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Speech by H.E. Ambassador Song Zhe, Head of the Mission of the People's Republic of China to the European Union on the Opening Ceremony of the Photo Exhibition "Charming Beijing" at the European Commission Headquarters

Dear Director General Eneko Landaburu, ladies and gentlemen, friends:

I would like to welcome you to the photo exhibition "Charming Beijing". On the eve of the sixtieth anniversary celebration of the People's Republic of China, it is of special significance for us to hold this exhibition, together with the Directorate-General for External Relations of the European Commission,

One year ago, the Beijing Olympic Games revealed the newest look of the host city. The Games brought joy and passion to the world, and it also presented Beijing, a metropolis with a history of China’s capital for centuries, to the whole world. Today, I hope this exhibition will bring you back once again to appreciate Beijing. With its ancestry and tradition, Beijing embodies China’s long history and brilliant culture. But Beijing also symbolizes China’s reform, opening up and rapid development through its modernity and new landscape. Take a look at the development and changes in Beijing; it is not difficult to fathom the changes taking place in China.

China is moving towards greater harmony. The ancient Chinese civilization has left its deep imprint on the outlook of the country and the spirit of its society. In today’s China, you will see a mixture of tradition and modernity, heritage and development, and the traditional culture of harmony and unity is being enriched and renewed today.

China is becoming more and more open. China's social development and changes has been driven by more than 3 decades of reform and opening up. With an open mind, China grows in confidence and maturity. In the development process, we carefully study and draw on all the outstanding achievements of human civilization, and become increasingly integrated with the world.

China is making further progress. As you will see very soon, these colorful pictures depict in many ways the richness and ease in the life of Chinese people. The basic philosophy of the Chinese government is to govern for the good of the people. And the ultimate goal for all the development and changes of China is to continuously improve the quality of life and the well-being of the people.

Over the past 60 years since the founding of new China, China developed from a backward agricultural country towards an industrialized country. Chinese people have shaken off general poverty and lived in overall prosperity. Education, science, culture, health and other undertakings have developed tremendously. After 60 years of efforts, China has moved from low-income countries into the ranks of middle-income countries. Real GDP increase by 77 times, with per capita GDP of more than 3,000 U.S. dollars. Fiscal revenue grew by about 1,000 times. Foreign exchange reserves increased by 10, 000 times to be the biggest in the world. Total import and export trade volume ranks third in the world, accounting for up to 7.9% of world trade. With only 7% of the world's arable land, China provides food to 22% of world population. China's grain output in 1949 was only 113 million tons, in 2008 China's grain output reached 529 million tons and grain self-sufficiency rate is as high as 95%. After 60 years of efforts, China achieved a a historic leap in the standard of living, with urban and rural residents shaking off poverty, having adequate food and clothing, and then living an overall well-off life. Per capita deposits increased by approximately 10, 000 times. The income of urban residents grew by about 150 times and that of rural residents grew by about 100 times. The urban social security system are gradually established and improved. The rural social security system is also well under way. After 60 years of efforts, China has made great achievements in the rule of law. The basic strategy of governing the country according to law has been established. The socialist legal system with Chinese characteristics, with the Constitution as the core, has basically taken shape. While improving the people's right to survival and development through economic and social development, the state attaches great importance to provide citizens with constitutional and legal safeguards for basic rights and freedom.

As an old Chinese saying goes, every day is a new day. China is developing and changing so fast, to use a Chinese poem, “so many flowers are dazzling to the eyes”, but still I would suggest European friends to focus on several main features in order to get to the essence of China's development.

First, China’s development is comprehensive and diverse. Fast economic growth is perhaps the most visible change of China. But China’s political and social reform is always moving forward. Never before do we put so many efforts into environmental protection and sustainable development. And never before do we have so much diversity, inclusiveness and richness in art, culture and people’s way of life.

Secondly, China’s development is continuous and progressive. For more than one hundred years, the Chinese people have strived to build a prosperous, democratic and civilized country. This is in keeping with the general trend of history, and reform and opening up will lead China towards this promising future.

Thirdly, China’s development is contributing to world harmony. Like other countries, China’s modernization is deeply rooted in its own tradition and culture. But what is the same between the East and the West is the stress on human values, the comprehensive development of human and the harmony among people, nature and society.

Along with the deepening of China's reform and opening up, China-EU relations have also benefited greatly with growing maturity. China-EU relations are a model for the development of relations between countries having different social systems, development models and in different stages of development.

China and the EU have established a comprehensive strategic partnership. The two sides share many common or similar views on the international order, security concept, etc,. In seeking political solution to the Middle East question, the Korean peninsular nuclear issue and other hot issues, on cooperation to tackle the global challenges posed by terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, climate change, financial crisis, infectious disease control, transnational organized crime and others, almost all of them invovle cooperation between China and the EU. Dozens of dialogue mechanisms at different levels and through different channels have played an active role and served to enhance mutual political trust between the two sides.

China-EU economic and trade relations have seen sustained and rapid development. Bilateral trade volume reached 425.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2008 from 2.4 billion dollars in 1975, an increase of 176 times; mutual investment started from scratch and now the EU have made a total investment of 63.9 billion U.S. dollars in China, and China import technology from the EU with a contract value of 122 billion U.S. dollars. The EU has become China's largest trading partner, source of imports, export market and supplier of technology. China is the EU's second largest trading partner and the fastest-growing export market for the EU. From 2004 to 2008, the EU exports to China have increased by 65%.

China-EU cultural exchanges have reached a new level. China has set up cultural centers in France, Malta, Germany, Spain and other European countries and established more than 60 Confucius Institutes in Europe. The EU has collaborated with 20 universities and research institutions in 10 Chinese cities to jointly establish the European research center. The EU has launched the Erasmus Mundus China strand project which recruit Chinese students and scholars to study in Europe. China has also launched the "China-EU student exchange scholarship program" and the "China-EU language exchange program" (EU window). At present, there are more than 200,000 Chinese students in Europe and more than one million Chinese tourists visit Europe every year.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As the Beijing Olympic theme song says, you and me, from one world, we are family. Today, we live in a world benefiting from unprecedented material progress and convenient means of communication, but still there is always a need for better mutual understanding. The Chinese people are prepared to work with the European people to deepen understanding in our respective process of development and drawn upon each other’s experience. We are ready to deepen cooperation and make joint efforts to advance China-EU comprehensive and strategic partnership. Together we will contribute to building a harmonies world of lasting peace and common prosperity. I hope that "the charm of Beijing" exhibition will enable you to feel better the changes and development of China and the aspirations of the Chinese people!

Thank you!


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