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New horizon for China-Germany ties

China Daily | Updated: 2013-05-25 07:59

Editor's note: Premier Li Keqiang wrote a signed article, titled "Open Up New Horizon for China-Germany Relations", in German-language newspaper Zeit on Thursday. Following is the full text of its English translation.

I will soon be visiting Germany again to boost China's cooperation with Germany on all fronts. People may want to learn more about the visit, and I believe that one can find answers in both the historical evolution of and current necessity for China-Germany cooperation as well as in China's ongoing reform and opening up.

Why are China and Germany getting closer?

The reason is simple: Both our common interests and mutual need are growing. In recent years, we have enjoyed rapid growth in bilateral cooperation across the board, and we regard each other as one of our most important business partners. This bond has been enhanced by our joint response to the international financial crisis. Today, cooperation between our two countries has become the engine driving China-EU cooperation, with China-Germany trade taking up roughly 30 percent of China's total trade with Europe. According to statistics of China's Ministry of Commerce, German paid-in investment last year in China increased by 28.5 percent to reach $1.45 billion, and China became the third largest foreign investor in Germany in terms of project number, next only to the United States and Switzerland. This is remarkable in a sluggish global economy.

China-Germany cooperation has contributed to our respective growth. China has a large market, which is our strength. But we have learnt a lot from Germany in terms of research and development, corporate governance and technologies. Germany is China's long-term partner in its pursuit of modernization. Cooperation with China has also simulated Germany's growth. The Chinese market accounts for 30 percent of Volkswagen's global sales and is the largest market for BMW. China is also the third largest market for Siemens and BASF.

Can we aim for even closer cooperation?

The answer is yes. While China-Germany cooperation has reached a record level, we can do even better. Our two-way trade, which stands at over $160 billion, is only about 4 percent of China's total foreign trade of $3.8 trillion. And Germany's share of China's ever-growing outbound investment is still quite low. This means that there is great potential to be tapped in growing win-win business ties between our two countries.

What's more, China itself has vast space for development. We will work hard to double the size of the 2010 GDP and per capita income by 2020. China, a country with over 1.3 billion people, is simultaneously pursuing industrialization, application of information technologies, urbanization and agricultural modernization. Every year, over 10 million rural people move to cities. The mix of individual consumption is being upgraded, and economic structural adjustment is accelerating. All these will release huge potential in domestic demand.

In particular, reform in China will yield huge dividend. China has relied on reform to achieve sustained and fast growth in the past three decades or so, and it will continue to rely on reform for sustained and sound growth going forward. Reform in China has now entered a deep-water zone where tough challenges need to be tackled. We will fully deepen reform in key areas such as administrative system, fiscal policy and taxation, finance and pricing in order to shift the growth model, improve people's lives, promote social equity and unleash market potential and the driving force for development.

Opening up is also a kind of reform. To advance reform and development through opening up is an important experience we have gained. China follows a win-win strategy of opening up. We are vigorously promoting a new round of opening up to increase openness in both breadth and depth. We will make our trade in services still more open to drive the growth of the service sector. In the coming five years, China will import about $10 trillion of goods and invest $500 billion overseas. Sustained economic growth and further reform and opening up will bring about an ever-growing market in China. This will give Germany greater access to the Asian market and provide more opportunities for growth of German businesses and economic prosperity of Germany.

What should we do about differences between China and Germany?

The answer is simple: We should seek common ground while shelving differences. As we Chinese often say, the 10 fingers are different in length. In this colorful and diverse world of today, it is not surprising that countries have different views. What is important is to handle the differences properly. When differences arise, one should not judge others by his own standard or impose his views on others. Instead, one should put himself in others' position and be accommodating. Conducting dialogue deepens understanding and putting oneself in others' position increases mutual trust. Both China and Germany are open and pragmatic. Our people are hardworking and talented, and our companies are innovative and down-to-earth. Different perceptions should not stand in the way of our friendship, and closer cooperation will bring more win-win opportunities to both countries.

Cooperation between Chinese and German businesses will not weaken their respective strengths. Competition is not a bad thing. As China's economy continues to grow, Chinese companies will become more competitive. Close cooperation and healthy competition between our businesses are not a zero-sum game where one gains at the expense of the other. Rather, they help make the pie of the market bigger, which will in turn bring more returns to businesses and create more employment. In addition, the business communities of our two countries can join hands in developing the third market. On its part, China will continue to improve its IPR protection and ensure that there is a level playing filed for all businesses.

What can China and Germany do for the world?

Cooperation between Germany, a European country, and China, an Asian country, benefits both our two peoples and the world at large. A country is not destined to pursue hegemony as it grows in strength. Despite the large size of its economy, China remains a developing country, a point that is not lost on those who know China. Even when China indeed becomes strong and developed, it will not bully the weak. This is because we Chinese suffered so much from wars and chaos in modern history that we don't want to see such history repeat itself on others. "Do not do unto others what you don't want others do unto you." This ancient teaching is a core Chinese value and an abiding belief for us.

China's road to modernization is a long one. To govern such a big country with 1.3 billion people, it is essential to meet people's basic daily needs. The Chinese want better education, more stable jobs, better social security, a more comfortable living environment and a richer cultural life. They hope to enjoy social stability and national development. "Those who are not involved do not appreciate how hard it is to govern." Addressing the day-to day issues in governance in China requires persistent and enormous efforts on our part. That is why China's pursuit of peaceful development is not only a foreign policy goal, but more importantly, a compelling domestic imperative.

The trend toward political multi-polarity and economic globalization is gaining momentum. China is a firm supporter of EU integration. We see in Europe a major force for world peace and stability and an important pole in the world. We hope that the EU will successfully address the debt issue and that the eurozone will enjoy monetary stability. We appreciate what Germany has done to promote recovery in Europe. When Germany fares well, it will be good for both the EU and China. The global economy still faces uncertainties and growing protectionism, and there are latent risks in the international momentary and financial system. All countries should face up to their responsibilities and demonstrate wisdom in order to jointly meet challenges in times of difficulty. China and Germany, as two major responsible countries, should unequivocally support free trade, oppose protectionism and step up international cooperation, as this is conducive to our common interests as well as world peace, stability and development.

Give us your blessing and let us join hands to build even stronger China-Germany ties!

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