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Remarks by Ambassador Gui Congyou at the Seminar on the Belt and Road Initiative in Stockholm

(30 May 2018, Stockholm)


Dear experts and scholars,

Dear entrepreneurs,

Ladies and gentlemen,

First let me sincerely congratulate the Schiller Institute in Stockholm, China's Chamber of Commerce in Sweden, and China Eastern Airlines, on co-hosting this very important and timely seminar on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The BRI is an important initiative for international cooperation proposed by President Xi Jinping. Underpinned by infrastructure connectivity, it aims to tap complementary advantages of countries involved, promote mutually beneficial cooperation and achieve common development.

Since its inception five years ago, the BRI has yielded fruitful achievements. The total imports and exports between China and countries along the route hit 33.2 trillion RMB, registering an annual average growth of 4%, which is higher than the average growth of China's foreign trade over the same period. Direct flights have been launched between China and 43 countries along the route. China-Europe freight trains have run over 7,500 trips. China has set up 75 overseas trade and economic cooperation zones, generating over 200,000 jobs for local areas. These facts have proved that BRI has not only facilitated China's opening up to the outside world, but also effectively boosted the economic development of countries along the route and brought tangible benefits to their peoples.

Last May, the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was successfully held in Beijing. During the forum, President Xi Jinping stressed that we should build the Belt and Road into a road of peace, prosperity, opening up, and innovation, and a road connecting different civilizations, which has further charted the course for international cooperation through BRI.

I wish to stress that the pursuit of the BRI is not meant to impose China's cooperation plans on other countries, or to reinvent the wheel. Rather, it aims to dock the development strategies of countries involved, and make plans together for joint development through consultation. BRI is not the Marshall Plan either. It doesn't work with China unilaterally providing financial aid to other countries. Instead, all countries involved pool capital and efforts for joint development. The outcomes of the BRI is not monopolized by China, but shared among all participants and cooperation partners involved. The BRI is by no means a so-called geopolitical tool, because it is the basic principle of China's foreign policy not to interfere in other countries' internal affairs or to seek spheres of influence. In pursuing the BRI, China not only conducts bilateral cooperation with other countries, but welcomes a third party or even more countries to participate in relevant cooperation projects. BRI is not only about China going abroad to carry out cooperation projects. Foreign countries are also welcome to initiate, expand and deepen practical cooperation in China. A new evidence of this is the first China International Import Expo to be held in Shanghai in early November.

The BRI was proposed by China, but the opportunities and outcomes it offers are shared by the world, and is therefore welcomed by more and more countries. China has signed cooperation agreements with over 100 countries and international organizations, which fully indicates the popularity and vitality of the BRI.

The BRI is a transparent initiative that abides by international rules. A global initiative as massive as the BRI could never thrive without going by the rules. The Joint Communiqué of last year's forum made solemn commitments in terms of transparency, rules, and standards of the BRI, and emphasized the importance of economic, social and environmental sustainability of projects, and of coordinating economic growth, social progress, and environmental protection.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The BRI is not far away from the Nordic countries. As early as 1739, the famous Swedish ship Götheborg sailed to China and opened the Maritime Silk Road linking China with Sweden and the Nordic region. Last November, the first China-Europe freight train in Northern Europe between Kouvola of Finland and Xi'an of China was launched, linking the Nordic region with Asia. As the first western country to establish diplomatic ties with China and the largest economy in the Nordic region, Sweden enjoys unique advantages and broad prospects to participate in the BRI. Sweden has always supported free trade, open development, and green innovation, which is highly compatible with the BRI concepts. Swedish companies are global leaders in areas such as infrastructure technology, equipment manufacturing, smart cities and green transport, and have a lot to achieve by participating in the BRI.

The BRI is an indication of China's further opening up to the outside world on all fronts. Not long ago, President Xi Jinping sent out a signal at the Boao Forum for Asia that China will become more and more open to the outside world. China will further broaden market access, orderly ease foreign equity restrictions in the automobile and financial industries, enhance intellectual property protection, and accelerate the building of a market environment featuring compliance with regulations and fair competition. These will provide more opportunities for Swedish and European companies. I am also pleased to learn that China Eastern Airlines' direct flight from Shanghai to Stockholm will be launched next month. It will become another important step for closer connectivity between China and Sweden, and more broadly the Nordic countries. I hope the Swedish friends will seize the important opportunity brought by China's opening further and make use of the BRI platform, so as to push China-Sweden pragmatic cooperation in various fields to a new level.

I wish the seminar a full success. Thank you!

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