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Diplomats in Beijing talk about the 'two sessions'


Updated: 2015-03-05 13:47:13


Diplomats and counselor share their views on the government's fight against corruption, slowdown in economy and the Silk Road project.

"I am honored to be here and honored to be invited to attend this Congress.

The United States and China are working very closely together.

We always hope that the country is doing well, we always hope that the country has a good, robust GDP, always hope that a lot of people have well-paid jobs."

-- Max Baucus

the United States Ambassador to China

"I'm looking forward to seeing in terms of further opening the country to foreign investors and to foreign corporations, to issues like RMB liberalization, the liberalization of interest rates.

I think there is a need, especially in municipal level in China, to find new ways to raise money and try to reduce the level of debt, that has been growing very rapidly.

People may say that "the growth has been slowing, last year it was only 7.4 percent." My answer to this is 7.4 percent of the $10 trillion, the economy is very, very substantial. It's more than the entire economy in year 2000.

I think the reforms are well-managed, and it is probably potential for growth of five, six, seven percent for quite many years... I expect that the growth will be around 7 pecent."

-- Guy Saint-Jacques

Canadian Ambassador to China

China faces immense challenges in many fields, internal and international. However, at the same time, I can see a great effort to confront and overcome these challenges in a peaceful way and to constantly improve the lives of millions of Chinese citizens.

I listened with admiration to Premier Li Keqiang’s government work report, which placed an emphasis on reform and rule of law. Placing rule of law as a top priority and at the core of its government system is the way to ensure a resilient and healthy society.

I was extremely happy to hear in Premier Li’s speech that China is committed to the progress of the free trade zone talks. Israel is also fully committed to this important progress, and sees it as another step to strengthen our bilateral ties.

In the last year China stressed reform and regional cooperation. President Xi’s initiatives, “The Silk Road Economic Belt” and “The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road” aim at invigorating the international economy through connecting nations and people. These initiatives are wonderful examples of how China can contribute to the prosperity of the world.

I expect China to continue to face great challenges and confront them in the same peaceful manner that we have seen so far. I also expect China to continue to have a leading role in the international arena and contribute to the stability and prosperity of the world, and I hope to see China-Israel relations continue to flourish.

-- Matan Vilnai,

Israeli ambassador to China

"The National People’s Congress meets at a time of path breaking decisions for China, which are also of great relevance to Germany and Europe: It needs to maintain sufficiently high growth that is necessary to secure social stability. At the same time, this rate of growth needs to be made sustainable and self-supporting. Reforming the economy and reforming the legal system towards a greater degree of rule of law go hand in hand. The Third and Fourth Plenum have laid down important guidelines for reforms in the economy, the legal system and society as a whole, which need to be implemented vigorously. The NPC has an important role to play to turn these guidelines into reality.

For Germany, the following points are important:

- High-quality and sustainable growth will not be attainable without greater cooperation with foreign countries. Therefore, China should dismantle barriers to cooperation and open up further. However, in recent times, companies and associations have turned more frequently to the Embassy than previously with problems they encounter when doing business. This has occasionally given rise to the question whether foreign companies are actually as welcome to China as they used to be.

- A number of examples seem to raise doubts whether there is a real determination to further open up towards foreign companies: New rules on IT-products for the banking sector create security requirements unheard of in Germany and that can be fulfilled much more easily by Chinese companies than by foreign ones. This has raised concerns that the new cyber security policy – not just with regard to the banking sector – could make market access for foreign companies in China much more difficult. In the area of public procurement, Chinese companies continue to get preferential treatment. The central level seems to have recognized the problem but the provincial level seems to care less about non-discrimination. At the same time, Chinese companies profit from the openness of European and other public procurement markets and expand their participation in infrastructure projects on a massive scale. Within the WTO context, China has offered to open only 10% of its public procurement market; in the case of the EU this share is practically 85%. One and a half years ofter the Third Plenum, joint venture requirements and sectors closed to or restricting foreign investment have hardly been liberalized. Even today it is an open question whether China will take a qualitative step forward or continue to limit itself to marginal areas. Foreign pharmaceutical companies complain about a massive backlog of outstanding approvals. The process now takes longer than before and longer than in the case of Chinese companies.

- For these reasons it is crucial that the National People’s Congress send out a signal to accelerate further opening up. The reforms of the Third and Fourth Plenum should be made a priority where they aim at greater openness. The revision of the Foreign Investment Law would be good opportunity to do so. Confidence in a further opening would also be strengthened if first signs of a reform of State-owned enterprises were followed by clear steps towards creating a level playing field for all companies. We also set great store by a greater transparency and predictability of laws, as announced. The NPC plays an important role in all these endeavors."

-- Michael Clauss ,

German ambassador to China

"I think the most important part of the report is the remarks about further reform, especially the reforms of administration, simplifying the administrative approval process to increase the efficiency of the administration. Also the economic measures in the so-called new normal are very important. For us, the Silk Road economic belt is an especially important project. I am happy to hear that the premier mentioned it twice in the report. We would like to participate in the project."

-- Wojciech Jakobiec

first secretary of the embassy of Poland

It is with big attention that we follow (the) two sessions.

Keywords and priorities are evidently reforms, rule of law and development in all fields.

Achievements of China are impressive and show wisdom of a long civilization and skillful governing of a country with biggest population, which is to admire.

Building a “Silk Road Economic Belt” and “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” are the objectives of China. I am glad to say that Serbia is an important part of it, particularly with the project for constructing high speed railway between Belgrade and Budapest.

We expect this year to continue intensive exchange with China and especially to find a way for Chinese investments, as Serbia has a lot to offer in this field.

In this regard, we are closely following what will reforms and “new normal” in economy bring or change in foreign policy of China.

-- Milan Bacevic,

Serbian ambassador to China

"These are very important Sessions, the NPC and CPPCC. We expect very important outcomes of the sessions.

Deepening reform is an important dimension for the “Four Comprehensives” talked about by President Xi Jinping.

China has already reaped rich harvest as a result of the policy of reform and opening up during the last three decades, and no doubt, the reforms have been deepened. Impact will be beneficial not only for China, but for the region and the world as the whole.

I wish China very well in this endeavor. And I believe that as a result of this policy of reform and opening up, our relationship between India and China will become even closer in different areas, including our engagement in our strategic partnership."

-- Ashok Kumar Kantha

Indian ambassador to China

"The government did a wonderful, excellent job last year. China is growing. I expect that the economy will further grow.

This year's APEC meetings has been held in the Philippines. We are for an inclusive growth and we would like to move forward all the initiatives that we put forward here during China's APEC chairmanship.

China could always plays a constructive role in the growth in the Philippines. We are trading partners and investment partners."

-- Erlinda F. Basilio

Philippine ambassador to China

"It's a long and detailed report. My attention was drawn to the remarks about the public health issues, and the parts on the needs to offer emergency assistance to people in need.

The state wants to make sure that no one is just left on his own. The target to lift ten million people out of poverty this year is very impressive. It is also very difficult, because we have some activities in some parts of the country with the Chinese Red Cross. It's true that it's a very challenging work to lift that many people out of poverty.

If all the good recommendation in the report could be put in place, that would be quite an achievement.

China is contributing to global issues like Ebola. That is very encouraging to see countries like China to play such an important role. We are really trying to work more closely with the Chinese side.

On the different parts of the speech, the Premier emphasized the fact that everything should be centered around the needs of the people. This is something that we are also trying to do."

-- Pierre Ryter

head of regional delegation for East Asia of International Committee of the Red Cross

"China is going into the modernization process and that will contribute to the development of the whole region, not only Asia but also the Asia Pacific. What ever happened in China will have a good effect into the Asia Pacific. And that’s why we hope about the well being of the Chinese economy."

-- Juan Carlos Capunay

ambassador of Peru to China

"I think all parts (in the Government Work Report) are very important, since it's linked with the social and economic development of the country. The reforming process and all the others are very important.

I think that if we can compare...I think that the most impactful words is the part linked with deepening the reforming process. It is a very important part of the strategy because reform means that the quality of the development should be the priority. That's why the macroeconomic development will be based on this kind of new changes of quality.

I think it's one of the most important part of the speech of the Prime Minister. That is an indication that the government has a very right strategy, very clear strategy and long-term strategy, which is very important. This is not for short-term plan, but a long-terms strategy.

What does it mean for a long-term strategy? That means predictability, stability and more chances for progress. This principle is important in the reforming process. Any strategy that is based on stability and on the prevention of risks will attract foreign investment and also for the Chinese to invest abroad.

That's why I'm coming back to the very important element of stability and long-term action plan."

-- David Aptsiauri

ambassador of Georgia to China

"I'm interested in the parts about the growth, the comprehensively deepening reform and environment. The president, Xi Jinping, is giving a great leadership, so we have to see how the whole Chinese system is responding to this leadership.

China's growth target of about 7 percent this year came as what I've expected. I think a lot of commentaries in the western media are too negative on the Chinese economy and they are writing the death obituary incorrectly. The Irish writer George Bernard Shaw said famously once that rumors about my death are greatly exaggerated, and I believed the same about the Chinese economy. I am optimistic about the Chinese economy. A properly regulated environment is a great momentum-builder for growth, and the Chinese government wants to rebalance its growth."

-- Paul Kavanagh

Irish ambassador to China

"The parts about sharing power and making people in the rural areas feel important impressed me. When they are given responsibility, they will feel important as citizen of the country. They are within the people that they need to satisfy, they are working directly with them. So when they are given power, they will make sure that implementation takes place.

I am impressed by China’s continuing support to Africa. What some Africans are now suspect of China is the country’s production. We look forward China to improving production, not by quantity but by quality."

-- Judy Elious-Nyangbe

vice consul of embassy of Liberia in China

"Attending the session felt good, especially to see China's democracy in action.

We are impressed by China's anti-graft measures. We really want zero-tolerance approach on corruption. Senior officials are not immune to anti-graft rules.

Seven percent economic growth is reasonable for the country. China is not going slow, but stabilizing."

-- Sasara Chasala George

ambassador of Botswana

"China's economic growth is slowing down a little bit, but that's OK because it's readjusting its priorities. China will succeed in shifting these priorities.

The US economy is doing fine, but Europe is still has problems. Of course the success of China's readjustment will be crucial for the world economy as a whole.

The Silk Road project is important for Xinjiang region because it will integrate it with the surrounding economies. Hopefully this will prove to be of value for the economic development of Xinjiang. The maritime Silk Road is also taking off as well, and it's quite clear that it will develop closer economic relation with that region. I think it is going to be successful in the end."

-- Ragnar Baldursson

Minister Counselor and Deputy Chief of the Embassy of Iceland

"The anti-graft campaign reflects the sincerity of President Xi Jinping and his team, bringing lots of order and discipline within the Party.

China is going through a new normal, and the growth rate is slowing down. As the economy gets bigger, definitely the growth figure will come down. The GDP seems to be growing slower, but China is now focusing not only on the rate of economic growth, but also the quality. Other fundamentals, including the efficiency of resources, environmental protection, are also positive points. The drop in growth rate is not a worry. China will continue to grow sustainably. Coming from a friendly country, we are happy to see that China is growing continuously."

-- Paul Chikawa

Ambassador of Zimbabwe

The report on the work of the government is extremely useful to those following the development of China’s policies. Premier Li presented the government´s report card on the past year’s performance and clearly set out the priorities and policy guidance for the year ahead. Taking into account that China is our number two trading partner as well as its importance as an engine for global growth, I was especially interested in the economic aspects of the report.

China is undoubtedly going through a period of important social and economic changes and the government has done a good job prioritizing those issues that it considers fundamental to achieving sustainable economic growth and social development. There is a clear set of short, medium and long term objectives that guided government action throughout the year, resulting in the progressive implementation of reforms that reflect the new macroeconomic outlook.

In the framework of their respective national contexts, Mexico and China are implementing significant structural reforms in key sectors. Reform is never easy and both governments recognize this fact in their approach to public policy. We therefore closely follow China’s reform agenda as well as its approach toward common challenges in the areas of technology, innovation, renewable energies, and environmental protection, all areas in which there is great potential for cooperation under the comprehensive strategic partnership established by our Presidents in June, 2013.

China is focused on the improvement of its population’s well-being and we all acknowledge its impressive achievements over three decades of reform. China’s development also has a positive impact in the global context. Through the establishment of solid, collaborative relationships with other countries, including Mexico, we are strengthening actions toward common problems and finding new opportunities for cooperation.

-- Julian Ventura

Mexican ambassador to China

I would say those regarding the environment, agriculture/food safety, health and sustainable urbanization are the issues and plans mentioned in the report that interest me most. These are all sectors where Premier Li Keqiang expressed, on March 5, a strong need for innovation and reform. Such processes, in order to be truly successful, need to rely also on the contribution of friendly Countries: Italy is ready to provide the technology and expertise she possesses in these fields in order to engage in a mutually beneficial collaboration with China.

Over the last year or so, the Chinese government took important steps to consolidate and further improve the living standards of her citizens, as well as to promote innovation, R&D and the quality of labor. China, steadily projected into the future, is perfectly aware of where she is and wants to go.

Our attention is especially focused on the economic front, in particular on how the current round of market reforms in China could benefit the general welfare of the population. We are also interested in those aspects that might positively affect the economic and commercial relations with Beijing's foreign partners, with a view to pursuing win-win partnerships and share the benefits of a mutual cooperation: in my knowledge, this is a principle that the Chinese Government understands and seeks to implement.

The fruits of economic growth should be made available to the widest possible number of Chinese people, especially those from disadvantaged areas and backgrounds. Social protection (healthcare, education and pension treatment) should be further expanded. There are also other unresolved issues that have an impact on the well-being of the people, such as the right to a clean and healthy environment and the access to safe food and water. Chinese authorities are well aware of the challenges ahead and I am confident that they shall adopt the best suitable policies to address them.

-- Alberto Bradanini,

Italian ambassador to China

Premier Li Keqiang’s speech presents an impressive and very comprehensive situation analysis and action plan for China for the current year and as China begins to prepare the next 5 year plan. It presents the Chinese view of economic growth as an important driver of development with an integrated approach to disciplined economic management and realistic expectations for social, political, cultural and other important elements. I find the structural reforms outlined by Premier Li as particularly worthy of note, as these reforms are critical to adjusting both the domestic economy and China’s position within the world economy and takes into account geo-politics in the medium to long term. I am particularly impressed by the consistency with which the work plan seeks to have a positive impact on the lives of the people in less developed regions of China and farmers and those requiring a safety net such as the elderly and the poor, through more equitable allocation of resources and prioritization. In the area of financial reform, the stated objective of creation of a deposit insurance scheme is an important development which will protect depositors in failing financial institutions and for improving the safety of the reformed banking sector.

It will increase confidence in the sector. Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has moved quickly to implement market reform, reshape the role of the government in granting approvals and reduce waste and corruption, while maintaining stability and strong economic growth at 7.4 percent in a less than robust global economic environment. Wide ranging initiatives were also implemented to create a platform for future expansion of trade and investments by opening further to new partnerships and agreements with other countries and other regions and by infrastructural and other developments to expand the Silk Road. The recent China-CELAC meeting between Chinese Leaders and Leaders and Foreign Ministers of 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean (of which my beautiful country Jamaica is a part) played a pivotal role in establishing cooperation in the areas of infrastructural development, trade, tourism and people to people exchanges. The expansion of Outward Direct Investment (ODI) to nearly match Foreign Direct Investment of $119.6 is an important result of China’s go global strategy and has had the effect of enhancing development in many countries while being beneficial to the Chinese economy. China’s road development and achievements in high speed rail and new industry creation are impressive achievements.

The major challenge facing China will be how deepen the reform its economy and governance without impairing economic sustainability and preserve social stability by more widely distributing the benefits of growth and opening up to more of its citizens, including those who are geographically disadvantaged. These domestic challenges become more apparent when the global geo-political situation is taken into account and economic and other events that occur in far away parts of the world require the multi-lateral cooperation or actions of other states or regional groupings, including China. The areas of pollution, climate change, natural disasters, terrorism, global pandemics and other risks and uncertainties present major challenges to all countries to a greater or lesser degree and can have an effect on expected outcomes in China. In the short term, none of these are major obstacles to most of the proposals in the work-plan and with continued cooperation, hard work and determination I expect that the Chinese people can continue to make great strides toward achieving a moderately prosperous society and the Chinese Dream of rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. An economically strong and stable China can continue to play an important role in the global community of nations and benefit human development.

-- Ralph S. Thomas,

Jamaican ambassador to China

The Government Work Report mentioned the economic restructuring and the aim to improve the quality and efficiency of economic growth. All these highlights showed that China had a main policy for economic development, and the government carried out the plan successfully in the past two years. China’s economy has remained relatively robust in the face of the global slowdown. Meanwhile a powerful China will help with the developments of other countries as well.

-- Latif Gandilov,

Azerbaijani ambassador to China

In the past year, China has achieved stable performances. The outstanding development of China is not limited to Beijing or some other major cities, but also reflected in the people’s lives. The economic structure was upgraded; the people’s lives were improved and many new breakthroughs were made. These achievements were made by the positive policy of the Chinese Communist Party and the government, as well as the hard work of the Chinese people. We wish to work together with China to build a remarkable and stable framework for our bilateral relations.

-- Mohammad S. Al-Thuwaikh,

Kuwaiti ambassador to China

The most promising parts of Premier Li Keqiang’s government work report this year are green economy, rule of law and anti-corruption. That sends positive message to the world and shows Chinese government’s opinions on China’s future development and its determination to solve problems along with the development. The report said the targeted economic growth in 2015 is approximately 7 percent in 2015, lower than the goal of around 7.5 percent in 2014, but a 7-percent sustainable development is better than only a higher GDP. Meanwhile, the streamline of administration and reform on state-owned companies are also important topics. For Denmark, the idea of maritime silk road is very attractive, because it has the largest shipping company around the world.

-- Friis Arne Peterson,

Danish ambassador to China