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Speech by Ambassador Zheng Zeguang at Hainan Free Trade Port UK Promotion Conference
2023-06-10 10:30

On 9 June 2023, H.E. Ambassador Zheng Zeguang attended the Hainan Free Trade Port UK Promotion Conference and delivered a speech titled Seizing the Opportunities of Hainan’s Development to Advance Mutually-Beneficial Cooperation Between China and the UK. Mr Ni Qiang, Vice Governor of Hainan and Director of the Office of the Hainan Free Trade Port Working Committee, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, Chair of the China-Britain Business Council, and Mr Fang Wenjian, Chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce in the UK, also made remarks at the conference, and nearly 300 guests from the Hainan province delegation and the Chinese and UK business communities were present at the event. The full transcript of the speech is as follows:

Seizing the Opportunities of Hainan’s Development to Advance Mutually-Beneficial Cooperation Between China and the UK

Vice Governor Ni Qiang,

Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles,

Chairman Fang Wenjian,

Business leaders,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to attend the Hainan Free Trade Port (FTP) UK Promotion Conference. On behalf of the Chinese Embassy in the UK, I would like to extend a warm welcome to Vice Governor Ni and his delegation, and our sincere thanks to all the guests for joining this event.

Known as a shining pearl in the South China Sea, Hainan has beautiful scenery and rich resources. Among all China’s provinces, Hainan has the largest sea area and is the biggest and only provincial-level special economic zone of the country.

Historically, Hainan has been a transport hub on the Maritime Silk Road. Today, it is at the forefront of China’s efforts to deepen all-round reform and opening up and enjoys unprecedented opportunities of development.

Building Hainan FTP is a national strategy designed and promoted under the personal guidance of President Xi Jinping. Since its launch in 2018, Hainan has given full play to the pilot policies and rolled out a host of pioneering actions.

A great number of breakthroughs have been made. For example, it has opened up its services sector wider to the world by launching the first negative list for cross-border trade in services. It has issued more than 180 policy papers on trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation. It has put in place a modern industrial system underpinned by tourism, modern service industries, high-tech industries and tropical high-efficiency agriculture, etc.

The central government will accelerate the FTP development, implement the strategy to upgrade the FTZs and bring the potentials of this pilot platform into full play.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Recently, the US and its allies have been talking about "de-risking". But who is the real source of risks? It’s the US, not China. For a long time now, the US has wantonly engaged in such bullying practices as unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction against other countries. In 2008, the subprime mortgage crisis in the US led to a global financial crisis. The abrupt QE, balance sheet shrinking and interest rate hikes of the US over the past few years have contributed to the present high inflation and rising cost of living in many countries. Most recently, the US adopted a series of protectionist industrial policies involving colossal subsidies. All of these have created huge risks for the world.

In striking contrast, between 2013 and 2021, China's economic growth contributed more than 38.6% to the world economic growth annually, morethan the G7 countries combined. According to the IMF, China will contribute a third of global growth this year. Obviously, China’s development has brought opportunities and prosperity, not challenges or risks.

"De-risking" touted by the US and its allies is essentially no different from "decoupling". Both are aimed at stalling China’s technological and economic development, and containing China. It is bound to fail because it runs counter to the laws of the market as well as the trend of our times and it has certainly underestimated the firm resolve, great capacity and strong resilience of the Chinese people.

What the international community must watch out for are the real risks of "de-risking" to the world:

- It undermines global trade liberalisation and investment facilitation;

- disrupts the global industrial and supply chains that have been in operation for decades;

- worsens the high inflation and economic difficulties in Europe and other parts of the world;

- and exacerbates division and geopolitical tensions across the globe.

It is hoped that Chinese and UK business communities will work together to oppose the wanton moves of the US and its allies and stick to the direction of dialogue and cooperation, abide by WTO rules and the principle of mutual benefit, explore new areas, create new highlights of cooperation, and bring more benefits to the Chinese and British people.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today’s China has embarked on a new journey in a new era. The 20th Party Congress has drawn a grand blueprint for advancing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernisation. The Chinese people are now going all out to materialise this goal, and we are fully confident in achieving it.

Since the beginning of this year, China’s economy has recovered steadily. In the first quarter, our GDP increased by 4.5% and the retail sales of consumer goods grew by 5.8% year-on-year, both better than expected.

Also in the first quarter, more than 10,000 foreign-invested enterprises were established in China, up by 25.5%, and paid-in investment rose by 4.9% over the same period of last year.

In April, the China International Consumer Products Expo 2023 in Hainan attracted companies from across the world. Foreign businesses in China and international organisations are optimistic about China’s economic prospects and the World Bank predicts that China’s GDP will grow by 5.6% this year.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Over the past 51 years, China-UK economic and trade cooperation has made great progress, bringing huge tangible benefits to the two peoples.

In 2022, bilateral trade exceeded 110 billion pounds, and two-way investment stock surpassed 50 billion US dollars. People in the UK have come to see more clearly that the benefits of China-UK economic and trade relations can help the UK achieve its goals including halving inflation, reducing debt, improving people's livelihood, and realising green transformation.

Now, Hainan represents a new opportunity for mutually-beneficial cooperation.

It opens up new channels for bilateral trade and investment. The tax incentives and open system of Hainan FTP should give a strong boost to trade and investment between China and the UK.

It provides new potentials of cooperation in modern industries. Hainan FTP focuses on key industries such as modern services, high-end consumption, technological innovation, energy conservation and environment protection, and digital economy. All these could well dovetail with the advantages of the UK economy and its priority areas of development. And there are great potentials for cooperation.

It creates new frontiers of international cooperation. Five years into the building of the Free Trade Port, Hainan has been recognised as an international tourism consumption centre, international medical tourism pilot zone, and international education innovation pilot zone. British companies can  harness the platforms offered by Hainan to expand practical cooperation not only with China, but with the Asia-Pacific region.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I hope the UK business community will seize the opportunities brought by Hainan FTP. By joining in this new giga-port, we can create a new chapter in China-UK cooperation together.

To conclude, I wish this event a full success.

Thank you.

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