Ambassador CONG Peiwu Delivers a Keynote Speech in a Webinar Hosted by Canada-China Friendship Society (CCFS)
(2020/09/15)

On September 10, Ambassador Cong Peiwu attended a webinar hosted by Canada-China Friendship Society (CCFS) and delivered a keynote speech on China's development, China's contribution to the world and China-Canada relations. The full text is as follows:

Ms. Amelia Choi, President of CCFS

Mr. Roy Atkinson,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear friends,

Good evening! Thank you Ms. Amelia Choi for your very kind words. I am glad to meet you all in a virtual way. Since its establishment more than 40 years ago, the CCFS has been actively committed to bringing about closer exchanges and cooperation between China and Canada and promoting friendship between the two peoples. I wish to thank and pay tribute to the CCFS and all of its members.

In about ten days, I will have performed my duties in Canada for a full year. Over the past year, China-Canada relations continued to face severe difficulties due to the Meng Wanzhou incident. However, through extensive contact with Canadian friends from all walks of life, I feel that many people like you have an affinity toward China, look forward to the prospects of China-Canada relations, and have a passion for the development of our bilateral relations. I am very grateful for that. Meanwhile, for various reasons, some people continue to smear and stigmatize China, attack China's political system, and paint a bleak picture of China-Canada relations. Some Canadian media, out of the motives to seek attention, distorted the truth of China, which has misled the Canadian public. I wish to take this opportunity to introduce China's development, foreign policy, and my views on China-Canada relations, and share some thoughts with you.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear friends,

October 1 this year will mark the 71st anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Over the past 71 years, thanks to the hard work of the Chinese people under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China, China has scored remarkable achievements in its development.

First, China has seen fast development. When the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, it was in a state of poverty. After 37 years of efforts, China's aggregate economic output exceeded one trillion yuan in 1986. Fourteen years later, China's economy passed the 10 trillion RMB yuan mark in 2000 from the one trillion RMB yuan mark. It took only 19 years for China to grow its GDP close to 100 trillion RMB yuan in 2019, or 14.4 trillion US dollars as calculated at the yearly average exchange rate. The year 2019 saw the country's GDP per capita reach 10,000 US dollars and its urbanization rate exceed 60 percent. Besides, the middle-income population in China exceeded 400 million in 2017. Once an impoverished country, China has grown into the world's second largest economy, the largest trader of goods, the largest manufacturer, and the holder of the largest foreign exchange reserves. China keeps pace with the world in the construction of new infrastructure such as 5G, industrial Internet, and artificial intelligence, and holds a leading position in some fields.

Second, China's development has benefited its entire people. For 71 years, the Chinese people's average life expectancy has more than doubled from 35 to 77.3. We have formed the largest social safety net in the world, with old-age pension schemes covering more than 900 million people and the health insurance plans covering over 1.3billion people. Over the past four decades of reform and opening-up, China raised its per capita income by 25 times, and lifted 850 million people out of poverty. From the end of 2012 to the end of 2019, an average of more than ten million people, equivalent to the population of a medium-sized European country, had been lifted out of poverty each year. This year, all rural residents below China's current poverty line will be lifted out of poverty and China will develop into a moderately prosperous society in all respects. While making the pie of development achievements bigger, we are also ensuring that people get a fairer share of it through a series of institutional arrangements, in a bid to bring real benefits to all the people.

Third, China's economy has shown resilience. This year, the raging COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a devastating blow for the world economy and posed severe challenges to the global trade and industrial chains. The Chinese economy has stood the test of the pandemic. After effectively and promptly containing the COVID-19 outbreak at home, China has been promoting the resumption of work and production comprehensively. Life and work are quickly returning to normal. The Chinese economy expanded by 3.2 percent in the second quarter, making China the first economy to register positive growth in the world. Under the current circumstances, we will foster a new dual-cycle development architecture at home, with the domestic cycle as the mainstay and with domestic and international development reinforcing each other. At the same time, China will take firm steps to expand opening-up, raise the level of opening-up in an all-round way, and speed up efforts to build a new system of open economy with a higher level. Furthermore, we will not only achieve our own development, but also continue to inject confidence and impetus into the recovery of the world economy.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear friends,

China can't develop in isolation from the world, nor can the world prosper without China.

China has always been a builder of world peace. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, China has never initiated a war or invaded an inch of land of others. China has adhered to the path of peaceful development and contributed wisdom and strength to maintaining world peace and stability. China is the second largest contributor of UN regular budget and peacekeeping assessment. Since 1990, China had dispatched over 40,000 UN peacekeepers, making it the largest contributor of peacekeepers among the permanent members of the UN Security Council. Adhering to the principles of mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs, China has encouraged relevant parties to resolve hotspot issues through dialogue and negotiation, and has increasingly become an anchor of world peace and stability and a source of confidence.

China has all along been a defender of the international order. Holding high the banner of multilateralism, China firmly upholds the international system with the United Nations at its core, the international order based on international law, and the multilateral trade system represented by the WTO. China has joined more than 100 Inter-Governmental Organizations and acceded to over 500 multilateral treaties so far. China has made remarkable contributions to the comprehensive achievement and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement and actively promoted the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

China has always been a contributor to world development. China is committed to opening-up, mutual benefit and win-win results, and sharing its development opportunities with the rest of the world. Since the reform and opening-up, China has been one of the fastest-growing countries in the world, contributing more than 30 percent to global GDP growth for over 10 consecutive years. China's poverty reduction has contributed over 70 percent to global poverty reduction. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, China has provided assistance to more than 150 countries and international organizations, carried out the largest global humanitarian operation in the history of the People's Republic of China, and effectively guaranteed the production and supply of global anti-epidemic materials.

At present, the information technology revolution is changing with each passing day, and the digital economy is booming, bearing on the economic and social development of all countries and the well-being of their people. But at the same time, data security risks and challenges have become increasingly prominent. Bent on unilateral acts and digital protectionism, a certain country keeps politicizing security issues, playing double standards, and even making groundless accusations against others in the name of "clean" network and used security as a pretext to prey on enterprises of other countries who have a competitive edge. Such blatant acts of bullying violates the basic norms governing international relations, seriously disrupt and hamper global digital cooperation and development and must be opposed and rejected. In view of this, China has recently proposed the Global Initiative on Data Security, which aims to safeguard the security of global data and supply chains, promote the development of the digital economy, and provide a blueprint for the formulation of relevant global rules. The Initiative is also China's solemn commitment to maintaining global data security and its contribution to promoting global governance, reflecting China's sense of responsibility as a major country.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear friends,

China's achievements in development and its contribution to world peace and development have won praise from most countries in the world. However, for some time, some politicians in the United States have been slandering China's political system for political purposes, making irresponsible remarks on issues related to Hong Kong and Xinjiang, and interfering in China's internal affairs. We are firmly opposed to such actions. China will firmly safeguard its national sovereignty and national dignity, its own legitimate interests, and international fairness and justice.

As for Hong Kong-related issues, for some time, anti-China forces have been carrying out such large-scale illegal and violent activities in Hong Kong as wantonly beating, smashing, looting and arson. They have severely disrupted Hong Kong's social order, trampled on the rule of law in Hong Kong and severely damaged its economy. The National Security Law for Hong Kong is adopted by the central government to crack down on the handful of illegal and criminal behavior and activities endangering state security, which will provide stronger institutional guarantees for the stability and long-term development of the "one country, two systems" political framework, and will help maintain Hong Kong's long-term stability and prosperity. It will also safeguard the legal rights of freedom enjoyed by Hong Kong people and will help protect the legitimate rights and interests of investors in Hong Kong from various countries, including Canada. After the implementation of the National Security Law for Hong Kong, 80 percent of Hong Kong people believe that Hong Kong is safer and more stable.

The Xinjiang-related issue is not a human right issue at all, nor an ethnic or religious one, but an issue of fighting against terrorism, separatism and de-radicalization. In recent years, there have been thousands of violent and terrorist incidents in Xinjiang, which caused heavy casualties and property losses. Xinjiang has cracked down on violent terrorist activities in accordance with the law, and at the same time, paid attention to searching the root causes of terrorism and actively promoted de-radicalization. These measures have achieved remarkable results. Xinjiang has not suffered from any terrorist attack in nearly four years, which has guaranteed the basic rights of people of all ethnic groups, such as the right to life, the right to health, and the right to development to the greatest extent. These measures have received wide and heartfelt support from the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, and have also made important contributions to the international counter-terrorism cause.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear friends,

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Canada. Fifty years ago, Canadian leaders conformed to the trend of the times, removed external interference and established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. It is a move that conforms to the long-term interests of the two countries and exemplified Canada's spirit of independence. Today, China and Canada have established more than 30 high-level intergovernmental cooperation mechanisms, covering most areas of cooperation between the two countries; the trade volume between China and Canada increased nearly 500 times since establishment of diplomatic relations; every year, more than 1.5 million people travel between the two countries, and more than 200,000 Chinese students are studying in Canada. From these development achievements, people of both sides have gained concrete benefits.

New opportunities have emerged in China-Canada relations. Faced with the ever-changing international landscape, China has proposed a new development pattern featuring dual circulation, which takes the domestic market as the mainstay with domestic and foreign markets reinforcing each other. As a response, China overcame numerous difficulties to host the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services not long ago.And also in a few weeks time,we are going to have the third China International Import Expo(CIIE). It is believed that as China deepens reforms and opens its door even wider, the complementarities of China and Canada in fields such as economy and trade will be fully demonstrated, further unleashing the potential for cooperation between the two countries.

New connotation should be formed in China-Canada relations. Both China and Canada stand firmly for multilateralism and free trade. We share a common position on major issues related to peace and development of mankind, such as supporting the United Nations, World Trade Organization, and World Health Organization, tackling climate change, and combating infectious diseases. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China and Canada have carried out close cooperation in pandemic prevention and control, assisting each other in medical protective supplies and sharing anti-pandemic experience and information, which showcased the fine tradition of mutual support between the two countries amid trying times. In a world where hegemony, protectionism, and unilateralism prevail, the international community that includes China and Canada is needed more than ever to work together to address global issues.

New challenges have emerged in China-Canada relations. As China has repeatedly emphasized, the Meng Wanzhou incident is a severe political incident concocted by the United States to suppress Chinese high-tech enterprises and Huawei. There is growing evidence that proves the political nature of the incident, which has been recognized by more and more people of insight in Canada. As for the Meng Wanzhou's detention, the United States has acted like a barbaric bully who behaves against the basic norms of international relations. Unfortunately, Canada was taken advantage of by the United States and acted as an accomplice in the process, making the Meng Wanzhou's detention the crux of the current China-Canada relations.

Looking back at the development of China-Canada relations over the past 50 years, the two countries have neither past grievances nor major conflicts of interests. Instead, we share a broad space for cooperation. A healthy and stable China-Canada relationship is in the common interests of the two peoples. It is only by adhering to the principles of mutual respect and equal treatment that we can ensure the steady and enduring growth of our relations. It is hoped that Canada will make correct decisions as soon as possible, release Madame. Meng and ensure her safe return to China. By doing so, the relationship between the two countries can return to normal. Looking to the future, we hope to see greater development in China-Canada relations through our joint efforts.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear friends,

Although China and Canada are oceans apart, the friendship and bond between the two peoples has grown even stronger despite twists and turns. From Dr. Norman Bethune to Isabel Crook, from the Canada-China Business Council to the Bethune Medical Development Association, China-Canada relations have never lacked a helping hand, and the CCFS has never been alone in developing China-Canada friendship. An increasing number of people like Dr. Bethune are actively promoting the friendly exchanges and cooperation between the two countries, making new contributions to the friendship between China and Canada.

When facing the ever-changing international landscape and the difficulties in China-Canada relations, I hope that you can be the bridge-builder in bilateral relations, constantly promoting mutual and correct understanding between the two peoples. You are welcome to bring good Canadian stories to China, and Chinese stories to Canadian friends. I also hope that you can all be the trailblazer of China-Canada relations. I hope that you can continue tapping the potential of cooperation between the two countries in various fields, and make full use of the new opportunities brought by China's deepening reform and opening-up to create new areas of cooperation and lift China-Canada cooperation to a new height. Finally, I hope you can be the guardian of China-Canada relations. As for all the denigration of China-Canada relations, we need to bravely express ourselves, speak out for the development of China-Canada relations, and firmly believe that China-Canada relations will embrace a brighter future.

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The webinar consists of two sessions. Ambassador Cong delivered the keynote speech in the first session, followed by Q&A. During the Q&A session, Ambassador Cong answered questions about China-Canada relations, China-US relations, China economic situation, international cooperation in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic and South China Sea, etc.

Over 100 people attended the webinar, including representatives from Global Affairs as well as multiple news media and research institutes.

Founded in 1976, CCFS is a Non-Profit organization dedicated to the development of Canada-China relations and the promotion of bilateral exchanges in various fields such as culture, people-to-people exchanges.