|President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at the College of Europe in the Belgian city of Bruges on Tuesday. (Xinhua Photo)|
President says China and EU can become twin engines of growth
Ending his European tour with a speech in the Belgian city of Bruges — derived from the old Flemish for "bridges" — President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday that he had come to Europe to build bridges of friendship and cooperation across the Eurasian continent.
"We need to build four bridges for peace, growth, reform and the progress of civilization, so that the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership will take on even greater global significance," he said.
"We must uphold the open market, speed up negotiations on the investment agreement, actively explore the possibility of a free trade area, and strive to achieve the ambitious goal of bringing two-way trade to $1 trillion by 2020," Xi told dignitaries, including Belgian King Philippe, Queen Mathilde and Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, at the College of Europe.
In addition, they should study how to dovetail China-EU cooperation with the initiative of developing a Silk Road economic belt to integrate the markets of Asia and Europe, and make China and the EU the "twin engines" for global economic growth.
Xi said China cannot copy the political system or development model of other countries.
"The Chinese people, more than 2,000 years ago, had come to understand this from a simple fact that the tasty orange, grown in southern China, would turn sour once it is grown in the north," he said. "The fruit may look the same, but the taste is quite different, because the north is a different location and different climate."
"The Chinese people are fond of tea and the Belgians love beer," he said. "To me, the moderate tea drinker and the passionate beer lover represent two ways of understanding life and knowing the world, and I find them equally rewarding."
Xi said that one can hardly understand China without a proper understanding of its history and culture, and the profound changes taking place.
That explained why he devoted nearly half of his speech to describing what kind of country China is.
Xi said the memory of invasion and bullying has never been erased from the minds of the Chinese people, and is why people cherish the lives they lead today.
"The Chinese people want peace, we do not want war. This is why China follows an independent foreign policy of peace," he said.
China is committed to non-interference in other countries' internal affairs, and China will not allow others to interfere in its own affairs, he said.
More than 200 million Chinese are still living under the poverty line set by the World Bank, roughly the population of France, Germany and the United Kingdom combined, Xi said.
China is the second-largest economy in the world, he said, but is ranked 80th in per capita GDP.
That explains why economic development remains the top priority, he said.