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Ambassador Gui Congyou Gives Exclusive Interview with SVD Journalist During Almedalen Week
2019/07/09

On 3 July, during his visit to the Almedalen Week in Gotland, Ambassador Gui Congyou gave an exclusive interview to Mikael Törnwall from SVD.

Q: Mr. Ambassador mentioned there are some people that are biased against China. Who are these people? What are their aims?

Gui Congyou: There are some people that accuse China almost every day on Swedish media. They criticize every policy of the Communist Party and Government of China. The reason for me and my colleagues to be here at Almedalen is because we hope to learn more about the social and political situation in Sweden, and communicate with all sectors of Sweden. However, it is shocking that some people made absurd claims on Expressen that the Chinese side should not be allowed at Almedalen. But in fact, Almedalen is open to everyone. Last year there were over 5,000 events here, and this year there are over 4,000. It is hard to believe that some people would make such claims to exclude the Chinese side. Though they are in the minority, but it is hard to believe that such absurd arguments can be published.

Q: In your speech this morning at the “China Day” event, you said that China’s development is not a threat, and China is working hard to build socialist democracy. Why would you mention these in Almedalen?

Gui Congyou: I am very glad that you attended the “China Day” this morning. The “China Day” hosted by Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Sweden is to introduce China’s development and opening up to the local audience, and advance practical cooperation between China and Sweden. However, some politicians and journalists always claim that China has no democracy and that China’s development poses a threat to Sweden. Such comments affect the confidence of various sectors in Sweden to develop friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation with China, so it is necessary for me to communicate to the Swedish audience what kind of country China is, that China’s development is not a threat, and that our two countries can get along well, expand cooperation for mutual benefits. What I am doing is to inject positive energy into friendly cooperation between our two countries.

Q: How do you define socialist democracy?

Gui Congyou: Because we have limited time, so I will be concise. The essence of Socialist Democracy with Chinese characteristics is that all powers belong to the people and that people are the masters of the country. People will elect various levels of organs of power, which will elect various levels of people’s governments. As the governing party, the central and subnational levels of leaderships of the Communist Party of China are also elected by the various levels of party congresses. Every five years, the Communist Party of China will convene a National Congress, where the over 2,000 party representatives are elected by ordinary party members, and it is the party representatives that will elect the Central Committee, members of the Political Bureau, members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau and the General-Secretary of the Party. Some people in Sweden always claim that China has no election, which is because they do not know much about China. Our election system ensures that all powers are by the people and for the people. The people not only elect various levels of organs of power and their leadership, but also supervise them.

Q: What is the role of Communist Party of China? In Sweden, there are many political parties, which is completely different from that of China. Can you explain?

Gui Congyou: No two leaves, two persons or two countries are completely the same. The political systems in countries of the world are also different. For example, the US has Electoral College system, where people vote for the Electoral College, and the Electoral College then elects the president. Sweden has an indirect election system, where people vote for the political party, and the party or political alliance with the most seats in the parliament, which is determined by the votes, will form the government. Some countries have direct election. The US has Senate and Congress, while Sweden has one chamber. Likewise, China’s political system also has its own characteristics. In the process of fighting for national independence and liberation in modern times, various political parties emerged in China, but none of them could fulfill the mission of achieving national independence and liberation. It was only the CPC that led the Chinese people to fulfill this historic task, establishing the People’s Republic of China and winning the support by all Chinese people. Therefore, the leadership of Communist Party of China was enshrined in first Constitution of China in 1954. The Party exercises overall leadership over all areas of endeavor in every part of the country.

In the process of the CPC leading all Chinese people striving for national independence and liberation, there were eight political parties that supported the leadership of CPC. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the CPC continued to work with the eight political parties, and established a political consultative system. The eight political parties participate in the political affairs. The political consultative system is where the CPC and the eight political parties sit together and have sufficient consultations over major policies concerning the governance of the country, and reach consensus. This is the system of Party-led multiparty cooperation and political consultation. Leaders of the eight political parties can also hold important positions in the Government.

These systems are born out of China’s history, realities and people’s choice. This is Socialist Democracy with Chinese Characteristics. The Swedish system is the choice of Swedish people, which we will not make judgments on or interfere in. The system in China is consistent with our history, national realities and will of the people. It is hoped that the Swedish side will have an open attitude, not attempt to interfere or impose the system of Sweden on China. I was told that it is too unrealistic for some people in Sweden to try to transform China, a country with over 5,000 years of history and 1.4 billion people, with the system of a country of 10 million. The Chinese side believes that Socialism with Chinese Characteristics best suits itself, but not necessarily other countries, still less will China try to use its own system to transform other countries. Countries in the world need to be equal, respect each other, see past differences for common grounds and pursue shared development.

Q: There are many criticisms on China in Sweden, including “Falungong” people near the venue of “China Day”. Why do you think it is? Will problems between China and Sweden affect trade and business between the two countries?

Gui Congyou:The question about why there are so many criticisms should be asked to those that make groundless accusations on China. Over more than 100 years before 1949, China suffered from the barbaric invasion, colonization and enslavement of Western powers. The country suffered from division and chaos, and was reduced to a semi-colonial semi-feudal society. There are also various groups of people that do not want to see reunification, national unity and social progress in China. What these people are doing is against the will of all Chinese people, against the trend of development of the world. We hope they will see the trend of China’s development and the world’s development, be part of this trend and not stand on the opposition of 1.4 billion Chinese people, and not attempt to obstruct China’s reunification and hinder its development.

Over the 40 years of reform and opening up in China, thousands of foreign companies, including those of Sweden, entered the market in China, making significant benefits while helping China to grow. The CPC and Chinese Government are committed to building better investment conditions and business environment for foreign investors. You could see from the “China Day” this morning that almost everyone was talking about how to advance practical cooperation between China and Sweden. It fully shows that cooperation is what we all want.

Q: Do you think the current situation will affect the willingness of Swedish companies to do business in China?

Gui Congyou: As far as I know, the vast majority of Swedish companies would like to invest and explore opportunities in China. They do not believe the smear on China by a handful of people. As Chinese people often say, “an upright person fears no false accusations”. As long as something is legitimate, people with a fair mind will do it. So far I have not come across a Swedish entrepreneur that gives up on doing business in China because of the criticism of a handful of people.

Q: You mentioned in your speech at “China Day” that you would like to invite Swedish elderly care companies to China. Have you got any response? Why did you mention this?

Gui Congyou: Many delegations from government departments and regional governments that are responsible for elderly care and relevant companies from China visited Sweden, to learn about the Swedish elderly care model and explore cooperation opportunities with Swedish government departments and companies. China is home to over 200 million elderly people, and is becoming an aging society. At the same time China is still the world’s largest developing country, where aging population is an urgent social problem. Sweden has relatively mature practices and model in elderly care, and its departments and companies are very interested in cooperation with China.

China is opening up wider to the rest of the world, and is moving from the opening-up based on the flow of goods and factors of production to opening-up based on rules and institutions. In the important Speech by President Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit in Osaka, he announced that China is going to further open up fields such as agriculture, mining and manufacturing, where existing restrictions on foreign investment will be reduced or removed. Restrictions on foreign investment have been lifted in the automobile industry, and foreign companies can establish automobile companies of sole ownership in China, one example is the Tesla factory of sole ownership in Shanghai. With successful cooperation examples like Geely-Volvo, other advanced companies in Sweden such as Volvo Group and Scania Trucks may also establish wholly owned factories in China. Now Scania Trucks sells 10,000 vehicles in China every year. If it establishes a factory in China, all of its costs will be reduced considerably, and its sales will increase. I hope you will convey China’s policies and measures to open up wider to the business community in Sweden, and promote China-Sweden practical cooperation.

Q: Yesterday my friend told me that the China-US trade conflict was not only about the imposition of tariffs, but also other aspects such as investment restrictions. The US requires China to remove restrictions on foreign investment. What do you think?

Gui Congyou: China’s openness is in line with the degree of development and maturity of the Chinese economy. Sweden has a very open economy today, but it has gone through a process step by step. Had it been 50 years ago when companies from other countries wanted to acquire Volvo Cars, would Sweden have agreed? I suggest that your friend read carefully the important speech by President Xi Jinping at the G20 Osaka Summit and the address by Premier Li Keqiang at the opening ceremony of the Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2019. The new opening-up measures I mentioned just now are only part of what China plans. We have many more favorable measures for foreign businesses, including further shortening the negative list for foreign investment market access. The listed items were cut down from 62 to 48 last year, and will be further reduced to 42 this year. All fields not on the list are open to foreign investment. In a word, China will become more and more open with ever more sectors open to the outside world. I recommend that Swedish journalists organize a group visit to China to learn about China’s development and opening-up, which will be most helpful for promoting the cooperation between the Swedish business community and China.

The “China Day” event organized by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Sweden is aimed at helping the Swedish business community understand the new developments and new measures of China's opening up to the outside world. But the whole situation in China cannot be introduced at one event. I hope that you and your colleagues will pay close attention to China and study China's opening up policies and initiatives to better serve Swedish companies. I have a feeling that the Swedish people's understanding of China is far from enough. A minority of people criticize China every day and always raise strange questions because they don't understand or don't want to understand China. Therefore, our two sides should strengthen exchanges and communication, enhance mutual understanding, and do not allow anyone to create obstacles on the road of development of bilateral relations or to interfere with the friendly exchanges and cooperation between our two countries.

Q: There are two different perspectives to observe the China-US trade war. One is the US imposing tariffs on China, and the other is the US suppressing Chinese companies such as Huawei. Can the Chinese economy bear it?

Gui Congyou: A trade war is no good for anyone. The China-US trade war has undoubtedly affected China's exports and enterprises, but China is a large booming market with a population of nearly 1.4 billion. We are actively adjusting the economic structure from the past export- and investment-driven one to one driven by export, investment, and consumption. Last year, China’s domestic demand contributed 80% of national economic growth. There are more than 400 million middle-income earners in China, hence the huge consumption demand. The contribution of consumption demand to the Chinese economy will continue to increase. China has a complete industrial system. The Chinese economy has great resilience against external shocks. The negative impact of the US tariffs on China’s exports can be absorbed by further expanding reform and opening up and adjusting the economic structure. China will not initiate a trade war, but it is not afraid of one. If the US insists on fighting a trade war, China will fight to the end. The Chinese are a people of principle. Our principles are equality, mutual respect, accommodating each other’s legitimate concerns, and safeguarding national sovereignty and dignity.

Q: What do mean by national sovereignty?

Gui Congyou: In the field of economy and trade, it means economic sovereignty. That is, the affairs that should be decided and resolved by the Chinese themselves cannot be decided or resolved by the Americans.

Q: Recently, the US has lifted some restrictions on Huawei, but there are still quite a few restrictions facing Huawei. Many other countries may also take measures against Huawei. ZTE was once suppressed by the US and almost collapsed. Will the same happen to Huawei?

Gui Congyou: While fighting a trade war against China, the US is also trying to fight a technological war and to prevent the development of Chinese high-tech enterprises. The US seems to believe that only itself has the right to develop high-tech enterprises while China can not have such enterprises. The US announced that it has lifted some restrictions on Huawei, which shows that a technological war is harmful and unpopular. Huawei is purely a private enterprise. I don't know the details of Huawei's business. It was through Mr. Ren Zhengfei’s interviews that I learned how Huawei responded to the US suppression and sought further development. From his interviews, we can see that Mr. Ren Zhengfei is confident in leading Huawei forward despite the pressure of the US.

Q: Some people in Sweden are worried about China's technology spies. For example, if Huawei’s 5G technology is used, the Chinese government will obtain information with it. And there is a saying that according to a Chinese law, Huawei is obliged to cooperate with the government.

Gui Congyou: Huawei is a private enterprise, and their production and operation have nothing to do with the Chinese Government. The Chinese Government will not interfere with the specific business practices of enterprises, nor do they need to report to the Chinese Government. If someone claims that cooperating with Huawei has security risks, then please show evidence and don't always say “maybe”. Mr. Ren Zhengfei has publicly stated that Huawei is willing to sign “no backdoor” agreements with foreign partners, which fully demonstrates Huawei’s confidence in the security of its products. There is nothing like those you mentioned behind Huawei’s products.

As for the Chinese law you mentioned, it was passed by the National People’s Congress of China and publicly released. You can study it carefully once you have the opportunity. From what I know about this law, it regulates that if something happens and harms China’s national security, relevant individuals and entities are obliged to cooperate with the investigation of the state security authorities. It is not in the least like what some Western media say, i.e. every person and company in China must give their information to security agencies. China has enacted this law after studying the practices of other major countries. Relevant regulations are also internationally accepted and normal. There are always some forces in the West believing that one man may steal a horse while another may not look over a hedge. China cannot do as they do. And they always look at China with a magnifying glass. Therefore, in my speech at the “China Day” event today, I mentioned that one cannot observe China through a magnifying glass, nor a telescope, even less colored glasses, otherwise he or she will not see the real China.

Q:So there is absolutely no need to worry about buying high-tech products from China?

Gui Congyou: Of Course! Mr. Ren Zhengfei made it crystal clear. Do you know any person or company that has information leaked for using China's high-tech products? I have never heard of such a thing. I don't know what brand of mobile phone you use. I suggest you give Huawei a try.

Q: I have several mobile phones, one of which is Huawei. Mr. Ambassador, how do you see the development of trade between China and Sweden in the next five years?

Gui Congyou: I believe your Huawei hasn’t leaked your information! Last year, China-Sweden trade volume reached USD17.15 billion. If we maintain an average annual growth rate of about 15% as it was in recent years, China-Sweden trade volume is expected to double in five years, reaching more than 30 billion US dollars. Sweden's high-quality products and consumer goods are very popular in China. Not only high-tech products, but also agricultural products such as oatmeal and pork have great demands in the Chinese market. Well-known Swedish companies such as H&M have stores in some cities in China. Please tell the Swedish entrepreneurs that they are welcome to further expand their exports to China. We welcome Swedish companies to participate in the 2nd China International Import Expo held in Shanghai this November. We also welcome Swedish friends from the media to go to China to take a look. China has a history of more than 5,000 years and nearly 1.4 billion people living on an area of 9.6 million square kilometers. It is difficult to understand the true, multi-dimensional and comprehensive China without going to China and see for oneself. At the same time, we have also noticed that some Swedish media went to China with some conclusions preinstalled in mind and focused on finding China’s “problems” with a magnifying glass in hand. China is promoting comprehensive development of economy, politics, culture, society and ecology, and there will inevitably be some problems in the development process. President Xi Jinping advocated that officials at all levels of government should adopt a problem-oriented approach and be good at discovering problems and promoting development through solving problems. This is China’s attitude toward problems. If the Swedish media go to China with a magnifying glass in hand to find problems as evidence for their prejudice and stereotypes, it will definitely be like “a leaf before the eye shuts out Mount Tai”.

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