Your Excellency President Michel Temer, Your Excellency President Jacob Zuma, Representatives of the Business Community, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends, Good afternoon!
It is my great pleasure to have all of you with us in the beautiful city of Xiamen, renowned as the "Egret Island". The BRICS Summit will be held tomorrow. On behalf of the Chinese government and people and the people of Xiamen, and also in my own name, I warmly welcome all of you to the Business Forum.
Xiamen has been a trading port since ancient times as well as a gateway of China's opening up and external cooperation. Embracing the vast ocean, the city has hosted visitors from around the world. On a personal note, Xiamen is where I started off when I came to Fujian Province to take up a new post in 1985. Back then, being one of the earliest special economic zones in China, the city was at the forefront of China's reform and opening up endeavor and was brimming with development opportunities. Three decades later, Xiamen has become well known for its innovation and entrepreneurship, with burgeoning new economic forms and new industries, robust trade and investment and easy access to the world with air, land and sea links. Today, Xiamen is a beautiful garden city with perfect harmony between man and nature.
There is a popular saying here in southern Fujian, "Dedicate yourself and you will win," which embodies an enterprising spirit. Xiamen's success is a good example demonstrating the perseverance of the 1.3 billion-plus Chinese people. In close to 40 years of reform and opening up, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, we Chinese have forged ahead, fearless and determined, and we have successfully embarked on a path of socialism with distinctive Chinese features. We have encountered difficulties and challenges on the way forward. But we have persevered and kept pace with the times. With dedication, courage and ingenuity, we are making great progress in pursuing development in today's China.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends, BRICS cooperation has now reached a crucial stage of development. In assessing its performance, it is important to bear two things in mind: the historical course of global development and evolving international landscape and the historical process of development of the BRICS countries, both individually and collectively, in the context of which BRICS cooperation is pursued.
We are in a great era of development, transformation and adjustment. Although conflict and poverty are yet to be eliminated globally, the trend toward peace and development has grown ever stronger. Our world today is becoming increasingly multipolar; the economy has become globalized; there is growing cultural diversity; and the society has become digitized. The law of the jungle where the strong prey on the weak and the zero-sum game are rejected, and peace, development and win-win cooperation have become the shared aspiration of all peoples.
Against such a backdrop, a large number of emerging market and developing countries have come to the fore, playing an ever greater role in international affairs. BRICS cooperation is a natural choice made by our five countries, as we all share a desire for peace and development. In the past decade, we BRICS countries have surged ahead and become a bright spot in the global economy.
The past decade has seen the BRICS countries making headway in pursuing common development. The sudden outbreak of the 2008 global financial crisis left the world economy reeling, which is yet to fully recover. Facing the external shock, our five countries have held the ground by strengthening the domestic economy, boosting growth and improving people's livelihood. In the past ten years, our combined GDP has grown by 179%, trade by 94% and urban population by 28%. All this has contributed significantly to stabilizing the global economy and returning it to growth, and it has delivered tangible benefits to three billion and more people.
The past decade has seen the BRICS countries advancing results-oriented and mutually beneficial cooperation. Leveraging our respective strengths and converging interests, we have put in place a leaders-driven cooperation framework that covers wide-ranging areas and multiple levels. A number of cooperation projects have been launched that are in keeping with our five countries' development strategies and meet the interests of our peoples. In particular, the New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement have provided financing support for infrastructure building and sustainable development of the BRICS countries, contributing to enhanced global economic governance and the building of an international financial safety net.
The past decade has seen the BRICS countries endeavoring to fulfill their international responsibility. Committed to multilateralism, fairness and justice, our five countries have staked out our positions on major regional and international issues and made our proposals to address them. We have promoted reform of global economic governance to increase the representation and say of emerging market and developing countries. As a champion of development, we have taken the lead in implementing the Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals, and engaged in close dialogue and cooperation with other developing countries to pursue development through unity.
As an old saying goes, the construction of a tall building starts with its foundation. We have laid the foundation and put in place the framework of BRICS cooperation. In reviewing the past progress of BRICS cooperation, I believe there are three important practices that should be carried forward.
First, treating each other as equals and seeking common ground while shelving differences. In terms of BRICS cooperation, decisions are made through consultation among us all, not by one country alone. We respect each other's path and model of development, accommodate each other's concerns and work to enhance strategic communication and political mutual trust. Given differences in national conditions, history and culture, it is only natural that we may have some differences in pursuing our cooperation. However, with strong faith in cooperation and commitment to enhancing trust, we can achieve steady progress in our cooperation.
Second, taking a results-oriented, innovative approach to make our cooperation benefit all. BRICS is not a talking shop, but a task force that gets things done. Our goal is to build a big market of trade and investment, promote smooth flow of currency and finance, improve connectivity of infrastructure and build close bond between the people. In pursuing this goal, our five countries are engaged in practical cooperation across the board, covering several dozen areas, including economy, trade, finance, science, technology, education, culture and health, thus giving concrete expression to the endeavor of building a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation.
Third, developing ourselves to help others with the well-being of the world in our mind. Having gone through an arduous course of development, we BRICS countries share the agony of those people who are still caught in chaos and poverty. Since the very beginning, our five countries have been guided by the principle of dialogue without confrontation, partnership without alliance. We are committed to observing the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, international law and basic norms governing international relations in conducting state-to-state relations. When developing ourselves, we are ready to share development opportunities with other countries. The philosophy of BRICS cooperation has gained growing appreciation and endorsement, and it has become a positive energy in the international community.
All this is what the BRICS spirit is about. It is the shared value that has bound us in the past decade's cooperation. This spirit, constantly enriched over the years, has not only benefited our peoples but also enabled us to make a difference in the world.