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Ambassador CHENG Jingye's Speech at the Belt and Road Conference
10th July 2018, Darwin Convention Center
2018/07/10

Honorable Chief Minister Gunner,

Honorable Mr Snowdon MP,

Honorable National President of ACBC Mr Brumby,

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlmen,

It gives me great pleasure to be here in Northern Territory again.My memory of last year’s visit remains live and fresh.The extraordinary natural beauty, amazing cultural relics and the rich multiculture together with the commitment demonstrated by people from all walks of life in the territory to develop closer relations with China impressed me deeply. And I’m delighted to learn that new progress has been made in bilateral exchanges and cooperation. Last year, two-way trade in goods totaled $1.88 billion, with NT’s export amounting to $1.7 billion, an increase of 66.2%. About 20,000 Chinese tourists visited NT. More recently, China Donghai Airlines inaugurated direct flight from Shenzhen to Darwin, whose flight time is even shorter than mine from Canberra to here. This direct flight will surely facilitate exchanges between China and NT, and bring new impetus to the relationship.

This year marks the 5th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative(BRI) put forward by President XI Jinping. This forum held by NT branch of ACBC is very timely. The presence of so many people from various walks of life at this forum fully reflects your keen interest and the importance you have attached to the BRI. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some of my views on BRI’s main idea and the progress achieved thus far.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Over the past five years, the BRI has received positive responses and extensive support from around the world. With the concerted efforts of all participants, the concept of BRI is turned into action, with its vision becoming a reality. The fruitful early harvest gives full expression to the strong vitality and bright prospect of the initiative. It is becoming the biggest platform for international cooperation and the most popular international public good.

So far, nearly 90 countries and international organizations have signed BRI cooperation agreements with China. Under the BRI, 75 economic cooperation zones have been set up in the participating countries, while steady progress has been made in industrial capacity cooperation, connectivity and building economic corridors. China’s trade with BRI participating countries has reached above RMB 30 trillion and investment in these countries over US$70 billion, creating more than 200,000 local jobs. More and more countries and their people are benefiting from the initiative.

BRI is committed to achieving mutual benefits and win-win development through enhancing international cooperation, connecting development strategies and promoting complementary advantages.

It mainly focus on the following 5 aspects:

The first is policy connectivity, which aims at establishing multi-layered macro policy communication mechanism among governments to better synergize development strategies. Over the past few years, the BRI has forged greater synergy with other development strategies at the national and regional levels, including the Eurasian Economic Union of Russia and other countries, the Bright Road initiative of Kazakhstan, the Development Road initiative of Mongolia, the Global Maritime Fulcrum vision of Indonesia, the Investment Plan for Europe and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Such different types of alignment at various levels have enabled complementarity of strengths, unlocked more potential and broader space for cooperation.

The second is infrastructure connectivity, which is about building a infrastructure network to upgrade transportation, energy and communication infrastructure construction. Together with countries along the Belt and Road route, we have accelerated the building of Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway, China-Laos railway, the Hungary-Serbia railway, and upgraded Gwadar and Piraeus ports. The Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway and Membasa-Narobi Railway have already open to traffic. Nearly 9000 freight trains have traveled between China and Europe, linking 45 Chinese cities with 42 cities in 14 European countries.

The third is trade connectivity. The goal is to promote trade liberalization and facilitation, and achieve the coordinated industrial development. For Kazakhstan and other Central Asia countries, the customs clearance time for agricultural produce exporting to China is cut by 90%. The Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ) jointly constructed by China and Cambodia has attracted the participation of more than 100 local & international companies, and has become a crucial textile production base for Cambodia. The Special Economy Zone has contributed more than 50% to the local economy.

The fourth is financial connectivity, which is to build a diversified investment and financing system. Financing bottleneck is a stand-out challenge of the realization of connectivity. The membership of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank(AIIB) expands from the initial 57 to 87, and it has provided $5.3 billion of loans for 26 infrastructure projects in more than 10 BRI participating countries. The Silk Road Fund has committed to investing $7 billion in 19 projects, with the total supporting fund amounting to $80 billion.

The fifth is the people-to-people connectivity, which aims to bring together people from different countries through more exchanges and cooperation in the fields of culture, education, academics and tourism, and to make our societies more inclusive. The Chinese government has decided to provide 10,000 government scholarships each year to the relevant countries. China’s local governments have set up special Silk Road scholarships. Different kinds of cultural events have been carried out.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The reasons behind BRI’s wide endorsement and better than expected achievement, first and foremost lie in the fact that the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits has been closely followed. Extensive consultation means that all countries, big or small, join the discussion of Belt and Road cooperation on an equal footing. Joint contribution means that all countries play their own parts to contribute to the development of the Belt and Road. Shared benefits means that the fruits of the initiative are shared by all countries and their people.

BRI which aims for win-win outcome, has nothing to do with geopolitics. Instead of China’s solo performance, it is a symphony played by all participants. This initiative does not benefit just one party, everyone stands to gain. The BRI comes from China, but its opportunities and achievements are to benefit the world.

BRI is open and inclusive, with no intention to exclude anyone. It’s not an exclusive club but an open space for friends. Any country that subscribe to the Silk Road spirit is welcome to join.

BRI is based on rules and the rule of law. Our cooperation has always been conducted within the confines of international rules and law, observing both international law and the domestic laws of host countries. We will endeavor to establish a rules-based legal network for BRI cooperation so as to provide more solid legal and institutional safeguard for it. The Forum on the Belt and Road Legal Cooperation held last week in Beijing is an important step towards this direction.

BRI is driven by enterprises and based on markets. More will be done to ensure Belt & Road projects are of high quality and high standard. We will continue to lay emphasis on green development, environmental protection and debt sustainability. We do not impose business deals on others.

It must be pointed out that as the BRI is a new initiative, it is perfectly natural for there to be different views. As long as the parties fully embrace the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, we can surely resolve differences and promote sound and steady cooperation.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The BRI is not far away from Australia. During his historical visit to Australia in 2014, President XI soundly stated that the Oceania region was the natural extension of the ancient maritime silk road. And China is open to Australia's participation in the building of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It’s noted that ever since its initiation the BRI has drawn close attention from various circles in Australia. Trade Minister Ciobo and Premier Andrews of Victoria attended the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) for International Cooperation in Beijing last year. Many enterprises have expressed their strong desires and interests in participating the BRI, and are actively seeking opportunities to cooperate with their Chinese counterparts. Certain local governments have been working with Chinese authorities to establish relevant cooperation framework.

As an important Asia-Pacific country with many competitive advantages, Australia certainly has a role to play in the BRI. Further more, the close and strong trade and investment relations as well as people-to-people links between China and Australia provide necessary conditions for both sides to carry out different kinds of cooperation in Belt and Road development. Australia’s participation will not only contribute to BRI international cooperation and its own economic development but also deepen and expand Sino-Australia cooperation .

I believe, through active interactions and in-depth exchanges among participants, this forum will help everyone to better understand the accomplished achievements and future prospects of the BRI, in particular the opportunities BRI presents to Australia. And I hope this forum will lead to further discussion and exploration of possible cooperation between China and Australia under the BRI framework.

Local cooperation is an integral part and important basis of China-Australia relations. Darwin is the North gateway of Australia. The excellent location of NT equip it with special advantages in developing its trade and economic cooperation with China and participating in BRI. When then vice-president XI visited NT in 2010, he ardently expected that the two sides could deepen economic and trade cooperation, expand people-to-people communication, enhance local exchange, in order to serve the benefits of the two peoples. Last year the NT government published “China Ready”Program. It’s my believe NT will make full use of its own advantages and seize further opportunities in its cooperation with China. The Embassy will continue to render all possible assistance in this regard.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up. Reform and opening up has both profoundly changed China and greatly influenced the world. Now China has entered the new era. In order to achieve the goal of turning China into a great modern socialist country by the middle of this century, continued reform and further opening up, among other things, remains indispensable.

On one hand, we will firmly deepen comprehensive reform, including economic structure reform. On the other hand, China’s door of opening up will open even wider with concrete substantive measures such as significantly broadening market access, improving investment environment, strengthening protection of IPR and expanding imports.

China is strongly committed to globalization, free trade and open economy. We firmly oppose protectionism. Recent imposition of additional 25% tariffs on 34 billion dollars worth of Chinese goods by US administration is not only unfair to China but will also hurt US industries and consumers. Further more, this unilateral move, in blatant violation of WTO rules, will deal a blow to the global trading order, cause fluctuations in the global market and hamper global economic recovery. Naturally, this protectionist behavior and other similar measures recently taken by the US administration have caused deep worries and criticism around the world. Any attempt to pressure others unilaterally is futile and no illusion should be entertained in this regard. When China’s legitimate interests are unjustifiably affected, we have no other choices but to take necessary counter measures. Whatever happens our commitment to reform and opening up will remain unswervingly firm and strong. And we are determined to work with other countries around the globe, including Australia, to uphold free trade and multilateral trading regime.

Thank you!

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