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Remarks by Ambassador Yue Xiaoyong at Emerald Media Forum on Social Media in China
(2017-03-10)

Ms. Sunnie Sun,

Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening. I'm really very honoured and privileged to be invited to attend this wonderful event. I see so many old friends here including professional experts on media and social media. For organizing this, may I just take this opportunity to congratulate Emerald Media, say a few words about China and our relations with this beautiful country. I will also take the liberty to say something about the social media in China from a personal, layman's perspective, look forward to hearing the professional observations on the social media, which are enjoying such a impressive development with so much momentum.

Regarding China -- the year of 2016 witnessed remarkable performance of the China's economy as well as our relations with Ireland, which is a really good partner. Last year China's GDP grew by 6.7%; its annual trade volume, exports and imports included, was nearly 3.7 trillion U.S. dollars. Foreign direct investment in China was 126 billion U.S. dollars, with a 4.1% growth, and China's outward investment to the rest of the world increased by 53.7% to more than 170 billion U.S. Dollars.

Bilateral trade between Ireland and China, according to China Customs, grew by 13.75% to 8.1 billion U.S. dollars, the fastest among China's European trading partners. This country has done a really good job in promoting its trade with China. Chinese investment in Ireland, recorded at 3 billion U.S. dollars in total, has helped to create over 2000 jobs in Ireland.

China has been the No.1 contributor to global economic growth for 8 consecutive years. According the International Monetary Fund (IMF), China's contribution in 2016 accounted for 39% of the growth of global economy.

The backdrop of China's economic relations with Ireland is an overall slow down coming around in Europe and slow growth of the global economy. In China, there has also been a new restructuring in its economy. Initially we started our adjustment because we don't want to put too much energy and drive on export-oriented growth. We want to increase our domestic driver of China's economy, a more pro-supply-side green and innovation. A lot of resources and investment are shifting from capital investment to domestic consumption and domestic demands.

Against such a background, China's trade with Ireland has continued to enjoy double-digit growth, which is remarkable and rare. And the dynamic operation in bilateral economic relations is very impressive.

China has been the No. 1 contributor to global economic growth for 8 consecutive years. According the International Monetary Fund (IMF), China's contribution in 2016 accounted for 39% of the growth of global economy. China's contribution in 2016 to the growth of global economy amounted for 39%. In other words, China's contribution to the margin of the world economic growth is more than one third.

As I said just now and you may already know, the Chinese Government is pushing forward the much-needed what we call "supply-side reform", which is aimed at improving the quality of China's economic development while maintaining a moderately medium high growth rate.

Now we are convening in Beijing China's annual session of the National People's Congress. What we have set up for this year's annual growth is 6.5%. We have managed to bring down our double-digit growth 5 or 6 years ago to single-digit growth in order to facilitate economic restructuring. It is proactive transforming of China's economic development mode. We put forward what we call "Five Concepts" for this new transformation. We lay more emphasis on Green economy, Innovative economy, Open economy, Coordinated economy, and sharing opportunities; we will continue to strive for win-win situation in terms of our trade and economic relations with the rest of the world.

I'm confident that as one of the major economic engines, China will continue to provide vitality and growth to the world economy. And we regard Ireland as a valuable partner in Europe. The China-Ireland Strategic Partnership for Mutually Beneficial Cooperation, which was established in 2012, is now faced with much more opportunities.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

China has done quite well in information age, and in some fields we believe China is pretty advanced in the world, like online business and e-commerce.

As a matter of fact, China is still in a historic process of accelerating our informatisation and digitalization. The Internet is widely and intensively used in Chinese people's lives, transforming the way we communicate, produce and recreate. Meanwhile, the development of social media is very rapid. As you know, I and many of my country fellows use WeChat, which is spreading and getting popular quite quickly among our foreign friends, too.

China got connected to the Internet in 1994. Since then the Chinese government has followed guiding principles of scientific development, proactive utilization, law-based regulation, and ensuring security, in its ongoing efforts to build up information infrastructure and develop Internet-based economy. With societal considerations, the Chinese Government has encouraged and supported the development of e-commerce and social media, with a view to benefiting all the people in China.

By the end of 2016, 91 Internet-based Chinese companies have gone public -- IPO either in China or in the global market, with a combined market value totaling about 740 billion euros. The top two Chinese Internet giants, Tencent and Alibaba, account for 57%, or 410 billion euros. Computer use, Internet use and online procurement have been overwhelmingly popularized among Chinese companies, with 99% of Chinese companies using computers, 95.6% using the Internet, and 93.7% conducting online purchases and procurement. About 45% of Chinese companies are now selling and buying products and materials online. It would be fair to say that the Internet is being integrated with traditional industries in China at a rapid speed.

Of course, let's not forget that the number of Internet users in China has grown to 731 million, including 695 million Chinese people who could easily get access to the Internet using their smart phones. This is bigger than the total population of European countries. Online payment on the mobile phones has become an essential and increasingly prominent part of Chinese consumptive habit.

Actually it is now a daily practice. When I went back to Beijing, as I still use credit cards and cash for payments, I saw a lot of Dama and student who merely got out their smart phone and make payment at the cashier, by simply scanning a QR code. They obviously do this daily, with any amount of purchases, sometimes small amounts. It is quite impressive. Some of my friends tell me they think credit cards and debit cards as a way of daily payment are already out of date. People are already able to get everything done using their mobile phones, including some large-amount financial transactions inside China.

With the popularization of smart phones, the Internet has been deeply and indispensably integrated into not only economic and social development but also Chinese people's daily life.

China is implementing its Thirteenth Five-Year Plan, which covers the 5 years from 2016 to 2020. During that period, China will be vigorously carrying out its "Internet Power Strategy" (网络强国战略), "Big-Data Strategy" (大数据战略), "Internet Plus" action plan (互联网+行动计划), integrating various sectors and industries with the Internet, ICT and big data.

We are developing a sharing economy (分享经济) while promoting a positive Internet culture and expanding business opportunities in cyberspace. We want the Internet to play a bigger role in China's economic growth and social progress. Against this backdrop, we can expect hundreds of millions of Chinese people to use the Internet and smart phone apps on a daily basis. This trend will provide great prospects and enormous opportunities for business people and technological innovators in Ireland as well as other European countries who are paying more attention to the vast Chinese market in face of the looming challenges here.

Geographically, China and Ireland are far apart, being on different ends of the Eurasia continent. But social media are bringing our two peoples closer than ever. So ostensibly we think we have a great distance between us, but we are in fact very close, thanks to advanced ICT solutions. Sometimes when I talk with my friends in China, we feel as if we were seated side by side, and the only thing we lack is the ability to shake hands physically. So we still have some mantle inertia to think that we are far apart. Actually we really have more options than we realize.

More and more of my Irish friends are using WeChat, Weibo and other Chinese social media tools to establish and sustain relationships with their Chinese friends and partners. In my view, social media enable everyone to be a producer, editor-in-chief, and a source of news and information. We get connected with each other through social media. This is really an media revolution.

I use social media, too, for sharing information with my friends and colleagues as well as my people in general in China. We can instantly see what other people are doing and experiencing in Asia, in Europe, in America. Immediately we see what they say in other social media they are using. I am now feeling equipped with a very convenient and strong bridge for forging touch with outside world, which is indeed very convenient and helpful.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Social media are indeed spreading fast and wide in an unprecedented manner, causing changes in people's way of life, and challenges too. Undoubtedly social media are useful, powerful and capable of altering the way news is disseminated, the way information is shared, the way public opinions are formed and influenced. Now as I read the newspaper and watch the TV channels – major news programmes, I start to think while the traditional news media are doing that, maybe social media are still one step ahead. Social media are really challenging what we used to call "mass media". You have heavy hardware for those mass media, and social media can be very light and handy.

I have thought about the source of strength of social media. In my personal view, what makes social media special and powerful is the notion behind them – social media should mean to be used for exchanging ideas and thoughts at high speeds between users in a new fashion that features openness, equality and mutual respect. Those views are often stereotypes, misunderstandings, and simplistic black-or-white classifications or generalizations.

Social media are also conducive to innovation and sharing; social media help people from different backgrounds, different walks of life, to find ways to cooperate and collaborate, to complement one another, and to tap the potential.

The Chinese Government has encouraged Internet and mobile phone users in China to make joint efforts to create a healthy social media environment that requires and prompts each and every player to abide by law and regulations, to give due consideration to others, to make contributions to the progress of the society as a whole. We want everybody to be able to take a safe and pleasant ride in the "express train of information era"; we want everybody to be able to benefit from and enjoy the fruits of economic, technological and cultural advancement.

It is my belief that this guiding principle of collective joint efforts, sharing, cooperation and win-win results-orientation will facilitate the development of the Internet and social media, which would in turn make it easier than ever for Chinese and Irish peoples to get to know each other, foster friendship and trust with each other, identify and create opportunities for mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation, and to make our relations even stronger. The bilateral cooperation between China and Ireland in business, trade, investment, innovation, education, tourism and other sectors will surely flourish in the social media age.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is estimated that there are between 50 and 60 thousand Chinese people in Ireland. I am delighted that the Chinese community in Ireland enjoys a good reputation and has developed in harmony with the society here. Emerald Newspaper was first published in Dublin in May 2003. Serving the Chinese community and the other people in Ireland as well, this Chinese-language weekly paper has been a popular and reliable source of information about Ireland and its relations with China. Emerald Newspaper has now grown into "Emerald Media". Emerald Media, which is the major organizer of today's forum, has a Chinese-language website, a social media presence on the hugely popular WeChat platform, in addition to the weekly paper, which has published over 670 issues.

The social media in China have their own Chinese characteristics. In terms of versatility and user friendliness, Chinese social media are not dwarfed by their English-language or multi-lingual European and North American counterparts like Twitter and Facebook. The scale of Chinese social media is really large, their social penetration deep and wide. And now they are spread abroad.

I'd like to commend Emerald Media for organizing this forum. Your attempt to get more Irish people acquainted with Chinese social media will help enhance knowledge and awareness of China as an open and dynamic country where there are a lot of opportunities for both our peoples. Utilizing social media for building brand awareness and marketing products constitute a new discipline in today's world. It is worthy of more attention whether you have a business interest in China or not. Simply put, it really brings people closer together.

Thank you so much for your patience and for your attention. This is just a layman's remarks on social media and ICT age. I always feel humbled before the daunting and amazing scientific and technological creation and innovation. We are trying to catch up. And we hope our Irish friends will join us, so that together with the Chinese people, we can benefit to the maximum potential of this information age.

Thank you.

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