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Remarks by Consul General Ma Zhanwu at Calcutta Chamber of Commerce
(Kolkata, India 27 May 2017)
2017/05/28

(Check Against Delivery)

Respected Mr. Dinesh Jain, President of Calcutta Chamber of Commerce (CCC),

Respected Members of CCC,

Friends from the media,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to come to the renowned Calcutta Chamber of Commerce and share my views with you. As suggested, I will speak about the Chinese economy, the developments of China-India relationship, and ways to enhance China-India economic relations.

As we all know, CCC was originally established in 1830, when India was not independent and China was ruled by an emperor. Actually many of the original members of CCC may have been involved in the trade of opium to China at the time. Of course CCC is very different from what it was, as are both China and India.

Nowadays, both our great nations are making huge progress in their economic and social undertakings, and are given great attention in the world. India’s GDP enjoys the highest rate of growth among the leading economies, and its GDP is around 2.3 trillion US dollars, ranking the 5th in the world. In terms of PPP, India’s GDP already ranks the 3rd place in the world.

China has witnessed an annual growth rate of about 9% over the past 4 decades since 1978, and is still growing at about 6.5% every year. Its GDP was 74.4 trillion RMB yuan last year, equivalent to over 11 trillion US dollars, or 740 trillion Indian rupees.

As the Chinese and Indian economies are closely related, and the destinies of our two nations historically seemed to be parallel or have a strong correlation, some friends are keen to know how the Chinese economy is doing now. So let me talk about it in some details.

The Chinese economy has maintained a strong momentum of growth. Last year, it recorded a growth rate of 6.7% although the Chinese government worked hard to reduce the overcapacity in quite a number of fields. In the case of steel production, China’s capacity in 2015 was 1.2 billion tons, but about 30% of it was overcapacity. So it has been decided we will reduce the capacity by 150 million tons in a period of 5 years and the target is to lower the capacity to less than 1 billion tons. And last year, the steel capacity was cut by 45 million tons.

In terms of coal production, we will reduce the capacity by half a billion tons in a time-frame of 3 to 5 years, and restructuring the relevant capacity of another half billion tons. And last year, the reduction of 250 million tons of capacity of achieved ahead of schedule.

So what are the new drivers of the economy? I am glad to share with you that the Chinese economy is shifting from relying heavily on investment and export to relying more on consumption, innovation and new industries. We are glad to see the rise of e-commerce, big data industries, industrial robots, increased investment in high-tech manufacture, and increased exports of machinery and electronics.

In the first 4 months this year, the retail sale in the country was 11.3 trillion RMB yuan, a rise of 10.2% against the same period last year. And the online sale jumped by 32%, accounting for 17% of the total sales in China.

New and high-tech industries are emerging and growing fast. The investment in high-tech manufacturing grew by 22.6% in the first 4 months this year.

The new industries include e-commerce, especially online sale. You can buy almost everything on the Internet. More than 3 million people are directly engaged in such work, and they have created 22.4 million jobs for others. The industry of logistics is growing fast, and more than 2 million people are employed to do express delivery.

And solar panels, solar battery cells, smart phones have also seen fast growth. Online education is rapidly expanding.

The big data related industries are also expanding quickly and have made great contribution to the governance as well as economic development. The city of Guiyang is now famous in this regard.

The shared bicycles are also a new phenomenon to watch. They appeared first about a year ago. But by the end of April 2017, a crore (10 million) have been put in the streets in the cities across China, with more than 100 million registered user, and 1 billion rides were counted. It is estimated that altogether 30 million such bikes will be placed in China’s streets this year.

So, it is widely believed that China will reach its growth target of about 6.5% this year, and its economy will continue to grow at a relatively high speed with improved efficiency and a better structure. I have confidence in it, and the actual growth may again exceed expectation of many.

Let me gave you the example of the construction of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge that consists of a series of bridges and tunnels, and the moving roads over a railway in Yunnan Province, to show the advance in construction engineering in China. And also the lifting of the ship that sank near the coast of Korea. These achievements demonstrate progress in China’s industrial capabilities.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me now turn to China-India relations. China pursues an independent foreign policy of peace and advocates the five principles of peaceful co-existence as as the guiding principles for international relations. China put forward these principles, the Panchsheel in Hindi, together with India back in the 1950s. (The five principles are: mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful co-existence.) And now China also stands for peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit as guiding principles in its relations with other countries.

On the basis of these principles and proceeding from China’s relations with other countries in the world, especially in the region, China put forward the Belt and Road Initiative, namely the initiative for development of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. This would cover the regions along the ancient Silk Road and the Sea Routes that went from China and India to central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and many countries in Africa.

To build the Belt and Road, China proposes the principle of extensive consultation, joint construction, and shared benefit. And the priority is infrastructural connectivity, such as building railways, highways, air and sea routes and therefore airports and sea ports, oil and gas pipelines, electricity transmission lines, telecommunication lines and so on. The others include policy consultation and coordination between governments, financing, trade and investment, and people-to-people exchanges.

The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was held in Beijing from 14 to 15 May 2017, and representatives from more than 130 countries attended it, including those from the U.S., UK, Germany, Japan. The top leaders from Russia as well as 28 other nations were present. Some scholars from India participated in the discussions. The leaders attending the Round-table summit reached a five points of consensus which are:

A. press forward with international cooperation to build the Belt and Road, and work together to facilitate trade and investment and push forward globalization;

B. strive to achieve synergy by combining the development strategies and economic policies of the participating countries;

C. give priority to big projects of infrastructure and conduct more tangible collaboration so as to give more impetus to the economic growth and bring more benefit to the people;

D. Conduct more people-to-people exchanges;

E. BRI is an open and inclusive platform, all countries are equal participants, contributors and beneficiaries. Countries will conduct cooperation through opening-up and achieve win-win results through cooperation.

President Xi Jinping made important remarks during the forum, and he emphasized that the Belt and Road Initiative is open and inclusive.

Ladies and gentlemen,

India is part of the areas that was covered by the ancient Silk Road, and has made many similar proposal regarding connectivity, trade and investment. So there are a lot of things that India can do together with China and other countries. And China looks forward to having more mutually beneficial cooperation with India.

Although there are indeed differences between China and India, yet the shared interests far outweigh the differences, and with the complementarity of the two economies, China and India can do a lot together.

The exchanges and cooperation between our two countries are indeed growing rapidly, and the prospects are good on the whole. Of course, we should and will continue to work hard to enhance our interactions and further develop the bilateral ties. As long as both the two sides press ahead with development of the relationship, and deal with the differences properly and bring them under control, we will surely make greater progress. And China-India relationship will become one of the best and most important.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me share with you my thinking on how to enhance the economic ties between our two countries.

First, we need to further the political ties and increase mutual understanding. Right now, there is still much room for improvement in this regard. Some Chinese media have negative stories about India, like raping, diseases, and so on. In India, there are people who portray China as the threat to India, although China regards India as a partner for cooperation and does not pose any threat to it.

These are incorrect and harmful for the growth of the business ties. So everyone of us has the responsibility to tell the true and whole story about China and about India.

Second, we need to conduct more exchanges to reduce misunderstanding caused by the cultural differences. The ways of thinking and perception in the two countries are sometimes different, and the habits are also not the same. There need to be more people-to-people exchanges. Visits should be encouraged, and the numbers of tourists are too small, as there are just 1 million travel between our two large countries, and for certain countries in Southeast Asia, the numbers could be above one crore. Over 12 crore Chinese go abroad every year, and only 3 lakh of them come to India. We should do more work.

Third, allow the investors to make money, as examples are the most eloquent spokesman. The ancient Silk Road was developed because those who went earlier made money and brought back riches. More and more Indians go to China and take things back to sell because they have heard success stories.

I watched a very good Indian film called Half Girlfriend a few days ago, in which the Hi-tech phone was used, a soft way to do advertisement. The Indian gentleman who founded Hi-tech phone company started as a vendor going to China to buy things and bring them back to sell in India.

More and more Chinese businessmen come to Kolkata to do research on the investment environment, and they talk with the Chinese companies already here to find out whether they can make money and how their feelings are.

So the best way to encourage business ties between China and India is to allow the businesses already in the two countries respectively to make money with more ease instead of more difficulty. The government and the society both need to realize this and treat foreign investors reasonably well.

Fourth, investors need to work harder. Both the Chinese and Indian markets are complex and the competition is intense. The investors must try to understand the environment and the society before they can develop and expand the market for their products or services.

Fifth, good local partners are important. This means the foreign investors must have partners, and must have good ones to succeed. In this regard, CCC can play a very important role.

In conclusion, the growth of the economic ties between China and India, especially between China and Eastern India, is picking up speed. Some large investments are coming. The biggest amount of Chinese investment is now 3 crore US dollars. We need to continue to work hard, to enhance the understanding and friendship between our two peoples, to facilitate the investment by building more infrastructure, and by facilitating the success of the investors. The Chinese Consulate is ready to work with CCC and all friends from India to further push forward the bilateral economic and political ties. I look forward to your advice and assistance. I believe with enough hard work and patience, we will make it!

Thank you! Now I am ready to answer your questions if you have any.

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