Remarks of H.E. Dr. Xiao Jianguo,Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste at the Media Gathering
2019-04-20 18:08

Dear friends from Timor-Leste's media,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon!

It gives me great pleasure to meet with all of you. The media has an important influence on society. All of you are the important figures in the media of Timor-Leste. My colleagues and I warmly welcome you to attend this gathering.

It's the first time for me to meet media friends after I arrived in Timor-Leste last October. In recent years, the Chinese Embassy enjoys a sound cooperative relationship with the Timor-Leste's media, such as publishing articles contingently in the media, having get-togethers with the media and inviting the media to cover the Embassy's activities. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to the media for the good cooperation between us, and for the positive, objective coverage from your media about China.

As all you know, China and Timor-Leste enjoy a long-lasting traditional friendship. China has always been supporting the national liberation of Timor-Leste and is among the first to recognize its independence and to establish diplomatic ties with Timor-Leste. After Timor-Leste's restoration of independence, China has attached great importance to the relations with Timor-Leste, developing the relations on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and providing assistance and aid to the best of its ability. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties 17 years ago, political mutual trust between China and Timor-Leste has been continuously enhanced, and practical cooperation of mutual benefit in various fields has been comprehensively advanced. China-Timor-Leste relations have maintained good momentum, which have been promoted into the Comprehensive Partnership of Good-neighbourly Friendship, Mutual Trust and Mutual Benefit since 2014.

Both China and Timor-Leste are developing countries, facing the arduous task of developing their national economy and improving the people's livelihood. In the Autumn of 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which provides an important opportunity for China to strengthen its cooperation with all the countries along the BRI, including Timor-Leste.

Historically, Timor-Leste is an important link on the Chinese Maritime Silk Road. The two countries signed a MOU on the BRI cooperation in 2017 to strengthen strategic synergy. China has become one of the Timor-Leste's major trading partners for many years. More and more Chinese companies invest and are engaged in activities in Timor-Leste, involved in various fields like infrastructure, agriculture commerce, etc. Among these projects, "one grid" "one road" and "one port" are eye-catching, that is, the State Electric Power Grid has entered the operation stage, Suai highway, the first expressway of Timor-Leste, was officially completed in November 2018, and the Tiba Port is now under construction. Those three mega projects are undertaken by Chinese companies.

China has actively provided assistance and aid to Timor-Leste. The buildings of Presidential Palace, Ministry of Foreign affairs and Cooperation and Ministry of Defense, which were donated by the Chinese Government, have become the landmarks of Timor-Leste, and the symbol of friendship between our two countries. China offered numerous assistance for Timorese people's livelihood, such as rice and corn cultivation, agricultural machinery, mosquito nets and vehicle. The current projects such as food processing depots and digital television are going smoothly. China has sent 7 batches of medical teams to work in the National Hospital and has offered medical service to the Timorese since the year of 2004, accounting for more than 300,000 patients. The 8th batch of medical team will arrive in Timor-Leste next week. At the end of 2017, Chinese hospital ship Peace Ark paid a short visit to Timor-Leste and offered more than 7000 free treatments. China also cooperates with the Taur Matan Ruak Foundation, the Timor-Leste Red Cross and other organizations in providing free clean water, nutrition for infants and children, student stationery, etc.

The Chinese people often say that "give a man a fish and you feed him only for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime", which is the based-on spirit that China helps Timor-Leste to cultivate its own national talents. In the past, more than 120 Timorese students got the Chinese Government Scholarship and obtained degrees in China, and over 2,000 government officials and technicians received various training courses from China. In December 2018, 45 Timorese students completed their one-year vocational training course in China. Prime Minister's wife, Madam.Isabel attended the completion ceremony of the course, which got massive coverage from your media and won wide acclaim among the Timorese people. The admission of 2019 Chinese Government Scholarship is ongoing, and the number of the enrolled Timorese students is expecting higher. They will leave for China in August.

Nowadays, as China and Timor-Leste continue deepening the jointly-built BRI, the China-Timor-Leste cooperation will bear more fruits, promoting further the national development and social progress of Timor-Leste.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The BRI advocates the principle of consultation and cooperation for shared benefits, and enhances connectivity in the five priority areas of policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people-to-people ties. Since its inception 6 years ago, the BRI has received strong endorsement and warm support of the international community. So far, a total of 126 countries and 29 international organizations have signed BRI cooperation documents with China. Meanwhile, the BRI vision, conforming with international rules and practices, has been included in documents of major international institutions including the United Nations, the G20, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. A vast number of global connectivity projects have been launched, such as projects of China-Europe railway express and the land-sea corridor are making great stride, infrastructure projects on railway, port, motorway and pipeline, economic and trade cooperation parks are proceeding smoothly. Meanwhile, a large number of local jobs are provided for countries along the BRI. Indeed, the BRI has proved a popular and worthy cause that goes along with the trend of our times and responds to the shared aspiration of countries for development through mutually beneficial cooperation. The BRI has delivered fruitful outcomes in boosting economic growth and improving people's lives in participating countries, as well as provided good opportunities for all parties involved to jointly address global challenges, promoting global growth, and achieving common prosperity through greater connectivity.

The Belt and Road Forum (BRF) is the top-level platform for international cooperation under the BRI framework. In May 2017, the first BRF was successfully held in Beijing, which produced positive consensus on BRI cooperation and delivered fruitful outcomes. The second BRF will be held in Beijing next week. The theme of this year's BRF is Belt and Road Cooperation: Shaping a Brighter Shared Future, and the Forum events include the opening ceremony, a leaders' roundtable, a high-level meeting, thematic forums, a CEO conference and other side events. Representatives from over 150 countries, including about 40 leaders of foreign governments, have confirmed their attendance. Former President, Former Prime minister and Chief Negotiator for Maritime and Boundary affairs of Timor-Leste, H.E. Mr. Xanana Gusmao will lead the Timorese delegation to attend the second BRF for the second time, accompanied by H.E. Mr. Abilio Jose Caetano, Acting Minister of State administration of Timor-Leste. China will, together with other Forum parties, take stock of what has been achieved and draw a blueprint for future cooperation to further enrich BRI cooperation. The participation of the Timorese delegation will further synergize development plans of our two countries and promote Timor-Leste's own development.

Although the BRI is launched by China, its benefits should be shared by the world. The BRI champions mutual respect, consultation on an equal footing, openness and inclusiveness, and mutual benefit, which fully shows the vision of building a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind. We have noticed that some people have expressed different views about the BRI, claiming that the Initiative is China's geopolitical tool and could cause some countries to fall into so-called debt traps. Such views are less than objective or balanced. The BRI is open, inclusive and transparent. It does not harbor any hidden geopolitical agenda, nor is it designed to form an exclusive circle or impose discriminatory trade terms on others. Decisions made under the BRI framework, whether project selection or investment and financing cooperation, are all based on full consultation among the parties and on the basis of conducting due risk assessment and investment feasibility study. As a matter of fact, no country has got trapped in a debt crisis since its participation in the BRI. Quite on the contrary, it is through participating in BRI cooperation that many countries have got out of the trap of "no development".

Ladies and gentlemen,

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China and the 20th anniversary of Timorese independence referendum, which has special significance for both countries. China has made remarkable achievements in development over the past 70 years. It has turned a weak and impoverished agrarian country into the world's second largest economy, the largest industrial manufacturer, and the largest trader of goods. The secret lies in upholding the leadership of the Communist Party of China and taking the right path -- Socialism with distinctive Chinese features -- that fits China's conditions and is in keeping with the trend of the times. As far as Timor-Leste's concerned, the primary task of Timor-Leste now is bent on its economic development and diversification as well as improvement of people's livelihood after the restoration of independence and sovereignty.

In recent years, the world economic recovery remains slow and some countries are increasingly looking inward when making policies, posing challenges to the international order. China adheres to the new development concept, and promotes high-quality development, and deepens market reform and expands high-level opening-up. In 2018, China's gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 6.6%. The actual use of foreign capital increased by 3% and the total value of foreign trade increased by 9.7% over 2017, which have both hit the new record in history. In the long run, China's development is still in an important strategic period, and the economic fundamentals sustaining sound development remain unchanged. Starting from 2018, China held the annual International Import Expo to facilitate imports to China, making the leap from "selling all over the world" to "buying all over the world". The Timorese delegation was also invited to participate the 1st International Import Expo. In March this year, China adopted the Foreign Investment Law, ensuring the protection of foreign investment. As China opens its door wider to the world, more opportunities are being created for other countries to participate in BRI cooperation and enter the huge Chinese market, so that more countries, including Timor-Leste, will benefit from China's new round of reform and opening-up.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The media serves as a bridge to promote understanding and communication between different cultures and ethnic groups. All of you here are playing an important role in enhancing mutual understanding between our two countries and two peoples.

Last December, the Timorese media covered a series of reports on Prime Minister's wife Madam.Isabel's visit to the Timorese students who were studying in China, which effectively enhanced the Timorese people's understanding about China and China-Timor-Leste friendship. At the end of last year, the Timorese media followed up closely on the incident of young Timorese women detained in China for illegal entry, focusing on the joint efforts by the Timorese Government and the Chinese side to safeguard them for an early return before Xmas. Such coverage helped the Timor-Leste's public have a thorough review of the case. Actually, they were all victims of human trafficking. In March this year, the Timorese media reported the murder case of a Chinese citizen, winning widespread attention and appeals for justice from the society, which urged the PNTL to catch the suspects as soon as possible. Those reports portrayed the events in a positive light, fully demonstrating the professionalism, ethical and social responsibilities of the Timorese media.

On the other hand, there are some negative voices among the local media about China, such as hyping that Chinese businessmen have occupied the Timorese market and should be driven out of Timor-Leste, and the Chinese construction company should be responsible for the flooding of Suai Highway. Yet regrettably, such reproaching stories are lack of facts and misleading.

Historically, the overseas Chinese in Timor-Leste worked hard and regarded this country as their homeland and integrated themselves into the local society, making great contributions to Timor-Leste's national development. As a matter of fact, today's overseas Chinese abide by the law and conduct business in good faith, providing cheap and quality goods for Timorese people, which not only reduces the living cost of local people, but also creates a lot of jobs. The Suai Highway project provided thousands of jobs and improved many local people's lives. The flooding of Suai Highway is due to a design defect. The Chinese construction company pointed it out to the Timorese partner several times during construction, but unfortunately, it had not been corrected in time. Despite the fact that the cause of flooding is not a quality problem, the Chinese company adopted remedial measures to dredge tunnels, which displays its social responsibility. Of course, the number of overseas Chinese in Timor-Leste is huge and it's inevitable that some individuals may commit illegal acts or even crimes. Once he commits an offence, we fully support the Timorese Government to handle according to law and we will not be bias for him.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Media reports always have great influence towards society, and it's necessary to try our best to avoid inaccurate or wrong reports. Researching all information, seeking basic facts and presenting the story in an accurate, unbiased and balanced way is the basic requirement for the media. A journalist should seek more than one source for a story to ensure that multiple sides are present. Maximum caution should be exercised to avoid escalating a random event into a confrontation or inciting populist sentiment or hatred between different countries.

In addition, a country's development cannot always be easy. It is necessary to have a forward-looking and development perspective to deal with the setbacks and differences, instead of blindly blaming the development itself. Take the State Electric Power Grid undertaken by a Chinese company ten years ago for example, that project was questioned at beginning by the media, and even aroused public opposition in Timor-Leste. Now, as each local household has access to the electricity, the doubts and opposition have faded away. Instead, the rural areas in Timor-Leste are eager for an early access to electricity.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In the digital age, all sorts of information are flourishing. The media faces opportunities as well as challenges. The Chinese Embassy would like to further strengthen communication with the media in Timor-Leste, and always be ready to offer the facts and its own perspectives about the news related to China or China-Timor-Leste relations. We sincerely hope that the media in Timor-Leste can have a positive, impartial, balanced and forward look on China and on the bilateral relations between our two countries. Since the friendship between China and Timor-Leste is hard to come by, and we should take care of and nurture it together. It's advisable that the media people in Timor-Leste should often go to China and have a look with your own eyes, should often go to the Chinese community and Chinese companies here to forge understanding and get to know each other, and you are welcome.

Thank you. It's time for Q&A, I'd like to take your questions.

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