Guo Weimin, deputy director of China's State Council Information Office.
More than 120 experts from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) and other southern African countries gathered at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on Wednesday night for a seminar entitled "Contributing BRICS' Wisdom to Global Governance in the Interests of the People.

The seminar, which reflected the common wish of government leaders, think tank members and corporate executives in the "BRICS Plus" community to promote co-operation and benefit the people, was  one of the supplementary events in the run-up to the BRICS summit to be held in South Africa later this month.

Here is the speech delivered by Guo Weimin, deputy director of China's State Council Information Office, at the seminar. 

Johannesburg - Distinguished Principal Richard Levin ( principal of the South African National School of Government),   Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

Good morning! It's a great pleasure to meet with so many friends in the beautiful  country of South Africa to discuss the BRICS countries’ experience in governance.

Johannesburg is known as the "City of Gold" and today we are gathered here from to  exchange ideas, learn from each other, and find the "true gold" of governance wisdom.

On behalf of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, I would like to  extend my congratulations to the opening of the seminar, and my deep gratitude to our  host – the South African National School of Government – as well as to other parties for  their great efforts for preparing for the seminar.

In response to the call made by BRICS leaders to strengthen the exchange of state  governance experience, the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee  successfully held the first BRICS Seminar on Governance in Quanzhou, Fujian  Province, the important starting point of the Maritime Silk Road, in September last year.

Participants at the seminar reached the Quanzhou Consensus of BRICS Seminar on  Governance, which was included in the BRICS Leaders Xiamen Declaration. The  Xiamen Declaration expressly noted the progress made by BRICS countries in the  exchanges and co-operation in various areas, including governance, film-making, media,  and think-tanks. The Declaration added: "We appreciate China's successful hosting of  the BRICS Seminar on Governance, and will carry these fruitful initiatives forward in  the future."

The BRICS Seminar on Governance 2018 held in South Africa is a concrete  step to implement the results of BRICS leaders' meeting in Xiamen, and to honour our  agreement in Quanzhou. I'm glad that you have all come here as we promised.

The theme of this year's seminar is "Contributing BRICS' Wisdom to Global  Governance in the Interests of the People". It reflects the common wish of government  leaders, think tank members, and corporate executives in the "BRICS Plus" community  to promote BRICS co-operation and benefit the people of BRICS countries, and will  have profound impact on beginning the second "golden decade" of BRICS co-operation.  I believe your dialogues and in-depth exchanges around the seminar theme will lead to  bountiful results.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

The people are the owners of society, and the countless workers represent the direction  of historical development and progress. To truly benefit the people, continuously  improve their lives, and strive for national development and progress through their  efforts - this is the ultimate yardstick to measure a party's governing performance.

The Communist Party of China is the ruling party of a nation that has a population of  more than 1.3 billion people. The people stand for the original aspiration and mission of  the Party, and the Party always stands with the people, thinks about the people, and  works for the people. 

This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform an  opening up. In the past 40 years, the Chinese economy and society have undergone  tremendous changes, and the Chinese people's lives have considerably improved, from  insufficiency and poverty to affluence and generally moderate prosperity. According to  current United Nations standards, China has lifted more than 700 million people out of  poverty, accounting for more than 70% of the global poverty reduction in the same  period. This is a remarkable achievement.

After the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, the CPC Central Committee with Xi  Jinping at the core has established the people-centered development thought. We take  the people's aspiration for a good life as our goal, implement the "people first" concept  in all governing work, keep pushing forward Socialism with Chinese characteristics, and  strive for historic achievements in the Party's and nation's undertakings. The Xi Jinping  Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era has been formed and  a new realm in the governance of contemporary China has been created.

The Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era is the  generalisation of the governing concepts and strategies upheld by the CPC and the  Chinese government. With the people as its most distinct political stance and purest  affection, it is the key to the development and progress of contemporary China.  Here I want to share with you some of my observations.

First, we should adhere to "people-centered" value orientation. President Xi Jinping has  formed deep and natural bonds with the people. He cares about their happiness and  sadness, speaks for them, and stands up for them. He repeatedly emphasised that  "winning the people's support is our biggest political task", "the people are whom we  rely on", "ensuring a good life for the people is the starting point and objective of all our  work", and "no one should be left behind on the way to moderate prosperity". 

President  Xi made a report at the 19th CPC National Congress in October last year, in which he  mentioned "the people" more than 200 times. He has set an example for caring for the  people, and has travelled nearly all over the country, including all of the extremely poor  areas. It's safe to say that the CPC's "people first" concept has become a powerful force  that keeps all Chinese people united and will help realise the Chinese Dream.

Second, we should adhere to "people-centered" policy direction. "All our policies must  be aimed to meet the people's needs". The CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at  the core takes "people centrism" as the guidance of governance, promotes the five- sphere integrated plan in a holistic way and the four-pronged comprehensive strategy in  a co-ordinated way, implements new development concept, deepens the supply-side  structural reform, and carries out the rural revitalization strategy, etc. 

These substantial  governing strategies are all aimed to improve the people's welfare, boost the  modernization drive, and push for all-round development of the people and the society.  In the past five-plus years, China has implemented a large number of measures for  people's welfare, lifted over 60 million Chinese people out of poverty, and reduced the  poverty incidence from 10.2% to less than 4%. 

Education developed across the boar  and education in the central and western regions and rural areas was remarkably  improved; employment improved and over 13 million people found jobs in cities  annually; income of urban and rural residents increased faster than economic growth  and the middle-income group continued to expand; the social security system that  covers all urban and rural residents was basically established, and people's health and
medical service were largely bettered, giving them a stronger sense of gain, happiness,  and security.

Third, we should adhere to "people-centered" evaluation criterion. President Xi Jinping  stressed that "the time gives us the test paper, we answer the paper, and the people grade  the paper". The CPC makes great efforts to make our reform and development  achievements more accessible to all people, and takes the people's attitude - their  support, approval, satisfaction, and endorsement - as the fundamental criterion for  governance. After the 18th CPC National Congress, the Chinese government has  constantly set new records in its "governing performance sheet". By 2017, China's GDP  reached RMB82.7 trillion, continuing to rank second in the world and driving global  economic growth. The report of the 19th CPC National Congress pointed out that the  principal contradiction facing Chinese society has evolved to "the contradiction between  unbalanced and inadequate development and the people's ever-growing needs for a  better life". 

The Chinese government will work hard to adapt to the new change in the  principal social contradiction in the new era, launch more projects and measures for  improving people's livelihood and welfare, and better meet the people's ever-growing  needs in economic, cultural, social, and ecological sectors. We will accept the  evaluation and examination of "people graders" with full confidence.

Fourth, we should promote the building of a community with a shared future for  mankind with people at the centre. The world is in a period of big development, big  reform, and big adjustment, with prominent instability and uncertainty. Based on his  profound insight and wise thinking about human destiny, President Xi Jinping put forth  China's assertion of building a community with a shared future for mankind and forging  a new model of international relations. The original logic for building a community with  a shared future for mankind is "putting the people at the centre". The world is a global  village, where peoples of all countries live under the same sky and share the same  home. We should act as a family. The dream of the Chinese people is closely connected  with the dreams of the peoples of other countries. 

China will stay on the path of  peaceful development, carry out a mutually beneficial strategy of opening up, uphold  justice while pursuing shared interests, and pursue open, innovative, and inclusive  development that benefits everyone. We will boost cross-cultural exchanges  characterised by harmony without uniformity, inclusiveness, and mutual learning,  cultivate ecosystems based on respect for nature and green development, and continue  the efforts to safeguard world peace, contribute to global development, and uphold  international order. Our call for building a community with a shared future for mankind
has received positive responses from many countries in the world and has been included  in several United Nations resolutions.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

The past decade has seen the BRICS countries making brilliant achievements, with  more prominent international position and increasing global influence. The combined  GDP of the five BRICS countries has grown by almost 180%, their total trade volume  by 94%, and contribution to world economic growth by more than 50%. BRICS  co-operation has formed a multi-layer and all-round framework covering a wide range of  areas, including politics, economy, finance, trade, social development, and people-to-  people exchange. It has become a cooperation platform with global influence and a  crucial mechanism for South-South cooperation, with its significance far beyond the  five member countries. 

These achievements are attributed to our adherence to the  BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness, and mutually beneficial co-operation, which  ensures our sound and sustained cooperation pace and ceaseless cooperation outcomes;  to our exercising the concept of global governance featuring wide consultation, joint  contribution, and shared benefits, supporting developing countries to proactively take  part in the reform and construction of the global governance system, and constantly  contributing BRICS wisdom and strength; and to our value orientation of safeguarding  the people's interests, priority to development, perfection of governance, and efforts to  improve the people's livelihood and welfare.

At the same time, we must see that the world today is undergoing profound changes,  economic globalisation is encountering resistance, trade protectionism is rising, certain  country is taking irresponsible policies and measures to start trade disputes, and the  global multi-lateral trade system is harmed severely.

Due to internal and external  factors, the economic growth of BRICS countries is facing new challenges. Some  people take the chance to assert that the BRICS countries are losing lustre and make  bearish forecast about their co-operation and the second "Golden Decade". Under such  circumstance, it is more imperative for us to remain confident and steadfast, expand the  co-operation scope while focusing on win-win areas, deepen our partnerships, and
consolidate and expand the BRICS' circle of friends. Through these efforts, we strive to  form a new situation of common progress and development, and show the world that the  BRICS countries remain "true gold".

China is a firm supporter of and participant in the BRICS mechanism and takes BRICS  co-operation as an important part of its diplomacy. At the plenary session of the BRICS  Xiamen Summit last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping solemnly declared that "China  will launch the BRICS Economic and Technical Cooperation Plan with RMB500  million in the first stage to facilitate policy exchange and practical co-operation in  economic and trade areas. It will also contribute USD4 million to the NDB preparation  fund to support its business operations and long-term development". These measures  will generate a strong momentum to kick off the second “Golden Decade” of BRICS  co-operation. We believe that the cooperation of BRICS countries will bring more  tangible benefits to over three billion people and strongly promote world peace,  stability, and prosperity.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

Think tanks are the brain trust of governance. Their exchange and discussion of  governance and mutual learning is of great significance for BRICS countries to achieve  greater development in the future. Today, the Sandton Convention Centre is full of  distinguished guests, including representatives from established think tanks and scholars  with advanced attainment from BRICS countries and Africa. We have reasons to believe  that this is going to be a grand gala of thoughts and ideas. I would like to take this  opportunity to propose some suggestions for your reference.

First, we need to follow the principle of equality and mutual trust. BRICS countries are  in similar development stages with the same development goals even though our  national conditions are different. Although the think tanks here vary in strength and  scale, they have respective expertise and share the same goal of boosting BRICS  co-operation and development. We will have divergences during the exchange and  discussion due to different national conditions, history, and culture, etc.  However, as  long as we respect each other’s development path, treat each other equally, seek  common ground while shelving differences, enhance mutual trust while dispelling  doubts, and accommodate each other’s concerns, we will have a good precondition for  dialogue and consultation, a solid foundation for promoting pragmatic co-operation in  various fields, and a bright prospect for the exchange and discussion of governance  among BRICS countries.

Second, we need to focus on the second "Golden Decade". Think tanks are the highland  of ideas and talent with distinctive intelligence advantages. Since the second decade of  BRICS co-operation has begun, think tanks should be participants as well as suggestion  and service providers. They should summarize the law of history, analyse the general  trend of development, study the common difficulties facing BRICS countries, and offer  suggestions for the second “Golden Decade” of BRICS cooperation. To implement the  fruits of the BRICS Xiamen Summit, China has earmarked a special fund to encourage
and support think tanks from different countries to conduct researches on BRICS  governance, which will be undertaken by China Foreign Languages Publishing  Administration, one of the hosts of this seminar. Think tank representatives here are  welcome to work with the CIPG.

Third, we need to ensure deep and pragmatic discussion and exchange. The second  decade of BRICS co-operation will be more vigorous and dynamic, during which the  BRICS think tanks should follow the trend, increase interactions and exchanges, deepen  our friendship, and pursue common development. The success of this seminar in South  Africa will signal that the BRICS' governance communication has become a regular  mechanism within the framework of BRICS co-operation. It is widely hoped that the  seminar will closely follow the BRICS Summit and be held annually in the rotating  presidency, where we will put forth our ideas and suggestions around the theme of the  Summit, and make think tank cooperation a highlight of BRICS co-operation. 

We should  translate the fruits of the seminar into action by communicating the fruits widely to  build consensus among people from all walks of life and influencing government  decisions positively. The Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee will  continue to support the exchange and co-operation among BRICS media to promote the  outcomes of the governance seminar and help put them into practice.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

As a Chinese proverb goes, "the fire burns high when everybody adds wood to it", and  an African proverb goes "one log can’t make a house". The spark of intelligence will  only burst into brilliant light when gathered in large quantity. We sincerely hope that  you will candidly share experience and exchange views with an open mind, reach more  consensuses, and gain more insight.

Finally, I wish the BRICS Seminar on Governance 2018 a great success.

Thank you.

Guo Weimin is a Member of the Leadership Meeting of the  Communist Party  of  China  Publicity Department and  Vice Minister of the State Council Information Office of China.