Sat | Nov 25, 2017

Xi wants to increase assistance, trade to developing states

Published:Friday | October 20, 2017 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson
President of China, Xi Jinping.

BEIJING, China:

Chinese President Xi Jinping made the call to increase assistance and trade to developing countries in his wide-ranging speech that opened the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China on Wednesday.

"China will increase assistance to other developing countries, especially the least developed countries, and do its part to reduce the North-South development gap. China will support multilateral trade regimes and work to facilitate the establishment of free trade areas and build an open world economy," said Xi at the Great Hall of the People.

Trade between Latin America and the Caribbean and China totalled US$33.7 billion, of which the largest export and most prosperous province of Guangdong accounted for US$25.7 billion.

The 19th National Congress, held every five years, is the highest political event in that nation. In his three-hour-long speech, Xi indicated that he plans to continue the policy of the 'Belt and Road', which aims to export China's state investments via megaprojects in some 70 developing nations globally.

"China will actively promote international cooperation through the Belt and Road initiative. In doing so, we hope to achieve policy, infrastructure, trade, financial, and people-to-people connectivity and thus build a new platform for international cooperation to create new drivers of shared development," he said.

Xi stressed that China stands for democracy in international relations and the equality of all countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor. The president insisted that China held no hidden agenda for increasing its global influence, not now or in the future.

"China's development does not pose a threat to any other country. No matter what stage of development it reaches, China will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion," Xi said.

China aims to become a moderately prosperous country by 2020; part of that vision entails ridding the country of poverty. Between 2013 and 2016, China grew at around 7.2 per cent per annum, but as it grows, the country, which is now branding itself as 'socialist with Chinese characteristics', wants more equity for its people.

"We must ensure that by the year 2020, all rural residents living below the current poverty line will have been out of poverty," Xi said.

Since 2013, following the 18th National Congress, more than 60 million people have been lifted out of poverty, and the poverty headcount ratio dropped from 10.2 per cent to less than 4.0 per cent, said Xi. Additionally, some 13 million urban jobs were created each year.

His figures vary slightly from the information at the opening press conference for the congress, where the poverty rate was said to have fallen from 10.4 per cent to under five per cent.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com