Opening Remarks by Ambassador Li Chao at the Asian Forum of Estonia

Your Excellency Mr Vaino Reinart,

Director General Mr Mait Palts,

Your Excellency Mrs. Yoko Yanagisawa,

Dear friends,

Good morning! It is my great pleasure to attend the event today.

Having maintained about 5.5% annual growth over the past a few years, Asia is one of the most dynamic regions in the world. The Forum shows clear interests in Asia from the Estonian government and the business community. When the world around us is undergoing a new round of major development, great change and profound adjustment, I am sure the discussion today will help public and private sectors in Estonia to better seize the opportunities offered by China and Asia in general.

Being the world’s second largest economy, the largest industrial producer, the largest trader of goods, and the holder of the largest foreign exchange reserves, China has made many historical achievements. Nevertheless, we would not succeed if we didn’t adopt the basic national policy of reform and opening-up 40 years ago. We couldn’t achieve these without the hard work of 1.3 billion Chinese people.

Over the past forty years, China’s GDP has averaged an annual growth rate of around 9.5% in comparable prices. We have contributed more than 30% of global growth for many years, becoming a key anchor and driver for the world economy. By lifting more than 700 million people out of poverty, accounting for more than 70% of the global total over the same period, we have made great contribution to the global fight against poverty.

Over the past five years, we have doubled our effort in reform and opening-up to be adapted to the “new normal”. As a result, the structure of Chinese economy has seen major transformation. With the share of the service sector rising from 45% to 52% of the economy, consumption’s contribution to growth has increased from 54% to 59%, becoming the main driver of growth. Our investment in R&D has grown at an average annual rate of 11%, ranking second in the world in scale. In high-speed rail, e-commerce, mobile payments and sharing economy, we are leading the world. With more than 16,000 businesses opened daily on average, startups and innovation are thriving. Personal income has increased by an annual average of 7.4%, outpacing economic growth and creating the world’s largest middle-income group.

Peace and cooperation, openness and connectivity, reform and innovation are irreversible trends of our times. We are ready to share opportunities of our own development, join hands with everyone to forge a global community for a share future, and make open world economy bring more benefits to our people and businesses. We remain committed to the basic national policy of reform and opening-up. China’s door of opening-up will open wider to the world.

In the coming years, we will significantly broaden market access, create a more attractive investment environment, strengthen protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) and take the initiative to expand imports. These measures reflect our strong commitment to free trade and steps of our own accord to open up the Chinese market. This November, we will hold the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai. It is estimated that, in the next 5 years, China will import 10 trillion US dollars worth of goods and services. So far, about 180 countries and regions have confirmed participation. I’d like to warmly invite Estonian companies take part in the Expo to present high-quality Estonian products and services.

Estonia is our partner in the European Union and the Baltic region. It is also our partner in implementing the Belt and Road Initiative and the 16+1 Cooperation. Chinese and Estonian economies have our individual strength and are complementary. Our trade and investment relations are growing quickly in recent years and have achieved many results. Last year, Estonia officially joined the Belt and Road Initiative. Our two governments signed two MOUs on e-commerce and digital cooperation, providing new opportunities for businesses of both countries.

As the Forum is going to touch upon the topic of Belt and Road Initiative, I would like to stress that the Belt and Road Initiative may be China’s idea, but its opportunities and outcomes are going to benefit the world. China has no geopolitical calculations, seeks no exclusionary blocs and imposes no business deals on others. As long as the parties embrace the golden principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, we can surely enhance cooperation and fast-track implementation. This way, we can make the Belt and Road Initiative the broadest platform for international cooperation to the greater benefit of all our businesses and peoples.

China’s philosophy is win-win. China’s development is sustainable. China’s market is open, and China’s culture is inclusive. We hope the business community will understand China in the new era, seize the opportunities offer by an open China. And we are pleased to welcome everyone aboard the fast train of China’s development.

In closing, I wish the Asia Forum a great success.

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