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Ambassador Gui Congyou Gives Interview with Dagens Industri

On 4 July 2018, Ambassador Gui Congyou gave an interview with Dagens industri (Di) during Almedalen. The interview was attended by about 40 people and was broadcast live on the website of Di. Following is the full text of the interview:

Q: The United States will impose high tariffs on goods imported from China starting from July 6. How will China respond?

Gui Congyou: China is the last country that wants a trade war, knowing that it will benefit none. But if the US side is bent on waging one, then we can only fight it and take corresponding measures of the same intensity and scale on US products. The US is not only initiating a trade war against China, but also against the EU, Canada, Japan and other countries across the world. It is recommended that all countries, including Sweden, get prepared for it.

Q: Mr. Ambassador, you are an expert on Russia-related issues. In just about a dozen days, the Russian and US leaders will meet. The Swedes are nervous about that meeting. What do you think ?

Gui Congyou: Both Russia and the US are world powers and permanent members of the UN Security Council. They share an important responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. The improvement and development of Russia-US relations are conducive to maintaining world peace and stability, and we are happy to see that. I think Swedish friends don't need to be nervous.

Q: China is investing more in artificial intelligence (AI) than the US, and has made AI a priority for the next decade, aiming to be a world leader in this field. Why does China attach such importance to AI ?

Gui Congyou: AI is a key development area for major countries in the world. The Chinese Government has also drawn up an AI development plan which states that AI development will be driven by science and technology, follow a systematic layout, and feature market orientation and open source. China's tremendous development achievements have been accomplished through reform and opening up, and in the future we will open up even wider to the outside world. We are willing to cooperate with relevant countries in the field of AI. I visited ABB in Västerås, Sweden at the end of last year. The company has a strong R&D team for AI in Shanghai. China is willing to conduct exchanges and cooperation with other countries including Sweden in this field.

Q: The Chinese side has clearly stated that it is necessary to set its own AI standards. The existing AI standards are mainly American. What does Chinese standards mean?

Gui Congyou: China's economic development has its own characteristics. Naturally, it also has its own standards in the field of AI, just like the US and Sweden have their own standards. I believe that the AI standards of different countries are not mutually exclusive. Rather, we can learn from each other while setting our own standards. In a globalized world, a country devoted to developing its own standards behind closed doors will not have great prospects for development.

Q: There are now many Chinese companies, including companies wholly or partially owned by the state, that are acquiring others around the world, including many of the leading European companies. Some people in Sweden are discussing whether the government should restrict the mergers and acquisitions by Chinese companies. What do you think about this?

Gui Congyou: China's development depends on its reform and opening up. Over the past 40 years, a large number of foreign companies have invested in China and made important contributions to China's economic development. A few years ago, Chinese netizens have also had heated debates on whether foreign investors should be allowed to purchase shares of or merge and acquire Chinese companies, but in the end, most of them agreed that as long as the investment would benefit the company's own development, we should welcome it.

After 40 years of reform and opening up, a large number of Chinese companies have grown and acquired strong capabilities to invest abroad. Their acquisitions of foreign companies are also a reward for foreign investment in China for the 40 years. As a company's strength grows, it is also necessary to invest abroad for further development. When making investment abroad, Chinese companies must comply with the industrial development policies of China and the host countries. We hope that Chinese investment can promote local industrial and economic development and drive local employment.

We also welcome companies from all over the world, including Sweden, to further expand their investment in China. We will create a more favorable business environment and conditions for foreign companies to invest in China. If some individual countries insist on rejecting Chinese investment, that's their decision. Investment cannot be imposed. Chinese companies will only invest in countries where they feel welcomed and can promote their own development as well as local economic development and employment.

Q: It is a point often made in relevant debates in Sweden that the standards and restrictions faced by Chinese companies investing in Europe and European companies investing in China are different. When will the two sides be treated equally?

Gui Congyou: Frankly speaking, though China's economic aggregate ranks second in the world after 40 years of reform and opening up, the quality and maturity of its economic development still lag far behind developed countries including Sweden. As China further expands its opening up to the outside world, restrictions on foreign investments will be gradually reduced or eliminated. At the Boao Forum for Asia 2018 Annual Conference in April, President Xi Jinping announced a series of new major measures for China to further expand its opening up, including the gradual easing of foreign equity restrictions in the financial industry and the elimination of restrictions on foreign equity in the automobile industry within five years. I will not list them one by one here. If you are interested, you can check the relevant measures online. These are all important good news for foreign investment.

Q: There are also political reasons for concerns about Chinese investment. Some people criticize China as an authoritarian country with no freedom of speech, and others criticize China for arresting citizens of EU countries including Sweden. The investment of Chinese state-owned enterprises into Sweden has caused political doubts. What's your opinion?

Gui Congyou: First of all, as ambassador, I find it very unfair to say that China is undemocratic or authoritarian. Both the Constitution of the People's Republic of China and the Constitution of the Communist Party of China (CPC) clearly stipulate that China will build a democratic society. The 19th CPC National Congress held in October last year further proposed to build China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful. Democracy is one of the five main goals of the CPC. Democracy is a good thing that every country and everybody needs. However, countries differ in their historical as well as current situations. They also differ in the forms and systems of democracy. The democratic systems of Sweden and the US are not exactly the same. The governing position of the CPC in China was established and continuously consolidated in its 97-year-long endeavors of revolution, construction and reform, and it has won the sincere support of all Chinese people. We also have eight political parties that actively participate in the discussion and administration of state affairs.

Q: Indeed, we may have different understandings in this regard. My question is, will Western countries' understanding of China affect China's trade with them?

Gui Congyou: As globalization deepens, all countries are closely linked together. We strongly oppose the politicization of trade issues by certain Western countries.

Q: But that is what the Western countries are doing. They think that China's political system will be a problem.

Gui Congyou: If they do that, it will only have a negative impact on the positive cooperation between the two sides. We hope that some people in the West will not take this approach. Chinese people often say that allowing others to be different from oneself is inclusiveness. But when the Western countries want others to do what they do and to do it their way, it is not inclusiveness. To be frank, it is exactly autocracy.

Q: Let's talk about an issue related to environmental protection. Sweden plans to go completely fossil-free by 2040, in its effort to save the planet. When will China completely eliminate the consumption of fossil energy?

Gui Congyou: As far as I know, the relevant Chinese authorities are actively studying the timetable for fossil energy to exit the market. The first step would be to stop using fossil fuel-powered vehicles. Some Chinese scholars advocate a timetable similar to that of Sweden. I personally think that it may not be so fast, because there are too many people and cars in China. There are about 6 million cars in Beijing.

Q: That's quite a lot! Why don't people ride bicycles any more in China?

Gui Congyou: Now bicycles have reemerged in Beijing, especially during rush hour, when there are many motor vehicles and a huge flow of shared bicycles. The Chinese Government also clearly stipulates that the proportion of new energy vehicles in the government procurement should be greatly increased.

Q: What do you think is the best side of Sweden?

Gui Congyou: The best side of Sweden is of course the weather. Sweden has such a good weather because of its long-term commitment to green, environment-friendly and sustainable development. China has also learned from this approach and is vigorously promoting the vision of innovative, coordinated, green, and open development that is for everyone, so as to achieve sustainable economic and social development and harmony between human and nature.

Q: When will the Volvo Cars go public?

Gui Congyou: As far as I know, Volvo Cars is studying the issue of going public. Since the company is very popular, many people are vying to get it listed , but ultimately it is up to the company to decide for itself.

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