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From Davos to Dalian: China gains increasing sway in world arena

2007-09-06

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao answers questions after delivering a special address during a plenary session to welcome guests of the Inaugural Annual Meeting of the New Champions in the Plenary Hall of the Dalian World Expo Center in Dalian, a coastal city in northeast China's Liaoning Province, Sept. 6, 2007. The Inaugural Annual Meeting of the New Champions, also dubbed "Summer Davos", was opened here Thursday. More than 1,700 officials and business leaders from over 90 countries and regions took part in the event.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao answers questions after delivering a special address during a plenary session to welcome guests of the Inaugural Annual Meeting of the New Champions in the Plenary Hall of the Dalian World Expo Center in Dalian, a coastal city in northeast China's Liaoning Province, Sept. 6, 2007. The Inaugural Annual Meeting of the New Champions, also dubbed "Summer Davos", was opened here Thursday. More than 1,700 officials and business leaders from over 90 countries and regions took part in the event.  (Xinhua Photo)

    DALIAN, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- As the global meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) comes from the Swiss ski resort Davos, where it has been held for decades, to an oriental port city, the world once again casts its eyes to China.

    "It has been 36 years since the inception of the forum in 1971.Starting from this year, the forum will hold an annual Summer Davos in China. This shows the world's increasing interest in China's economic development and the growing cooperation between China and the forum," said Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao at the opening session of the Dalian meeting.

    China's economy, which has maintained rapid growth for almost 30 years, shall keep its momentum, said the premier firmly in his keynote speech. "We need to pursue the right domestic and foreign policies and be able to adapt to change to fully seize these opportunities and make good use of these favorable conditions," he said.

    The premier dismissed speculation that China's rise in the world would pose threat to other countries. "As China's development has shown and will continue to show, a prosperous, democratic, harmonious, civilized and modernized China will make even greater contribution to maintaining world peace and promoting human progress," he said.

    "China has been one of the world's fastest growing economies for two decades," said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the WEF. "Many of the new champions are coming from Asia, so Dalian will be a second pillar in the East to complement Davos in the West."

    Schwab expressed the belief that the summer meeting will be a success and stay in China for the long run, noting that more and more Chinese growth companies are taking active part in globalization as China emerges as an economic power and wield greater influence in global economy.

    James J. Schiro, group chief executive officer and chairman of the group management board of Zurich Financial Services from Switzerland and mentor of the WEF, said at the meeting that he welcomed China's "peaceful rise and Chinese enterprises involved in the global arena."

    The three-day meeting, known as the Inaugural Annual Meeting of the New Champions, has drawn nearly 2,000 participants including government officials, scholars and business leaders from 90 countries and regions.

    Ten plenary sessions and nearly 80 panel discussions shall be carried out during the meeting, focusing on the roles played by the new generation of fast-growing multinational companies. Other issues like global warming, world economy and combating AIDS will also be touched upon.

    In particular, one-fifth of the meeting's topics are about China, including the outlook of China's capital market, consumer market, policy environment, intellectual property right (IPR) protection, areas with growth potentials, service sector, resolution to growth tension, opportunity of the Olympic Games, among others.

    According to the forum's Web site, participants in the WEF's annual meeting in January 2007 recognized that a new class of leaders and innovators, the so-called new champions, have emerged and are re-shaping business and transforming society. This Summer Davos is thus served as "a platform for interaction and cooperation between traditional and new actors, between East and West".

    "The attention around China is going to stay on for a long time because China is soon to be one of the largest economies, if not the largest, in the world," Lee Howell, Asian department director of the WEF, said in an interview with Xinhua when the curtain was lowered for the 2007 Davos Forum in January.

    "By moving from Davos to Dalian, the World Economic Forum underscores an explicit message that China has sent to the world -China, as one of the most influential emerging markets and driving engines of the world economy together with its new champions, is changing and will continue to change the global economic landscape," said Jiang Jianqing, board chairman of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

    To officials of Dalian, hosting the meeting is an opportunity.

    "It will bring the city more chances to open itself up," said Xia Deren, mayor of Dalian. "It can also help local companies emerge as global players."

    Li Bozhou, head of the Dalian Council for Promotion of International Trade, saw the Summer Davos a chance to make Dalian better known to the world. "This is a beginning, and more such events shall be held here and some of the participants might come to Dalian again in the future."

    When the officials showed their optimism for the city's development, entrepreneurs also saw hope for their businesses.

    In the hall of the World Expo Center in Dalian, some 60 domestic and foreign enterprises and cities set up booths for promotion.

    "By meeting with young leaders from outside China, I hope I can bring about positive changes to the perceived image of China and the Chinese people," said Feng Jun, CEO of Beijing Huaqi Information Digital Technology Co. Ltd., a high-tech company headquartered in Beijing and manufacturer of products with the Aigo brand. Feng was apparently excited that many people he met at the meeting knew about the Aigo logo.

    "It is a good chance for me to exchange ideas with our foreign counterparts," said Xiao Zhiguo, CEO and board chairman of Dalian Luming Science and Technology Group.

    Before the event, Xiao spent several days reading materials to get prepared for his speech. He has received an invitation from the WEF for membership. "I would decide after the meeting," he said.

    Currently 29 Chinese enterprises, like Lenovo and China Mobile, are among the 1,000-plus members of the World Economic Forum. Schwab expected the number could grow to 100 in one or two years.

    Tianjin, another port city in north China about 120 km from Beijing, will be the next host of Summer Davos. Schwab said the third session might go to an inland Chinese city.

Full text of Wen Jiabao's speech at Summer Davos

    DALIAN, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- Following is the translation version of full text of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's speech delivered here Thursday at the Inaugural Annual Meeting of the New Champions, or Summer Davos, hosted by the World Economic Forum:

    A Growing China Embraces A Bright Future

    Wen Jiabao

    Premier of the State Council Of the People's Republic of China

    The World Economic Forum Summer Davos 2007

    6 September, 2007

    Dear Professor Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum,

    Distinguished Guests,

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Let me start by extending, on behalf of the Chinese Government and in my own name, warm congratulations on the opening of the World Economic Forum Summer Davos 2007 in Dalian and cordial greetings to you.

    It has been 36 years since the inception of the Forum in 1971. Starting from this year, the Forum will hold an annual Summer Davos in China. This shows the world's increasing interest in China's economic development and the growing cooperation between China and the Forum. The key to the success of the Forum is that political and business leaders, experts and scholars from various countries participate in the Forum with sincere wishes for equality and mutual respect. With a strong sense of responsibility and mission, they are committed to discussing major and potential issues of the world economy, paying greater attention to underdeveloped regions and people in poverty, and playing an active role in promoting development, progress and harmony of the world. This should be the spirit of the World Economic Forum.

    The name of this meeting, namely, "The Inaugural Annual Meeting of the New Champions -- From Davos to Dalian" and the continued theme of "Shifting Power Equation" are fitting ones and highly relevant, as they reflect both the international community's focus on the fast growing companies and regions and its strong desire to establish a new international economic order.

    Since China's economic development is high on the meeting's agenda, I wish to talk to you about the progress in China's development endeavors.

    Since it embarked on the path of reform and opening-up nearly 30 years ago, China has seen profound economic and social changes. China has succeeded in transforming itself from a closed and semi-closed planned economy into an open socialist market economy. There has been a great change in the life of the Chinese people, from lack of basic living necessities to moderate prosperity. China has also made important progress in political, cultural and social reforms and remarkable achievements in its modernization drive. From 1978 to 2006, China's GDP registered an annual growth rate of 9.7%. During this period, its import and export surged to US$ 1.76 trillion from US$ 20.6 billion, the per capita consumption of its urban and rural population increased by over 4 times in real terms, and the poor rural population dropped to 20 million from 250 million. These achievements are possible because we have embarked on a correct path of development that is suited to China's particular conditions and is in keeping with the trend of the times.

    On the other hand, I want to tell you frankly that China is still a developing country with a large population, weak economic foundation and underdeveloped productivity. This is a reality that has basically remained unchanged. Although the overall size of China's economy is large, its per capita GDP is ranked behind over 100 countries. Uneven development between urban and rural areas and among different regions is still an acute problem. China, a big country with over one billion population, has encountered a host of intertwined problems and difficulties in the course of social transformation. Modernization remains a long-term goal for China.

    China's economy is on the whole in good shape, marked by sustained and fast economic growth, sound financial performance, growing trade and rising living standards. But problems such as unstable factors, imbalances and lack of sustainability also affect China's economic development. They include excessively rapid economic growth, acute structural tensions, the inefficient pattern of growth, depletion of resources and environmental degradation, mounting pressure on price and entrenched structural and institutional obstacles. To resolve these problems, we are putting into practice the scientific thinking on development and pursuing an innovation-based model of development. We are committed to a comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable path of development that puts people's interests first. Specifically, we are focusing our efforts on the following areas:

    -- Maintain fast yet steady economic growth. Excessive growth of investment in fixed assets, oversupply of credit and loans and sizable trade surplus are major problems in China's current economic development. To resolve these problems, we must give top priority to macro-regulation to prevent an already fast growing economy from becoming overheated. We will continue to work to strike a balance between promoting economic growth and improving economic structure, between investment and consumption and between domestic and external demand. We will deepen reform of the financial sector to develop a modern banking system, a comprehensive monetary regulatory mechanism and multi-tiered capital market. We will continue to reform the RMB exchange rate. We are confident that with enhanced macro-regulation, the giant ship of Chinese economy will continue to surge ahead steadily.

    -- Speed up changing the pattern of economic growth. To accelerate economic adjustment and raise the quality and efficiency of economic development is an urgent task facing China. We will follow a new path of industrialization by upgrading and improving industrial structure. We will take enhancing capacity for independent innovation as a key step in changing the pattern of economic growth, strengthen IPR protection and speed up scientific and technological development and improve industrial performance in an all-round manner. The Chinese Government takes product quality and food safety very seriously. We are working hard to adopt related legislations, improve the system of quality standards and strengthen quality control to effectively resolve problems in this area. To enhance product quality and food safety is a common task for the international community. We will continue to work with other countries to improve product quality and food safety.

    -- Promote coordinated development. To address imbalances and lack of coordination in development is a long and arduous strategic task. Following the principle of making overall planning to ensure coordinated development, we are taking forceful measures to give stronger support to rural and other under-developed areas, speed up the development of social programs and gradually reverse the widening gap between agriculture and industry, between town and country and among different regions so as to ensure coordinated economic and social development.

    -- Strive to build a resources-conserving and environment friendly society. China is committed to saving resources and protecting the environment. Saving energy and reducing energy and resources consumption and pollution discharge have been set as obligatory targets in China's plan on national economic and social development. We have the confidence and resolve to accomplish this arduous task through unremitting efforts. We take climate change seriously and have formulated the national program on tackling climate change. We will work with other members of the international community to mitigate climate change.

    -- Improve the livelihood of the people. To protect and advance the interests of the people is the ultimate goal of all our endeavors. We need to build a harmonious society in all aspects, and the focus of our effort is to address issues concerning people's livelihood. Further steps are taken to increase employment, establish social insurance system covering both urban and rural population and quicken the pace of educational, health and cultural development. Vigorous efforts are being made to improve housing conditions, transportation, the living environment and public administration to ensure the benefit of reform and development will reach all.

    -- Deepen reform. China's economic and social development is driven by reform. We will continue to reform the economic system, remain committed to building a socialist market economy, bring into full play the fundamental role of the market in resource allocation, improve the effectiveness of the macro economic regulation system and establish institutional safeguards which facilitate scientific and harmonious development. We will continue to advance political reform, expand people's democracy, strengthen the rule of law, and promote social equity and justice. Without political reform, economic reform will not succeed.

    China's economy has maintained rapid growth for almost 30 years. Will such development momentum continue? My answer is yes. We are fully confident about it for the following reasons: The pursuit of peace, development and cooperation is the trend of our times and this has made it possible for us to secure a long term peaceful international environment. Being in a stage of rapid industrialization and urbanization, China has the material and technological foundation to sustain economic growth. It has growing market demand and an abundant and increasingly well trained labor force. China has a large number of dynamic companies which have emerged in the course of reform and by pursuing innovation, and it enjoys social and political stability. We need to pursue the right domestic and foreign policies and be able to adapt to change to fully seize these opportunities and make good use of these favorable conditions. Despite the difficulties, risks and challenges on our way ahead, we have the confidence, capability and means to surmount them and advance the modernization drive. China's development has a bright prospect.

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    China cannot achieve its development in isolation from the world, and the world needs China to ensure its development. Over the years, we have drawn upon the development practices of other countries and strengthened economic and technological cooperation and exchanges with them. This has boosted China's socio-economic development, and we have contributed our due share to the growth of the global economy. China will stay on the path of peaceful development, pursue a win-win opening-up strategy, develop itself by securing a peaceful international environment and uphold world peace and promote common development with its development. China's development will promote world peace and development and will never pose a threat to any country. As China's development has shown and will continue to show, a prosperous, democratic, harmonious, civilized and modernized China will make even greater contribution to maintaining world peace and promoting human progress.

    The new champions are new forces in the changing world economic environment. In particular, the global growth enterprises, which are most dynamic, competitive, and promising, are playing a key role in the world economic development. Here, I wish to reiterate that China's opening-up policy will definitely remain unchanged. We will improve the systems as well as the laws and regulations governing foreign economic activities and make them more compatible with international practices and the WTO rules. This will provide a more enabling environment to foreign companies, particularly the growth enterprises for doing business in China. China calls for resolving trade frictions through consultation. China is ready to enhance cooperation with all the other countries and their business communities on the basis of equality and mutual benefit to promote balanced, universal and win-win progress in economic globalization.

    In conclusion, I wish the Forum full success!

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