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We Have Great Expectation for Europe

by Li Keqiang, 7th Premier of the People’s Republic of China and Standing Committee member of the 18th Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Politburo

May 3, 2012 (TSR) – We Chinese have always had a lot of goodwill towards Europe, and there is much I expect to gain from my upcoming visit to the EU.

China is the largest developing country in the world and Europe is an important pillar of the international community. China’s reform and opening-up programme and Europe’s integration process have both contributed significantly to global peace, development and prosperity. China firmly supports the integration of Europe and regards the EU as a strategic partner that deserves our confidence.

We hope to see a united, strong and prosperous Europe. Despite the debt problems encountered by some EU countries, Europe, with its solid economic foundation and scientific and technological strength, can beat the crisis and turn it into an opportunity for greater progress. In fighting the debt crisis, EU countries have enhanced co-operation and carried out reform with tremendous courage. This is laudable. As a result, the EU has made major progress to fiscal integration and the long-term mechanism for preventing financial risks, the European Stability Mechanism, will be launched earlier than scheduled. These steps have boosted market confidence and sent an encouraging message to the world.

China and the EU have become indispensable partners for co-operation in pursuing common development. China firmly supports Europe both in words and in deeds in its efforts to overcome the current crisis. In the past two years, China’s imports from EU countries have grown at an annual rate of more than 25 per cent. Last year, China almost doubled its direct investment in Europe, and purchased bonds issued by European countries several times. China will continue to explore possible and effective means to co-operate with the relevant parties and to make a joint contribution to addressing the issue of Europe’s sovereign debt.

We hope to see a more open and co-operative Europe. China is implementing its 12th five-year plan and Europe is pursuing its Europe 2020 strategy. This has created room for enhancing China-EU co-operation. Economically, both regions have much to benefit from each other’s strength; this is the defining feature of China-EU relations. When “designed in Europe” is combined with “made in China” and when European technologies are applied to the Chinese market, there will be amazing results.

Today, more than $1.5bn of goods are exchanged between China and Europe daily, testifying to ever closer ties. China-EU co-operation in innovation is also making steady progress. It is estimated that every percentage point of increase in the EU’s high-tech exports to China will generate at least €2.2bn of additional exports. Relaxing control over high-tech exports is therefore conducive to strengthening China-EU economic ties – and is thus beneficial for both sides.

We hope to see a more inclusive and accommodating Europe. As a Chinese saying goes: “It may rain in your courtyard but not in the street outside. On a 100 mile journey, you will find wind coming from different directions.” “United in diversity” is a key factor driving European integration. The world today needs both western thinking and oriental vision. If China and Europe can both achieve success by development models suited to their respective conditions, we will make the world more harmonious and prosperous.

Cultural and people-to-people exchanges provide the basis for such co-operation. There are more than 70 flights between China and Europe every day and more than 5m mutual visits for tourism alone every year. The EU’s 23 official languages are taught in Chinese universities, and Confucius Institutes are doing better and better in Europe. We hope Europe will learn more about the real China. Both regions should be focused on the future. We need to expand common ground while reserving differences, and strive to build an equal partnership of mutual respect and trust, a co-operative partnership of economic mutual benefit and development, and a harmonious partnership of mutual learning and cultural diversity.

China and Europe are strategic partners. We are ready to work with Europe to ensure our mutual hopes will enhance trust, support and co-operation. China and Europe can progress and develop together.

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AUTHOR: Li Keqiang

Li Keqiang is the 7th premier since the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was founded in 1949, replacing Wen who had headed the State Council since 2003. He was reelected to the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee in November 2012. After graduating from Beijing University in 1982, Li spent the next 16 years working in various capacities at the Communist Youth League of China under Hu Jintao. Li also served as vice chair of the All-China Youth Federation while Hu was chair. In 1991, Li took a brief sabbatical from his official duties to attend the Central Party School. In 1998, Li was named deputy party secretary and acting governor of Henan; he was named governor of Henan in 1999. In 2002, Li was reappointed as provincial governor and concurrently elevated to provincial party secretary. In 2004, Li was reassigned to Liaoning, where he was appointed provincial party secretary and chair of the Standing Committee of the Liaoning Provincial People’s Congress. Li served as a Standing Committee member of the 8th and 11th National People’s Congress and a member of the Central Committee for the 15th and 16th CCP congresses. With his elevation to the Politburo Standing Committee and appointment as Vice premier, Li is expected to be the successor to current PRC Premier Wen Jiabao.

NOTE: A Chinese Vice Premier is equivalent to the West’s Deputy Prime Minister.

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