Last night, when I was coming into town from Pudong Airport, I crossed the beautiful Huangpu River on the Lupu Bridge. This reminded me of China’s talent in making bridges and made me think of three other important bridges.
Bridge number one: 40 years ago, China started to build a “bridge to the world” by opening its economy and by kickstarting reforms that have changed the lives and prospects of hundreds of millions of people—here and and beyond China.
By transforming itself—through trade, hard work, and learning from others—China has also helped to transform the global economy. Progress in this country has played a significant role in boosting productivity, innovation and living standards in countries around the world.
Yes, there is always more work to be done. On these bridges, you don’t want traffic jams. There is room for even greater openness in China’s domestic market, which can help strengthen the global trade system. And there is scope for further reforms that can help unlock the full potential of many private-sector firms.
Bridge number two: China is building a “bridge to prosperity” by rebalancing its economy towards consumption-led growth, rather than export- and investment-led growth.
Building that bridge is well underway. In the first three quarters of this year, consumption contributed 78 percent to China’s GDP growth, up from 50 percent only 5 years ago.
This transition—which is symbolized by the China International Import Expo—is good for China, especially in terms of rising standards of living for the Chinese people, and good for the world, including all those who see China as a vital and vibrant market for their goods and services.
Again, we can see the progress and rebalancing in the numbers: for example, China’s current account surplus is projected to be less than 1 percent of GDP this year, compared with about 10 percent in 2007.
Bridge number three: China is building a “bridge to the future” by harnessing the power of international cooperation, especially on trade.
On behalf of the IMF, I have called on all countries to de-escalate and resolve the current trade disputes and to fix the global trade system, not destroy it. To achieve these goals, we need more international cooperation, not less—and that goes well beyond economics.
The French philosopher Montesquieu once said that “wherever there is good citizenship, there is trade, and wherever there is trade, there is good citizenship.”
In other words, trade has the capacity to boost innovation, foster not only prosperity but also peace within countries and among nations.
So, in Shanghai, the city of 12 bridges, I will only mention three, but this is where we need to start this cooperation towards more peace and more prosperous future.