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Highlights from Xi Jinping's speech in Seattle

Highlights from Xi Jinping's speech in Seattle
Published 24 Sep 2015   Follow @SamRoggeveen

Chinese President Xi Jinping began his US visit with a policy speech in Seattle, Washington today. There's a poor quality video above (the speech starts 20:28 minutes in) and a transcript here. A few highlights from me, which are weighted towards the first half of the speech, in which Xi addresses major areas of international concern about China one by one:

On economic growth:

China's economy will stay on a steady course with fairly fast growth. The Chinese economy is still operating within a proper range. It grew by 7 percent in the first half of the year, and this growth rate remains one of the highest in the world.

On economic reform:

The key to China's development lies in reform. Our reform is aimed at modernizing the country's governance system and governance capabilities, so that the market can play a decisive role in the allocation of resources, the government can play a better role and there is faster progress in building the socialist market economy, democracy, advanced culture, harmonious society and sound environment.

So, the market's role should be 'decisive' but the government's role should be 'better'? Is that liberalisation as the West knows it, or something else? I'll be looking for China economy experts to parse this language…

Moving on, this claim on foreign investment seems dubious: [fold]

We will address legitimate concerns of foreign investors in a timely fashion, protect their lawful rights and interests and work hard to provide an open and transparent legal and policy environment…

Moving to cybersecurity, as others have pointed out, it is notable that Xi framed his pledge in the future tense...:

China is a staunch defender of cybersecurity. It is also a victim of hacking. The Chinese government will not, in whatever form, engage in commercial theft or encourage or support such attempts by anyone.

On corruption, here's another claim that strains credulity, though points for the pop-culture reference:

In our vigorous campaign against corruption, we have punished both "tigers" and "flies", corrupt officials irrespective of ranking, in response to our people's demand. This has nothing to do with power struggle. It's nothing like what you see in House of Cards.

On China's foreign policy aims:

Let me reiterate here that no matter how developed it could become, China will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion. To demonstrate our commitment to peaceful development, I announced not long ago that the size of China's military will be cut by 300,000.

But of course, reducing the manpower of the military will actually facilitate the very modernisation that China's neighbours fear.

Finally, on great-power competition, Xi addresses head-on the Western debate about China's rise using its own historical refences:

There is no such thing as the so-called Thucydides trap in the world. But should major countries time and again make the mistakes of strategic miscalculation, they might create such traps for themselves.

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