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Opening Remarks by Consul General Zhang Ping at Belt and Road Forum hosted by Hong Kong Association of Southern California
(April 27, 2018, L.A. Hotel Downtown)

Respected President Danton Mak,

Respected Director Chang and Director Lo,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you very much, President Mak, for your welcoming remarks and your kind invitation. It gives me great pleasure to join the members of Hong Kong Association of Southern California and friends of the local business community in this Forum to explore ways of promoting international cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.

As you know, the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013. It is aimed at creating an open, inclusive and balanced regional economic cooperation architecture that benefits all by promoting orderly and free flow of economic factors, highly efficient allocation of resources and deep integration of markets, and by encouraging the countries along the Belt and Road to enhance synergy of development strategies and carry out broader and more in-depth regional cooperation of higher standards. It is a concrete action taken by the Chinese government to push forward economic globalization and the building of the community of shared future for mankind through common development.

The Belt and Road initiative upholds the principle of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. It makes the policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people to people bond as its five priority areas, with the purpose of forging a partnership for win-win cooperation which is characterized by political mutual trust, economic integration and cultural inclusiveness based on shared interests, shared goals and shared responsibilities. It emphasizes on building an all-dimensional, multi-tiered cooperation platform where the key players include not only governments, but also non-governmental organizations and private sector and its operation is market based. It focuses not only on infrastructure building, but also on trade and investment facilitation, financial cooperation, cultural and people-to-people ties. The form of the cooperation can be bilateral or multilateral.

The Belt and Road Initiative is not a geopolitical tool by China, as some people interpreted, to create a so-called sphere of influence of its own, neither an exclusive and closed inner circle of certain countries, but an open and inclusive platform for pragmatic cooperation. It opens to all countries, regional economies, international organizations and development partners, despite their geographic location. We welcome the participation of the US.

Over the last five years since the Initiative was put forward, over 100 countries and international organizations have voiced their support and interest in participating in this Initiative, and over 80 of them have signed cooperation agreements with China. Trade between China and countries along the Belt and Road routes exceeded $4 trillion. Chinese investment in these countries exceeded $60 billion. Last May, China hosted the first Belt and Road Summit Forum for International Cooperation in which 1600 delegates from over 140 countries and 80 international organizations participated and more than 270 concrete results were achieved. The Belt and Road Initiative is gaining more and more support and is applauded as a road of peace and prosperity.

Being the international financial, trade and transport center, Hong Kong has unique advantages and strength under "One Country, Two Systems" to contribute to the advancement of Belt and Road Initiative. The Chinese Central Government supports Hong Kong's participation in the initiative. The Arrangement between the National Development and Reform Commission and the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for Advancing Hong Kong's Full Participation in and Contribution to the Belt and Road Initiative signed last year provides important guidelines for Hong Kong to engage in the Belt and Road cooperation. The Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau Greater Bay Area serves as an important base to support the Belt and Road international cooperation and the Greater Bay Area development strategy injects strong impetus to the economic and social development of Hong Kong as well as the whole region.

The Belt and Road Initiative also presents tremendous opportunities for the US business community. While some American companies have already benefited greatly from this Initiative, many others are exploring the potential opportunities. Quite a number of US local government leaders including Governor Brown, have expressed interest in participating in the Belt and Road cooperation. As both the US federal government and many local governments, including the Los Angeles city, have plans to upgrade infrastructure facilities, we see great potential for China and US business communities to engage in cooperation within the Belt and Road framework.

The Hong Kong business community in the United States has a unique role to play in the Belt and Road cooperation. Many of its members have business operations in the US and have extensive connection with many parts of the world. Their knowledge and expertise on international business practices will enable them to steer the cooperation projects towards the right direction and along the right track.

While we explore the business opportunities for the Belt and Road cooperation, we should be mindful that to maintain an opened world economy and a sound international trade order is of vital importance to the Belt and Road international cooperation. Any unilateral and trade protectionist measure will jeopardize these efforts. We also need to maintain a stable and healthy China-US relationship to create an environment that is essential for our business communities to engage in Belt and Road cooperation. We should make a great deal of efforts to ensure that China-US relationship stays on the right track.

I hope friends of Hong Kong Association of Southern California will continue to support the China-US relations and work together with the local business community to explore more opportunities for cooperation under the Belt and Road initiative. As always, the Chinese Consulate General in LA will do what we can to support your endeavor.

I wish the forum a great success!

Thank you!

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