Ambassador Liu Xiaoming Gives His Views on China’s Economy and Globalisation in an Interview with Lord O’Neill on BBC Radio
On 6th January 2017, BBC Radio 4 broadcasted a new episode of The New World programme entitled The New World: Fixing Globalisation, in which Ambassador Liu Xiaoming was interviewed by the renowned economist Lord O’Neill and shared his views on China’s economy and globalisation.
The transcript of the interview is as follows:
Jim O’Neill: As I said, when talking about globalisation, it’s kind of impossible to ignore China. I’ve become well-known for creating the acronym of BRIC, which refers to Brazil, Russia, India and China. China is bigger than the other 3 put together. And even growing by just 6.5 percent, slower than India’s rate of more than 7 percent, China will add the equivalent to nearly two “brand new” Indias before this decade is over. For further flavor of the staggering impacts China has on the world, I’ve met with Chinese Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming.
Ambassador Liu: The achievement China has achieved is really a miracle that has never been seen in the history of humanity. China has pulled 600 million people out of poverty just within 30 years. China has developed into a country which has more than 100 million middle-class population with the life expectancy tremendously increased to about 76 years. It is much higher than the world average and also much higher than any other developing country.
Jim O’Neill: Through this remarkable journey, China has become in many ways the most important country in world trade.
Ambassador Liu: As a matter of fact, China is the largest trading partner with over 120 countries and regions.
Jim O’Neill: 120, so more than half of the world’s population.
Ambassador Liu: Yes, very much so. China is also the largest export market for more than 70 countries and regions. Every year, China imports about 2 trillion US dollars of goods, so it is a huge market for many countries. And for the next 5 years, China will import more than 8 trillion US dollars of goods from the rest of world. So that shows what kind of contribution China is making and China is going to continue to make.
Jim O’Neill: But the challenges brought up by globalisation is not just about making sure people are trained and ready for new industries. What about those whose skills are no longer needed? The Chinese Ambassador explained how the Chinese government approaches this dilemma.
Ambassador Liu: We also have people in China who felt left behind in this economic, structural transformation, and you have to do away with overcapacities. For instance, there is a lot of talk about the steel industry. In fact, when I read news that 4,000 people have to be laid off in this country, I fully understand their feelings because we also face the same challenge to reallocate about 2 million steel workers.
Jim O’Neill: What’s the best way of doing though?
Ambassador Liu: You have to train these workers, and you have to create new start-up business. So on the one hand, we have redundant steel workers; on the other, there is still big demand for services, domestic care, logistic services, etc. So we can train these steel workers to work in these sectors.
Jim O’Neill: Maybe western policy makers need to consider doing more to boost the sharing of income for workers. And this of course is something I think China has been deliberately doing in a significant way in the past decade.
Ambassador Liu: Very much so. The wages of workers have been increased. And our government has also set the minimum level of basic wages that you have to guarantee. And lots of efforts have been made to improve the livelihood of migrant workers in the city. Every year, around 100 million migrant workers settle in the big cities. So the government made a lot of efforts, such as building affordable houses. The slogan in China is, “do not let a single person be left behind”.
Jim O’Neill: “Not a single person left behind.” But one can’t just assume that markets will be able to spread the considerable benefits of globalisation on their own. If we could solve this, globalisation has got lots of good to spread it to all, and it’s not stopping anytime soon. In fact, the Chinese are planning a new Silk Road that is gonna take it up to another gear.
Ambassador Liu: I regard this as new globalisation. One of the reasons why there’s resentment towards globalisation is that some people feel left behind and some countries feel left behind. So the purpose of the Belt and Road, or the main theme of it, is ‘inclusiveness’, to include all countries.
Jim O’Neill: So we are talking about countries like Kazakhstan.
Ambassador Liu: Yes. And Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and also many European countries along the Silk Road. For instance, in the past three years, the Eurasia Express railway has been very successful. 2000 trains have been in operation, transporting goods from China all the way to European countries.
Jim O’Neill: Going through Vienna, if I am not mistaken.
Ambassador Liu: Yes. The other road we are talking about is the new maritime Silk Road linking China to Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, Indonesia, etc. Though China’s growth slows down a little bit, China is still an engine of the world economy. So China wants other countries to share the benefits of its growth. China believes it can only continue this momentum by linking with other countries.