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Speech by Mr. ZHANG Yue Consul General of China in Munich at the Silkroad Congress 2019
2019/10/03
 

Nuernberg, 2 October 2019

Mr. State Secretary Roland Weigert,

Mr. Markus Lötzsch,

Dr. Roland Fleck,

Mr. Petter Ottmann,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is myhonour to join youand talk about Belt and Roadcooperation.My sincere thanks go to the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, IHK Nürnberg für Mittelfranken and Nürnberg Messe for making this meaningful event happen once again and providing a useful platform for exchanges among the political, economic and academic communities. As far as I know, this is so far the only one forum on BRI in Deutscheland. Bayern as always has taken the lead to promote cooperative relations with China. In this forum, we can share our views and expectations on BRI and make constructive inputs into the process. I wish today's event every success.

Now I would like to share with you the followingpoints on BRI.

Why did China propose Belt and Road Initiative?

In the aftermath of the 2008 international financial crisis, the major economies of the world focused on exploring new growth areas. Against this background, in September and October 2013, President Xi Jinpingput forward the Belt and Road Initiative.

Firstly, it is out of the need of China's own development. China's economy is under transformation from high-speed growth to high quality development. China needs to further deepen the reform and opening wider to the outside. The open and inclusiveBRI is an important part of China's all-round opening-up in the new era.

Second, it conforms to the trend of economic globalization. Following the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, Belt and Road cooperation provides new opportunities for common development and prosperity of all countries, and is conducive to making economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and win-win.Protectionism and unilateralism are on the rise in the world today. All of us are worried about the stability and certainty of the world economic growth.In this critical juncture, BRI provides us a better way forward.

Third, it is a useful attempt by China to assume the responsibility as a major partner in the international community. President Xi proposed to build a community with a shared future for mankind andbuild a world of peace, security, prosperity, openness and beauty. BRI focuses on the fundamental issue of development, helping the countries concerned to get through the bottleneck of development and implement the UN 2030 sustainable development agenda. Development is the fundamental basis for coping with any global issues. China is willing to shoulderits due responsibilities in line with its capability and make more contributions in both physical and intellectual way.

The state of play of Belt and Roadcooperation

Since its inception six years ago, BRI has been recognized and accepted by more and more countries. The cooperation is more and more focusing on development prospects and quality projects.China has signed 195 cooperation documents with 136 countries and 30 international organizations, including European countries such as Austria, Italy, Luxembourg and Switzerland. The trade volume of Belt and Road related countries accounts for 22% of the world trade and It benefits 43.4% of the global population. We have seen that Belt and Road cooperation has injected remarkable dynamics to regional and world economic growth against the backdrop of the uncertainty of the international economic relations today.

As far as Europe is concerned, by the end of August, 18,000 freight trains have been shuttled between China and Europe, connecting 59 cities in China with 50 cities in 15 European countries at one-third of the sea shipping time and one-fifth of the air freight cost. All countries along the routes have benefited from this. Take Germany as an example. Duisburg, as an important hub of the CR Express in Germany, has gained more than 6,000 new jobs in the logistics industry. I remember that when I came to nuremberg for an event in February this year, an official said that the CR Express between Chengdu and Nuremberg would only take 14 days to run one way, greatly reducing the time and cost of overland freight transportation. Last April, the second High-Level Forum of BRI was successfully held in Beijing, where The Rules of Procedures for the Joint Working Group of CR Express was signed. We believe thatCR Express,as part of the BRI, will attract more goods suitable for railway transportation, continue to optimize the division of logistics by land, sea and air, and provide strong support the economic and trade exchanges between China and Europe.

Of course, this is a new international cooperation initiative. We are open to any constructive comments and suggestions from all parties and try to make improvements. In response to some concerns we have heard, President Xi proposed at the second High-Level Forum,that during the process of BRI, we should adhere to the concepts of openness, greenness and integrity instead of engaging in closed and exclusive circles and blocs. We should strive to achieve high standards, benefit the people and achieve sustainable development, introduce rules and standards that are generally accepted by all parties, and achieve high quality development.

Opportunities for China-Germany cooperation under the framework of BRI

Actually the words of silk road were mentioned in the 19th century by a famous German geographer and traveler, Ferdinand von Richthofen. After the launch of BRI in 2013, the German government took the lead in responding positively among European countries towardsBRI, regarding it as a new window of opportunity for deepening cooperation between our two countries. Germany is the first country to join the AIIB, the fourth largest shareholder and largest non-regional contributor. Chancellor Merkel twice sent high-level representatives to China to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

China and Germany are both major manufacturing and exporting countries with close economic and trade relations. In the first half of this year, the bilateral trade volume between China and Germany reached 99 billion euros, and China continues to be ranked as Germany's most important trading partner. A month ago, ChancellorMerkel realized her 12th visit to China during her term of office. She reached new important consensus with President Xi and Premier Lion the next phase of cooperation between the two countries. Both sides agreed to maintain multilateralism and the free trade system with the World Trade Organization as the core, to uphold the concept of openness and inclusiveness andto expand the two-way marketaccess with a view to further enhancing Sino-German cooperation.

Good political will and enough industrial complementaritiesleave us much potentials for bilateral cooperation. The BRI is increasingly becoming an important element of economic growth in China and Germany. It also provides us a rare opportunity to jointly explore a third market. In fact, Bavarian enterprises have already seized the opportunity at this point. In 2016, BMW and other companies began to use the CR Express to transport vehicles and other goods to western China. Siemens has cooperated with hundreds of Chinese overseas EPC enterprises in the fields of power, oil, gas and chemicals, mining and other industry, covering hundreds of countries and regions around the world. In march this year, Siemens signed a memorandum of understanding with China's National Development and Reform Commission to strengthen cooperation under the framework of BRI. With its outstanding advantages in the fields of energy, transportation, manufacturing and digital transformation, Bavaria and China have a lot to do in the future.

However, the current China-Germany relationship is under pressure due to certain political factors. Here, I also call on the party concerned to put aside ideological prejudices and focus on win-win cooperation. As President Xi said during the G20 Osaka Summit, we need to "avoid irreversible historic mistakes to be made by shortsightedness". In another month, Minister Aiwanger will lead a large economic delegation to China for the first time. I hope everything goes well with the visit and it will send a positive signal for cooperation between China and Germany as well as Bavaria.

From time to time, some people, out of political motives, have been making different voices by saying that BRI is a tool of China's geopolitics, a "debt trap" for developing countries or etc. Some of the voices are too groundless and common-senseless to be refuted seriously. My question is,Did partners including Germany share the dividend of China's development in the Belt and Road cooperation? Or would they have been imposed with our ideology in the process? The answer is in your mind and needless to say. I have worked in Africa for four years and experienced China-Africa cooperation. This is just a part of South-South cooperation. We just didsomething that African countries and people need, like building infrastructures.Comparing with those from developed partners and international development and assistance institutions,the financial input from China was rather limited. China is still a developing country. Labeling this as"debt trap", we really feel maliciously over-flattered. My question is, for those who don't do it and don’t want to see China do it, do they care about the feeling of African people?

Ladies and gentlemen,

The world economic development today faces imbalances, uncoordinated and unsustainable issues. We hope that all countries work together to promote high-quality development. We will further highlight the inclusiveness of the Belt and Road cooperation, which will not only activate the resources of developed countries, but also promote the active integration of more developing countries and SMEs, so that all parties can benefit from it.

Finally, I am expecting that all participants in this forum be able to brainstorm moreinsights, ways and means for cooperation between China and Germany out of the BRI.

Thank you.

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