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Speech by Consul-General Lei Kezhong At the Reception Celebrating the 69th Anniversary of the Founding of the People's Republic of China

Distinguished guests,

Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It's a great pleasure for me to have all of you here today, joining us to celebrate the 69th Anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. On behalf of the Chinese Consulate General in Perth, I'd like to extend our cordial and warm welcome to you all!

The past 69 years have witnessed extraordinary progress achieved by the Chinese people under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party along the development path of Socialism with Chinese characteristics. The 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party held last October marked that China has entered a new era. The congress has drawn up a grand blueprint for turning China into a great modern socialist country in all respects.

This year is the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up. In just 40 years time, China's GDP has soared more than 1000 times from 10 billion to 11 trillion USD, around 800 million Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty, and Chinese people as a whole are enjoying a moderately well-off life. According to the World Bank, in 2017, China's economy accounted for 15.3% of the world's total, and China's contribution to the growth of world economy has reached 34%.

China will stay committed to its opening-up policy. As Chinese President Xi Jinping has unequivocally declared at the Boao Forum for Asia in April this year, China will not close its open door, but will open even wider. President Xi also announced a series of landmark measures of China's opening-up, including significantly broadening market access, improving investment environment, intensifying protection of intellectual property rights and expanding imports. As you know, we will host the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai in November this year.

The Belt and Road Initiative may have demonstrated China's resolve to deepen its opening-up and external cooperation. Over the five years since its inception, with more than 100 countries and international organizations on board and a large number of projects launched, the BRI has promoted the economic and social development of relevant participating countries. Sticking to the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, China is willing to join hands with all countries around the world to make BRI the broadest platform for international cooperation.

While world economy still encounters uncertainties and challenges, the Chinese economy has stayed on the track of steady progress, with growing new drivers and sound fundamentals. Online sales have increased by more than 30% annually, and new forms of consumption, such as information and green consumption, have seen rapid growth, raising the share of consumption in economic growth to over 60%. China's economic structure and growth pattern has also seen a major shift, with new drivers contributing more than one third to economic growth and two thirds to new urban jobs, which lays a solid foundation for sustained and sound economic growth.

In the first half of this year, China's economy expanded by 6.8%,staying within the medium-high growth range for 12 quarters in a row. In the first 8 months of this year, over 10 million urban jobs were created, and the surveyed urban unemployment rate was kept at around 5%. Over 18,000 new companies are set up on an average day, and corporate profits of large industrial companies have maintained double-digit growth.

The world is now faced with rising trade protectionism and a growing backlash against globalization. We believe that the rules-based multilateral trading system is the bedrock of economic globalization and free trade, and provides important safeguards for win-win outcomes. It is true that some WTO rules do need to be improved, however the right approach is for all to sit down as equals to find solutions. Throughout this process, the fundamental principle of free trade should be upheld, the interests and concerns of all parties be accommodated, and the broadest possible consensus on reform be built up. Taking a unilateral approach will not solve any problems.

The Chinese economy is inevitably affected by notable changes in the global economic and trade context and is confronted with more difficulties in maintaining a stable performance. Nevertheless, we have the confidence, ability and means to cope with the current difficulties and challenges. The express train of China's economy will not lose speed but stay on a steady course.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Both China and Australia are great countries in the Asia-Pacific Region, and our economies are highly complementary. Ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1972, China and Australia have managed to rise above our differences and achieve great progress in our bilateral relations. With political mutual trust gradually building up and common interests increasingly expanding, China-Australia relations have been elevated to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, and the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement concluded in 2015 has translated into tangible benefits to the two peoples.

Today, China is not only Australia's largest trading partner, but also Australia's NO. 1 source of origin in foreign students and external tourist income. In 2017, two-way personnel exchanges reached 2 million 250 thousand. By now, 19 Chinese cities have opened direct flights to Australia, and 7 Australian cities have direct flights to China. At present, there are 220,000 Chinese students enrolled in Australia.

We are deeply convinced that a stable and healthy China-Australia relationship is in the fundamental interests of our two countries and two peoples. We are willing to work together with the Australian side to continuously boost mutual trust and cooperation based on mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, and to promote China-Australia relations along the right track.

This year also marks the 200th anniversary of Chinese immigration to Australia. Over the past 200 years, through hard work and innovative entrepreneurship, Chinese-Australians have made significant contributions to Australia's economic development and multicultural society, and have gained respect and appreciation from the wide Australian communities. What is more, Chinese-Australians have always been playing a unique role in deepening exchanges and cooperation between our two countries and the two peoples. They are invaluable assets in China-Australia relations.

People to people exchanges is the basis of China-Australian friendship, and there are many touching stories, such as Jack Ma of Alibaba and Australian family the Morley's, and the story of Mr.Greg Giles, an Australian hero who helped rescue a Chinese boy from drowning in Guangzhou last year.

Dear friends,

Western Australia shares the same time zone with China and has always played a leading role in Australia-China relations. For many years, China has been the largest trading partner, export market and source of imports of Western Australia. The fiscal year of 2017 witnessed bilateral commodity trade reaching 60.2 billion Australian dollars, an increase of 3 percent over the previous year, accounting for nearly half of Western Australia's total exports. We are very happy to see that the exchanges and cooperation between the two sides in the fields of agriculture, education, tourism, culture and innovation are also gaining momentum. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in the first half of this year, Western Australia's exports of agriculture, forestry and fisheries to China reached 978.9 million Australian dollars, up 58% from five years ago. The number of Chinese tourists coming to Western Australia has grown by average 10.2% annually in the past three years. The total consumption of Chinese tourists in Western Australia has reached a new high, reaching 285 million Australian dollars in 2017, ranking number one among all foreign tourists in Western Australia.

The Chinese Consulate General in Perth will continue to work together with friends of all walks of life in WA to further strengthen our bilateral exchanges and cooperation in various fields. I am confident that our friendly and cooperative relations will grow even stronger in the future.

Finally, may I propose a toast:

To the 69th birthday of the People's Republic of China;

To the friendship between China and Australia and our cooperation with Western Australia;

To the health of all our friends present here.


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