H.E. Xi Jin Ping, President of the People’s Republic of China
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!
I am very pleased and honored to attend the opening ceremony of special conference of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) on the Rebuilding the Silk Road under the theme of “New Vision of the Silk Road, Actions for Common Development”, which is held today in Beijing, People’s Republic of China. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the International Conference of Asian Political Parties and the Central Committee of Communist Party of China for organizing this conference and for the invitation extended to me. I would like to specially thank the Government of the People’s Republic of China for a very warm welcome extended to me and Cambodian delegates during our stay in the People’s Republic of China.
The topic to be discussed in the conference is of great importance for present global development within the context of ever-growing globalization, resulted from internationalization of production chain and expansion of international trade. Over 2000 years ago, people of Asia and Europe exchanged goods via a few trading route linking Asia, Europe and Africa, which was later known as the “Silk Road”. Regardless of their size, the countries reaped huge benefits from this Silk Road, which became the symbol of peace, cooperation, openness, inclusiveness, knowledge sharing and mutual understanding for common development.
Upon this long history, I highly appreciate the initiative of His Excellency Xi Jinping in 2013 to revive the “Silk Road”, which is conceptualized under “Economic Belt of the New Silk Road” together with other relevant projects, particularly “the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road”. The purposes are to improve relation and connectivity of economy and trade within the globe and region for dimension of both land and maritime. Both countries that are accessible or inaccessible to sea, but within the perimeter of the economic belt of the Silk Road, expect to gain significant benefits from it. Such a great initiative reflects the firm commitment of China in opening up and promoting the connectivity, staining on five key principles including policy coordination, connectivity coordination, free trade, financial integration and ties between people and people.
In addition to the above-mentioned five principles of connectivity, the Silk Road initiative does not only contribute to global peace, stability and close cooperation through exchanges among people, but also offer supporting infrastructure for trade and investment activities that lead to the reduction of development gap between coastal area and less-developed inland areas within China. This factor will also provide opportunity for high and sustainable economic growth based on export and Foreign Direct Investment as well as for promotion of inclusiveness and equity. Therefore, the implementation of this project is expected to effectively reduce developmental gap and inequity among nations within the scope of this great project.
Scale wise, this Silk Road Project is expected to connect majority of countries representing 55% of world’s gross national product, 70% of world’s population and 75% of world’s energy reserve. Owing to huge scale, this project is expected taking long time to finish around 30 to 35 years until 2049, which is the 100th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. Therefore, I would like to encourage an active participation from the involved countries and joining forces to fully accomplish this project as fast as possible.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to brief on Cambodia’s recent developments. The regain of full peace, political stability, security and national unity through the “Win-Win” policy of the Royal Government of Cambodia in late 1990s created an unprecedented opportunity for comprehensive reforms implementation, which improves public confidence and trust from both domestic and foreign private sector to invest in Cambodia. This tendency remains strong. This result has been attributed to a number of factors comprising of political stability, better security, improved investment climate, large pool of low-cost and young labor forces, quota-and tax-free access to large markets and the growing market size resulting from income increase and economic integration. Cambodia achieved the average growth rate of 7.7% per annum over the last two decades and is ranked by the World Bank as the top 6th among the world’s 8 highest growth. As the result, poverty rate was reduced from 53.2% in 2004 to 13.5% in 2014, which Cambodia is ranked the fourth most successful country in poverty reduction.
To sustain high growth rate, the Royal Government of Cambodia has exerted more efforts to diversify the economy that currently relies on a few sectors, including garments, tourism, construction and agriculture. In this direction, the Royal Government of Cambodia introduced “Industrial Development Policy 2015-2025 (IDP)” as Cambodia’s new growth strategy to further promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the long run.
For a long-term vision, Cambodia is grasping new emerging opportunities including the upcoming ASEAN Economic Integration at the end of this year, the establishment of new development bank by BRICS, the establishment of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) of which Cambodia is one of the founding members, China’s Economic Belt and Silk Road Initiative, and other projects and funds including Silk Road Fund, China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund…etc. In addition, to take a reasonable advantages from the Economic Belt and Silk Road Initiative, the RGC has proactively coordinated those initiative with Cambodia’s Rectangular Strategy, National Strategic Development Plan and other long-term development vision documents.
Cambodia and Mekong riparian countries have long historical ties with China. We all benefit greatly from the Mekong River and also share peace, security, stability, history and common destiny. Mekong River blesses with essential water resources and fertile soil that produce food bowl for regional food security. The richness of cultural and natural heritage provides another opportunity and values for people connectivity and cultural exchanges, which could be far outreached by the Silk Road. A popular Chinese proverb says “A journey of attainable thousand steps has to begin with a successful first step”. In this sense, the cooperation of Mekong River region could be the first step in realizing the concept of Economic Belt and Silk Road. Therefore, this region deserves our consideration in promoting the implementation of this initiative. While Mekong River continues offering huge benefits to relevant countries, I hope that People’s Republic of China would place special priority on the development of Mekong River Basin under this Silk Road Initiative for common development and prosperity.
To conclude, Cambodia would like to wholeheartedly congratulate and fully support China for introducing this concept of Silk Road aiming for peace, security, connectivity, cooperation, and prosperity of all countries in the wider region. As a member of Greater Mekong Sub-Region family and the ASEAN Community, Cambodia has a strong commitment to work closely with other stakeholder countries to enhance actual implementation of all the projects under the “Economic Belt and Silk Road” initiative to realize the common goal of Asian Dreams and Century.
Finally, I wish Excellencies, distinguished participants and friends good health and success in your endeavors. I wish a great success to the Special Conference of the ICAPP on Rebuilding the Silk Road.