February 2, 2017
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It’s a pleasure for me to be here tonight and celebrate the Chinese New Year. I would like to thank HSBC for organizing today’s event.
This year, as you all know, is the year of the Rooster. In the Chinese zodiac, Rooster represents courage, hard work, confidence and optimism. All these augur well for this year.
I could still recall in his speech at last year’s Chinese New Year dinner Douglas reminded us that uncertainty was a theme in 2016.
Indeed, uncertainties and changes we’ve been witnessing are more dramatic than expected. The world economy remains sluggish. Brexit has caught everyone by surprise. The Middle East is mired in aggravating tension. And there is growing backlash against globalization.
Yet, against all the odds, China is marching forth with confidence and optimism.
In 2016, China’s economy grew by 6.7%, still one of the highest in the world. Household consumption and the services sector have become the main drivers of growth. In the first three quarters of 2016, added value created by services accounted for 53% of the GDP and domestic consumption contributed to 71% of economic growth. Household income and employment have steadily risen, while per unit GDP energy consumption continues to drop. Our efforts to pursue green development are paying off. The energy consumption per unit of GDP dropped by 5.2% year on year. A total of 11 million urban jobs were created and the gap between urban and rural income continued to narrow.
The performance of China’s economy has steadily improved: new driving forces are becoming stronger; new businesses are emerging; and many regions and sectors are going through encouraging transformation.
The year 2017 will be a year that will witness major political event in China, the convening of the 19th National Congress of the CPC, and further implementation of the 13th Five Year Plan.
Guided by the vision of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development, we will stick to the basic tone of making progress while maintaining stability, and firmly push forward reforms with priority given to supply-side structural reform, foster a new economic structure, and strengthen new forces driving development to ensure steady and sound growth of China’s economy.
China’s development will bring greater opportunities to the world. It is estimated that in the next five years China will import US$8 trillion of goods, introduce US$600 billion of foreign investment and invest US$750 billion overseas and Chinese tourist will make over 700 million outbound visits. All these mean a bigger market, more capital, a greater variety of products and more mutually beneficial cooperation for other economies around the world, including the EU.
As reiterated by President Xi Jinping in Davos last month, China will not shut its door to the outside world, instead open itself even wider. We will give greater access to foreign investment. We will create a rules-based and enabling business environment in line with international standard, and ensure that there is a level playing field for all companies in China, both domestic and foreign. We hope that other countries will also keep their doors open to Chinese investors and keep the playing field level for us. And we will fully engage ourselves in economic globalization by supporting the multilateral trading regime and improving global economic governance.
Bilaterally, we will work with the EU to further build synergy between the Belt-and-Road Initiative, make fresh progress for the early conclusion of the negotiations on China-EU Investment Agreement, and consolidate and expand cooperation in connectivity, innovation, the digital area, finance, circular economy and facilitation of people-to-people exchange, just to name a few.
I wish to conclude by quoting a famous Chinese saying: The whole year’s work depends on a good start in spring. This good start I believe should be based on a sound state of mind. So my New Year’s wish to HSBC, to China-EU and everyone present this evening is this: wit and wisdom, optimism and openness, courage and confidence. This no doubt is fully in line with this year’s zodiac.
Thank you very much.