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Speech by Ambassador Li Qiangmin at the Alabama-China Business Roundtable

(January 23, 2015, Birmingham AL)


Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you very much, Mr. Styslinger, for your kind introduction. That was very generous of you.

It's a great honor for me to speak here at the Alabama-China Business Roundtable. This is a part of the serial events of “Spotlight on China”. Please accept my warmest congratulations to the opening of “Spotlight on China”, specifically the Business Roundtable.

Since the establishment of the diplomatic relationship between China and the US 36 years ago, China-US relations have now come to a new historical starting point. Over the decades, the bilateral relations have gained great progress. The commercial cooperation has played a role as a “thruster”, while the intertwined economic interests as the "cornerstone".

Today the United States and China are global economic partners and leaders. Our economic relations have grown beyond anybody’s imagination. The facts speak for themselves.

--We are now each other’s 2nd largest trading partners. Bilateral trade exceeded 520 billion US dollars in 2013, an increase of over 200 times from the beginning of diplomatic relations. According to a recent survey by the U.S.-China Business Council, it showed that 96% of the American enterprises surveyed regarded China as one of the five markets for global strategic investment planning, a new high which reached the peak value in the five years.

-- The US is now a major source of capital, technology, high-end products and managerial expertise for the Chinese economy, and also a big market for Chinese exports. At the same time, China is a major contributor to the economic growth in the US. China is the third largest and the fastest-growing export market for US products. According to a report by the US-China Business Council, US exports to China reached 120 billion dollars in 2013, supporting a wide range of US industries and 11.3 million jobs in the US. From 2003 to 2013, 401 congressional districts, out of a total of 435, experienced triple digit growth of exports to China.

-- Our peoples are also more connected than ever before. In the last 10 years, Sino-U.S. exchange tourists have added up to more than 28 million, with an annual increase of 10% and an average of 250 flights between the two countries every week. Now each day, more than 10,000 people are flying over the Pacific between the two countries. There are more than 240 pairs of friendship province/state or sister cities between our two countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Southern part of the US plays an important part in the overall China-US cooperative relations. Since I assumed office 9 months ago, I have visited a number of states and cities in my consular district. I am delighted and encouraged to see how strongly cooperation is going on between my consular district and my country. Let me just give you a sense of what’s happening between China and the Southern US.

--Our trade is increasing, last year the two-way trade has increased to $112.9 billion, with Alabama-China trade alone exceeding $4.43 billion. According to the US-China business council, China is Alabama’s 2nd largest export market in 2013. Alabama’s export to China in 2013 was $2.5 billion, up 602% in the past 10 years since 2004.

--Investment are growing year by year, now there are at least 150 Chinese companies investing in my consular district, with a total investment of over $15 billion in energy, manufacturing, shipping, real estate, IT etc. Alabama attracts more and more investment from China. Golden Dragon is building a $100 million copper tubing plant in rural Wilcox County, creating at least 300 jobs. The manager of Golden Dragon is here. He can share his story with you later. Here I want to brief you new information that China's outbound investment topped $US100 billion in 2014. It will soon outpace inbound foreign direct investment, making China a net supplier of capital to the world. As we look ahead, we have confidence in accelerating visits and investments from China.

--Our peoples are connected closer than ever before, especially after the recently inaugurated Houston-Beijing, Dallas-Shanghai and Dallas-Hong Kong nonstop air services. The great inspiration and motivation behind these new routes are the enthusiasms on both sides to further enhance China-US relations. Among the new routes, I want to say that Houston-Beijing non-stop air service is an excellent example of China-US cooperation, which features win-win outcome. This air route is so attractive and competitive that Air China has made considerable profits shortly after it launched the flight. The manager of Air China is joining us today as well. Moreover, there are nearly 3000 Chinese students living and studying in Alabama. There are 3 universities in Alabama are running Confucius Institutes, to teach Mandarin and promote Chinese culture. I am confident that more and more young men will act as ambassadors of friendship between our two countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

President Xi Jinping and President Obama made the strategic decision that our two countries should work together to build a new model of major-country relationship. To realize that commitment, both countries need to build on the many fulfilled accomplishments and work still closer together. China is ready to work with the United States, including the great State of Alabama, to advance the cooperation in all fields between our two countries. I think there are a lot of concrete things we can do together.

First, we need to create more highlights. We already have some business cooperation such as Altec in China and Golden Dragon in Alabama. We should give more supports to help them grow bigger and stronger. These flagship programs will demonstrate what the real benefits for the people of both countries. Altec is a leading provider of products and services to the electric utility, telecommunications, etc. Altec entered Chinese market many years ago and has been a perfect example of win-win cooperation. There are numerous opportunities. For example, U.S. Government has an initiative named “Power Africa”. China is helping African Countries to access to power as well. The manager of China State GRID is with us here. I suggest you discuss with Mr. Styslinger in depth on how to cooperate in Africa later.

Second, we need to increase people-to-people contacts. As a Chinese saying goes, "To see something once is better than to hear about it a hundred times." Both the leaders and the general public could have more interaction. Alabama and Hubei are sister states, while Birmingham and Mobile have their sister cities, namely Anshan and Tianjin in China. Our invitations to the governor and mayors are always open. We welcome every Alabaman to travel to China, as we believe friends and relatives will become closer when they visit each other more.

Third, we need to do more to sell ourselves. Frankly speaking, Chinese people are not familiar with Alabama. Even the experts on American issues, few of them have been here. Chinese enterprises are showing a continuous and increasing enthusiasm for investing in the US. However, among them, few are aware of the Alabama's competitive business environment, such as its cost of doing business, corporate tax environment and incentives programs. It is our responsibilities to do advertising. Here is a good example. In 2012, Shanghai and Houston signed a memorandum in Houston to promote each other's city image and tourism. Under the agreement, some five-minute videos were shown on big screens at the two cities' landmark locations, TV channels and mainstream websites. They have done those for 2 years.

Fourth, we need to make full use of the existing platforms between our two countries. In recent years, China and the US have established more than 90 bilateral cooperative mechanisms. We have Governors’ Forum. Governor Bentley is most welcomed to attend. We have China-U.S. Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade. We have the Sino-U.S. Tourism Cooperation Forum. The annual meeting was held in Chicago last December. There were a lot of amazing achievements.

And lastly but most importantly, I want to talk to my Chinese friends. I hope that as you set out to invest in the United States, you will not only take bold steps but also secure a firm foothold by integrating into the local community and working for win-win results. That means paying special attention to these factors: recruiting local staff; protecting the rights and interests of employees; building a strong company culture; and giving back to the local community. I hope each of you works as a Chinese cultural envoy to enhance understanding of China among the local community.

I am confident that we have the resources and goodwill to succeed. With the joint efforts of business leaders, the enterprises of both China and Alabama will be able to make more remarkable achievements. And Alabama could be a new frontier for US-China friendship and cooperation.

In conclusion, I wish this Forum a complete success.

Thank you all!



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