President Hu Jintao satisfied with Chinese-Russian relations

(Chinese leader Hu Jintao in an interview with the Russian media)

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am glad that my meeting with journalists from the leading Russian media is taking place on the eve of my visit to Russia. I would like to use this occasion to send my heartfelt greetings and best wishes to the great Russian people.

This year is a significant period in Chinese-Russian relations. I want to say that our countries have entered their second decade of relations of partnership and strategic interaction, which will mark a new stage in their development. I also want to say that Russia is for the first time hosting the Year of China.

During my forthcoming visit, I will meet with President Vladimir Putin to exchange opinions on ways to promote Chinese-Russian partnership and strategic interaction, as well as multifaceted practical cooperation. Mr. Putin and I will also attend the opening ceremony of the Year of China and the Chinese exhibition in Russia. I am convinced that if both partners do their bit, the forthcoming visit will be successful and will provide a fresh impetus to facilitating Chinese-Russian relations and practical cooperation.

Question: How would you describe Chinese-Russian relations? What spheres of cooperation need an additional impetus?

Answer: Chinese-Russian relations have been growing and have reached an unprecedented level. Acting in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Treaty of Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation, and using the opportunity provided by holding the Year of Russia in China and the Year of China in Russia, our countries are promoting practical cooperation in the political, trade and economic, research and technical, cultural and other spheres. We have attained considerable success and are closely cooperating on important international and regional issues, such as the Korean and Iranian nuclear problems, which are of vital importance for the maintenance of global peace and stability.

To consistently promote Chinese-Russian partnership and strategic interaction, and to pass on friendship from one generation to another, are the common goals and the irrevocable choice of our countries and peoples. To comprehensively and consistently develop bilateral relations this year, we are prepared to move jointly with our Russian partner towards the following goals:

First, build up political trust and continue to support each other on issues bearing on the key interests of our countries.

Second, step up practical cooperation in the economic, energy, research and technical, and other spheres in order to guarantee mutual benefit and joint advantage.

Third, use the opportunities offered by the Year of China in Russia to expand cultural exchanges and cooperation, and to promote mutual understanding and friendship between our countries and peoples.

Fourth, step up strategic interaction on international and regional issues, and contribute to global peace and development.

Question: What is your view of the functions on the agenda of the Year of China in Russia and the Year of Russia in China? What was the most impressive event of the Year of Russia in China?

Answer: The Year of Russia enjoyed tremendous success in China. Its agenda comprised more than 300 large-scale and impressive events. I attended the opening ceremony of the Year of Russia and a concert given by the Alexandrov Song and Dance Ensemble.

I was greatly impressed by the unique skills of Russian performers. The business forum, which brought together trade and economic experts, the Russian exhibition and culture festival, and other events generated positive sentiments in China.

The agenda of the Year of China in Russia in 2007 includes about 200 events in the political, economic, research and technical, cultural and other spheres. I am convinced that the Year of China in Russia will be a success thanks to the efforts of both parties.

Holding national years is a major step towards strengthening bilateral relations and friendship between our peoples for years to come. I believe that these events will promote mutual understanding and friendship between our countries and nations, and give an additional impetus to Chinese-Russian partnership and strategic cooperation.

Question: Can you tell us what building a "harmonious socialist society" in China means? How far have you progressed, and what tasks do you still need to fulfill?

Answer: Building a harmonious socialist society is a major strategic goal, which we have formulated based on the current situation in China.

We proceed from the assumption that social harmony is a reliable indicator of a country's might, the revival of the nation, and the prosperity of the people.

A harmonious socialist society is a society based on the principles of democracy and law, equality and justice, trust and friendliness, life force, tranquility and order, as well as a harmonious coexistence of Man and Nature. While addressing primarily problems that concern the general public and directly affect the people's real interests, we will do our best to redouble efforts to improve social conditions, promote equality and justice in society, create a harmonious culture, improve social governance, strengthen creative forces in society, and ensure a harmonious social development alongside economic, political and cultural progress.

Of course, the attainment of social harmony still requires, and will require for a long time yet, unceasing efforts. We are facing quite a few problems that hinder the development of harmony in our society, such as a shortage of jobs, the distribution of incomes and an inadequate system of social protection, education and healthcare, especially in rural areas. Therefore, we will do everything possible to facilitate social harmony through deeper reforms and rapid and favorable development, and to create an optimal social climate for the country's development, as well as for the people's work and life.

Question: What segments of the Russian economy are most attractive for Chinese business? Does China intend to encourage Russian capital to enter its markets? Russian-Chinese trade has been growing rapidly in recent years. What results do you think can be expected in this area in the next four to five years?

Answer: The Chinese and Russian economies have been making rapid progress in recent years, which is beneficial for our trade and economic cooperation. We traditionally cooperate in areas that have certain advantages. These are energy resources, aviation, space studies, nuclear power, machine building, high technologies, and others. Many Chinese companies are interested in cooperating with Russia on domestic appliances, car assembly and production, infrastructure, special economic zones, and so on. The Chinese government encourages and supports Chinese firms wishing to cooperate with Russian partners and at the same time looks forward to a further improvement in Russia's investment environment and a more open market.

Russian investments in China look good. The total volume invested by Russian companies in China by the end of 2006 was $610 million. We cooperate successfully in manufacturing, construction, transport, communications, chemicals, car assembly, and so on. China, for its part, welcomes Russian capital and the establishment of more Russian enterprises in China.

Chinese-Russian trade has been steadily increasing for eight years now. Trade in 2006, for example, totaled $33.4 billion, which was an all-time high. Trade and economic cooperation between the two countries is mutually beneficial, and has a huge potential and excellent prospects. As our partnership relations and strategic interaction are forging ahead, I am sure that the objectives we set with President Putin - to bring our trade turnover to $60-80 billion by 2010 - will be met.

Question: Beijing will host the 29th Olympic Games. How is it preparing for this truly epoch-making event? Do you think they will be a success?

Answer: The Chinese nation has dreamed of holding the Olympic Games for a hundred years. It is the cherished goal of our people. The Chinese government has planned meticulously for the 2008 Games in Beijing. All preparations, including the construction of sports facilities and infrastructure for Olympic events, cultural and promotion efforts, media coverage, etc. are well under way and running on schedule. We are quite sure we can stage Games that live up to high standards and have a distinctive stamp of their own. I would also like to wish Russian athletes success at the coming Olympics in Beijing.

Question: How well do Russia and China know each other? What can be done to boost information exchanges between our countries? What role do you think can be played by the media here? Do you use the Internet and what is your attitude to it?

Answer: Contacts between China and Russia go back a long time. The friendship between our peoples is rooted in the deep past, and all Chinese entertain kind feelings toward Russians. In our mind, Russia is always associated with its melodious songs, such as "The Guelder-rose in Blossom", or "Moscow Evenings," with the memories of the struggle waged by our two countries during the world war against the Nazis still fresh. To pass the baton of this traditional friendship from generation to generation, and strengthen it in the process, our two peoples need to be fully informed of the tremendous changes that have taken place in both countries over recent years. The media play an important and indispensable role in this process. The Chinese side encourages and supports media exchanges and cooperation between our two countries whatever form they may take. We hope that Russian journalists will write lively and objective accounts of China.

The Internet is increasingly becoming one of the major sources of information for the masses. I myself also prefer it as a source of information on developments inside and outside the country and as a means of tapping public opinion about our work. We can use the Internet to deepen ties and understanding between our peoples.

Question: The 17th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party will meet in the fall, a significant event. What achievements will be reported by the Chinese leadership? What decisions will the Congress adopt?

Answer: The 17th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party will convene in the second half of the year. The congress is crucial for cementing the unity of all peoples in the country in order to build a moderate welfare state and speed up the establishment of a harmonious socialist society.

Very recently, we held regular meetings of the All-China Assembly of People's Representatives and of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Council. They summed up the past year and drew up a working plan for this year. They also stressed the need to put into practice the scientific concept of development; continue enforcing and improving macro-regulation; streamline the economic structure; modify methods for achieving economic growth; save resources and protect the environment; advance reforms, openness and shop-floor innovation; promote the social dimension; improve the life of the people; and base socio-economic development on scientific principles. It is my firm belief that by combining the efforts of all Communists and peoples of the country we will make the coming Congress a worthy event.

As the party rules state, the Congress will hear and examine a report by the Central Committee of the 16th convocation and a report on the work of the party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. It will elect a new Central Committee and a new Discipline Commission and adopt a plan for further reforms to modernize the country and make it more open.

Question: The Chinese government has repeatedly emphasized the need for a more balanced development and a slow-down in the growth rates of the domestic economy in order to avoid its overheating. Nevertheless, in the past year the GDP surpassed 10% again. Do you think you can maintain socio-economic stability with such growth rates? What are the priority goals for the Chinese economy?

Answer: In the past year, the rapidly growing economy was sufficiently effective, and prices of goods were relatively low. The 11th five-year plan had a successful start. The GDP reached 20.94 trillion Yuans, registering a 10.7% growth. For the fourth year running this figure stands at 10% or a little more in the absence of inflation. Per capita incomes have been going up and the living standards have improved considerably. The extremely fast growth of investment and inflated credits were the most urgent problems. In this context, the government took timely measures to improve macroregulation, unify laws on the use of land and finances, gain access to the market, and build up consumption. These measures produced positive results and prevented economic overheating. A comprehensive analysis of our economic performance bears out that the trend towards stable and relatively fast development will prevail in our economy.

At the next stage we will channel our efforts into the following directions.

First, we will speed up the transformation of the quality of economic upsurge on the basis of stable and faster growth, streamline the economic structure, enhance our innovations potential, and upgrade the quality and effectiveness of the economic growth.

Second, in line with the requirement to shape resource-conscious and environmentally friendly attitudes, we will do all we can to develop recycling and environmental protection, reduce energy spending, waste disposal and drainage.

Third, we will unify the processes of urban and rural development, guarantee the industry-agriculture feedback and urban support for rural areas, advance modern agriculture, increase the incomes of farmers, and promote the development of a new socialist village.

Fourth, we will persistently raise the living standards, resolve problems of direct interest to the people, continue upgrading our employment policy, promote the income distribution reform, speed up the improvement of the social security system, ensure all-round development of education and healthcare, enhance the public service sector, and promote social equality and justice.

Question: How open is your economy to foreign capital, and what is the degree of its integration into the world economy? Last year Chinese officials spoke about the need to establish tougher control over foreign investment in the country and over the purchase of domestic businesses by foreign companies. Is China going to introduce more rigid restrictions for foreign capital?

Answer: Twenty-nine years have passed since we launched reforms and open-door policy. During this time the Chinese government has endorsed the formation of 590,000 businesses with foreign capital. The overall foreign investment exceeds $700 billion. Out of 500 major foreign companies, 480 have established cooperation with China. Honoring its WTO commitments, China has been continuously expanding access to its market. At present, China has fully guaranteed access to its production, opened more than 100 out of the WTO's 160 catering industries, and is approaching industrialized countries in the ratio of openness.

China has been upgrading the openness of banking, insurance, securities and sales of goods in line with our schedule. At present, enterprises with foreign investment are functioning in all spheres of the economy.

China will consistently expand its contacts with the world. The adjusted rules on the acquisition of businesses by foreign investors on Chinese territory went into effect in September 2006. The rules' methods of acquisition have become more transparent. They not only improve the use of foreign investment, but also help foreign investors to buy Chinese enterprises in line with Chinese laws. I would like to emphasize once again that China will continue to deepen its reforms and expand its openness. In the course of continuous economic development, the investment climate in China will improve, and foreign investors will see more opportunities for business cooperation with Chinese partners.

Question: What do you think about the cooperation potential of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and what directions of work appeal to you the most? Are there plans to extend the SCO membership in the near future?

Answer: As good neighbors and major partners, the SCO member countries are committed to upgrading their cooperation, and have a solid foundation for this. They have a huge potential of cooperation and favorable prospects in different directions.

They are cooperating in the SCO to ensure peace, enhance regional security and trust; counter the three evils - illegal trafficking in drugs and weapons, and transborder crime; promote regional economic cooperation, and improve the trade and investment climate. They are also upgrading their contacts in scientific, technical, healthcare, cultural, sports, and tourist spheres. At present, the SCO countries are focusing on cooperation in security, the economy, and culture for the benefit of their peoples.

Some countries have already expressed their interest in joining the SCO. A decision on their entry is adopted by consensus. The SCO is now drafting a document on further expansion, and this issue will be discussed after the work on the document is finished.

Question: Do you think that the growing cooperation between Russia, China, and India may become a foundation for the development of the world's multi-polar political system?

Answer: As major countries, China, Russia and India have quite a few common interests and hold similar views on a number of major regional and international issues. All three countries advocate a multi-polar world, the democratization of international relations, and the preservation of world diversity; they want international issues and interstate disputes to be settled in line with universally accepted norms of international law and would like to see a stronger United Nations. Trilateral cooperation between China, Russia and India is not aimed against any third party, and benefits their development and that of the entire world.

Question: What is the Chinese government's position on relations with Taiwan's administration? On what conditions are you ready to establish contacts with its main political forces? Where do you stand with Kuomintang?

Answer: At present, the main obstacle is Taiwan's refusal to recognize the one-China principle, and the relevant 1992 agreements. Moreover, the Taiwan authorities have intensified their attempts to achieve Taiwan's independence de jure by amending the constitution, and are hoping that Taiwan can be separated from China. All our compatriots are absolutely against this.

We have regularly confirmed our intention to resume dialogue between the two coasts of the Taiwan Straight. We are open to discussions on any issues if Taiwan accepts the one-China principle. We have emphasized more than once that we are prepared to hold talks with any leader or political party if they accept this principle regardless of what they said and did in the past. In this case we could discuss the development of coast-to-coast relations and ways of promoting our homeland's peaceful reunification.

In April 2005, Kuomintang Chairman Lien Chan came to Beijing. Our talks produced a communique on the common objectives and prospects of peace and development for the two coasts of the Taiwan Straight. We are ready to continue bilateral party contacts in line with the common objectives to uphold the 1992 agreement; we will oppose Taiwan's independence and will concentrate on ensuring peace and stability in cross-straight relations in the interests of our compatriots on both sides of the straight.

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