(April 1st, 2014)
Your majesties King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, President Herman Van Rompuy, Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner Maria Damanaki, Governor Carl De Caluwe, Mayor Renaat Landuyt, President Mandasca de Vico, Rector Jorg Monar, diplomatic envoys, faculty members and students, ladies and gentlemen, friends, good morning.
It is a great pleasure for me to come to the College of Europe and meet with faculty members and students. First of all, my warm greetings and best wishes to you and all those in Europe who have shown interest in and support to the development of China.
In the Flemish language, Bruges means a bridge. A bridge not only makes life more convenient, it could also be a symbol of communication, understanding and friendship. I have come to Europe to build, together with our European friends, a bridge of friendship and cooperation across the Eurasian continent.
Before coming here, I visited a Volvo planting Gent together with King Philippe and Queen Mathilde. Volvo Car Gent, the largest car manufacturer in Belgium, has become a model of economic and technological cooperation between China, Belgium and Sweden. it has actually set up a bridge linking Chinese investment with European technology. What it leads to is mutual benefit and win-win cooperation.
The College of Europe was created after the end of World War Two, as a result of people's reflection of the war and their yearning for peace. Human history has far too often been haunted by the spectre of war. Having suffered by the calamity of World War Two, people in Europe began to think over the past misery and started to unite under the leadership of statemen like Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman in the joint pursuit for lasting peace and prosperity.
Today, after more than 50 years of development, the College of Europe has not only served as an important think tank for the European Union but also become the cradle of political elites of Europe. In the words of President Van Rompuy, the college has always been at the heart of European integration, as it is in itself an expression of the faith of Europe born out of the ruins of war.
Faculty members and students, in 1949 when the College of Europe was established, the People's Republic of China was founded, heralding a new historical era in development of the Chinese nation.
Later in 1975, late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and Sir Christopher Soames acting on the assessment of the world situation then, decided that China and the European economic community should establish diplomatic relations. The day China and the EU have a comprehensive strategic partnership, we have established dialogue and a consultation mechanism in over 60 areas. Our trade last year reached 559.1 billion U.S. dollars. Over 5 million visits are exchanged each year. And about 300,000 of our students are studying overseas, either in Europe, or in China. The relationship between China and EU has become one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world.
Having said that we should not forget that there's still great room for the growth of China-EU relations, and the potential is yet to be fully tapped. To move our relationship forward, China needs to know more about Europe, and Europe needs to know more about China. For any country in the world, the past always holds the key to the present, and the present is always rooted in the past. Only when we know where a country has come from, could we possibly understand why the country is what it is today. And only then could we realise to which direction it's heading. So let me use this opportunity to describe to you what a country China is.
I hope it will be helpful to you as you try to observe, understand and study China. Of course, a thorough account of the country would be too big a topic for today. So as president Van Rompuy said, China and Europe are two big books they can never finish reading. So I will just focus on the following few features of China.
First, China has a time honored civilization. Of the world's ancient civilizations, the Chinese civilization has spanned over 5,000 years and continued uninterrupted to this day. The Chinese characters, invented by our ancestors several millennia ago, are still being used today. Over 2,000 year ago, there was an era of great intellectual accomplishment in China, which is referred to as the period of 100 masters and schools of thought. Great thinkers such as Laotze, confucius and Motze, to name just a few, explored wide range of topics from the universe to the earth, and from men's relations with nature, to relations amongst human beings, and to that between the individuals and society. The extensive and profound schools of thoughts they established covered many important ideas, such as the moral injuction of fidelity to one's parents and brothers, and to the monarch and friends. The sense of propriety, justice, integrity and honor, the emphasis on benevolence and kindness towards fellow human beings and believe that men should be in harmony with nature, follow nature's course, and constently pursue self perfection. These values and teachings still carry a profound impact on Chinese people's way of life today, underpinning the unique value systems in the Chinese outlook of the world, of society, and of life itself. And this unique and time honored intellectual legacy, has instilled a strong sense of national confidence in the Chinese people, and nurtured a national spirit with patriotism at a very core.
Second, China has gone through many vicissitudes. Several thousand years before the industrial revolution, China had been leading the world in economic, technological, and cultural development. However, feudal rulers of the 18th and 19th centuries closed the door of China in boldful ignorance. And China was since left behind in the trend of development and subdued to a semi-colonial and semi-fuedal society. As a result of incessant foreign invasions thereafter, China experienced a great social turmoil, and its people had to live a life of extreme detestation. Poverty prompted a call for change, and people experiencing turmoil are aspired by stability. After a hundred years of persistent and unyielding struggle, the Chinese people, sacrificing of loss of tens of millions lives, ultimately took their destiny back to their own hands. Nevertheless, the memory of foreign evasions and bullying has never been erased from the minds of Chinese people. And that explains why we cherish so dear the life we live today. The Chinese people want peace, we do not want war. This is the reason why China follows an independent foreign policy of peace. China is committed to non-interference to other countries’ internal affairs. And China will not allow others to interfere in its own affairs. This is the position that we have upheld in the past. It is what we will continue to uphold in the future.
Third, China is a socialist country with Chinese characteristics. In 1911, the revolution led by Doctor Sun Yiet-Sien overthrew the old system. But once the old system was gone, where China would go became the question. The Chinese people then started exploring alone and hard for the path that would suit China's national conditions. They experimented with constitutional monarchy, imperial restoration, parlimentarism, multi-party system and presidential government. Yet, nothing really worked. Finally, China took on the path of socialism. Admittedly, in the process of building socialism, we have had successful experience, and so made mistakes. We even suffered serious setbacks. After reform and opening up was launched under the leadership of Mr. Deng Xiaoping, we have acted in line with China's national conditions, and the trend of times, explored and blazed a trail of development, and established socialism with Chinese characteristics. Our aim is to build a socialist market economy, democracy, and the vast culture, a harmonious society, and a sound eco-system; uphold social equity and justice, promote all round development of the people, pursuit peaceful development, complete the building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and eventually achieve modernization and prosperity for all. The uniqueness of China's culture, tradition, history and circumstances determine that China needs to follow a development path that suits its own reality. In fact we have found such a path, and achieved success along this path.
Fourth, China is the world's biggest developing country. China has made historic progress in development. It is now the second largest economy in the world. It has achieved in several decades what took developed countries centuries to achieve. This is without doubt a proud achievement for a country whose population exceeds 1.3 billion. In the mean time, we are clearly aware that the large size of China's economy, when divided by 1.3 billion, will send China to around the 80th place in terms of per capita GDP. In China, over 74 million people rely on basic living allowances. Each year, more than 10 million urban people will join the job market. And several hundred million rural people need to be transferred to non-agricultural jobs, and settle down in urban areas. More than 85 million people are with disabilities. And more than 200 million people are still living under the poverty line set by the World Bank. And that is roughly the population of France, Germany and UK combined. In the 40-day long season of the last Chinese new year, China's airlines, railroads and highways transported 3.6 billion passengers, which means 90 million people were on the move each day. Therefore, to make the lives of the 1.3 billion Chinese people more comfortable requires still arduous effprts for years to come. Economic development remians the top priority for China, and we still need to work on that basis to achieve social progress in all areas.
Fifth, China is a country undergoing profound changes. Our ancestors told us that as heaven maintains vigor through movement, a gentleman should constantly strive for self perfection. And that if one can make things better for one day, he should make them better every day. Being faced with fierce international competition, this like sailing against the current, when either forges ahead or falls behind. Reform which was first falls upon us by problems, goes deeper, in addressing the problems. We know keenly that reform and opening up is an ongoing process that we will never stop. China's reform has entered a deep water zone, where problems crying to be resolved are all difficult ones. What we need is the courage to move the reform forward to use a Chinese saying we must get ready to going to the monutain, being fully aware at there might be tigers to encounter. The principle we have laid down for reform is to act with courage while moving forward with steady steps. As we say in China, he who wants to accomplish a bigger and difficult undertaking, he should start with easier things first and make sure that all details are attended to. With the deepening of reform , China will continue to undergo profound changes. I believe that our efforts of deepening reform comrephensively will not only provide strong momentum for China’s modernization drive, but also bring new development opportunities to the world.
To observe and understand China properly, one needs to bear in mind both China's past and present and draw reference both China's acomplishments and Chinese way of thinking. The 5,000 year long Chinese civilization, the 170 year struggle by the Chinese people's since modern times, the 90 year plus journey of the Communist Party of China, the 60 year plus development of the people's republic of China, and 30 year plus reform and opening up, should all be taken into account, that each makes an integral part of China's history and none should be taken out of historical context. One can hardly understand China well without a proper understanding of China's history, culture, Chinese way of thinking, and the profound changes taking place in China today.
The world's development is multi-dimentional, and its history is never a lenient movement. China cannot copy the political system or development model of other countries. Because it would not fit us, and it might even lead to catastrophic consequences. The Chinese people over 2,000 years ago had come to understand this from a simple fact that a tasty orange grown in southern China would turn sour once it is grown in the north. The food may look the same but the taste is quite different because the north means different location and different climate.
A french writer once said that friends are transparent to friends because they exchange life. I hope what I just shared with you could draw for you a more transparent picture of China. I also sincerely hope that college of Europe will produce a large number of talents who know and understand China well, so as to provide a constant source of talent and intellectual support for the growth of China-Europe relations.
Faculty members, students, China and Europe may seem far apart geographically, but we are in fact in the same time, at the same space. I even feel that we are close to each other as if in the same neighbourhood. Both China and Europe are in the crucial stage of development, and are facing unprecedented opportunities and challenges. As I just said, I hope to work with our European friends, to build a bridge of friendship and cooperation across the Euro-Asian continent. For that we need to build four bridges, for peace, growth, reform and progress of civilization, so that China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership will take on even greater global significance.
We need to build a bridge of peace and stability, linking the two strong forces of China and EU. Together china and the EU take up one tenth of total area of the earth, and one forth of the world's population. Together we take three seats on the United Nations Security Council. We all need peace, multilateralism and dialogue, instead of war, unilateralism, and confrontation. We need to enhance communication and coordination on global issues, and play a key role in safeguarding world peace and stability. Civilization and culture can spread, and so can peace and development. China stands ready to work with the EU to let the sunlight of peace drive away the shadow of war, and the bonfire of prosperity warm up the global economy in the cold early spring, and enable the whole mankind to embark on the path of peaceful development and win-win cooperation.
We need to build a bridge of growth and prosperity linking the two big markets of China and Europe. China and EU are two most important economies in the world, with our combined economies accounting for one third of the global economy. We must uphold open markets, speed up negotiations on investment agreements, actively explore the possibility of a free trade area, and strive to achieve the ambitious goal of bringing two-way trade to a trillion U.S. dollars by 2020. We should also study to combine China-EU cooperation with the initiative of developing the silk road economic belt, so as to integrate the market of Asia and Europe, energize the people, businesses, capital and technologies of Asia and Europe, and make China and EU the twin engines for global economic growth.
We need to build a bridge of reform and progress, linking the reform processes in China and EU. Both China and EU are pursing reforms that are unprecedented in human history, and both are sailing on uncharted waters. We may enhance dialogue and cooperation on macro economy, public policy, regional development, rural development, social welfare and other fields. We need to respect each other's paths of reform, draw upon each other's reform experience, and promote world development and progress through our reform efforts.
We need to build a bridge of common cultural prosperity linking the two major civilizations of China and Europe. China represents in an important way the eastern civilization, while Europe is the birthplace of the western civilization. The Chinese people are fond of tea and Belgians love beer. To me, the moderate tea drinker and passionate beer lover represent two ways of understanding life and knowing the world, and I find them equally rewarding. When good friends get together, they may want to drink to their hearts content to show their friendship. They may also choose to sit down quietly and drink tea while chatting about their lives. In China, we value our ideal preserving harmony without uniformity. And here in the EU, people stress the need to be united in diversity. Let us work together for all flowers of human civilization to blossom together.
Inspite of changes in the international landscape, China has always supported European integration and a bigger role in international affairs by a united, stable and prosperous EU. China will soon release its second EU policy paper to reiterate the high importance it places on the EU and on its relations with the EU. Last year, China and EU jointly formulated the strategic agenda 2020 for China-EU cooperation, setting out a host of ambitious goals for China-EU cooperation in nearly a hundred areas. The two sides should work in concert to turn the blueprint into reality at an early date, and strive for greater progress in China-EU relations in the coming decade.
Faculty members, students, the College of Europe has in recent years placed increasing importance on China. It has opened courses on Europe-China relations. It is also busy preparing for the launch of a Europe-China Research Centre devoted to studies of Europe-China relations. China has decided to work with the College of Europe to build a China Library, the first of its kind in a EU member country, and will provide for the purpose of academic research, 10,000 books, videos and films on Chinese history, culture and achievements China has made in various fields. As we Chinese believe one needs to not only read 10,000 books, but also travel 10,000 miles to know the world around us, I suggest that you go to China more often to see for yourselves what China is like. What you hear from others might be false but what you see with your own eyes is real.China intends to work with the EU to bring the number of students exchange between the two sides to a 300,000 each year by 2020.
Young people are always energetic and full of dreams. They are the future of China, Europe and indeed of the world. I hope that Chinese and European students will perceive the world with equality, respect and love. And treat different civilizations with appreciation, inclusiveness and the spirit of mutual learning. This way, it will promote mutual understanding and knowledge among the people of China, Europe and other parts of the world. And with your youthful energy and hard work make our planet a better place to live in.