China at 70: Richer and stronger
(Remarks by Ambassador Zhao Jianhua at the reception to celebrate the 70th founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel, Sept. 26, 2019.)
THE past 70 years witnessed the development of the Chinese nation from standing up to becoming richer and stronger.
China has grown into the world’s second largest economy, the largest manufacturing country, the largest trader of goods and its aggregate economic output has exceeded RMB 90 trillion (approximately $13.6 trillion). China’s per capita GDP reached around $10,000.
China stands as the only country in the world that can produce all the products listed in the United Nations International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC), and its annual output of over 200 industrial products tops the world.
China’s high-speed rail reaches a mileage of 30,000 kilometers, more than two-thirds of the world’s total.
Last Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the official opening of the Beijing Daxing International Airport, which took less than five years to build after starting construction in late 2014. With four runways, 268 parking bays and a vast terminal building covering 700,000 square meters, the new airport is expected to handle 45 million passenger trips a year by 2021 and 72 million by 2025.
Chinese people’s progress
The past 70 years witnessed the continuous betterment of the livelihood of the Chinese people.
The per capita disposable income increased from RMB 5 in 1949 to RMB 28,228 (approximately $4,030) in 2018, with more than 700 million people lifted out of poverty.
By the year 2020, a total of 16.6 million impoverished population in rural areas will be lifted out of poverty.
Life expectancy on average has increased from 35 to 77.
Chinese people have emerged from a life of poverty to prosperity. China is home to the world’s largest middle-income group constituted by over 427 million people.
Last year, China’s retail sales of national social consumer goods exceeded RMB 38 trillion (around $5.3 trillion), and consumption has been the first driving force for economic growth for five consecutive years.
In 2018, 150 million Chinese citizens traveled abroad and spent $120 billion.
Development through innovation
The past 70 years witnessed China continuously unleashing development potentials through innovation.
China is now the world’s second largest investor in R&D and has made substantial breakthroughs in significant high-tech fields, such as the deep ocean, deep earth, outer space and supercomputer.
The newly built 55-kilometer-long Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge has refreshed the world’s record of longest cross-sea bridge.
China’s internet has entered into the 5G era, and the Internet of Things will become virtually possible soon.
It is predicted that by 2025 the economic output in China directly driven by commercial 5G will reach RMB 10.6 trillion (around $1.5 trillion), which will directly create more than 3 million jobs.
Moving from isolation
The past 70 years witnessed China moving from isolation and lagging behind to a position that has never been on the world stage.
The number of the countries that have diplomatic relations with China has increased from 18 to 179.
China has also established partnerships in different forms with 110 countries and regional organizations.
China signed agreements on Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) cooperation with 136 counties and 30 international organizations.
China has also successfully held two sessions of Belt and Road Forum (BRF) for International Cooperation having reached more than 550 outcome documents.
Statistics indicate that since 2013, the trade volume between China and BRI participating countries has exceeded $6 trillion, with investment worth over $90 billion and the creation of about 300,000 jobs.
In recent years, China has hosted G20 summit, APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference, Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, and Meeting of Council of Heads of Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization etc. The vision of building a community of a shared future of mankind has been written into several UN resolutions.
China and the Philippines are good neighbors, sincere friends and trusted partners. Under the strategic guidance of President Xi Jinping and President Duterte, China-Philippine relations have moved forward steadily and have delivered tangible outcomes.
China is committed to sharing the benefits of development with the Philippines.
China is now the Philippines’ top trading partner, the largest source of imports and exports market as well as the second largest tourist source.
In 2018, our bilateral trade volume reached $55.7 billion with an 8.5-percent year-on-year increase.
China has become one of the largest foreign investment origins of the Philippines, with an amount of $66.62 million last year, a nearly 12.5 percent increase from 2017.
More than 1.2 million Chinese tourists visited the Philippines last year.
Considerable progress has been made in synergizing the BRI and the Build, Build, Build plan of the Philippines.
The Chico River Pump Irrigation, New Centennial Water Source Kaliwa Dam and the Philippine National Railway’s South Long Haul are being pushed forward in a steady pace, and will contribute to the development of agriculture and transportation in the Philippines.
More than a dozen flagship infrastructure projects are in the pipeline to be completed in the next few years.
In the first half of 2019, around 798 thousand tons of Philippine bananas were exported to China, now the largest export market for Philippine bananas, bringing income of $345 million to the Philippines.
Last month, President Duterte paid a successful visit to China for the fifth time. Both sides once again reached important consensus on deepening mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields and boosting our common development.
China is committed to being a good neighbor, a good partner and a good friend of the Philippines.
China has provided RMB 2.75 billion (around $398 million) of grants and $273 million of soft loans to the Philippines to support its ‘Build Build Build’ plan, and another RMB 3 billion (around $421 million) of grants will be further provided from 2019 to 2022.
The two drug-rehabilitation centers funded by China in Agusan del Sur province and Sarangani province have provided 800 jobs for locals and will cater at least 300 patients.
The Chinese-funded solar projects in the province of Zambales have brought electricity to more than 1,000 local residents and two primary schools and will brighten up even more remote Philippine villages.
We have funded the construction of 13 schools in Davao city, which will provide 52 classrooms for more than 2,000 students.
We are also ready to send experts to the Philippines to transfer agricultural and fishery technology, so that the Philippine farmers and fishermen can directly enjoy the dividends of China-Philippine relations.
China is committed to maintaining regional peace and stability with the Philippines.
South China Sea issue
More than 60 percent of China’s foreign trade and energy supplies pass through the South China Sea, so China has a greater stake in safeguarding the peace and stability of the South China Sea than any other country.
It is our belief that the South China Sea issue is not the sum total of China-Philippine relations, nor disputes the sum total of the South China Sea issue.
China would like to work together with the Philippines and give full play to existing mechanisms such as the bilateral consultation mechanism on the South China Sea (BCM) and joint coast guard committee (JCGC) to properly manage our differences.
We would also like to make concerted efforts with the Philippines to promote substantial progress of the joint exploration of oil and gas.
China will continue to support the Philippines as country coordinator of China-Asean dialogue relations. And it is our hope that during the Philippines’ tenure, the Code of Conduct (COC) consultations could be concluded with the aim of turning South China Sea into a sea of peace, friendship and prosperity.
At present, the current international and regional landscape is undergoing profound and complex changes.
This calls for all countries in the world to keep abreast of the historical trend so as to seize development opportunities and enjoy enduring peace and prosperity.
Today, China is marching forward along the peaceful path of national rejuvenation.
We are confident that China will overcome any difficulty and challenge lying ahead.
China will continue to attach great importance to China-Philippines friendship and cooperation, and will work hand in hand with the Philippines to handle bilateral relations from a strategic and long-term perspective, bringing more benefits to the two peoples and injecting more positive energy to regional peace and stability.
BY AMBASSADOR ZHAO JIANHUA, PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA