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Statements by Acting Consul General Jin Qian at the China-WA Bilateral Engagement Dialogue
2020/10/28

Hon. Peter Tinley MLA, Minister for Housing; Fisheries; Veterans Issues; Asian Engagement

Madam Sarah Hooper, State Director of DFAT

Mr. Richard Sellers, Acting Director General of JTSI

Mr. Adam Handley, State President of ACBC WA Branch

Mr. David Sun, President of CCCA Perth Branch

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon. It is a great pleasure for me to be here with all of you, old and new friends. Thank you, Adam and David, for inviting me to this important dialogue. Over the past decades of ACBC and CCCA’ history, China-Australia relations and, in particular, our economic and trade cooperation have experienced sound and steady growth. No matter how the situation changes, ACBC WA and CCCA Perth Branch and the member companies are always committed to building a bridge of friendship and cooperation between Chinese and WA businesses and peoples, and to promoting our economic and trade cooperation and the overall relations. Your contribution and hard efforts deserve acclaim from all of us.

The fact that this event has drawn such a number of distinguished friends shows how timely it is. Indeed, we are at a critical moment in China-Australia relation, a moment that is challenging but promising. Challenging, because we have unprecedented tasks before us, both in our relations and in the world at large. Promising, because every challenge lies an oppotunuty. A challenge solved is an opportunity gained.

Dear Friends,

The year of 2020 has tested all of us. With more than 200 countries and regions affected to date, COVID-19 is gravely threatening the health, safety and life of people around the world. The global economy has come under severe strain, with simultaneous contraction of supply and demand, massive volatility in the financial markets, and plummeting trade and investment. We are at growing risk of a social governance crisis, a humanitarian crisis, and even a possible food crisis. We must act with a greater sense of common purpose and stronger resolve. We must make more determined efforts and work together in closer coordination and cooperation to push our economies to resume growth at an early date.

Facing this unexpected disease, the Chinese government has consistently followed a people-centered approach. Thanks to the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China and the painstaking efforts of the whole country and society, China has been the first major economy to return to growth since the onslaught of COVID-19, and has taken the lead in the world in both epidamic control and economic recovery. Chinese economy grew by 3.2% in the second quarter, rebounding from the first quarter’s 6.8% contraction. In August, China’s foreign trade reached US$421.69 billion, up 6.0% year on year. Among which, exports increased by 11.6%, the second month of gains since July despite lingering external risks and oversea demand still largely hampered by the pandemic. Foreign direct investment(FDI) into the Chinese mainland, in actual use, expanded 18.7% year on year to about US$12.3 billion, which marks the fifth consecutive month for the country to witness positive growth in FDI.

International institutions have positive outlooks for China’s economy. IMF forecasts put China as one of the few countries that will maintain positive growth in 2020. OECD predicts China will be the only country of G20 that will not suffer recession in 2020. The Asian Development Bank’s latest report forecasts that East Asia, led by China, will emerge from the pandemic much faster than the south and south-east of the region. All this fully demonstrates China’s great resilience and vitality.

This year, China will develop into a moderately prosperous society in all respects. The Chinese nation will for the first time in history eliminate absolute poverty. This is a long-cherished dream coming true for the Chinese nation and a major contribution to human development.

Dear Friends,

This year also marks the 71st anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Thanks to the strong leadership of CPC and the hard work of the Chinese people since the founding of the People’s Republic and in particular since reform and opening-up more than 40 years ago, the once poverty-stricken country is now the world’s second largest economy.

Nevertheless, China remains a developing country. As President Xi Jinping pointed out, our mission is “to meet the people’s aspiration for a better life”. We are striving at this through socialism with Chinese characteristics, and we are totally focused on our own peaceful development. We never seek hegemony nor attempt to export our development model. On the contrary, China respects other countries’ independent choices of development path and is always ready to join hands with other nations to build a community of a shared future for mankind.

Dear Friends,

China and Australia are in the same region. Our economies are highly complementary. We both stand for free trade and open economy, and we have many shared interests. Over the past 5 decades, we have achieved great progress on many fronts in our bilateral relationship and delivered real benefits to our peoples. We have become attractive markets of business and investment to each other.

China has been Australia’s biggest trade partner for 13 years in a row and is now Australia’s largest source of international students and tourists. More promisingly, China is Australia’s most important collaborator on scientific research on account of the number of university research papers and mentions in the top 1 percent of most-cited articles. Over 12,000 Australian companies have set up branches in China. Chinese investment in Australia has exceeded US$40 billion in accumulative term.

This year marks the 5th anniversary of the China Australia Free Trade Agreement(ChAFTA). Since the ChAFTA entered into force in 2015, the total volume of trade in goods between our two countries has increased by 69%, from AU$135 billion in 2014 to AU$228.7 billion in 2019. This FTA marks not only a milestone in our bilateral ties but also a new high in our mutual trust and cooperation. We should cherish the fruits cultivated by centuries of interaction and association between our peoples as well as decades of trust-building between our leaderships.

Though we have very close economic and trade ties, there are always ups and downs in our relations. We have different historical heritages, different cultures, and different political and economic systems, it is normal there always be differences between us. But we have to manage the differences in a constructive way, because our common interests and mutual needs always outweigh whatever differences we have.

Our stance on China-Australia relations is consistent and clear, a sound and stable China-Australia relationship serves the two countries’ common interests, but it takes concerted efforts from both to make it work. We need to take an objective view of each other’s development paths and social systems, adhere to mutual respect, and properly handle differences. We must insist on treating each other’s development as an opportunity rather than a threat, abandon the Cold War mentality, and continue to build trust and remove suspicion. It is important for us to maintain mutually beneficial cooperation and close people-to-people exchanges, and to create a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory business environment for companies from both sides. We hope Australia can work with China on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, and do things that are conducive to our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. If there is sufficient political will, opportunities are for sure there.

Dear Friends,

As the economic power house in Australia, WA continues to play a leading role in China-Australia relations and bilateral cooperation. We appreciate the positive attitude of the WA State Government and the broad society, in particular the WA business community, in developing long term friendly relations with China.

Even since the Channar project in 1987, more than 80 Chinese enterprises have invested a total of AU$30 billion in WA covering a wide range of sectors including mining, engery, agriculture, real estate, etc.

China remains WA’s largest trading partner, export market and source of import and helps create hundreds of thousands of local jobs. According to the statistics by Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation of WA, last year, WA’s export to China reached AU$96.1billion, exceeding the sum of all the other export markets. Very impressively, 82% WA’s iron ore export went to China. And China was also the biggest international tourist market in term of tourist spending and the second largest source of international students for WA in 2019.

The constantly growing business connections and cultural exchanges have consequential impact on deepening our mutual understanding and appreciation and forging stronger friendship and affinity between our peoples.

We will never forget that Australia, especially WA provided valuable assistance to China at our most difficult time during the epidemic. Friends like ACBC WA and FMG help China sourcing PPEs both from Australian and international suppliers. Rio Tinto, BHP and FMG have all donated generously to support Chinese efforts to fight COVID-19.

The Chinese nation is grateful and always returns the kindness in spring for drips of water received in need. After Australia, particular WA was confronted with the virus, China wasted no time in managing our supply of PPEs to Australia and WA. CCCA Perth Branch has donated 1000 Nucleic Acid Detection Kit to the local research institution, and provided 4000 Medical Masks to Ability Centre WA. In collaboration with Minderoo Fountion, Chinese BGI Genomics has successfully completed the installation of 11 COVID-19 testing labs across Australia, including the one in WA, which increases WA’s COVID-19 tests capacity from 400 to 10,000 per day. The fact our people joining hands to fight the pandemic in a century shows that China-Australia friendship has a solid social foundation, which is the hope and ballast of our relations.

We are very happy to see that WA is the only State that has actually surpassed its Fubruary level. Majority of WA businesses have largely returned to normal trading conditions and some are literally doing better than they were before the pandemic.

But now is not the time for complacency, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic crisis cannot be overstated. The biggest peacetime shock in our lifetime is dramatically accelerating technological transformation, fomenting social changes across the globe, and fundamentally redrawing the business landscape. what would the post-pandemic world be like? What would it need from us and from our cooperation? We have to look to the future and plan ahead. We have to work with each other instead of against each other.

As a Chinese adage going, “Those who see the trend are wise and those who seize the trend will win.” Only by seeing and seizing the trend can we grab the unusual opportunities in unusual times. The businesses which best understand the opportunities and pitfalls in the new landscape are those most likely to prosper. I understand today’s Strategic Engagement Dialogue is about exploring China-WA trade and investment opportunities in post COVID-19 era. I would like to take this opportunity to share some of my observations.

First, China’s new development pattern presents great opportunities for WA businesses. Now China is preparing for the 14th Five-Year Plan, which will start next year. Facing uncertainties of global economic recovery complicated by unabated pandemic and anti-globalization sentiments, President Xi Jinping stressed the need to give full play to the advantages of China’s huge domestic market, thus China has adopted a new development pattern whereby domestic and foreign markets can boost each other, with domestic market as the mainstay. China has the world’s largest industrial system, over 123 million market entities, over 170 million skilled professionals and 400 million middle-income earners, it is necessary for China to have the domestic market as the mainstay and try hard to tap its potential from both demand and supply side. This does not mean China will have a closed internal loop and close its doors. On the contrary, we will open our door even wider which will enable the domestic market to function more effectively and efficiently, so that the internal and external cycles could really reinforce each other.

I hope that Australian companies, especially WA businesses, which are operating in China, will seize the great opportunities. They are already part of our domestic cycle or domestic market, they are the natural links between the internal cycle and the external cycle. They will have better prospects to develop in China as the country moves to build up resilience against external shocks while sharing its opportunities for development with the rest of the world.

Second, Chin’s further reform and opening-up is an opportunity to set a new example for China-WA business cooperation. For the last four decades, China has implemented the policy of reform and opening-up, and it remains a basic state policy. China is in the stage of in-depth development of new industrialization, informatization, urbanization and agricultural modernization, with broad domestic demand. China will continue to broaden market access, protect the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors, and create a market environment in which domestic and foreign-funded enterprises are treated equally and compete fairly. Given the premise of effective prevention and control of COVID-19, China will open up more “fast lanes” for personnel exchanges and “green channels” for goods clearance, so as to facilitate transnational operation of enterprises.

Even at the time of the global pandemic, China has initiated new measures for reform and opening-up in the last few months. For instance, the new Foreign Investment Law took effect on Jan. 1st this year. There is certainly better predictability for foreign investors, who will have better confidence in China. What’s more, in its latest efforts to open the economy, China announced the 2020 version of the negative list for the access of foreign investment and the negative list for pilot free trade zones, and the negative lists are getting shorter and shorter.

One month ago, China successfully hosted the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services, which is the first major international economic and trade event held by China since the outbreak of COVID-19. It shows China’s willingness to join hands with all of the world in this trying time and work together to enable global trade in services to thrive and the world economy to recover at an early date. With the upcoming virtual Canton fair and the 3rd China International Import Expo, China’s unwavering opening up will incessantly infuse confidence into global economy and China will continue to share development opportunities with the rest of the world.

I hope WA companies will invest and establish footholds in China and benefit from China’s development dividends. In about a month’s time, WA business representatives will head to Shanghai to attend the 3rd China International Import Expo. I hope more interested WA companies take part in the Expo, introduce their products and services into the Chinese market and explore new growth points for trade.

Third, the Belt and Road Initiative is an opportunity to point to the new direction of cooperation between China and WA. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which kicked off 7 years ago and has indeed become a massive platform for cooperation and an engine of growth, with 138 Countries and 30 international organizations having signed 199 BRI cooperation documents with China. Total trade between China and other Belt and Road countries has exceeded US$7.8 trillion, and China’s investment in these countries has surpassed US$100 billion with Chinese companies generating over US$2 billion in tax revenue and 300,000 jobs for locals. It will eventually connect a vast swath of the world, creating huge yields in economic activity, and wiring the world together as never before.

COVID-19 has once again vividly demonstrated that all nations have their destinies closely interconnected, and humanity is indeed a community with a shared future. Be it in taming the virus or in achieving economic recovery, humanity cannot succeed without solidarity, cooperation and multilateralism. The right approach to tackling global crises and realizing long-term development is through greater connectivity, openness and inclusiveness. This is where Belt and Road international cooperation can make a big difference.

As the COVID-19 pandemic is dragging the global economy into a deep recession, the Belt and Road Initiative, important to both global health and economic development amid the pandemic has rekindled some hope by playing a vital role in assisting the fight against the pandemic and stabilizing global supply and industrial chains. In the first half of 2020, China-Europe freight trips rose 36 percent year-on-year to 5,122, transporting 3.67 million pieces and 27,000 tons of anti-pandemic materials to European countries, including Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Poland and Hungary. Noting the difficulties facing German citizens because of the pandemic, Transport Minister of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia Hendrik Wuest said the goods transported from China, especially medical materials, were of vital importance.

China will work with its partners to develop the Belt and Road into a model of cooperation for meeting challenges through unity, a model of health for protecting people’s safety and well-being, a model of recovery for restoring economic and social activity, and a model of growth for unlocking development potential. High-quality Belt and Road cooperation among participating countries will contribute to a community with a shared future for mankind.

However, WA remains on the sidelines, and this has implications not only in terms of missed opportunities for growth in WA, but also negatively impacting the cause of global development which needs the ingenious input of WA. Australia is the funding member of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, and WA is well positioned to participate in BRI cooperation. I sincerely hope that WA seizes the opportunity. China and WA could considerably enhance practical cooperaton under the framwork of the BRI by exploring such areas as investment, financing, digital economy, green development etc. And by jointly developing third market. Together, we could build up cooperation brands, create highlights and deliver win-win results to all the parties involved.

Fourth, China’s innovation-driven development is an opportunity to foster new economic growth points for China-WA cooperation. The sudden attack of COVID-19 has changed people’s lives and brought a big impact on the global economy. During this pandemic, telemedicine, e-learning, sharing platforms, collaboration systems, and cross-border e-commerce, to name just a few, have been widely used. They have played an important part in ensuring economic stability in individual countries and promoting international cooperation against the pandemic.

COVID-19 reminds us that humankind should launch a green revolution and move faster to create a green way of development and life. China has been playing a leading role in green development and is becoming the world’s largest investor in renewable energy. In 2019, China’s investment in renewable energy accounted for 23% of the world total and about 60% of China’ power generated comes from clean energy and new technologies. Recently, president Xi Jinping announced in his UN General Assembly speech that China will have carbon dioxide emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. It is a strategic decision China has made for its own ecological progress, and is also a major commitment underlining China’s readiness to make new contributions to humankind’s development. China will launch a “green revolution” in both lifestyle and development pattern, strive for “green recovery” of the world economy after COVID-19, and truly protect our shared home in the course of development.

To facilitate this transformation, the Chinese government has continued to stress the importance of innovation and committed US$1.4 trillion to new technology over the next 6 years as part of its post COVID-19 recovery plan. China has reached the leading edge of a range of technologies including biotechnology, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, renewable energy and satellites, and will continue developing those emerging industries and creating new business models such as sharing economy and digital economy, upgrading traditional manufacturing sector and service sector as well as encouraging business startups and innovation.

I hope WA businesses could seize the historical opportunities presented by China’s innovation-driven development and open up new areas for China-WA cooperation in the post-COVID era and thus add new driving forces into our overall bilateral relations.

Dear Friends,

Thanks to years of development, China now has the world’s largest middle-income group of over 400 million with an ever growing consumer demand. This number is still growing at a fast pace, and is expected to reach 600 million in 2030. Consumption now contributes 58.8% of China’s economic growth. Added value in the service sector accounts for 60% of GDP. By the end of this year, China is about to overtake the United States as the world’s largest consumer market. There are huge investment opportunities in the areas of manufacturing sector and service sector such as high-end consumer goods, tourism, medical care, education, designing and new energy. China and WA have complementary advantages in all these areas, and thus enjoy a huge potential for cooperation. I have every reason to believe that our cooperation will be more promising.

Bilateral economic ties have always been a driving force of the overall China-Australia relations. I am sure my friends present today will appreciate the historical trend, seize the opportunities of China’s development and deepen mutually-beneficial cooperation. I hope you could generously and freely share your ideas on how to deepen our cooperation in post COVID-19 era. And I hope you could continue to support our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership so as to get the China-Australia relationship back to the right track as soon as possible.

Finally, I wish today’s Strategic Bilateral Engagement Dialogue a complete success.

Thank you!

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