Speech by Consul General Long Zhou at the Executive Wealth Circle Gala Dinner

(7th September, 2019, Melbourne)

Ms. Susan Gin, Chairperson of EWC,

Hon. Michael O’Brian MP,

Hon. Bruce Atkinson MLC,

Lord Mayor, Sally Capp,

Mr.Philip Liu, Councillor of the City of Melbourne,

Hon. Andrew Robb, Former Australian Trade Minister,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

Good evening! It’s a real delight and an honor to join all of you tonight at the Charity Gala Dinner hosted by Executive Wealth Circle. Thank you, Susan, for the invitation and the valuable contribution of you and other board members to building the communities between Asian and Australian people.

I was told that the topic of this years the Thematic Symposium is “Prosper from Changes”. It is a pity that I couldn’t have joined the discussion. But I believe you have demonstrated your vision in the symposium by identifying and exploring ways and means to respond to and prosper from the wind of changes. Congratulations!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Indeed, the world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century. What are the changes reshaping the world today? What are the driving forces behind the changes? Everybody has his or her own readings. There are different angles to answer the questions.

We meet at a time of major development, transformation and adjustment in the world. While the international environment remains generally stable, profound shifts are taking place in the relations between major countries. The economic globalization continues to advance, accompanied by mounting protectionism and populist ideologies. Accelerated movement toward a multipolar world goes hand in hand with intensifying geopolitical rivalry and regional turbulence. The emergence of new technologies and new thinkings is profoundly changing the way people live and work. A review of the past century has led some to express fears that the post-war international order is teetering on the edge and that humanity has once again come to a crossroads.

Changes bring opportunities and challenges in geopolitical, economic, technological, social, cultural fields. For the sake of time, I would not elaborate each of them. My philosophy teacher taught me, “the economic base determines the superstructure”. Therefore, let me focus a bit on the technological and economic aspects.

Thomas L. Friedman, the author of the bestseller----The World is Flat, recently declared the word of the year for 2019. The word is “deep”.

In his opinion, technology moves up in steps, and each step, each new platform, is usually biased toward a new set of capabilities. Around the year 2000 we took a huge step up that was biased toward connectivity, because of the explosion of fiber-optic cable, wireless and satellites. Connectivity suddenly became so fast, cheap, easy for you and ubiquitous. Around 2007, we took another big step up. Smart phones, sensors, digitization, big data, the internet of things, artificial intelligence and cloud computing melded together and created a new platform that was biased toward abstracting complexity at a speed, scope and scale we’d never experienced before. Over the last decade, advances in the speed and scope of digitization, connectivity, big data and artificial intelligence are now taking us “deep” into places and into powers that we’ve never experienced before. Im talking about deep learning, deep insights, deep automation and deep artificial minds. Things are going deep.

Right now, we are living in a more globalized world, where we are now totally interconnected and interdependent. Technology is transforming every aspect of the modern world, as big data got really big, as broadband got really fast, as algorithms got really smart, as artificial intelligence got really intelligent. Some of these above-mentioned technologies offer us unprecedented promise and some unprecedented challenges. But they’re all now part of our lives.

What remains unchanged is that people cherish peace and yearn for development, and economic globalization represents the trend of our times. Diversity of civilizations and of development paths is both a natural result and a driving force of human progress.

There will always be twists and turns on the road ahead. But in the face of challenges, the greatest fear is fear itself, as Franklin D. Roosevelt put in his first inauguration speech, “ let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.

We must stay committed to peaceful development, unswervingly advance economic globalization and jointly build an international order that is more fair, equitable, stable and effective. Raising the barriers of trading goods and services, curbing competitors from advancing their technologies while exacerbating the ideological divide between their own people and those of others is not the way out and more seriously, self-defeating.

People from different political systems and with different historical, cultural and religious backgrounds need to reject estrangement, exclusion, suspicion and hostility, and promote greater mutual knowledge, mutual understanding, mutual trust and inclusiveness.

For China and Australia, ‘trust’ matters like never before. Although the two countries have two different institutional systems, our economic destiny is closely intertwined. We are already closely linked, and as such, both countries have become more prosperous and our peoples has got more benefits.

The fundamentals of the relationship remain unchanged. But as the world becomes flatter, faster, smarter, and deeper, as the relationship between the two sides continues to deepen, it is imperative to inject new trust into the relations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Development is absolute principle. In the face of changes, development is the master key to address all problems. People’s aspirations for a better life are what drive us forward. China cannot develop by shutting itself from the world, nor can the world develop by shutting out China. Without a peaceful and stable international environment, there will be no development to speak of. No matter how the international situation changes, China will continue to run its own affairs well and maintain strategic focus and confidence in response to external uncertainties.

As President Xi Jinping said, to forge iron, you need a strong hammer.” A bird standing on a tree is never afraid of breaking branches. Why? Because it does not believe in branches, but in its own wings. In face of uncertainties and unpredictabilities, what we need to do is to rely on our own wings. Only by doing so, can we fly freely in the wind of changes.

Thank you.

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