Speeches

13. 11. 2013 18:31

Prime Minister: I believe in a long-term strategic partnership between China and Europe

Premiér Jiří Rusnok se ve středu 13. listopadu 2013 zúčastnil Čínského investičního fóra ve Španělském sále Pražského hradu.
On Wednesday 13th November 2013, Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok took part in a Chinese Investment Forum in the Spanish Hall at Prague Castle.
Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok made a speech on 13th November 2013 at the Chinese Investment Forum in the Spanish Hall at Prague Castle. In his speech, the Prime Minister focused in particular on the potential for deepening mutual and beneficial collaboration.

Speech by Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok at the Chinese Investment Forum

Dear guests from China and the Czech Republic,

permit me to bid you welcome on the occasion of the Chinese Investment Forum, a significant event and a celebration of Sino-Czech relations. Relations between our countries have a long history, and our countries are joined by a traditional friendship. Following the declaration of the People’s Republic of China on 1st October 1949, the Czechoslovak government, on 4th October 1949, was one of the first countries in the world to recognise the new Republic. By 7th January 1950, it had established its new embassy in Beijing.

But long before that, during the 1930s, Czechoslovakia had delivered breweries, sugar factories, and other investment goods to China. In the 1950s Czechoslovakia made a significant contribution to the development of China’s energy sector and industry. We have supplied to China heat generating power stations, and factories to make artificial fibres, nitrogen and machine tools, as well as film laboratories.

We are meeting today to build on the best of our traditions on the new platform of the China Investment Forum. In order to build new bridges and so shorten the imaginary distance between the two countries and the two nations.

It is a matter of regret for me that in recent years of the collaboration between us, our voices have not always been in harmony. In eyes, however, China is a partner country which I trust and for which I feel a deep friendship. I personally believe in a long-term strategic partnership between China and Europe and between China and the Czech Republic.

Thanks to the respect and trust that flows from this, we can learn much from each other and enjoy mutual enrichment. The history of China, its cultural heritage and the depth of thought of its artists and philosophers such as Confucius and Laozi represent not only a timeless cultural phenomenon, but also a very broad foundation, on which not only contemporary China, but the whole world, can build.

In the Czech Republic we also know Chinese material heritage very well: the Terracotta Army of the First Emperor, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China represent for all Czechs key ideas in the cultural history of the world. But for me personally, they do not represent only part of thousands of years of history, for me they are testimony to the high cultural maturity of the Chinese nation. They represent ideas which frame not only the history of China, but also the history of the whole cultured world, the history of the planet Earth.

China has become a symbol of success, and I am convinced that the policy of economic and modernising reforms, in conjunction with its enormous economic potential and long-term high economic growth rate will soon put China in the position of being the world’s leading economic power.

During a session of the Boaoforum for Asia in Hainan this April the Chinese President Xi Jinping referred to three numbers which fascinate the entire world and which are also a major opportunity for the Czech economy as well. Over the next five years Chinese imports will reach a figure of 10 trillion USD, overseas investment will exceed 500 billion USD and more than 400 million people will travel abroad as tourists.

In the relations between our two countries there is enormous potential for deepening mutual and beneficial collaboration. I therefore greatly value the positive trend in Sino-Czech relations since spring of last year. In Romania in less than 14 days, on the occasion of a meeting of the Prime Ministers of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and China, I will also have a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of the People’s Republic, Li Keqiang. I am interested in sharing with him my ideas on mutual collaboration. It should be an opportunity and a challenge to find a new dynamic for our relationship.

The first principle should be sound and stable bilateral collaboration between China and the Czech Republic.

In spite of the geographical distance and differences between their political and social structures, our nations are joined by a friendship of many years. China is a strong country which has successfully set out on a reform path, has opened up to the world and become the embodiment of success in the modern era.

I greatly value the fact that this process opens up new opportunities for the Czech Republic as an important member of the European Union and one of the strongest countries in Central and Eastern Europe. I am at the same time convinced that our country has learned from its history of bilateral relations and that the growth of sound relations and stable collaboration must in essence be based on mutual regard, respect and equal treatment.

The Czech Republic and the People’s Republic of China must be both partners and allies. Our relations must develop in a much more progressive manner in our reaction to the challenges and opportunities of the third millenium.

The recent past has been characterised by a marked deepening in our collaboration in all areas. The President of the Czech Republic, who as Prime Minister visited the People’s Republic in 1999, has since his election this year put great emphasis on a qualitative change in Sino-Czech relations and on supporting trade and investment between the two countries. For this reason this Forum is being held under his auspices, and he views it as a suitable platform for exchanging views on deepening the specific economic and trade collaboration between our countries.

On behalf of the Czech government I also wish to guarantee our extreme interest in deepening the economic collaboration and mutual trade between our countries. A high-level working group made up of the representatives of key state and economic institutions has been formed, and we look forward to permanent dialogue with their Chinese counterparts.

We are interested in identifying quickly the largest opportunities for collaboration, to radically simplifying mutual trading practices, to discussing support for small- and medium-sized enterprises and looking efficiently for opportunities for joint collaboration in third-party markets.

The Czech Republic is unequivocally interested in Chinese investment leading to a qualitative growth in the Czech economy. Last year saw the updating of our Act on Investment Incentives, which now allows investment incentives to be offered to a company specialising in research and development or non-manufacturing investment. Further advantages of this new Act include an extension of tax breaks from the current 5 years to 10, the introduction of direct capital support for acquiring long-term assets for strategic investments, and simplification of application processing administration.

For the Czech Republic the People’s Republic of China is one of its priority countries in terms of foreign trade collaboration. Representatives of agencies from the Ministry of Trade and Industry (Czechinvest and Czechtrade) are therefore at the disposal of potential Chinese investors at offices in Shanghai and Chengdu and for their Chinese clients will soon open new representative offices in Beijing and Guangzhou.

Recently I have personally met representatives of the largest Chinese companies in the Czech Republic. I listened with interest to their view of conditions for doing business in the Czech Republic. I am certain that if the Czech Republic wishes to be competitive for Chinese companies in their assessment of the investment environment, it must be able to offer at the very least the same quality of care and conditions as the other countries of the European Union. I would like to thank you once more for the comprehensive comparative material I have received and to assure both current and future Chinese investors that most of these measures will be implemented in practice as quickly as possible. It is my wish that Chinese companies feel at home here, and I also believe that Czech companies in China will receive the same conditions as Chinese companies do here.

In the conclusion of his speech at the session of the Davos forum in Dahlien, Prime Minister Li Keqiang put especial emphasis on the Chinese government supporting Chinese companies with a good reputation and real strength in investing abroad, ending his speech with the words “I trust that they will be welcomed”.

On behalf of the Czech Republic I am happy I can reply symbolically: Yes, Prime Minister Li Keqiang, they will be and we look forward to them. We welcome new Huawei, Changhong, CQLT and all other possible Chinese investors.

On behalf of the Czech government I also want to send a message to Czech investors, that our country is prepared to do much more than in the past to support their investment in the People’s Republic, because I consider government support to be an essential condition for the growth of Czech companies in a country which is geographically so far away.

Czech companies in areas such as engineering, environmental protection technologies, health techniques, new materials, biotechnology and nanotechnology, the aircraft industry, the transport industry, automotive parts, the energy sector and all types of services have the necessary know-how at a global level, and are very interested in working with Chinese partners.

We are interested in international technical collaboration. The Czech Ministry of Trade and Industry has created a new programme focussed on supporting and strengthening cooperation between Czech technology companies of all sizes with their foreign partners, including the Chinese. Joint projects could lead to the introduction or expansion of technologically advanced products and processes, including the development of software and applications.

I am proud of advanced Czech industry and its businesses such as Škoda Auto, PPF, Home Credit, SOTIO, TOS Varnsdorf, RAVAK, Koh-i-noor, Green Gas International, Škoda Machine Tool, Škoda Electric, PETROF, LINET and all the others who have invested in China and operate successfully in the local market.

So for the second time today I refer to the encouraging words of Prime Minister Le Keqiang at the Davos forum – on the basis of the facts we will continue to show that choosing China is a sensible thing and a first-class strategy for the prosperity and growth of multi-national corporations, and I am certain that there will be even more Czech companies that will find an open welcome and a friendly environment in China.

The second principle is the effective involvement of the Czech Republic in the collaboration project of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and China.

In Warsaw in April last year the Prime Minister of the People’s Republic presented a 12-point collaboration programme between China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The Czech Republic was without doubt one of the most active participants. The Czech Republic was involved with high-level delegations in all meetings such as tourism, culture, education, the regions and at meetings of young politicians, and we are today seeing the first specific successful projects, particularly in regional collaboration and tourism.

Worthy of particular note is the exceptionally successful mission led by Minister of Health Martin Holcát, which opened new doors to collaboration between the ministries, hospitals and corporate health sectors of both countries.

I see major scope for developing further cooperation particularly in trade and the economy, science and the economy, and we view very positively the proposal from the Chinese side to make this area the key collaboration project between Central and Eastern Europe and the People’s Republic next year.

A commitment in coming years to doubling trade and mutual economic collaboration is not only part of the Warsaw Initiative, but is also one of the key foreign policy priorities of the Czech Republic.

I see enormous potential in collaboration between universities and science centres, in sharing scientific know-how, in leading-edge technologies and in exchanges and education for Chinese specialists and students. In this direction our country has an absolutely unique position and can thus contribute significantly to the modernisation and the long-term sustainable and sound development of the Chinese economy.

We would be very pleased to continue in the development of tourism. The Czech Republic offers enormous tourist and cultural potential – in addition to the attraction of magical Prague and many monuments on the UNESCO global heritage list, there is also our music, literature, art and not least, the cuisine of the Czech Republic.

I am personally committed to simplifying visas and to the setting up of a functional visa system comparable to those in Germany, Austria, France and Italy, by next spring at the latest. I would like to see the establishment of a Sino-Czech project team made of experts from both countries to assess as soon as possible the possibility of a direct air route – so much needed by tourists and businessmen - to link the two capital cities.

I believe that the Czech Republic can make use of its unique position within the region and become the economic and technology gateway for Chinese investors to the whole of Central and Eastern Europe.

In cooperation between the Czech and Chinese sides, we are ready to seek inspiration for the most successful global projects and to build in the Moravia-Silesia region a modern scientific, logistics and trade zone for collaboration between Czech and Chinese companies.

Our third principle is to build on the traditionally friendly relations of our two countries and prepare a programme of collaboration, partnership and friendship on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries.

I would like to express my personal thanks to Mr Song Tao, Deputy and General Secretary of the Secretariat for Collaboration between China and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, for his exquisite insight into history, for his presentation of the current state of the Chinese economy and for his belief in the positive growth trend in Sino-Czech relations. It was extremely pleasant to hear that in the hearts of the Chinese people, the Czech Republic is symbolised by the Good Soldier Schweik, the Adventures of Krtek the Mole, the works of Milan Kundera and Antonín Dvořák and the magical spell of Prague, Karlovy Vary and southern Moravia.

By way of contrast, in the eyes of the Czech nation China is a source of fascination and respect thanks to its rich history, thousands of years of philosophical tradition, Chinese traditional medicine, art in the form of calligraphy, painting and opera, and not least thanks to the martial arts and Chinese cuisine.

For me, next year’s anniversary is not only a symbolic opportunity to look back at our collaboration and the successes we have achieved, but is also a challenge and an ideal moment to move our dialogue and mutual relations on to a new quality in our collaboration.

For this reason for 2014 we are preparing and supporting important cultural projects in the Czech Republic and in China, such as the Treasures of Ancient China exhibition in Prague, an exhibition of Alfons Mucha’s work in Beijing and Shanghai, sending the National Theatre ballet, a visit by the Czech Philharmonic under the baton of its Chief Conductor Jiří Bělohlávek, the organising of the 2nd Sino-Czech health summit in China, and the project for collaboration on animated film between CCTV and its Czech partners.

Honoured Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to express my delight at having been able to take part, as one of its patrons, in this gala groundbreaking Sino-Czech Investment Forum. I am pleased that we have been able to invite to the Czech Republic representatives of the central authorities, regional delegations and representatives of Chinese companies and the Chinese media. As an economist it has been good to hear the hall ringing with the names of Chinese and Czech companies, in many areas not only the largest in their country, but also in the world.

I firmly hope that the CIF 2013 has achieved its aims and that all of you have found many new friends and many new trading and investment opportunities. I am delighted at the support of the Chinese side for its staging next year as one of the key activities involving the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and China and I also promise CIF 2014 my maximum support. I wish you an agreeable remainder of the day and a pleasant end to your stay in the Czech Republic.

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