Chen Wenling: China’s Reform and Opening-up and the “Belt and Road Initiative” Affect the Development Patterns of China and the World
On October 16, a delegation of Philippine and Bruneian journalists visited CCIEE to learn more about China’s Reform and Opening-up and the “Belt and Road Initiative”. Below are the speeches delivered by Chief Economist Chen Wenling and other researchers of CCIEE.
Chen Wenling: Dear friends, welcome to CCIEE! I know that you are very interested in three questions: the development of China’s reform and opening up, the “Belt and Road”, and the international exchanges and cooperation of CCIEE. The director of the Strategic Research Department Xu Zhanchen will introduce the “Belt and Road”, and Yuan Youwei, the deputy director of the Department of External Affairs will talk about the international exchange and cooperation of CCIEE. The members of CCIEE’s China-US research team are also here today, Zhang Monan, Zhang Jin, and Mei Guanqun. Their research areas cover the Sino-US issues, the “Belt and Road” and China’s economic and social development, they shall be very happy to answer your questions.
First of all, I would like to introduce China’s economic and social development.
It has been almost 70 years since the People’s Republic of China was established on October 1st, 1949. In 1978, China started the reform and opening up and hence went through an extraordinary path. On the report of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China released last year, China’s President Xi Jinping, who is also the General Secretary of the CPC, summarized China’s past development into three stages, namely, stand up, get rich and become strong, which is an accurate description of China’s development in the past.
All of you know that competition between China and the United States in different areas has now become a focus of the world. The US President Trump, and Vice President Mike Pence, have made some very weird views recently, saying that the United States has rebuilt China in 25 years, and the good days of the Chinese people have been too long.
It is a pity that President Trump and Pence are rather narrow-minded. China is a civilized, ancient and great country with a history of 5,000 years, the United States has only 200 years of history. It is pointless to compare the two countries, let alone the claim that the US rebuilt China in 25 years. China’s achievement is based on the 40 years of reform and opening up and its rich history, not because of the US.
Before the founding of the People’s Republic of China, China suffered significantly from imperialist invasion and hundred years of humiliation. During that period, the Chinese people lived in dire straits and the masses had no means to live, similar to what is happening in Syria and Iraq now, refugees, wars and disasters happened everywhere. After the Eight-Nations Alliance, including the United States entered China, they burned the old Summer Palace, China’s most splendid cultural building. Since the People’s Republic of China was founded, the Chinese government and its people have worked really hard to make China a better and better country. The United States treats the rising China as a strategic competitor and has tried to curb, sanction, contain and discredit China.
I will explain China’s achievements from six aspects and more importantly, how are these achievements are made by the Chinese people.
First, China has moved from a poor country to economic power, the living standard of the people has been improved tremendously and China will make itself a comprehensively well-off society. When the new China was just founded, the average life expectancy was only 43 years. In the early days of the reform and opening up, that is, in 1978, the average life expectancy was less than 60 years old, but now the average life expectancy reached 76.7 years. Our goal is to achieve a life expectancy of 77.3 years by 2020 and 79 years by 2030. Actually, the life expectancy has already exceeded 80 years in the big cities like Beijing and Shanghai.
In the early 1950s, China only had very few railways. The fastest train was only 120 kilometers per hour and it did not have a highway, only asphalt roads. In 1978, China began to build highway and it has built more than 120,000 kilometers of highway so far. The very first highway is the Beijing Airport Express you have just experienced, built before 1978.
Before 2008, China did not have any high-speed railway and the fastest rail speed was 120 kilometers per hour. Now China has created a four-vertical and four-horizon high-speed railway network of more than 26,000 kilometers, and it will reach more than 30,000 kilometers by 2020 and 36,000 kilometers by 2035. In other words, all the provinces in China will have high-speed railways except Tibet and Xinjiang. Moreover, the fastest train in China has reached 350 kilometers per hour, and it takes only four and a half hours from Beijing to Shanghai.
Recently, I read a piece of ridiculous news: the US President Trump decided to build a high-speed railway because China and Europe have it. It called for bid worldwide and eventually both China and Australia won the bidding, but the United States chose Australia. Australia exported 400 high-speed trains to the US and built the high-speed railway. Unfortunately, the 400 train stopped just a few hours after their operation because of the loosening tracks. What a waste! China’s high-speed rail has been operating very well these years. China built high speed railway and normal railway in 102 countries around the world, and none of them have problems like Australia had in the United States.
According to the World Bank, China’s GDP per capita in 1978 was merely $156, two thirds less than the poorest places in sub-Saharan Africa, which was $490. So, you can imagine how poor China before the beginning of the reform and opening up. Nowadays, China’s GDP per capita is still much lower than that of developed countries because of the large population, but significant progress has been made. With a GDP per capita exceeds 8,000 US dollars, China now ranks 67 in the world. In the early days of reform and opening up, we ranked only 170. In 1978, 81% of China’s population lived in rural areas, and the urban population was 170 million. At present, the population of Chinese cities has reached 840 million, accounting for 56% of China’s population, while 44% of the people live in rural areas.
After more than 40 years’ hard work, China’s poverty population has dropped from 770 million to 30 million. In the next three years, the Chinese government is going to lift 10 million people out of poverty every year, and achieve zero poverty by 2020. Chinese people are very diligent and during the past 40 years, hundreds of millions of peasants have moved to the city and no longer live in poverty.
Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government, China’s policies have always been stable. After unremitting efforts, Chinese people have achieved remarkable progress. During the early urbanization, hundreds of millions of migrant workers moved to the city and they did not have their own houses, no social insurance and their wages were very low. In 2003, I went to the Suzhou Industrial Park for a fact-finding trip. At that time, a worker’s salary was only 600 yuan per month, equivalent to 100 dollars. At present, the monthly average salary of Chinese migrant workers has exceeded 4,000 yuan, which is close to 700 dollars. The average monthly salary of Chinese workers during that time was even lower than the African Union, which is 154 dollars, and the average salary of Indonesia is about 100 US dollars.
Our national leaders, from the president to the premier of the State Council, are working hard day and night, and they do not have much time for themselves. For example, when I accompanied the former Premier Zhu Rongji to Africa, he had an extremely busy schedule every day. Our leaders can not go on holiday with their families like President Obama, or President Trump, who often plays golf in his private estate. Our national leaders are working hard for the country and the people. In fact, the civil servants in China are a vulnerable group and are not protected by labor laws. Their working status is called “5+2”, “white + black”, that is, 5 working day plus weekends, days and nights. Many people do not understand the secret for China’s successful development. I think the secret is the correct leadership of the Chinese government and the efforts made by all civil servants. The quality of the current civil servants is very high, most of them have either a Doctoral or Master degree and all of them are recruited through a strict state examination. They are working extremely hard to learn the most advanced things in the world.
I worked for the government department for a long time. When I was working for the research office of the State Council, all my colleagues worked overtime at weekends. Our workers, peasants, and grassroots cadres are all working very hard. No one wants to make troubles, especially ordinary workers, no one fight for welfare or better treatment, they just work hard every day and night.
Therefore, I think Trump and Pence are very ridiculous. China has a history of 5,000 years but the US has a history of only 200 years, how can the US rebuild China? Plus, the new China was founded 70 years ago and it has 40 years’ reform and opening up, how can the US rebuild China in 25 years? This is complete nonsense! I was very angry after reading Pence’s speech. I think that he does not understand China’s history, does not understand the Chinese people, and shamelessly said that the United States rebuilt China in 25 years.
How did the Americans gain their wealth? They can easily get things from other countries by printing the US dollars, bully others with hegemony, and get something for free. What is China relying on? China relies on the hard work of its people.
Second, China has changed from a closed and semi-closed society or economy to an all-round, multi-field, high-level open economy. China has a history of 5,000 years but fell behind in modern times because it adopted a policy of self-isolation, especially in the late Qing Dynasty. For example, when foreign envoys came to China in exchange for something, the emperor brushed to one side.
Shortly after the founding of the People’s Republic of China, China adopted a planned and closed economy. One of the reasons is that the United States and other Western countries tried to block China. During the past 40 years of reform and opening up, China always insists on opening the Chinese market to the rest of the world and introducing the most advanced equipment and technology to China. On December 21, 2001, China became a member of the WTO and has since fulfilled all the commitments it made to WTO. For example, it opened up 102 service areas, reviewed nearly 20 local laws and regulations, abolished nearly 2,000 laws and regulations, and re-established a large number of laws and regulations to adapt itself to the WTO.
China attaches great importance to the protection of intellectual property rights and has established intellectual property courts in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, which is a very important move made by China in recent years. Moreover, China has promulgated a large number of laws and regulations to protect intellectual property rights and punished many violations of intellectual property rights. The intellectual property rights and patents purchased by Chinese companies are based on the principle of market economy and fair negotiation. Last year, China spent nearly $30 billion on intellectual property purchases, of which $8.5 billion was paid to the United States, accounting for almost a quarter of the total purchase. The United States accuses China of plagiarizing intellectual property rights, this is nonsense and embarrassing.
China is now the largest trading partner of more than 130 countries and regions around the world, and is the second largest trading partner of nearly 70 countries and regions. There are now more than 200 economies in the world and so, we can say that China is the first or second largest trading partner of most countries.
Third, China’s manufacturing industry is steadily moving from the low-end to the mid-to-high end, and China is becoming a big manufacturing country. In 2010, China’s manufacturing output value exceeded that of the United States and in 2016, the manufacturing output value has accounted for 25.5% of the global total. China has established a complete industrial system and some of the manufacturing industries have become one of the world leaders, such as high-speed rail, nuclear power, photovoltaic industry, and deep-sea exploration. China has established a space station, the US space station will expire next year and so, it will have no space station to use if it does not use China’s space station. Nonetheless, the overall manufacturing level of China is still at the middle-low-end and is moving toward the middle-high end. Among the world’s 525 industrial products, China has the best production capacities for 220 of them. Since 2006, China’s large-scale equipment, complete sets of equipment, and precision machine tool production have been among the highest standard in the world. China has been the largest exporter of large equipment for many years but before 2006, most of China’s large equipment was imported.
Fourth, China’s economic system has undergone fundamental changes. The reform and opening up reshaped China’s economic system and changed the planned economy to market economy. In 1978, 75% of China’s products were agricultural products, and 90% of the products produced had nothing to do with the international market. More than 95% of the products were not allowed to be sold in the market, especially the food of farmers.
At that time, China only had less than 150,000 types of goods, but now the small commodities market in Yiwu, Zhejiang alone has more than 1.8 million types of goods. Almost 100% of industrial products and more than 80% of agricultural products (except for the peasants’ own retention) are tradable commodities. Can you imagine that before the 1980s, the clothes that everyone wears were not freely available on the market. The quantity of food and clothes we could have every month is fixed. During the planned economy period, materials were extremely scarce. Nowadays, China has a real market economy, the most developed commodity economy and a complete industrial system.
Fifth, China was only a regional big country but now it is moving towards the center of the world’s stage. As a responsible big country, China is playing an increasingly important role in the international community. In addition to being a member of the United Nations, China is a permanent member of the United Nations, a member of the G20, APEC, BRICS, SCO, RCEP, WTO, and many other international organizations. China has established a closer relationship with a lot of regional and international organizations, either bilateral or multilateral.
Lastly, the Chinese government has outstanding consistency. I think that the Chinese government has the best ruling team in the world because the members of the team have grassroots experience, strong political quality and profound cultural heritage. In contrast, the Trump administration tends to have a very random approach when it comes to policy-making and such kind of arbitrariness has reversed the image of the US. Moreover, the policies and actions adopted by the US have triggered an anti-globalization and anti-humanity move worldwide.
In conclusion, China is still on a sustainable and stable development path, it will steadily move toward the future and realize the goal proposed by President Xi Jinping at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, that is, to make China a socialist modernization power by the middle of this century. China’s development will not be interrupted by the United States, nor will it be interrupted by anyone because China belongs to the Chinese people. China is part of the world and the stable and strong economic development achieved by China can be seen as a contribution to the world.
The US subprime mortgage crisis triggered the international financial crisis after 2008 and China has become the engine of world economic growth as it contributed more than 30% of the world economic growth annually, and 80% to the global poverty-alleviation. The hard-won progress of China is based on the reform and opening up, the efforts of all the Chinese people and the correct leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government. China did not surrender to foreign forces in the past, and it will not do so in the future. China will continue its hard work and opening-up unswervingly in the future, it has a bright future and it is willing to join hands with all countries to build a better world.
Thank you very much!
Next, Mr. Xu Zhanchen, director of the Strategic Research Department will give you an introduction to the “Belt and Road” initiative.
I am very happy to see so many friends and reporters. My colleague and my leader, Ms. Chen Wenling made a wonderful introduction to China’s 40 years of reform and opening up and its future development. I would like to talk abo peninsulaut China’s “Belt and Road” initiative.
As you may know that the concept of Silk Road was firstly proposed by a German geographer and scientist Ferdinand von Richthofen in 1877. The silk road can be traced back to the second century B.C. and China is the starting point of the east. The Silk Road is not only an important trade channel, but also a major channel of civilization connecting the East and the West.
In fact, there is also a maritime Silk Road, which is more closely linked to the Philippines and Brunei and refers to the maritime section of historic Silk Road that connects China to Southeast Asia, Indonesian archipelago, Indian subcontinent, Arabian Peninsula, Somalia and all the way to Egypt and finally Europe.
Just a few years ago, an archaeological excavation in the South China Sea found a shipwreck on the seabed and discovered that there were a large number of Chinese merchant ships engaged in trade during the Southern Song Dynasty or even earlier. At that time, Quanzhou was the most developed coastal port of China. Starting from Quanzhou and the first stop is Luzon Island in the Philippines, which shows that we had a lot of cultural exchanges with the Philippines in the early days. For example, I know that tobacco was transported from the Philippines to China; the sweet potato that we eat today also come from the Philippines. China’s papermaking and printing techniques were brought to the Philippines.
The Silk Road, and the belt and road proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013 are two different concepts. The former is the Silk Road Economic Belt and the latter is the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. There are three large passages on the land: the first one is from the west and northeast of China to the Baltic Sea; the second passage is from the west of China to today’s Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea through Central Asia; and the third passage is from South China to the Central South Peninsula.
There are two sea routes: one is from the coast of China to the Indian Ocean through the Straits of Malacca, and the other one is from the southeast coast of China to the South Pacific region. This year marks the fifth anniversary of the “Belt and Road”. In September 2013, President Xi Jinping proposed the establishment of the Silk Road, also known as the silk road economic belt in Kazakhstan. One month later, the maritime silk road was also proposed by President Xi in Indonesia, which is the beginning of the initiative.
The “Belt and Road” focus for solving the problem of “connectivity”, which means we need to establish connectivity in the following five aspects.
The first one is policy coordination, which means we need to promote the coordination of development plans, strategies and visions of countries along the belt and road route.
Secondly, facilities connectivity. This mainly refers to the connectivity of roads and transportation infrastructure, including roads, bridges, ports, terminals and of course, modern Internet technology. In the past, we lost many development opportunities due to the missing facilities connectivity. Nowadays, the problem of insufficient infrastructure construction still exists in many countries, especially in Asia, including the Philippines.
Thirdly, impeded trade. Trade development needs facilitation and standardization in many aspects, however, there are still many factors deterring trade development, such as different customs clearance systems and different width of rail tracks.
Fourthly, financial integration. Infrastructure construction, industrialization and urbanization require a lot of investment. Therefore, China has initiated the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which can be seen as a great financial innovation.
Lastly, people to people bond. We need to establish a wider range of non-governmental exchanges in the areas of education, culture, health and tourism. Asia is like a big family and it has different religions, social systems and stages of development. Therefore, it is very important to strengthen the people-to-people bond and enhance understanding among each other.
Today’s meeting is an opportunity to strengthen the people-to-people bond. In 2016, China has published the report of Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road to help people better understand the belt and road initiative.
The Belt and Road is a big platform for common development. At first, the “Belt and Road” mainly included 64 countries, 65 if China is included. Later, many countries outside the belt and road region such as Africa and Latin America also want to take part in the initiative. In fact, the Belt and Road has now become a concept of broader global cooperation. On May 14, 2017, China held the first “Belt and Road forum for international cooperation”.
Question from the journalist delegation: originally, the Belt and Road Initiative has 64 countries, but you mentioned that Africa and Latin America also want to participate in this initiative?
Xu Zhanchen: yes, that is right. Many countries in Africa, including Ethiopia, Tanzania want to participate in the initiative. The “Belt and Road” is not designed for a specific region but open to any countries that are willing to take part. Thus, the Belt and Road is actually a platform for China to provide the international community with a global public product.
When the Belt and Road initiative was first proposed, it wants to attract the 64 countries along the belt and road region but later on, we decided to enlarge the range of participants because there are many countries, including African countries also want to take part. Last year, there were 1,600 foreign guests attended the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, including 29 heads of state and government and more than 80 international organizations. In 2019, we will hold the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. Many countries have already expressed their desire to participate in this forum and would like to know more about the cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road.
In August 2018, President Xi Jinping presided over the symposium on the fifth anniversary of the construction of the “Belt and Road”. In the past five years, the trade between China and countries along the belt and road exceeded 5 trillion US dollars, 82 international economic cooperation zones and cooperative parks have been established in this region, which created employment for 244,000 people. Furthermore, China has invested 70 billion US dollars in the Belt and Road region. Despite the progress the Belt and Road has made, there are many different views on the Belt and Road Initiative in the international community, especially in western society.
The development of the Belt and Road in the past five years conforms to the aspirations of the international community and the trend of globalization. The popularity of the Belt and Road in the international community exceeds China’s expectation. In 2013, the Belt and Road initiative was proposed to inject a new impetus into the world economic development because the world economy was still deeply affected by the global financial crisis. I want to use five keywords to explain the Belt and Road.
The first keyword is openness. Over the past decades, emerging economies and developing countries experienced rapid development, but they still do not have sufficient discourse power under the current global governance framework. The openness of the Belt and Road means that the initiative is not a club designed for a few countries or China only, but a cooperation platform open to all countries. We hope to connect the development plans of all participating country through the Belt and Road. The focus of the Belt and Road is to solve the bottleneck problem of the participating country through interconnection.
There are three major deficits in the world today, security deficit, development deficit and governance deficit. The western countries have always isolated these three problems and the result is that security and governance issues have not been resolved for a long time. China’s development experience offers a great reference for solving these problems, that is, to improve governance and gradually solve security problems through development. Without development, these problems may never be resolved. Development means improving people’s livelihood, which is the most important human right. I have heard that Brunei has initiated a program called “2035 ambition”, with the aim of creating a high quality life for its people. The Philippines is also developing fast and improving its infrastructure construction, all these are aimed at improving people’s livelihood.
The second keyword is equality, implying that any country can participate in the Belt and Road on an equal basis, which is why China made “consultation”, “joint contribution” and “sharing” the basic principles of the Belt and Road. Consultation means that we need to discuss all the issues together; joint contribution means that all of the participating countries need to work together and make joint contribution; sharing means that all the participants will share the outcome.
Countries can choose to participate in the belt and road initiative according to their own will. Although countries along the belt and road region have different size, strength, and wealth but they will be treated equally. No country is allowed to harm others to benefit itself.
The third keyword is inclusiveness. The countries along the belt and region route have various races, ethnic groups, social systems, development, geographical environment, and religious beliefs, the Belt and Road will fully respect historical inheritance and diversity.
The fourth keyword is compatibility. The relationship between the Belt and Road and other international cooperation agencies such as the RCEP and ASEAN is compatible, not an alternative.
The last keyword is growth. It means that the Belt and Road is a step-by-step growing process. It seeks development and mutual benefit through continuous cooperation. I hope that the five words above will help you to better understand the Belt and Road initiative.
Question from the journalist delegation: I am very grateful to Ms. Yuan for her speech. Thank you very much for mentioning the importance of communication and exchanges. Actually, the western society does not want to see that Asian countries achieve common success through joint work. We understand that China needs to shoulder its own responsibilities and play an important role. My colleague published an article this month, saying that it is wrong for the United States to interfere with China’s South China Sea issue. We also want to make a contribution to strengthen the friendship between China and the Philippines and achieve the goal of building a common community of shared future for mankind. Nonetheless, we experienced many problems due to some people’s misunderstandings. For example, some Filipinos believe that the cooperation projects jointly built by China and the Philippines will only benefit China.
The Philippines will have an election soon and the change of leaders is likely to cause many problems in the future. Maybe Pakistan and Malaysia also have such kind of problems. I have been working hard to create a good atmosphere for cooperation between the Philippines and my advice to China is to pay more attention and make more investment in the communication and exchanges between the people of the two countries.
China is a big power producer and the Philippines has a very high demand for electricity. If China can export its electricity at a lower price to Philippines, this will improve the livelihood of the ordinary people significantly. Furthermore, as a big auto-maker, if China can export more cars directly to the Philippines so that more Filipinos can have their own cars, this will enhance the friendship and connectivity between the two countries. I am not saying that we should reduce investment cooperation between governments, but we must pay more attention to the communication and exchanges between the people of the two countries and help poor people to improve their life quality.
Xu Zhanchen: I think you are right. We must enhance the confidence of Asian countries, especially China and Southeast Asian countries. China and Southeast Asian countries are the most populated places in the world and they have the strongest need for development. I believe that the cooperation between China and other Asian countries will become better and better in the future.
I appreciate the emphasis you made on energy. Actually, not just Philippines, many countries along the Belt and Road do not need have sufficient supply of electricity. Without electricity, development will become very difficult and so it is critical to solving infrastructure-related problems.
On August 27 this year, China held a symposium on the fifth anniversary of the Belt and Road, at which President Xi Jinping said that the next step of the Belt and Road development is to bring tangible benefits to the people along the belt and road route. Some of the projects may be small and not so eye-catching but they can bring real benefits to the ordinary people of the belt and road region, which will enhance the people-to-people bond and increase our confidence on the belt and road project.
Chen Wenling: From June 22 to 28, I led a research team to Myanmar and Laos. The situation in Laos is similar to what you said in the Philippines. Actually, Indonesia also has a shortage of electricity. Under the framework of the Belt and Road, 13 Chinese companies invested in the power industry in Laos and now there is even an electricity surplus there. In Myanmar, only 44% of the population have stable access to electricity and the remaining 56% suffer from a serious shortage of electricity. Thus, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam are all buying electricity from Laos. Where there is a will, there is a way. If these countries can open the power industry to foreign investment, the problem of power shortage can be resolved easily. There are 250 million people and 17,000 islands in Indonesia. Except for Java Island, the rest of the islands have an insufficient supply of electricity. Previously, Bali Island did not have enough electricity but now 40% of the electricity there is supplied by China’s Huaneng group. All countries have their own problem but the important thing is how are you going to solve these problems. The change made in the power industry of Laos and Indonesia demonstrates that if the local governments can create a good environment for foreign investment, most of their problems can be solved.
Question from the journalist delegation: the Philippines has now a very serious inflation problem, do you have any suggestions on improving the economic development of the Philippines?
Chen Wenling: I think the inflation in the Philippines is not the most serious one. The most serious one seems to be Venezuela. The US dollar has appreciated for 8 consecutive times and the US debt has been reduced significantly, which has brought serious problems to the rest of the world. For instance, 18 countries have serious inflation and more than a dozen countries are now in financial crisis. We can blame the US for all these problems because the international status of the US dollar and the US monetary policy have brought great impact on the world. Some countries, including France, Germany and other countries in Europe, have signed an agreement with the international settlement organization, using other currencies as the settlement currency, such as the RMB, or they can choose currency swap. Therefore, I think that the current inflation is a global issue, the Philippines is not the only victim.
I have five suggestions on solving this problem. First of all, the Philippines should hedge the risk of the US dollar by promoting currency swaps with RMB and increasing the foreign exchange reserves of RMB. Secondly, to reduce the cost of imports. If the Philippines has to increase imports to meet the demand of its domestic market, it is better to import from countries with low labor costs, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and India. Thirdly, to actively participate in the building of the Belt and Road and carry out deep cooperation with China. Philippine can use RMB as the settlement currency. Fourthly, the government should control the prices of certain important commodities when necessary, in order to avoid hyperinflation. Lastly, to increase the interest rate. The interest rate should be increased according to the price increase, so as to stabilize people’s confidence. The government must demonstrate that it has the ability to control inflation and match it with the income level of the people.
Question from the journalist delegation: It is now very difficult to completely separate politics from economy, including the trade war between the United States and other countries. I feel that the trade war is very harmful and it will break the international balance. In particular, it has intensified the competition between big powers, which is not a good choice. The United States has always blamed China for its economy but actually, the problem is the US economy itself. The Trump administration has made many ridiculous remarks for the sake of winning elections. The slogan of Trump’s presidential campaign is to make the United States great again, America first. President Xi Jinping will visit the Philippines this November to discuss the China-Philippines relations and promote bilateral cooperation.
Chen Wenling: Yes, President Xi Jinping’s visit to the Philippines is very important and will surely succeed!
Question from the journalist delegation: I would like to ask a question on behalf of Brunei. Both China and Brunei attach great importance to bilateral cooperation in the areas of energy, agriculture, infrastructure and power systems, I want to know what kind of progress has been made so far.
Xu Zhanchen: the bilateral cooperation is making great progress. The two countries have reached a consensus on building the Guangxi-Brunei Economic Corridor. Furthermore, China will help Brunei to develop its agriculture, mainly to grow rice. Brunei has not been able to produce enough food for its people and with China’s help, we hope that Brunei can satisfy 60% of its own food demand by 2035. The current rice production in Brunei is relatively low. Another area of bilateral cooperation is education. The Zhejiang University and Brunei University are working together to train talents in chemical industry. Right now, the economic development of Brunei mainly relies on export, it should promote economic diversification through industrial development.
Question from the journalist delegation: Could you please tell us more about the Guangxi-Brunei Economic Corridor?
Xu Zhanchen: the cooperation between Guangxi and Brunei is mainly through the Qinzhou Port.
Journalist delegation: I think that the best way to communicate between people of different countries is the ping-pong diplomacy. The United States wants to launch a war because war will consume a lot of materials. The West opposes the Belt and Road initiative because they do not want us to reach an agreement and promote cooperation. On the South China Sea, the Philippines want to know China’s development and projects in this area.
Xu Zhanchen: Asia belongs to the people of Asia. The South China Sea issue must be resolved through consultations and countries outside this region should not intervene in this matter. Now everyone has regrouped their goals into development, gathered together for cooperation and the connection of the Belt and Road Maritime Silk Road. We have built a cooperative system and we must continue to focus on development through more specific cooperation, so that the people of China and the Philippines can get real benefits from the belt and road.
Journalist delegation: what kind of projects will be conducted in the future to achieve this goal?
Xu Zhanchen: Like I just said earlier that China and the Philippines will bring real benefits to their people through specific projects, such as the cooperation on the Manila Bridge, the construction of electric power, solar energy and other infrastructure. China has a strong production capacity in such areas as solar panels and solar cells, which will help the local people to improve their lives.
China’s 40 years of development taught us that infrastructure is essential for development. Many countries agree that good infrastructure will bring people more opportunities. Ms. Yuan also said that problems can not be solved by empty talk, economic development is the real solution.