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Remarks by Ambassador Yue Xiaoyong at PwC Chinese Spring Festival Reception
(2017-02-10)

Firm on Peace, Open-up and Cooperation

--Remarks by Ambassador Yue Xiaoyong

at PwC Chinese Spring Festival Reception

(Dublin, 10 February 2017)

Mr. Feargal O'Rourke,
Ladies and gentleman,

I want to thank you, Mr. Feargal O'Rourke, Managing Partner of PwC Ireland, for your gracious invitation for me to attend and address this wonderful Chinese Spring Festival Reception. In thousands of years of Chinese tradition, the Spring Festival celebration lasts for 15 days, from the Lunar New Year's Eve to the Lantern Festival -- tomorrow. So it is still a freshly joyful blessing to extend to all of you my best wishes for a happy, prosperous and fruitful Year of the Rooster.

With great pleasure in particular I'd like to take this opportunity to share with you my views about what is going on in China and what we Chinese people are doing and will do in the years ahead.

I am using 3 C's to elaborate -- Constant, Common and Constructive. Facing more uncertainties here and there in the world, China remains a stable factor as a constant instead of a variable. We pursue common development and win-win results instead of zero-sum games in our ever growing participation in the global affairs. We advocate as always joining hands with friends and partners, constructively facilitating world peace and cooperation in accordance with the international norms and laws enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.

First of all, China as a constant.

Ever starting from the founding of the People's Republic of China, we have been pursuing a path of peaceful development. This path reflects China's own needs for shaping and maintaining a peaceful international environment. It meets the call of the world community for global security and stability. It is rooted in China's history and culture. The Chinese Government put forward Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence in 1950s. We very much emphasize continuity of our policy and will continue to do so in future.

----We will continue to carry out China's opening-up and market-oriented reform. As President Xi Jinping articulated in Davos forum earlier this year, "China is committed to a fundamental policy of opening-up" and we will continue to push forward market- oriented reforms "injecting powerful impetus into China's development".

----We will continue to facilitate China's economic development and restructuring. China is deepening its supply-side structural reform and accelerating its economic restructuring and upgrading. The five new development concepts being implemented in China's Thirteenth Five-Year Plan (2016-2020), that is, innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development, are in line and highly compatible with the development strategies and strengths of Europe, Ireland included.

China follows a people-oriented development philosophy. China is committed to bettering the lives of its people and pursues the goal of common prosperity. China's development is of the people, by the people and for the people.

----We will continue to strengthen cooperation with our friends and partners all over the world. As a responsible member of the international community, China regards all countries as equals regardless of their sizes, wealth or strength. We develop friendship and cooperation with other countries on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. China upholds peaceful settlement of international disputes, and has consistently called for more international efforts in poverty reduction, climate change, counter-terrorism and non-proliferation. We believe that only by enhancing exchanges and cooperation can members of the international community reach more mutual understanding and trust for a better world.

----We will continue to safeguard China's core interests. China will stand firm when it comes to issues of principle. We will never forsake our legitimate rights or compromise our core national interests. No one shall expect us to sit idle when our sovereignty, territorial integrity, security or development interests are being threatened or undermined.

The One-China Principle has a bearing on China's core interests, it is recognized by the whole international community and serves as political foundation of the diplomatic ties between China and other countries. Hence prudently and appropriately handling the question of Taiwan or Tibet-related issues are of vital importance.

China has indisputable sovereignty over the islands and reefs in the South China Sea and the adjacent waters. As a victory result of World War II, the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation clearly stipulate that Japan must return the stolen Chinese territory to China, including the Nansha Islands. In 1946, the then Chinese Government publicly resumed Nansha Islands, which had been occupied by Japan, as well as its exercise of sovereignty based on relevant laws with assistance from the US. Later on, some countries around China illegally occupied parts of the islands and reefs of Nansha Islands, which leads to the so-called South China Sea dispute. China always insists on a peaceful settlement through dialogues and consultations with parties directly concerned and on the basis of historical facts and international laws. This position will not change in the future. We are certainly committed to maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea and the Asia-Pacific region.

China attaches great importance to the protection and promotion of human rights. The Chinese Government makes tireless efforts to safeguard Chinese citizens' political, economic and social rights. Freedom for religious beliefs is guaranteed and protected by our Constitution and rule of law. Every Chinese citizen can freely choose and practice his or her own religious belief and also freely choose not to follow any religion. Fighting poverty is high on our nation policy agenda too. We believe that the rights to subsistence and development are the primary and basic human rights especially in developing countries. Over the past four decades, we in China have succeeded in lifting over 700 million people out of poverty. By 2020, we are going to wipe out poverty in our country.

We are in a very diversified world. China strongly advocates dialogues between different countries across the world. We are ready to promote cultural exchanges and dialogues among different civilization on the basis of equality and mutual respect. Meanwhile, we are opposed to any imposition of one single political model or way of life upon others; we are opposed to intervention into a sovereign nation's internal affairs by outside powers.

Secondly, China as an advocator of Common development and Common prosperity. We in China are still in a process of developing our nation and there are lots of opportunities to share and work together with our global partners.

Since late Chinese leader Mr. Deng Xiaoping initiated reform and opening-up in 1978, China has attracted over 1.7 trillion U.S. dollars of foreign investment and made over 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars of outbound investment, making quite some major contribution to global economic growth. In the past decade, after the outbreak of the international financial crisis, China on average contributed to 30% of global growth per annum.

Looking ahead, with the Thirteenth Five-Year Plan, opportunities are much greater. China's annual growth will remain above 6%. From 2016 to 2020 China's imports will account to 8 trillion U.S. dollars, 600 billion dollars inward FDI will be needed while outward investments is to reach 750 billion dollars. In the same period, the total number of China's outbound tourists is to exceed 700 million. To put it in another way, Chinese tourists will make 700 million outbound trips in five years. During the week-long vacation of Spring Festival this year, more than 6 million Chinese tourists traveled abroad.

Three years ago, most significantly, President Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road initiative. Since then, over 100 countries and international organizations have given positive responses and support. More than 40 countries and international organizations have signed cooperation agreements with China. In May this year, China will host in Beijing the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. All the Belt and Road partners will discuss ways together to boost cooperation, build coordination platforms, tackle common challenges and share opportunities.

Those goals will not be accomplished without international cooperation. China will more than ever seek and push that cooperation for common development and common prosperity. We wanted to do it in a way to connect and bridge over participating countries' national development strategies, and to joined each and every participating country's efforts to bring into being our common improvement for global economy as a whole.

Thirdly, China as Constructive force for international system.

We have been and will continue to be a responsible member of the international community. China has devoted itself to maintaining, participating in, constructing and improving the international order and system enshrined in the UN Charter. The Chinese people are ready to strive, through common efforts on an equal footing with the rest of the world, for enhancing the governance of international political and economic affairs, and building 'a community of shared future for mankind', as President Xi expounded in his recent remarks.

For instance, on the international peacekeeping efforts, China has become number one country in providing peacekeeping troops among the permanent members of the UN Security Council. Some of our soldiers have given their lives while discharging their peacekeeping duty.

Over the past 15 years the Chinese government has been actively contributing to global effort in reaching the UN Millennium Development Goals, and made outstanding achievements in such fields as poverty reduction, health care and education. Mortality of children under five years old in China has been reduced by two thirds and that of pregnant women by three fourths. The world's largest social security network for health care and pensions has been set up. China has also started to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and has approved and released National Plan for the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to provide guidelines for the whole nation to carry out.

China as a developing country, its foreign aid is carried out as part of South-South cooperation, based on the principles of equality, mutual benefit and common development. No political strings are attached. Between 1950 and 2016, our government provided more than 400 billion yuan of foreign assistance, undertook over 5,000 foreign assistance projects, including nearly 3,000 complete projects, and held over 11,000 training workshops in China for over 260,000 personnel from other developing countries.

We are also taking a more active part in global economic governance. The G20 Hangzhou Summit last September produced visionary guidelines with a far-reaching impact on promoting innovative growth, deepening structural reform, re-energizing international trade and investment, and promoting sustainable development. The Summit served as a best example of China's genuine efforts for a stronger and fairer global recovery.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The China-Ireland relationship is strong. With new opportunities and challenges, I sincerely look forward to working with our Irish friends and leaders from all walks of life, to further nurture this relationship for all the possible fresh growth. This ambition calls for new vision and courage. It also asks for both the Chinese and the Irish to further open our minds, be readier to learn from each other and deepen our communication to enhance mutual understanding and trust, for the sustainable development of our bilateral ties.

Up to now since my arrival in June 2016, I have visited almost all of your major cities and half of your counties. Traveling from Dublin to Galway, from Cork to Sligo, I am very happy to see so many Irish people so much aware of the emerging opportunities and increasingly keen on seizing them. Some of them also feel anxious to know more about China. They want to enhance friendship and mutual understanding with Chinese people. I do hope political, business, media and cultural leaders in this country to do more with us about it.

Good news is bumper. Since China and Ireland forged a Strategic Partnership for Mutually Beneficial Cooperation in March 2012, our two countries have enjoyed stronger high-level contacts and greater harvests. Sound momentum stays.

In 2016, over a dozen Ministerial Chinese delegations, including ministers, province governors and city mayors, came to Ireland. Last November, Mr. Ji Bingxuan, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) visited Ireland and held talks with Mr. Sean O'Fearghail, Ceann Comhairle of Dail Eireann. He also met with the Taoiseach Mr. Enda Kenny and Mr. Denis O'Donovan, Cathaiorleach of Seanad Eireann. In 2016 four Irish Ministers visited China -- Mr. Richard Bruton, Minister for Education and Skills, Mr. Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ms. Mary Mitchell-O'Connor, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, and Minister of State Mr. Eoghan Murphy. All those trips were indeed very successful in promoting bilateral exchanges and cooperation in trade, investment, education, agriculture, technology, research and innovation.

The year passed witnessed encouraging growth in bilateral trade and investment. Ireland's trade with China is growing at a faster pace than that of any other European country. Ireland is one of the only three European countries maintaining a trade surplus with China. China-Ireland trade grew by 13.75% to nearly 8.1 billion U.S. Dollars in 2016. China exports machinery to Ireland and imports agri-food produce, medical devices, chemicals and live animals. China has grown to be the 3rd largest market for Irish food and beverages, and the 2nd largest market for Irish dairy and pork exports. Chinese investment in Ireland has created more than 2000 jobs and this figure is still increasing.

While our political and business ties are expanding, people to people exchanges are also growing. We highly appreciate Chinese New Year greetings from the Irish President and the Taoiseach. It is very joyful to see all the celebrations supported and participated by central and local governments, universities and colleges, and all Irish friends together with the Chinese community all over the country. Besides we have increasing number of Chinese artists, musicians, painters, professors and translators attaining marvelous achievements in their studies and work together with Irish friends. That is indeed a very promising and encouraging picture.

Ladies and gentlemen,

There is an even brighter future in store. China as a huge economy with the largest population is a market of great diversity and tremendous potential. Ireland as a developed country and a member of the European Union will continue to be an important partner of China in our ongoing modernization drive.

One old Chinese saying goes, with or without business deal, genuine friendship endures. We now can have both. With ever growing joint efforts, China and Ireland can surely do bigger business together, enjoy stronger friendship and greater prosperity. I would encourage our Irish friends to work harder with China to tap that potential. 'Ten thousands years is too long, seize the moment.'

Thank you.

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