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Speech by Ambassador Xu Jian at the "China-CEEC Cooperation" and "The Belt and Road Initiative" Forum in European Economic Congress

Katowice, Poland, 21 April


Secretary of State Dziekonski,

Undersecretary of State Kacperczyk,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

I am very glad to attend today's forum, which focuses on the cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European countries. Now, the "Silk Road Economic Belt" and "21st-Century Maritime Silk Road" initiative, or in short, the Belt and Road Initiative, put forth by China, has become a focus of attention worldwide. Many Polish friends have also shown their interest. I would like to avail myself of today’s opportunity to share some views about this initiative and China’s cooperation with CEE countries.

Last month, the Chinese government issued the vision and action paper of the Belt and Road Initiative, which provides detailed information including the principles, contents and goals of the initiative. Here I would use 3 “W” to give you a brief update on this initiative.

First, What is it? The ancient Silk Road was an important corridor of trade across Eurasia, which facilitated the exchange of goods and mutual learning among countries along the route. Today’s Belt and Road Initiative carries on the Silk Road Spirit, but with modern connotations and innovations. It aims at integrating the development strategies of the countries along the routes, creating new sources of growth for the world economy and facilitating exchanges and mutual learning. It connects the vibrant East Asia economic circle and the developed European economic circle. One focus of the Silk Road Economic Belt is bringing together China, Central Asia, Russia and Europe (the Baltic); and one focus of the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road is designed to go from China's coast to Europe through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.

Then, Why should we have it? At a time when the global economy is recovering slowly and global challenges keep emerging, win-win cooperation comes as the best solution. Recently, Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out at Boao Forum for Asia, that “peace, development and win-win cooperation” have become the prevailing trend of our times. The Belt and Road Initiative answers the call of our times for regional and global cooperation, and meets the development needs of China and countries along the routes. It is a positive endeavor to seek new models of international cooperation and global governance, and will promote harmony among different civilizations, create and share economic and social benefits.

Last but not least, Who are the participants of it? The Initiative is open to regions and countries beyond those along the traditional Silk Road. All countries are welcomed to take active participation in it and make plans and roadmaps together. Up to now, more than 60 countries along the routes and international organizations, including CEE countries, have shown interest in it. 57 countries have joined to become founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), one of the initiative’s most important financing platform. They are countries from 5 continents, including 14 members of G20 , 8 of the world’s top 10 economies, all the BRICS countries, and also Poland.

The general idea of building the Belt and Road is promoting all-dimensional practical cooperation, in accordance with the principle of "peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit". Its framework has indicated 5 key areas, namely policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds. Now by equal-footed consultations, China has reached consensus, signed MOUs of cooperation with some countries. A number of key projects are moving forward, the Silk Road Fund has been launched with China’s 40 billion dollars contribution, and substantive progress has been made in the establishment of the AIIB. These early harvests have truly pointed to the broad prospects the Belt and Road Initiative will bring.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The key focus of China’s diplomacy in 2015 is making all-round progress in the Belt and Road Initiative. To push it forward, we need to take full advantage of the existing bilateral and multilateral cooperation mechanisms. Since the leaders of China and CEE countries first met in Warsaw in 2012, China-CEE cooperation, or the “16+1 ”cooperation, has gone from strength to strength and entered into a new development stage. Now it is high time to integrate it with the Belt and Road initiative. To achieve this, I think there are three keywords, all begin with the letter “C”:

First is Coordination. Enhancing policy coordination is an important guarantee for implementing the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as the “16+1” cooperation. “16+1” cooperation is not a “solo” for China itself, and the Belt and Road Initiative is rather a “chorus”, as it is jointly built through consultation to meet the interests of all. China and CEE countries should make good use of the annual leaders’ meeting, the China-CEEC Economic and Trade Forum and the local leaders’ meeting, encourage the investment promotion agencies and business council to play a coordinating role, and seek a conjunction of interests that accommodates each one’s medium or long term development goals. Make use of the Belt and Road framework, integrate China’s development with the development of 16 CEE countries, plan together and take credible steps to implement it, will make “16 plus 1” greater than 17 , and realize common development.

Second is Connectivity. Facilities connectivity is a priority area for implementing the Initiative, and also a pillar of the “16+1” format. CEE countries enjoy evident geographical advantage, and Poland is at the crossroad of this region. This enables CEE to become a key link in the New Eurasian Continental Bridge. Improve infrastructure construction cooperation, link the harbors, railways and highways of CEE countries, create a logistic network, and facilitate customs clearance and personnel interflow, will attract deep involvement of local governments and business, and create favorable conditions for expanding trade and investment. We should continue to improve the China-Europe international railway, and create a vision of connectivity network with the Hungary-Serbia Railway and the Asia-Europe rail-sea intermodal transportation as arteries and logistics parks in Lodz and other places as transport hubs.

The third one is Creativity. Creativity is a shared feature of both the Belt and Road Initiative and the “16+1” Cooperation. It is also the source of vitality. Within the “16+1” framework, we are actively seeking industrial cooperation including infrastructure, equipment manufacturing, and industrial parks, establishing a China-CEE investment and financing cooperation framework, increasing people-to-people exchanges by designing activities for the Tourist Year and boosting the number of international students. These efforts are quite compatible with the key cooperation areas of the Belt and Road Initiative. We need to be creative, expand common interests, motivate local governments, institutions and business, spark their creativity, enrich the content and means of cooperation in trade and investment, transportation and logistics, energy infrastructure, financial cooperation, modern agriculture, tourism, etc., and seek driving forces and development from other creative endeavors. Poland enjoys great opportunities ahead in its competitive areas such as agricultural processing, green economy, environment-related technologies, transport and logistics. I hope that you will be fully engaged in today’s forum discussions, and give more valuable insights and new ideas in this regard.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Now, the Chinese economy has entered a state of “new normal”, with about 7% growth rate and improved structure, efficiency and quality. It is resilient, full of potential and enjoys ample room for growth. China has become the largest trading partner of over 120 countries, and in 2014, China contributed 27.8% to global economic growth. In the coming 5 years, China will import more than 10 trillion dollars of goods, Chinese investment abroad will exceed 500 billion dollars, and more than 500 million outbound visits will be made by Chinese tourists. This means more opportunities for our cooperation. As the largest economy of CEE and China’s strategic partner, Poland is expected to play “Czołowa rola”, which means “a leading role”, in building the Belt and Road and in the “16+1”cooperation as well.

I heard that there is a proverb in Poland, which in English is “quick decision is half the success” (Szybka decyzja to połowa zwycięstwa). Cooperation in “16+1” and in the Belt and Road Initiative requires quick and wise decisions made and implemented by China and all its CEE partners. As time and tide wait for no man, I hope today we can pool wisdom, and help our cooperation open a better future.

I wish today’s forum a full success. Thank you!

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