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Speech by Premier Li at OECD headquarters

Updated: 2015-07-04 13:18

Keep Development in Focus and Create Prosperity for All

Speech by H.E. Li Keqiang

Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China

At the OECD Headquarters

Paris, 1 July 2015

Secretary-General Angel Gurria,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In his warm and inspiring remarks just now, Secretary-General Gurria looked back at a journey of 20 years since China and the OECD started the policy dialogue. For China, the world's biggest developing country with 1.3 billion people, development has always been of top priority throughout the 30-odd years of reform and opening-up. At the global level, problems like poverty and diseases have to be addressed while we are promoting prosperity and progress in civilization. And that, in the final analysis, has to be done through development. In a world of deeply integrated economies, solutions to these problems lie in international cooperation.

Over the years, in light of its own national conditions and drawing on the successes of other countries, China has made tremendous efforts to explore a way to development. Thanks to reform and opening-up, China has scored remarkable achievements in economic and social development. Today, some foreign friends may ask, "China has come such a long way. Isn't it time to stop calling China a developing country?" As a matter of fact, China remains the biggest developing country. True, China has become the world's second largest economy. But its per capita GDP is a mere 7,589 US dollars, ranking 80th in the world. To give it some context, China's per capita GDP is 65% of the global average, 1/7 that of the United States and 1/5 that of the European Union. When it comes to overall development level, especially in terms of innovation capacity, productivity and social welfare, China lags far behind developed countries. And in some areas, China even has lower rankings than some fellow developing countries. Take the United Nations' human development index (HDI) for example, China ranks 91st. Besides, development is uneven between China's urban and rural areas and between its various regions. There are modern metropolises like Beijing and Shanghai. But when you go to the central and western part of the country, especially those far-flung villages, you will probably see poor conditions for living, transportation, education and medical service. People in some areas even have difficulty accessing drinking water. Since the start of reform and opening-up, China has reduced its poverty population by 600 million. This is indeed an impressive feat, making China the first to attain the MDG of halving extreme poverty. That said, China still has a challenge to meet in poverty alleviation. In China, 74 million people still rely on basic living allowances and 85 million are living with disabilities. By China's own standard, over 70 million people in rural areas are living in poverty, and by World Bank standard, China still has a poor population of 200 million, which is equivalent to the population of France, Germany and the United Kingdom combined. In March, the OECD issued a report All on Board: Making Inclusive Growth Happen in China. It includes some convincing figures and conclusions, which are generally in line with the estimates of Chinese scholars. To achieve modernization in a country with more than a billion people, there is no ready example to follow and no option other than to work long and hard. We are keenly aware of the challenges we face. But this does not make us any less determined to turn China into a medium developed country by the middle of the century.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It has been seven years since the global financial crisis broke out. The economic recovery process, which has been through many twists and turns, still shows uncertainties. Recently, the OECD and some other international institutions have revised down their growth outlook for the world economy. How to stabilize the economy, create new jobs and ensure sustainable development remains the challenge for all countries. In this connection, I want to share with you the following thoughts.

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