Q: I am with China Daily. Some people have come to the conclusion that China has become the No 1 economy in the world and it is posing a challenge to the leadership status of the United States.
At the same time, they argue that China is still free-riding in some international affairs. What is your response to such views and what is your consideration for the China-US ties?
A: The first part of your question is about whether China has become the largest economy in the world. Actually I have heard such views when I travel abroad on foreign visits. But I always feel that there are some elements of misleading exaggeration in this conclusion. Because according to authoritative standards, China is still the second-largest economy in the world and more importantly our per capita GDP is still behind about 80 countries in the world. Some time before this year's Spring Festival, I paid visits to places of China's western region. I visited two rural homes.
One, there is a mother and son living in a very shabby place where wind can even be felt when you are in the home. And because the family is so poor, the son has yet to get married. The other home has produced a college student. There is a boy and a girl in that family.
For the tuition fees to go to college for the boy, his younger sister has to work in the cities to support the college fees and she couldn't even come home for family reunions during Spring Festivals. It truly pains me to see our people live in such distress. I am sure that there are many such families in the vast land of China. By the standard of World Bank, we still have 200 million Chinese live in poverty. So I can say that China is still a developing country in every sense of this term.
China needs to run its own affair well and maintain its development at a reasonable speed. I believe that in itself is China's major contribution to the whole world. Actually at the same time, China is assuming greater due international obligations and responsibilities. Talking about China's free-riding, for such a big country as ours, how could it be easy for it to get free ride on anybody's train? I think what China is doing is working with other countries in pursuit of common progress.
So development will remain a top priority for China and we need a peaceful international environment for us to focus on our domestic development. When it comes to the China-US relationship, this is the relationship between the largest developing economy and the largest developed country in the world.
We have proposed that China and the United States to work together to build a new model of major country relationship featuring mutual respect and no conflicts and no confrontations. This year, President Xi Jinping will pay a state visit to the United States at the invitation of his US counterpart. I believe this will give a strong boost to China-US ties.
Admittedly, there are differences between China and the United States. But what's more important is that the two countries share extensive common interests. When differences are properly held, the two sides can have more extra energy to further expand the convergence of their interests. One highlight in the China-US relationship is that the two sides are advancing negotiations of bilateral investment treaty.
And this BIT is built around previous establishment of national treatment and a negative list. This is to break the ceiling over China-US business cooperation and will open up new dimensions for the further growth of the China-US ties. Naturally, the negotiations will take some time. But it had already sent out a very clear message to the whole international community that the China-US business ties will get even closer and it will put the overall China-US relationship on a more solid footing.
Q: I'm with the Hong Kong Economic Times. My question is about the Constitutional reform in Hong Kong, which is a key interest to the people of all in Hong Kong. We are getting closer to the date for voting on the plan of the Constitutional reform in Hong Kong, but recently, there have been some quite tough statements made by the central leadership on this particular topic, and many people are not so optimistic about the prospects for the Constitutional reform to be adopted.
I want to know if, and also for the first time in the government Work Report you said that we need to strictly comply with the Constitution and basic law at the same time. Does this mean that the central government is tightening its policies to Hong Kong and will that affect the relationship between the central government and the Hong Kong SAR, and will that add new uncertainties to the cultural and business interactions between the two sides?
A: It is a basic State policy of China's government to hear the principle of One country, two systems: the people in Hong Kong governing Hong Kong, and people in Macao governing Macao, and the regions enjoying the high degree of autonomy. Some people are worried the central government is tightening its policies to Hong Kong, and I believe such a worry is not necessary.
It's true that in this year's the government work report, it is said that we need to strictly comply with the Constitution and basic law. This itself shows our commitment to ensuring the insistence and implementation of one country, two systems principle. The principle has been reaching into Constitution and the basic law of Hong Kong SAR. They form the constitutional basis of Hong Kong SAR, and it is also stipulated in the basic law of Hong Kong what system should be practiced in Hong Kong.
The one country, two systems principle reflects the will of the country and the people, and cannot be changed as well. You may feel that I am being very careful in choosing my words as answering your question, this is because you asked a question that relates to the law, so I need to answer it seriously.
The central government will continue to firmly support the government of Hong Kong SAR and the chief executive of Hong Kong SAR in governing the region with the law, and the central government will give stronger support to Hong Kong for it to play its unique role in China's reform: Opening-up and Modernization Drive.
We hope that we have a closer exhanges between Hong Kong and the mainland, and both sides get to benefit from such closer exchanges in the business, cultural and other fields. And all people involved in such exchanges will feel satisfied and have their well-being boosts. Thank you.