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International Import Expo-China's New Measure to Further Opening Up
—Remarks by H.E. Amb. Lin Songtian at the Launching Ceremony

(18 May, Johannesburg)

Honorable Deputy Minister of Small Business Development, Mr. Cassel Mathale,

President of Southern Africa Shanghai Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Mr. Li Linguo,

Friends from the Chinese and South African governments and business communities,

Friends from the media,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening!

First, on behalf of the Chinese Embassy in South Africa, I warmly welcome all of you to the Launching Ceremony of the Walk Into China—Welcome to the first China International Import Expo. I also wish to express my heartfelt appreciation to the Southern Africa Shanghai Chamber of Industry and Commerce for their tireless efforts in organizing this event.

The China International Import Expo (hereinafter as the Expo) to be held in Shanghai in November is the first ever International Import Expo in the Chinese history. It is also the first ever national-level Import Expo in the whole world. It is a major pioneering undertaking in the history of international trade.

By taking the lead to host the Expo, the Chinese government is demonstrating its firm resolve and sincere wishes to further opening up, to share development results with the world, and to realize common development. The Expo will create new opportunities for countries around the world to expand their export to China to achieve sound and fast development, and make new contribution to world durable peace and common development.

—The Expo is the new outcome of China’s fast development. After 40 years of relentless efforts of reform and opening up, China has realized transformation from nowhere to somewhere, from weak to strong, from the so-called sick man of East Asia to the world’s second largest economy, the largest manufacturing power, the biggest trading power of goods, and the largest holder of foreign exchange reserve. China has moved from material subsistence to production overcapacity across a broad range of sectors. More than 700 million people have been lifted out of poverty, making a great example in the human history of poverty reduction.

China has been a victim of seclusion and closed doors, and has been a beneficiary of reform and opening up. In the early years of the founding of the New China, because of the blockade launched by the West, China has kept itself afar from the rest of the world. As a result, China’s economy suffered and its social developed lagged seriously behind. Fortunately, in 1978, the Communist Party of China with Comrade Deng Xiaoping at its core seized the historic opportunity of world industrial relocation, and pioneered the great undertaking of reform and opening up, making China realize leapfrog economic and social development.

China has benefited enormously from world durable peace and development. Today, China is more capable and has even stronger political resolve to promote world common prosperity through China’s own sustainable development. In the next 5 years, China will import 8 trillion US dollars of goods, make 750 billion dollars of foreign direct investment, and register over 650 million person times of outbound overseas tourists.

—The Expo is a new measure of China to further opening up. The Chinese President Xi Jinping, when addressing the Boao Forum for Asia not long ago, pointed out that “the door of China’s opening up will not be closed and will only open even wider. The International Import Expo that China is about to host is not an ordinary expo, but a major policy declaration and concrete action of China to actively open up the market.” President Xi Jinping also announced a host of new important measures to further opening up, including drastically relaxing market access, creating more favorable investment environment, intensifying IPR protection, and actively increasing import.

It is our strong belief that, to realize higher quality development, it is absolutely essential that China remains committed to reform and opening up. China will continue its comprehensive reform and opening up, and would warmly welcome all countries, especially South Africa and other African countries to share the ride of China’s fast economic development. The huge Chinese market with over 1.3 billion population will make it possible for the world to realize common development. We welcome all of you to take an active part in the first International Import Expo. It is our strong belief that this new platform will help countries around the world to export their products, skills, and services to China, and will help promote world trade liberalization and facilitation.

—The Expo provides a new platform for the world to achieve common development. China always conducts its foreign trade on the basis of mutual benefit and reciprocity, and is committed to win-win cooperation for common development. China never pursues trade surplus purposefully.

But unfortunately, our world is facing grave challenges in international economic governance and globalization. Certain country, out of its own self-interest, has chosen to go against the irresistible trend of economic globalization and trade liberalization. They recklessly pursued trade and investment protectionism, and willfully used domestic laws to sanction any other international trading partner, seriously undermining the existing multilateral free trade regime.

Against such backdrop, it is even more important for China to host such an International Import Expo. What China is doing is to build a new platform for the world to share development opportunities and achieve common development. China is firmly resolved to join the international community in opposing trade protectionism and pursuing trade liberalization, investment facilitation, and economic globalization. Fortunately, the Chinese proposal of hosting the International Import Expo has gained wide welcome and support in the international community, with many countries and international organizations committing to taking an active part in this important event.

By holding high the banner of peace, development, cooperation and win-win, upholding the principle of planning together, building together and sharing together, and by promoting the Belt and Road construction and holding the International Import Expo, China will work together with the international community to build a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness and justice, and win-win cooperation, and build a community with a shared future for mankind.

—The Expo will bring new opportunities for China-SA mutually beneficial cooperation. China has for 9 consecutive years remained South Africa’s biggest trading partner. In 2017, China-SA bilateral trade reached 39.17 billion US dollars, marking 26 times of increase from the beginning of our diplomatic ties. When doing business with South Africa, China always follows the principle of equality and mutual benefit and has never pursued trade surplus with South Africa. On the contrary, we have taken active steps to open up our market for South Africa, and encourage South African businesses to export more to China. In September last year, South Africa became the first African country to export beef to China. The export of mineral resources, fruits, red wine, and marine products from South Africa to China have also registered substantial growth over the years.

The International Import Expo will open another important opportunity for South Africa to further expand its export to China. China has already invited South Africa as one of the 12 guests of honor for the first International Import Expo. We welcome South Africa to send a high-level delegation to attend, and looks forward to more South African businesses to actively participate in the Expo. On our part, we will make earnest efforts to assist and facilitate the participation of South Africa and all of our guests. We will facilitate South African competitive commodities to access the Chinese market and realize common development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year marks the 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and South Africa. China always views and develops its relations with South Africa from strategic height and long-term perspective, and regards South Africa as our priority strategic partner. We are willing to encourage and support the unremitting efforts of President Ramaphosa and the ANC government to develop economy, create jobs, so as to achieve national prosperity and improve people's livelihood. We are also willing to offer even bigger Chinese market for South African export. Moving forward, we will encourage and support more Chinese businesses to come to South Africa for a wide range of mutually beneficial cooperation, so as to promote win-win cooperation for common development, and make our bilateral relations more productive and beneficial to our two peoples.

To conclude, I would like to once again extend our warm invitation and welcome to our South African friends, especially to all of you here tonight, to the first China International Import Expo!

Thank you!

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