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New Opportunities for Win-Win Cooperation
--Briefing on Outcomes of Mar-a-lago Meeting & the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation
2017/05/26

 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for attending the lunch meeting. I am honored to brief on two hot topics today. One is about the initial results of China-US presidential first meeting. The other one is on the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation(BRF). What do they mean for the southern region of U.S.? That’s my third part.

I. Outcomes and Initial results of Mar-a-lago Resort Meeting

In the history of China-US relations, presidential meeting has always been the pilot of the relationship, playing an important role that cannot be replaced. That is why the whole world focused on Mar-a-Lago in Florida, where President Xi Jinping and President Trump had their first meeting on April 6 to 7. It has set a constructive tone for the development of China-US relations, and has charted the course for joint efforts.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi emphasized on 4 outcomes of the meeting: the two heads of state increased mutual understanding and trust. They confirmed the development direction and principles of China-US ties. They laid out priority fields and mechanisms of bilateral cooperation. They strengthened communication and coordination on international and regional efforts.

Among the four, a most important point is that they’ve built up good working relationship and personal friendship. During one day and half schedule, they spend over 7 hours on exchange. They enjoyed candle light dinner, listened to President Trump’s granddaughter singing a Chinese song, walked on the seaside lawn in the Resort. The summit opened a new page. They kept in touch since then, having two phone calls on April 12 and 24 respectively. At the invitation of President Xi, President Trump will pay a state visit to China later this year. Their effective communication provides strong political guidance to our relationship, which will enable us to keep the relations on a steady track, and manage differences in a constructive way.

Another important point is, both sides jointly set up four high-level dialogue mechanisms, namely diplomatic and security dialogue, comprehensive economic dialogue, law enforcement and cyber security dialogue, social and cultural dialogue. A regular dialogue mechanism is a significant pillar for the bilateral relations, and is conducive to smoother communication, strengthened mutual-trust and expanded cooperation between the two countries. The two sides has initiated the diplomatic and security dialogue, comprehensive economic dialogue during the Mar-a-Lago meeting.

For the Diplomatic and Security Dialogue, it should be based on full respect of each other’s core interest and major concerns. It is expected to be an effective platform for communication and coordination on issues of common concerns.

For the Comprehensive Economic Dialogue, it should be based on full understanding of the whole picture of our economic relations. It should aim at mutual benefit, and the prosperity of the whole world. Chinese side proposed a “100-day plan”. Both sides worked hard together, and achieved some early harvest on May 12. Both sides declared consensus on addressing 10 key issues, including China’s imports of U.S. beef and LNG,the U.S. owned EPS access to Chinese market and so on.

The early harvest shows that, the concept of 100-day plan turned out to be a successful practice, ensuring the two presidents has guided the correct direction. This is only stage 1, we still have stage 2, stage 3 of the 100-day plan. We will continue to plan for one year and even further.

Many people are concerned about trade imbalance issues. But which is the right choice, to expand trade or to set up trade barriers? I believe both governments have agreed on, which is to make the cake bigger. How to make it bigger? We have many options. For example, expand American exports to China, instead of reducing China’s export to America, lift the export restriction of high-tech products and oil to China, conclude BIT as early as possible.

Now China provide one more option, the Belt and Road Initiative.

II. Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) and its outcomes

i. Why is it Belt and Road

About 2000 years ago in ancient Rome, Emperor Caesar was once in a theatre watching a play, in a shining robe. The robe was so splendid,that it caught everyone’s eyes. They were wondering and asking where and what it is made of. Then they know it’s China’s silk. Since then, China’s silk became famous in Europe.

2000 years ago, businessmen from China and Middle East opened an ancient trade route from Asia to Europe. This was the road where Emperor Caesar’s silk robe being carried. Since they mainly carried silk, chinaware on this route, the later generations called it as “Silk Road”. The Maritime Silk Road also existed since ancient time. It only got flourishing until Tang dynasty 10 centuries ago, when the land route blocked because of wars and conflicts.

In 2013, when President Xi Jinping visited countries including Indonesia and Kazakhstan, he proposed the initiative of building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. This is what we called Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It is a renovation of the ancient Silk Road. Moreover, it is a common will of the countries to enhance win-win cooperation, and to jointly drive the world economy.

ii. Why does China propose to host the BRF

After 4 years’ development, the vision of BRI is turning into a reality, many projects in different countries were launched, achieving better progress than expected. At such a critical point of making further progress, China proposes to host BRF, aiming to review past progress and plan ahead, to discuss ways of boosting cooperation, and to address problems facing global economy,

BRF further identified the direction of cooperation: the principle of wide consultation, joint construction and shared benefits. BRI is committed to implementing connectivity of policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people.

The BRI enhances coordination with the policies of relevant countries, and complements each other’s advantages. Such policy connectivity will produce a multiplying effect.

iii. What does BRF mean to the world?

BRF received high international attendance and attention, and achieved a long list of major outcomes. You can find the all the details in the media. I won’t introduce them all but a few examples.

Under BRI, a multi-dimensional infrastructure network is taking shape, one that is underpinned by 6 economic corridors, including China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor, the New Eurasian Continental Bridge, etc., featuring land-sea-air transportation routes and information expressway and supported by major railway, port and pipeline projects.

Under BRI, the Silk Road Fund has made US$ 4 billion of investment. China will contribute an additional US$ 14.5 billion to the Fund. Other multilateral financial institutions, such as the world bank, the AIIB also provide loans for the BRI projects. A multi-tiered Belt and Road financial network has taken an initial shape. In addition, China will provide assistance worth US$8.7 billion to developing countries and international organizations.

I want to point out that, the BRI is not only focusing on economy, its culture and people-to-people projects are also fantastic. The Silk Road culture year, tourism year, art festival, film and TV project, seminar and think-tank dialogue, scholarship are flourishing. These interactions have brought our people increasingly closer.

In general, Belt and Road Initiative is not a China’s solo, but the international symphony, which pools the common will of many countries to meet challenges and achieve prosperity.

iv. What does BRI mean to the U.S.?

The BRI originates from China, but belongs to the world. Many of the participated countries are developing economies, all starting from the beginning, which means boundless opportunities. In fact, some American companies have already been directly or indirectly involved in the BRI projects. The U.S sent an official delegation led by Matthew Pottinger, the senior director for Asia at the White House, just because they have seen the opportunities. I will discuss it in details next.

III. Opportunities for the Southern United States

The historical Mar-a-Lago meeting relieved many people’s doubt and concern about China-US relations, and largely enhanced our confidence in the future of China-US relations. Just as President Xi pointed out, we have a thousand reasons to make China-US relations a success, and no reason to make bilateral relations a failure. President Trump positively responded, that the US stands ready to cooperate with China to eliminate those factors and problems affecting bilateral relations, which will realize greater development of US-China relations. Now the BRI provide more options to China-US cooperation. In such context, China and the southern U.S. can see many new opportunities in cooperation, especially in the following fields:

Infrastructure building and financing. Most southern states are upgrading the infrastructure system. President Trump has announced a $1 trillion Infrastructure Plan, which has to addressing problems such as financing. China has capable companies with technology and fund. They are very interested in investing the US market. The complementary advantages are evident. The BRI is open to all public or private sections and flexible to any form of cooperation. When promoting exports of products and service, the U.S. can consider getting on board of BRI, participating in the major projects through many ways, such as investing, loaning, technological cooperation and trilateral cooperation. As far as I know, some American Companies like Headworks International (A waste water treatment company based in Houston), Innovari Energy (based in Austin), have investment in Middle East and Asia. They may find many opportunities to join the BRI bid.

Financial service and Trade. There is a good news for financial service in the 100-day Plan early harvest. China is to allow US-owned suppliers of electronic payment services (EPS) to a full market access. This should largely facilitate China-US mutual trade and investment. New opportunities can be found here.

Two-way investment. Governor Hutchinson of Arkansas issued a statement after Mar-a-lago meeting saying, the direct investment from China has been more than $1 billion with more than 650 new jobs. We are confident President Trump’s meeting with President Xi Jinping will only strengthen the US-China relations. This relationship is important for the U.S. as a whole and Arkansas specifically because of the growing level of interest from Chinese companies that are considering doing business in the state. Then two weeks ago, Shandong Ruyi Technology Group, China’s largest cotton textile manufacturer announced to invest $410 million to renovate a vacant textile plant in Arkansas. They will use cutting-edge technology to produce superior textiles, and will employ 800 people.

In Texas, Louisiana and other southern states, enormous potential is still waiting to be explored. Two-way investments are expected to boom after the outcomes of 100-day Plan and comprehensive economic dialogue being put into effect.

Energy. Energy is one of the priorities mentioned in the Presidential meeting, and also one of the advantages of the southern states. Texas is the largest energy base of the U.S. By the year 2020, China will import more than $400 billion LNG. China could be the top LNG buyer of the U.S., since the U.S. lifts its ban on it. Trade of oil and gas could not only help reduce trade deficit, but also provide huge business and job opportunities in Texas, Louisiana , Mississippi and other energy rich states.

Agriculture. China is to allow imports of U.S. beef no later than July 16 this year. The advanced beef industry of Texas and Arkansas will absolutely benefit from it. Many countries involved in BRI are agricultural countries. There also exist great potential and vast prospect for China-US agricultural cooperation in this platform.

Innovation cooperation. Innovation is the new engine for China-US cooperation. It also matches the needs of BRI and China’s Mass Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The U.S. is the world leading nation in Innovation. Many cities in Texas like Austin and Houston, are among top innovation hubs in the U.S. 10 days ago, together with American side including GHP, HTC and TMC, we successfully held the second China-US Innovation and Investment Summit in Houston. We expect the high-tech and startup companies to enter China’s market, and encourage Chinese high-tech companies to invest in the southern states.

People-to-people exchange. Many universities in southern states like Rice, Emory, keep close cooperation with Chinese universities. Currently, Chinese students in southern states are about 60 thousands. More and more schools in Texas, Georgia and Arkansas set up Chinese language courses. American sports games such as NBA and Supebowl are super popular in China. Visitors travelling from China and the U.S. annually reached 4.75 million. The leading role of heads of state is immeasurable in promoting bilateral relations. Now the Mar-a-lago Resort is known to almost every family in China. More Chinese people would be interested in Florida and other southern states, to travel, study, invest or do business.

The BRI provides wonderful platform for more and wider people-to-people exchange and cultural cooperation. Some experts even think that, since BRI is committed to broad partnership, connection and prosperity of the world, it has the potential to bring the peace and security to the troubled regions of Middle East, by addressing the employment concerns and economic problems there. I believe this is a result both China and the U.S. hope for, and also worthy of the two countries cooperation and joint efforts.

As I said in a published article last month, a new era of China-US cooperation is dawning with the Mar-a-Lago meeting. Now one month after the meeting, we achieved the early harvest of the 100-day plan, and we see the new opportunities of cooperation brought by the BRI. This new era is showing a flourishing picture. The golden age of China and the southern U.S. cooperation is also coming.

 

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