We will expand development from the coastal areas to the inland regions in a phased way and nurture new economic support belts along the Yangtze River waterway and important land transportation trunks. We will push forward the construction of rail, road and other transport infrastructure in central and western regions to foster favorable conditions for industrial relocation. We will also promote the development of green industries, new energy, and energy-conserving and environment friendly technologies and products to foster new growth areas, and resolutely eliminate backward production facilities in this process to ease the resources and environmental constraints. We will increase the size of the national guidance fund for venture capital in emerging industries, leverage the role of innovation in spurring development, move industries up the value chain, and raise the productivity of factors of production.

Third, we will create impetus by improving people's livelihood. The purpose of development is to improve people's lives. The 1.3 billion Chinese represent the largest consumer market and source of demand in the world. And as people's lives improve, the domestic demand will play a greater role in driving economic growth. We need to increase people's income as the economy grows. And employment is the source of income and crucial for people's lives. We will implement a more energetic policy for employment and entrepreneurship and give greater fiscal, tax and financial support and services to university graduates and unemployed people when they seek jobs or start their own businesses. We have substantially raised the limit of annual taxable income of small and micro companies eligible for halved corporate income tax from 60,000 yuan to 100,000 yuan. We will also introduce more tax breaks to encourage individually-owned businesses and enterprises to hire more. We want to steadily raise people's incomes by creating more jobs and start-ups. We will improve the social safety net and public services so that people will have no worries. We will take a comprehensive set of policies to boost consumer spending, raise people's spending power, increase consumption of goods and services and reduce distribution costs so that consumption can provide greater support for economic development.

Having registered rapid growth over the past three decades and more, the Chinese economy has entered a new stage of improving quality and performance. We need to overcome stumbling blocks on the way forward and make steady progress towards achieving our long-term goals. We will pool the courage, vision and strength of over one billion people to write a new chapter in the "China story" and endeavor to realize the great Chinese dream of national renewal.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We live in an era of interdependence. Never has the world been so closely connected as it is today; and never has Asia needed win-win cooperation so much as it does today. Success can only be achieved when the wisdom of all is pooled. We the Asian countries should work closely to uphold regional peace and stability, promote development in our region, build a common homeland for us and contribute more to world peace, development and cooperation. China will forge ahead and share weal and woe with other Asian countries in a joint effort to open up new vistas for Asia's development.

In conclusion, I wish the forum full success and all the guests coming from afar and friends attending the conference a fruitful and enjoyable stay here and good health.

Thank you!

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