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Common vision, shared aspirations
2016/02/17

As intensive preparations get underway for the 11th G20 Summit, which will be held in Hangzhou on September 4 and 5, attention and expectations about the summit are running high among the international community and Chinese in particular. Our correspondent talked to State Councilor Yang Jiechi, who is in charge of preparations, in a special interview. The following is the comprehensive overview of the preparatory work as given by Yang.

China will host the G20 Hangzhou Summit in 2016. President Xi Jinping has laid out China's vision for the summit. What are the objectives that China hopes to achieve at the summit? How are the preparations going?

China will hold the 11th G20 Summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, on September 4 and 5. This summit will be the culmination of China's diplomatic agenda this year. It will be a milestone not only in the political and diplomatic sense, but will also have far-reaching impact economically and socially.

At the Antalya (Turkey) Summit in November, President Xi Jinping laid out the theme, priorities and the general idea of China's presidency. President Xi emphasized that the theme of the Hangzhou Summit, "Toward an Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy", is designed in light of the development needs of all countries amid the current economic situation to promote stable growth in the short term by addressing the symptom and to drive growth in the long term through tackling the root cause. To be specific, "innovative" refers to innovation-driven development, including innovation in science and technology, as well as innovation in development concepts, systems and institutions, business models and structural reform, which will help find new sources of growth for the world economy. "Invigorated" means to lend impetus to the sluggish world economy by exploring new paths, tapping new forces and stimulating new vitality. "Interconnected" indicates a sense of community with shared interests and common future, calling for closer international economic cooperation, sharing of opportunities through connectivity and creation of synergy through sound interactions. "Inclusive" aims to narrow development gaps among countries, focus more on developing countries and all groups of people, and allow all people to benefit from the growth of the world economy.

On December 1 last year, the very day of China's assumption of the G20 presidency, President Xi delivered a message, further explaining China's vision and consideration for the summit. These messages from President Xi have shown the direction for the preparations for the Hangzhou Summit and have been warmly received by various parties.

As a premier forum for international economic cooperation, the G20 has played an important role in tackling the international financial crisis. In November 2008, the first G20 Summit was held in Washington. At that time, the world economy was on the brink due to the impact of the sub-prime mortgage crisis emanating from Wall Street . The G20 came to the fore at the critical juncture and, in the spirit of partnership and win-win cooperation at times of difficulty, took resolute and timely actions and steered the world economy away from the brink of precipice to a path of stability and recovery.

Today, as the world economy and international economic cooperation have come to yet another turning point, expectations are high for the Hangzhou Summit among various parties. China hopes that the G20 Hangzhou Summit this year will achieve the following objectives: First, to play a leading role, demonstrate ambition and chart the course for world economic growth. Second, to strengthen international economic cooperation and highlight the spirit of partnership and joint efforts in response to risks and challenges. Third, to innovate institutional building and create cooperation platforms to shift the G20 from a mechanism for crisis response to one of long-term governance. China will work with all parties for positive outcomes of the G20 Hangzhou Summit for the benefit of the whole world and future generations.

China attaches great importance to the preparations for the summit. We have set up a committee to coordinate the preparatory work. Thanks to the concerted efforts of relevant departments and provincial and municipal authorities, the preparations are going smoothly. Not long ago, the first Sherpa Meeting and the Finance and Central Bank Deputies Meeting were held successfully. Basic consensus was reached on the framework, priorities, key areas and roadmap of the work for this year, marking a major step forward. Programs of events and arrangements for venues, facilities, logistics and security are being fleshed out. These efforts have received full recognition from G20 members, guest countries and relevant international organizations. We have every reason to be confident about the success of the summit.

Given the sluggish growth in the world economy and growing divergence in economic performances and policies, difficulties and complicating factors have been on the increase in the global economic landscape. In this context, how would China set priorities for the Hangzhou Summit? And what is your underlying thinking?

We can see that global growth remains sluggish, major economies' monetary policies are diverging further, trade and investment are hovering at a low level, international financial markets are more volatile, commodity prices are getting lower, unemployment is still serious, and many countries are beset by inequalities and imbalances. Under such circumstances, all parties hope that the G20 will renew its success by acting to reinvigorate the world economy, chart the course for world economic development, and contribute even more to the strong, sustainable and balanced growth of the world economy.

To that end, China has proposed four key priorities under the theme of the summit, that is, "breaking a new path for growth", "more effective and efficient global economic and financial governance", "robust international trade and investment", and "inclusive and interconnected development". To break a new path for growth, the focus is to advance reform and innovation and to create and seize new opportunities to enhance the potential for medium-to-long term growth in the world economy. To improve global economic and financial governance is about increasing the representation and voice of emerging markets and developing countries, and making the world economy more risk-resilient. To promote international trade and investment is aimed at fostering an open world economy and reinvigorate global growth. To improve inclusive and interconnected growth calls for implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and will strengthen the momentum of world economic growth.

These priorities are consistent with the need of the world economy and the direction of China's development, and demonstrate the spirit of innovation. China hopes to work with other G20 members in an enhanced partnership of win-win cooperation to meet challenges in the post-crisis era. We shall build on the outcomes of the previous summits and exert the G20's leading role in a more effective manner to strengthen the foundation for world economic recovery and growth, with a view to bringing about a new round of growth and prosperity for the world economy.

The theme and main topics that China has formulated for the summit touch upon different aspects of international economic cooperation. People are all keen to know what outcomes the summit will achieve. What is China's expectation on this?

This is a good question. I would like to talk about China's expectations for the summit by running through the priority topics we have identified for the summit.

As is clear to all, the biggest problem for the world economy now is lack of growth drivers. Where can we find them? More and more people of insight understand that the key lies in innovation, reform and adjustment. In the years following the international financial crisis, the short-term policies adopted by major economies for crisis response have played an important role. Yet fiscal stimulus and monetary easing alone can hardly be the solution for root causes of the world economy. To realize sustainable, sound and stable growth, the ultimate way is to unlock the medium-to-long term growth potential of the world economy through reform and innovation. The world is now on the eve of a new round of scientific and industrial revolution, and innovation is of crucial importance for facilitating leapfrogging progress in productivity and strong economic growth. China has decided to make "breaking a new path for growth" a priority of the Hangzhou Summit. What we advocate is innovation in the broad sense. We call for innovation in science and technology and, beyond that, in development concepts, institutions and mechanisms, business models and a whole range of areas. China hopes that the summit will reach consensus on innovation, structural reform, new industrial revolution and digital economy.

If promoting growth is the G20's central task, then improving governance should be another main objective of this group. Since the global financial crisis, the G20 has played an important role in improving the international financial system and increasing the voice and representation of emerging markets and developing countries, which was well received by the international community. China hopes that the G20 members will build on what was achieved to further enhance the reform of international financial institutions, improve the international monetary system and strengthen cooperation on financial regulation, international taxation, green finance, energy governance and anti-corruption, with a view to making the global economic governance structure more balanced, its mechanisms more reliable, and its actions more effective.

To reinvigorate the two growth engines of trade and investment so as to provide stronger driving force for world economic growth is another main objective of the G20 this year. But for some time now, international trade growth has been slowing down, falling behind the average growth of the world economy for several years in a row. Protectionism is on the rise, and the multilateral trading system has encountered difficulties and setbacks. China decides to push for regular meetings of trade ministers and the creation of a trade and investment working group in charge of relevant work. The reason is that we want to highlight trade and investment on this year's agenda so as to reverse the current situation.

China hopes that with the Hangzhou Summit, the G20 members will reiterate their opposition to protectionism and reach consensus on promoting coordinated development of the multilateral trading system and regional trade arrangements, propelling global trade growth, supporting global value chain development and enhancing international investment policy cooperation.

Development is another focus of the Hangzhou Summit. As the biggest developing country in the world, China attaches great importance to development and believes that development is the common aspiration of people of all countries, developing countries in particular. We also believe that development is a fundamental way to address the lack of growth drivers for the world economy. The year 2016 marks the first year of implementing the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the G20 members are well positioned to lead the way in the implementation process through individual and collective actions. We should together ensure that the implementation process gets off to a good start. The G20 will also discuss and work for positive outcomes in such areas as encouraging more infrastructure investment from multilateral development banks, supporting the industrialization in Africa and the LDCs, encouraging youth entrepreneurship, improving energy accessibility and efficiency, increasing the use of clean and renewable energy, and agricultural technology and innovation.

The logo of the Hangzhou Summit released by China at the Antalya Summit has attracted extensive interest. Could you share with us what this logo stands for?

The city of Hangzhou in China's Zhejiang province is known both for its beautiful scenery and for being a dynamic city with an innovative spirit. The logo of the G20 Hangzhou Summit features the image of a bridge, drawn in 20 lines. On top of it are the English for "G20 2016 China", supplemented with the imprint of a traditional Chinese seal bearing the two Chinese characters for "China". Bridge bears a special meaning for the G20. The G20 is in fact the first global mechanism that allows developed and developing countries alike to take equal part in global economic governance, something that used to be the monopoly of developed countries. This represents a progress in the evolution of global governance and renders the G20 a bridge that connects history with the future, and developed countries with developing countries. Given the current world economic situation, the bridge bears some new implication for the Hangzhou Summit. It implies a keen hope for the G20 to become a bridge in the global economy, a bridge that brings parties together in win-win global cooperation oriented toward the future. The symmetrically curved lines in the bridge are meant to be reminiscent of fiber-optic cables, referring to an interconnected world in an information age. It is our hope that the Hangzhou Summit will serve as a bridge through which countries will build stronger links with each other and together open up broader prospects for the world economy.

I'm sure people will have high expectations for the Hangzhou Summit when they read this interview. Now that there is only less than seven months to go before the summit, what are your plans for the next stage of preparations?

Indeed, the time for preparation is short compared with the weighty task at hand. Fortunately, a solid foundation has been laid. At the just concluded first Sherpa Meeting and Finance and Central Bank Deputies' Meeting, the parties expressed appreciation for China's proposals on agenda and deliverable and our organization efforts. For the next step, China will continue to follow the principles of openness, transparency and inclusiveness in the preparatory work, and keep close communication and coordination with all parties to make solid efforts for a successful Hangzhou Summit.

We will continue to work toward the objectives we have identified and build up consensus through mechanisms such as the sherpa track, the finance track, and various ministers' and working group meetings to finalize the outcomes of the summit. In the months to come, China will host sherpa meetings in Guangzhou, Xiamen, Hangzhou and Wuhan, finance ministers' and central bank governors' meetings in Shanghai and Chengdu, and meetings of ministers covering trade, employment, energy and agriculture and the relevant working group meetings in Shanghai, Beijing and Xi'an. Through parallel efforts in a whole range of areas and via multiple channels, we hope to lay solid foundations for productive outcomes of the summit.

To make the summit more representative, we have invited countries including Egypt, Khazakstan, Spain, Singapore, Laos and Senegal to take part in the full program of the summit as guest countries. We will host supporting events such as the B20 Summit, the L20 Meeting, the Y20 Meeting, the W20 Meeting and the T20 Meeting to listen to the voices of sectors across the society, make the Hangzhou Summit more inclusive and garner broad popular support for G20 cooperation.

As the host of the G20, China will stay open-minded and engage with relevant regions, countries and international organizations in the lead-up to the summit to communicate its vision and approaches in hosting the summit and take in their suggestions so as to secure more outcomes for the summit for the benefit of more people.

Meanwhile, we will continue to make all-out efforts in political preparations, and conference logistics, security, transportation and publicity fields, to create a favorable environment and good conditions for the success of the summit.

The Chinese economy has entered a new normal. In this context, how should we view the relationship between enhancing external economic cooperation and deepening domestic reform, and that between hosting the G20 Hangzhou Summit and implementing the 13th Five-Year Plan, deepening reform in all respects and striving for the two centenary goals?

You've asked a good question. As the host country of the G20 Summit, China must provide a good answer to the question of how to combine its own development needs with the need for cooperation in the world so that the Hangzhou Summit can be an international event with distinct Chinese features. China and its economy have become an integral part of the world and the world economy in a community of shared destiny with deeply intertwined interests.

The Chinese economy has entered a new normal and a period of transformation and upgrading. The world economy has also come to a new stage of profound adjustment and change. The Chinese economy growing at a medium-high speed is an important source of growth for the world economy. Steady growth of the world economy in turn will provide a favorable external environment for China's development.

A close look shows that China's overall approach as the host of the Hangzhou Summit is consistent with the guiding principles of the proposal for the 13th Five-Year Plan. The 13th Five-Year Plan outlines a vision of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development and identifies innovation as the primary driving force for development that is placed at the center of national development. The theme and key agenda items of the G20 Hangzhou Summit are highly aligned with these ideas, and reflect not only China's own development needs, but also the common needs of international economic cooperation and the institutional transition of the G20. Hosting the G20 Hangzhou Summit will be an important platform for putting China's vision and propositions into practice. It will also add further impetus to the great historical process of implementing the 13th Five-Year Plan and deepening reform in all respects at home.

Greater international economic cooperation features prominently in the proposal for the 13th Five-Year Plan. It envisions a China that works for improvement of the international economic governance system and promotes a more equitable and fair international economic order leading to greater win-win cooperation. The proposal also calls for efforts to enhance international coordination on macro-economic policies and promote global economic balance, financial safety and stable economic growth. These are not just China's propositions. They are also consistent with the needs of world economic growth and the shared aspiration of the G20 members and the international community at large.

Last year, the Chinese economy maintained a growth rate of 6.9 percent despite sluggish world economic recovery, divergence in major economies' monetary policies and greater volatilities in the international financial market. Seen in the global context, this counts as an impressive achievement. This has also made China the biggest contributor to the global economy among major economies, generating over 25 percent of world economic growth. Such an achievement is largely attributable to our efforts to shift the growth model and push forward restructuring by paying greater attention to innovation- and consumption-driven growth.

In the face of downward pressure from the world economy and challenges from economic transformation and upgrading at home, we will adopt a holistic approach and fully leverage the huge potential, resilience and policy flexibility of the Chinese economy and strike a proper balance among pursuing steady growth, promoting reform and restructuring, improving people's livelihood and guarding against risks. While expanding aggregate demand moderately, we will work hard to advance structural reform, especially supply-side structural reform, pursue innovation-driven growth and identify new drivers with new approaches. In a word, we have the confidence and ability to make sure the economy will grow at a medium-high speed and move toward the medium-high level, to achieve the two centenary goals and realize the Chinese dream of great national renewal while continuing to contribute significantly to world economic growth.

We can say that the G20 Hangzhou Summit will be an important opportunity for China and the world to understand, adjust to and shape the new normal. It will enable China to better combine external economic cooperation with its domestic reform and development and invite the world to join China in opening up new vistas of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development and striving for a new era of global growth. We are full of expectations and confidence in this endeavor.

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