Op-Ed Contributors

Embracing a brighter future

By Li Keqiang (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-01-04 08:09
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China to explore with Spain positive and effective forms of cooperation and realize tremendous business opportunities

I am about to head a Chinese delegation to Europe in this heady atmosphere at the start of a new decade. I will start my trip in Spain, a country I admire for its long history and modern development, a country I feel close to at heart, though it is far away from China. I will use this opportunity to bring to the Spanish people the friendship of the Chinese people and China's sincere desire to increase cooperation with Spain.

China is the biggest developing country on earth, with 1.3 billion people, and after more than 30 years of reform and opening-up, China has achieved remarkable economic and social development; China's GDP has grown by an annual average of 9.9 percent, and the Chinese economy is one of the largest in the world. China has steadily expanded the opening-up program and it is now the second largest trading nation in the world. China has also been the top recipient of foreign investment among developing countries for years, and its outbound investment ranks fifth in the world.

Having made the historic leap from mere subsistence to overall moderate prosperity, the Chinese people are now enjoying much higher living standards: per capita income has risen eight times and more than 200 million people have been lifted out of poverty. A minimum living allowance system covering both urban and rural areas is by and large in place. The Chinese people are also leading increasingly fulfilled cultural lives.

Proud as we are of these accomplishments, the Chinese people are keenly aware of the development problems we face. China has to deal with the most complex national conditions in the world. Any big achievement in development, when divided among the 1.3 billion people, becomes small. Today, 700 million Chinese are still living in the countryside, and China ranks around 100th in the world in terms of per capita GDP. Cities along China's coast have boomed, but in central and western China, some people still have no access to safe drinking water and some still live under thatched roofs. Infrastructure, medical services, cultural programs and education in these areas remain underdeveloped. One hundred and fifty million Chinese people are still living on less than one dollar a day.

In China one can find both the advanced and the backward, both new problems and old ones. China still has to confront many challenges and risks on the road ahead.

As we look back at the past 30 years of development we see that it is important to keep to the path of development that fits China's reality, and that we must be open and inclusive at the same time. We need to engage in exchanges and cooperation with other countries. Our world is one where no country can develop with its door closed. China cannot achieve development in isolation from the world and the world needs China for its development.

Recently, China has formulated the blueprint for its economic and social development for the coming five years. The blueprint set out a clear vision to accelerate the transformation of the economic development pattern. It spelt out China's desire to work with the international community to meet challenges and share opportunities. In the next five years, China's development will be even more closely linked with the world.

First, China will keep to the policy of boosting domestic demand as a long-term strategy. China is at a stage of accelerated industrialization and urbanization. Every year, over 10 million farmers are moving into cities, and the trend may well last for years. It will generate tremendous investment and consumption demand and will turn China into one of the biggest emerging markets in the world.

Second, China is speeding up the adjustment of its industrial structure. It is vigorously upgrading the manufacturing sector, raising emerging industries of strategic importance and accelerating the development of the service sector. China will stay open to the outside world. It is committed to protecting intellectual property rights. It will continue to bring in advanced technologies and managerial expertise, and will encourage human capital to play a bigger role in economic growth. These measures are important in promoting development.

Third, China is a real champion of the green economy. Many of the concepts and technologies that originated in developed countries, like the circular economy, clean energy, low-carbon technology and sustainable development, have been more and more accepted by the Chinese business community and the general public, and have been applied in many aspects of their work and life.

To turn the blueprint into reality, China will continue to deepen reform, stick to the market direction of reforms, and establish institutional arrangements that will facilitate economic transformation. China's door is open to the world. China's development will bring enormous cooperative opportunities to Spain and other countries in Europe and beyond.

Situated at opposite ends of the Eurasian continent, China and Spain are geographically apart, but our peoples are close and our economies have much to offer one another. The fine tradition of friendship and exchanges between our two countries dates back a long time. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, China-Spain relations have stood the test of time, and gained increasing popular support. The achievements in bilateral relations are encouraging.

Spain has achieved a high level of economic and social development. It leads the world in information, tourism, financial services, renewable energy and modern agriculture. There is much for China to learn from Spain's development experience and practices. At the same time, China, with its huge population and big market, will bring Spain tremendous business opportunities. Looking ahead, China-Spain cooperation is bound to grow in both width and depth.

To divide something by 1.3 billion may be discouraging. But it is definitely encouraging and even exciting to multiply something by 1.3 billion. If each of the 1.3 billion people in China bought a bottle of olive oil or tasted a few glasses of wine, the demand would be greater than Spain's annual supply. And if only a few in every hundred Chinese traveled to Spain every year, no hotel room in Spain would be left vacant. And for Spain's transport, telecommunications, banking and insurance sectors, some of their biggest future customers would be Chinese.

China supports Spain in the series of economic and financial adjustment measures Spain has adopted, and is convinced the Spanish economy will fully recover. China is willing to explore with Spain positive and effective forms of cooperation. China is a responsible long-term investor, both in the European financial market and in the Spanish financial market. China has confidence in Spain's financial market. It has purchased Spanish Treasury bonds and will buy still more.

China and Spain have been good friends and good partners. During last year's World Expo in Shanghai, the Spain pavilion was among the most popular. It attracted more than 7 million visitors, most of whom were ordinary Chinese people. More and more people in China want to know Spain better. And we hope, in the second decade of the new century, more Spanish people will turn their friendly eyes to China and become part of the exchanges with China. Together, let's embrace a brighter future of mankind.

The author is vice-premier of China.

(China Daily 01/04/2011 page8)