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China's new leadership is expected to bring reforms and modernization, said Anthony Galsworthy, former British ambassador to China.
"Economically, politically and socially, there's a lot to be done. I have a good deal of confidence that the new leader is the man to do it," Galsworthy, who served as British ambassador to China from 1997 to 2002, told China Daily in an interview in London on Thursday.
One example of reform he believes is important to China's sustainable development is reducing reliance on the export sector, and another is to encourage stronger growth from privately owned businesses. "I think China has to move from being an export-oriented economy to a consumer-oriented economy. I think they have to do more to encourage and build the private sector, and beat down some of the monopolies," Galsworthy said.
"I think that's well understood within the Chinese government. I think it's not something you can do overnight, but I think they know that."
Galsworthy said he is optimistic about China's growth over the next few years, but he expects the growth rate to slow and become more sustainable. "I think it's bound to slow somewhat. That's natural. You can't have such a rate of growth forever, otherwise you'll grow off the world," he said.
At the same time, China should improve its communication with the rest of the world, Galsworthy said.
He said that China, the US and Europe should communicate to understand each other better as partners. "I think we need to regard each other as partners, not as somebody across the table whom you're carrying out some verbal battle with." Galsworthy said trade and investment relationship between China and the West has increased phenomenally, and pointed out that the West should welcome and not fear Chinese investment.
"Chinese investment overseas is not done to sabotage everyone else's economy. What it gives is a huge stake for China in the efficiently running global economy, and the success of our own economies and hence global stability," Galsworthy said. Galsworthy said that the notion of Chinese investment in the developed world was strange to some Western politicians when he went to China as ambassador, but things have changed dramatically since the 2008 financial crisis.
"I find it absolutely astonishing how much the picture has changed in the last 10 to 12 years. I can't tell you how many companies ask me how to get Chinese entities to invest in their businesses," he said.
But he also pointed out the danger of having a fear of Chinese investments in the West. "This tidal wave, of Chinese investment overseas, has caused a great deal of hostility and fear particularly in the US," he said.
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(China Daily 03/18/2013 page11)