Minister Wang Xining attended the New College Spring Formal Dinner at the University of New South Wales
2019/10/29

At the invitation of the master of the New College at the University of New South Wales, Minister Wang Xining attended the Spring Formal Dinner for the postgraduate community on 23 October 2019. Minister Wang delivered a speech on China’s strength and China-Australia relations.He also exchanged views with the audience on issues such as China-Australia cooperation.The transcript of the speech is attached hereunder.

Dear Prof. Peirson, Ms. Bazzana, Professors, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening.It gives me great pleasure to join you this evening for the New College postgraduate village Spring Formal Dinner at the UNSW. I would like to share with you some observations on China and China-Australia relations.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of People's Republic of China, which we celebrated early this month. Over the past 70 years, China changed a lot. According to World Bank Statistics on national GDP, China ranked No.10 in 1978, the year China launched the reform and open-up. It took 32 years for China to become the second largest economy in the world in 2010. China holds the rank until today.

Last year, China’s GDP grew by 6.5%, but this growth equaled the entire annual GDP volume of Australia. Today, China ranks No.1 in the world in terms of manufacturing output, merchandise trade, foreign exchange reserves, and No.2 for consumption and foreign investment.

What is China’s strength that creates such an economic miracle? Will China’s strength continue? Is China only an economic power? What does China's growth mean to Australia? And to the world?

Some of you may have watched the military parade in Beijing on October 1st . Some people may think this represents the strength of China. Many media commentators said so. But when I watched on TV thousands and thousands of ordinary people marching and dancing across the Tiananmen Square, I saw the strength of China. The Chinese people is the miracle.

Let me share with you, as a compatriot but also an observer, five strengths of my people.

First, the strength of enterprise

I don’t mean business or company, I am referring to a strong devotion to hard work.

In the early days of the People's Republic, it was difficult to give people enough to eat and food had to be rationed. When I was a child, there was still shortage of daily commodities. In middle school, I had no proper jacket but two tracksuits, because this is the most economical outfit for a football-loving boy. Traveling to Shanghai was my biggest dream.

Today, China has the world's largest middle-income group and the fastest growing consumer market. People are shopping Australian wine, milk powder, nutrition capsules and many other quality products from all over the world. If you want to visit another city, all you have to bring are your mobile phone and ID. You will buy everything and pay everything on the mobile. High-speed railway will bring you to another city faster than taking airplanes, people are sharing public utilities from bikes to batteries. And it’s safe to walk in the night, whether after work or after pub.

Such a good life is not easy to come by. It is the result of hard work of the Chinese people. Hard work is the essence of 5,000-years-old Chinese culture. We believe hard work answers the call of nature and reflects human instinct.

China has a vast territory, but the per capita share of resources is very low. China accounts for nearly 20% of the world’s population, but only 6.6% of the world's fresh water and 9% of its arable land. To make up for the lack of natural endowment, we have no other way but working harder.

No doubt China’s growth benefited from globalization. But hard work, the spirit of enterprise is still the crux of the matter. For example, in the 1990s, for a pair of Nike shoes that was produced in China and sold for $100 US dollars, the factory only made a profit of $3 US dollars. Even now, for an iPhone that is assembled in China, the factory only earns 5% of the profit. It is due to hard work that China has bit by bit built itself as “the world factory” and become the only country in the world today possessing all the industrial categories listed in the UN industry classification.

On top of hard work, we need to do smart work. China’s R&D investment in proportion to GDP has surpassed the European Union. More than 4 million R&D personnel are working hard and smart every day. Huawei has become the global leader in 5G. The company spends more than $15 billion on research and development last year, ranking the fourth globally. It took 5,000 researchers of Huawei nearly a decade to develop the Harmony operating system as a parallel to Android.

Despite all these achievements, we are fully aware that China is still a developing country and its development is still unbalanced and inadequate. Its per capita GDP is less than $10,000 US dollars, which is only 17% of that of Australia, ranking below 70th place in the world. China still has a long way to go to become a fully modernized economy. We will continue to work hard.

Second, the strength of inclusiveness

Culturally speaking, China has always been open and inclusive. The Chinese civilization has a long history of exchanges and interactions with other civilizations. It was enriched by the acceptance of Buddhism and confluence of Islam and Confucianism in the old golden days, as well as the introduction of Western learning which includes Marxism and Socialism in modern times. The ongoing reform and opening-up process embraces creams of all cultures in the world. Kenys, Hayek, Samulson, Friedman, they are no strangers to Chinese economists. However, there are some fundamental values that Chinese people will always treasure and never forsake, such as pursuit of peace and harmony, the unity between man and nature, and perennial attachment of human integrity, family bonds, communal solidarity and social justice.

Ethnically speaking, China is also open and inclusive. The Chinese nation is not a single ethnicity. The Han ethnicity, which accounts for the majority of today’s population, is also the product of multi-ethnic integration over millenniums-long evolution. Few of the 1.2 billion Han Chinese can prove that they are pure descendants of neolithic China. In the history, China was ruled for many times by ethnic minority regimes, but those ruling ethnicity were melted into the Chinese nation and left their marks in today’s Chinese culture. At present, China's 56 ethnic groups live together, close knit and socially intertwined.

Openness and inclusiveness are also salient features of China's diplomacy. China firmly supports free trade and open economy. China is the largest trading partner of more than 120 countries and regions. China is working with BRI partners to promote all-round connectivity, longterm cooperation and common development. China will open its door wider and share growth opportunities with all countries over the world.

Third, the strength of adaptiveness

Ever since the opium wars in the 19th century, the Chinese people have blazed many difficult trails towards national salvation and rejuvenation. We experimented cultural westernization, constitutional monarchy, European style presidential or cabinet system. None of these managed to pull the country out of the semi-colonial and semi-feudal quagmire. It is the Communist Party of China, which was founded in 1921, led the people to stand up against humiliation and intimidation upon the founding of the People’s Republic, to build a decent life against poverty and vulnerability upon the launching of reform and opening-up, and to nurture national strength against containment and conspiracy upon crossing of threshold into a new era of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.

The history of the People's Republic of China also recorded many twists and turns in national development, but nothing could stop the people and the party from testing, adapting and progressing. Based on China's national conditions, stage of development, as well as international economic theories and practices, we created a unique format of socialist market economy, which gives market a decisive role in resource allocation and government an important role in macro management. The dichotomy of building superstructure at the top level and adopting “trials and errors” approach at grassroot level helps to push the reform forward. Finally, Chinese has found the path to national revival. It is the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and we will unswervingly follow this path.

Fourth, the strength of coherence

During the TV broadcast of the military parade on the National Day, there were lots of comment on Chinese social media. Someone asked why the handsome soldiers always kept their eyes wide open. Others replied that the soldiers were warned that if they wink, the photographers from western media would snap a shot to show the image of dispirited Chinese military. Someone praised the phalanx alignment as a cut and paste job, others commented that such precision in movement comes from intense training. It is clear that Chinese soldiers attach great importance to discipline and teamwork. But off the road, these young officers are full of humor and character. When our national women volleyball team who just won the World Cup passed a line of marine in waiting, the boys hailed them loud: “volleyball girls, World Number 1!” When this video clip was later uploaded to the Internet, it became immensely popular. You see, uniformity does not kill individuality. The key is showing off your quality on occasion under proper circumstances.

In Chinese traditions, familial piety and patriotism are highly valued. The century long history of humiliation after the opium wars made every Chinese understand dearly that there will be no happy home when there is no strong country. The Chinese nation endured and survived countless crises. During each crisis, people would sacrifice themselves for the greater good and put the survival of the country prior to the well being of their families. The crises made people more united and coherent, and the country turned out stronger and more mature.

Chinese people cherish national unification and centralized administration, which is a time-tested consensus for ages. The names of those who contribute to national unity are always commemorated by posterity, while those who undermine the territorial integrity are despised and pinned down in shame forever.

Fifth, the strength of compassion

When Aristotle advocated metaphysics and mathematics, his Chinese contemporary Confucius tried all out to promote the concept of "human benevolence" and "social harmony" among his disciples, and Mencius lobbied the princes for a people-centred society. We believe those ancient philosophical ideas showing profound human compassion conform to the Marxist ideal of emancipation of mankind, and in this part of the world the abstract generalization of Freedom. In today’s China, these ideas metamorphosed into the core value of the Chinese Socialism, which emphasizes fairness and justice and promotes all-round development of people.

In a country filled with compassion, no one shall be left unattended. Since 1978, 750 million people have been lifted out of poverty. By the end of next year, we will complete the job of eliminating extreme poverty. We must ensure that no one is falling behind on the road towards affluence and prosperity, that everyone enjoys an equal share of the dividend of reform and development.

Compassion annihilates aggression. The Chinese understand thousands years ago that “a war-mongering state, however big and strong, will eventually perish”. There is no genetic heritage in Chinese nation to invade others and dominate the world. In the past 70 years, China has not initiated any war or conflict or occupied an inch of another country's land. No matter how strong China may become in the future, it will never pursue hegemony or expansion, nor will it seek to create spheres of influence. China has been and will be an important force to maintain world peace and stability and to build a global community with shared future.

Dear Friends,

This is my personal observation of China's strength. And there should be more that awaits discovery and analysis.

Regarding China-Australia relations, I would like to make three points.

First, China-Australia relationship is a good example of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation. Australia has contributed to China's economic miracle. And the other way round, China’s booming economy facilitated Australia’s incessant growth over the past 28 years, which was unparalleled among the developed economies. Our trade volume is bigger than the combined volume between Australia and Japan, the United States and India. Last year, 1.3 million Chinese tourists visited Australia, and accounted for 25% of the total spending by foreign tourists. At present, there are more than 200,000 Chinese students studying in Australia, and their annual expense is close to the annual trade volume between Australia and the UK. In Western Australia alone, trade with China has created 300,000 jobs. Our trade, investment and exchanges across the board have brought tangible benefits to the peoples of China and Australia.

Secondly, there are great potentials for China and Australia to enhance this mutually beneficial relationship in the future. China is moving forward from “the world factory” to a more sophisticated and advanced manufacturing power, and urbanization is speeding up at the rate of 1 percent each year. There will be strong demand for Australian mineral, energy and agricultural exports for a long period of time. China has entered the stage of high-quality development and quality consumption, which will provide numerous business opportunities for Australia companies to expand service exports to China.

We believe that economic globalization is the trend of the times. A new round of technological revolution is coming. The digital age will be the era of universal connectivity. China that is opening more to the world and Australia that is trading more with the world share a common future. We ought to jointly safeguard an open world economy, to oppose trade protectionism and resist all attempts for a "new cold war" or economic "decoupling", which artificially divides the world into two separate blocs.

Thirdly, to achieve win-win results, China and Australia need to properly manage our differences. Although there are much more similarities between our two peoples as group of humans, there are indeed some differences in our political and social systems. But the more you communicate with the others, the more you understand each other and find more similarities than disparities. When China established diplomatic relations with Australia in 1972, our differences were much greater compared to today, as Cultural Revolution was still raging in the country. All the way through past decades, our relationship have never been determined by the differences. Instead, it has been guided by mutual respect and mutual benefit. Otherwise, we would not have achieved what we see today.

The history of our diplomatic relations testifies that we are capable of managing differences and providing political guarantees for deepening economic cooperation and cultural exchanges. Our economies are highly complementary, which is a rare case among major economies today. The conditions for long-term and mutually beneficial cooperation are unique. The key that unlocks the door to a bright future is respect. We should respect each other's political and social systems, development paths and core interests. Based on that, we will be able to deepen mutual understanding, consolidate common grounds and expand consensus.

Some people attributed the current volatility in our relationship to China-U.S. frictions. I wish to echo the view of many Australian and Chinese that there is no need for any country to choose between China and the United States. China has never ask Australia to choose. In fact, Australia has never chosen between the two since the establishment of diplomatic relations. There should be better prescription for the current malaise.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The world in the upcoming decades will be full of hopes and opportunities as well as bumps and challenges. My generation is going to retire. It will be your turn to ride the tide of times. I hope the younger generation will look ahead and think about what the world will be, the Asia-Pacific will be and China-Australia relations will be 10 years or 20 years, and what we can do together to make the world a better place, our region more prosperous, and China-Australia relations more productive and influential.

Thank you very much.

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Commonwealth of Australia
Address: 15 Coronation Drive, Yarralumla, ACT 2600
Tel: 0061-2-62283999, Fax: 0061-2-62283836
E-mail: chinaemb_au@mfa.gov.cn
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