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Jean-Sébastien Jacques: China’s ability to alleviate poverty impresses me most

By Sheng Chuyi, Yu Ling (People's Daily Online)    13:42, March 24, 2019

The China Development Forum (CDF) 2019, with the theme “Greater Opening-up for Win-Win Cooperation”, kicked off in Beijing on March 23. During the event, Jean-Sébastien Jacques, CEO of Rio Tinto, who said that China has greatly impressed him, especially when it comes to poverty alleviation.

Hosted by the Development Research Centre of the State Council, the CDF invites leaders of global businesses and international organizations, as well as foreign and Chinese scholars, to attend the forum to enhance exchanges and mutual trust, and to promote pragmatic cooperation and high-level dialogues.

During an exclusive interview with People’s Daily Online, Jean-Sébastien Jacques shared his views on China’s unified foreign investment law, the Belt and Road Initiative and sustainable development.

“I’m very optimistic about the future,” Jacques noted when talking about the partnership with China.

“We’ve been cooperating with China for more than one hundred years, as we have only run for 146 years. Our first shipment was a borax shipment from California to China. Our first shipment of Iron ore was in 1973. Since then, we have shipped more than 2.5 billion tons of iron ore to China. Our relationship is not only about selling iron ore, copper, borax, and diamond; we are buying more and more from China. In the last ten years, we’ve bought 10 billion dollars of goods and services from China, 1.3 billion dollars last year only. It’s about building the relationship to the next level,” he said.

“The all-round opening-up policy will help us move forward. I’m sure that there will be lots of opportunities for many industries.”

Jacques emphasized that the new unified foreign investment law is “a very good piece of news.”

“It will attract more capital and foreign investment into China. I have no doubt there will be many opportunities on the road. We will work with the existing partnerships we have and make most of the new policy to create wealth for the benefit of both China and Rio Tinto.”

Jacques first traveled to China 20 years ago. Jacques said he was amazed by China’s new buildings, urbanization, and infrastructure construction.

“The most impressive thing to me is China’s ability to lift people out of poverty. I have never seen any nations, the size of China, that could lift so many people out of poverty,” he noted.

Jacques also believed Rio Tinto could benefit from the Belt and Road Initiative. “There are two key drivers for Rio Tinto. One is GDP growth, and the other one is trade. The B&R kicks both of these boxes. It is good for Rio Tinto and the mining industry,” he said.

Rio Tinto recently released reports on climate change and sustainable development. “We want to be part of the solution. One is the quality of the product to improve energy efficiency. The other one is investing in new technologies,” he noted.

Jacques also spoke highly of China’s commitment to improve environmental protection.

“China has done a lot. I came to China four times last year, and every time I can see the blue sky. Maybe I am lucky, but I don’t believe so. I can see the changes already.”

When asked about China’s development experiences as an example for other developing countries, Jacques hoped other nations would consider China’s sustainable development, as the environmental policies are for the benefit of the generation today as well as future generations.

“We are looking forward to a closer relationship, win-win benefits, and partnerships. Our future is positive,” Jacques concluded. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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