The Rt. Honorable P.J. Patterson, Prime Minister of Jamaica,
Honorable Leaders of Other Caribbean States,
Friends from the Chinese and Caribbean Business Communities,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to have the opportunity today to attend the grand opening ceremony of the China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum and discuss with you the important issue of expanding economic cooperation and trade between China and the Caribbean for the benefit of our respective countries and people. It is fair to say that the establishment of the Forum, which has provided a platform and a mechanism for deepening friendship and expanding mutually beneficial cooperation between China and the Caribbean countries, is of great significance and far-reaching impact. Hereby, I would like to extend, on behalf of the Chinese Government, warm congratulations on the convocation of the China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum 2005 Ministerial Conference and my heartfelt thanks to the Jamaican Government for the hard work and thoughtful arrangements which have enabled all these to happen. Let's hope we can work together to make the Conference a complete success.
Jamaica is the last stop of my five-state visit in Latin America and the Caribbean after Mexico; Peru, Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago. The beautiful scenery, rich natural resources and unique local customs of the five countries and their peoples' sincere and profound friendship towards the Chinese people have left me a deep and unforgettable impression. During my visit, I had candid and in-depth exchanges of views and reached consensus on many issues relating to bilateral relations and major international and regional issues of common interest with leaders and people from all walks of life of the five countries. We have come to seek friendship and cooperation. I am glad to tell you that, through the visit, our hope of "promoting friendship, enhancing mutual trust, deepening cooperation and seeking common development" has been turned in reality. History will prove that our friendship is deep-rooted and our cooperation promising.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The world today has seen and is still undergoing complicated and profound changes. Peace and development remain the main themes of the times. Seeking peace, reform and development is the common aspiration of all countries in the world, developing countries in particular. While committed to the lofty cause of peace and development of the mankind, we are soberly aware that due to historical and practical reasons, the problem of unbalanced development around the world is more and more acute and the gap between the North and the South is further widening. Uncertain and destabilizing factors including regional conflicts and terrorism are posing threats to the process of world peace and development. The cropping up of new trade barriers here and there and economic and financial risks have put the sustainable development of world economy to a severe test. Against this backdrop, we developing countries should work hand in hand in pursuit of faster and common development while sparing no effort in promoting all-round, coordinated and sustainable development for all mankind.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
China is the largest developing country in the world. The Chinese nation and the Chinese people were long under the spell of poverty in history. Poverty, invariably, gives rise to a desire for change. Twenty-six years ago, led by Mr. Deng Xiaoping, China started the historical process of reform, opening-up and socialist modernization drive with a view to achieving strength and prosperity for the country and people. Twenty-six years later, China attained the objectives of the first and second steps of its three-step development strategy in the modernization drive and realized the historic transformation where its 1.3 billion people improved from life with adequate food and clothing to one with moderate affluence on the whole. With per capita GDP exceeding US$ 1,000, the number of rural population lining under the poverty line was reduced from 250 million to less than 30 million. The Chinese economy has maintained an average 9.4% annual growth for 26 consecutive years. Export and import, only US$ 20.6 billion in 1978, shot up to US$ 1.1 trillion in 2004. The annual utilized foreign investment totaled US$ 562.1 billion in accumulative terns by the end of 2004.
Though China has started to prosper with GDP growing substantially, it is still a nation laden with a huge population, a weak foundation and uneven development among its various regions, ranking well below 110th in the world tally of per capita GDP as a result. There is still a long way to go before we achieve modernization and common prosperity for our people. The Chinese Government has identified the development targets of our nation in the first two decades of this century, i.e. to concentrate on building a moderately prosperous society of a higher standard in an all-round way, benefiting well over a billion people; to quadruple our 2000 GDP by 2020, to the tune of US$ 4 trillion, with a per capita GDP of over US$ 3,000; and to turn China into a country that is more developed economically, with a stronger democracy, more advanced science and education, more prosperous culture and a more harmonious society, offering its people an even better life. I am confident that China's development will not only benefit the Chinese people, but also provided a wide-spectrum of growth opportunities for all countries around the would, including countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The existing import market alone with over US$ 500 billion annual import is already a source of abundant business opportunities for countries throughout the world, those in Latin America and Caribbean included.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Although far away from each other, China and the Latin American and Caribbean countries enjoy a friendship that reaches beyond the mountains and oceans. We are pleased to see that, with the loving care and nurture of leaders on both sides, the seedling of China-Latin America friendship has grown up and yielded abundant fruits. During President Hu Jintao's historic visits to the four Latin American nations two months ago, broad consensus has been reached between the leaders on the two sides, boosting further the development of China-Latin America relations. It is before your eyes that China-Caribbean relations have been growing in depth over the years. It is extremely gratifying and noteworthy that the diplomatic relations between China and Grenada were resumed on January 20th this year and that the representative of the Government of Grenada is here with us today at the opening ceremony of the Forum. China has diplomatic ties with 11 Caribbean countries to date, almost all of whose top leaders having paid visits to China. Chinese leaders also visited some of the Caribbean countries. In addition to the frequent exchanges of high-level visits, the two sides enjoy closer and closer cooperation in trade, economy, technology, culture and other areas. The two-way trade volume is growing at a particularly heartening speed. In international affairs, we have always rendered each other support and close collaboration. China has supported Caribbean countries in their efforts to promote regional integration, safeguard their legitimate rights and interests and strive for special and differentiated treatment. The Caribbean countries, over the years, have supported China firmly. This was particularly evident last year, when China got the strong support of many Caribbean countries in its application for the permanent observer status in the Organization of American States (OAS), a support China deeply appreciates.
An ancient Chinese philosopher once said, "All living things grow together without harming one another; ways run parallel without interfering with one another". This means that nature is a harmony of diversities, so is the human society. Although different in national condition, social system and level of development, China and Caribbean countries are all developing countries dedicated to developing national economy and improving people's livelihood. We all face various challenges brought by a volatile international situation and the economic globalization. That is to say, there is much we can learn from and cooperate with each other. In recent years, the bilateral trade and economic changes have been greatly enhanced with Chinese and Caribbean enterprises taking increasingly keener interested in mutual investment and cooperation. The China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum is the right answer to this call and the mirror to what we all need. With the purpose of promoting cooperation and common development, the Forum facilitates cooperation in trade, agriculture, tourism, transportation, fishery, telecommunications, finance and other areas between Chinese and Caribbean governments, the business communities and relevant regional organizations. I am convinced that China-Caribbean Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum 2005 Ministerial Conference will surely give a great impetus to the exchanges, cooperation and friendship between China and Caribbean Countries.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to make a 5-point proposal for the continued and substantive progress of China-Caribbean friendly relations and cooperation on the basis of mutual benefit and win-win results.
I. Maintain exchange of high-level visits and cement political relations. Good political relations are an important foundation and strong guarantee for friendly relations and cooperation in the economic, trade and other fields. China stands ready to enhance communication and exchanges with the governments, political parties and parliaments of the Caribbean countries and actively promote exchanges at all levels and in all fields.
II. Create new forms and explore areas of cooperation. The Chinese Government will continue to provide assistance within its capacity to the Caribbean countries without attaching any political conditions ad encourage Chinese enterprises to invest more in the Caribbean. Meanwhile, efforts should be made to tap the trade potentials and optimize China-Caribbean trade structure. China speaks highly of the recognition of China's Full Market Status by the Caribbean countries including Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, St Lucia, Dominica, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica. China and the Bahamans have also appropriately resolved the matter. Our consensus thereon has fostered favorable conditions for greater economic and technological cooperation. The Caribbean region has abundant tourist resources and developing China-Caribbean tourism cooperation has a promising future. Cuba is already on the list of authorized tourist destination for Chinese citizens. Here I would like to announce that the Chinese Government has decided to add to the list Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, St Lucia, Dominica, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica and encourage its citizen to visit the Caribbean. The two sides can also explore cooperation opportunities in other areas such as hotel development and management and processing and production of handy crafts for tourists. In addition, we welcome the Caribbean countries to participate in the relevant training programs on human resources development organized by the Chinese Government.
III. Give full play to the government's role in providing quality services. In order to create a favorable environment for economic and trade activities of the enterprises, governments on the two sides should enhance the exchange of market, commodity and trade information, act as a bridge between enterprises and encourage them to attend trade fairs held by Forum members. In order to improve the investment environment, governments should put in place and improve legislation favorable to two-way investment and push for the signing and implementation of agreements on protecting investment and avoiding double taxation. Meanwhile, through timely communication, governments may assist the enterprises in resolving the problems in the cooperation process, so as to encourage the enterprises and promote the healthy development of economic and trade cooperation.
IV. Promote cultural exchanges and enhance mutual friendship. Both China and the Caribbean have splendid history and culture. A lot can be done in developing cultural exchanges. China will continue to send art troupes and delegations to the Caribbean and welcome in China Caribbean artists. Journalists on the two sides should also increase exchanges. Our friendship and cooperation should also look into the future with a long-term perspective. In this connection, the Chinese Government welcomes more students from Caribbean countries having diplomatic ties with China.
V. Enhance consultation and cooperation to safeguard common interests. As a member of the WTO, China is ready to enhance coordination with the Caribbean side and support each other in the WTO and other multilateral settings. As a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council, China will continue to safeguard the rights and interests of the vast number of developing countries, those in the Caribbean included, in various international arenas.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The establishment of China-Caribbean Economic Cooperation Forum is a milestone in the development of China-Caribbean relations and it inaugurates a new stage of our friendly relations and cooperation. This is a memorable and extraordinary day for all of us. Let us work together to write a new chapter in the history of China-Caribbean comprehensive cooperation and make fresh contribution to the lofty cause of peace and development of mankind!