Former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin directly illustrated his general view on China: “I am positive about China’s economy, given its strong economy and clear political vision and strategy.”
In mid-to-late May, Dominique de Villepin took a long “journey” in China. He arrived in Wuhan, Hubei Province, on May 16th to attend the Ninth Central China Investment and Trade Fair and meet senior local government officials. Then on May 19th, Mr. de Villepin traveled to Shanghai and onwards to Beijing at the end of the month, where he was interviewed.
Dominique de Villepin, as the former Prime Minister of France, pays several visits to China each year, and has been to cities such as Guangzhou, Yiwu, Wuhan, Changchun, Shanghai, Beijing, etc. He regularly exchanges ideas with senior central and local government officials and other than his home country of France, Mr. de Villepin regards China as an extremely familiar country.
“One Belt One Road" will reshape
Eurasia Dominique de Villepin shares a different view from many other western leaders on the quality of China’s economic growth. He insightfully recognized China’s transformation of growth in recent years and its efforts to expand the domestic market to attract more players and increase competition.
However, as a senior diplomat with full knowledge of the economic strategy promoted by the Chinese government, Dominique de Villepin also noticed that China has a strong vision in the international market. “The new Silk Road is a plan for the future,” he illustrated, “usually diplomacy is just a statement of position, but the new Silk Road is a practical project and a blueprint for both China and the rest of the world, including Russia, Asia and Europe. This initiative can shape the structure of future economic growth in these regions."
On the morning of 7 September 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping gave a speech in Kazakhstan Nazarbayev University, proposing to jointly build “the new Silk Road Economic Belt”. The ancient “Silk Road” once realized the trade between the West and the East, so that oriental silk and tea transported by camel caravans could reach Europe after traveling ten thousand kilometers across the Gobi desert. It took the trade caravan more than a year to arrive in Lyon, France and other European cities. Now “the new Silk Road Economic Belt” has a north route and a south route. They start in China, via central Asia, Caucasus, West Asia and Russia, and arrive in Europe. The road officially ends in France. According to preliminary estimates, countries along the “One Belt One Road” routes have a total population of 4.4 billion, and economic volume of 21 trillion U. S. dollars.
Former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has an in-depth understanding of the meaning of “the new Silk Road Economic Belt” to Eurasia. From his perspective, “the new Silk Road” can fully make use of the untapped growth potential of countries along the routes. Railways, ports and highways can not only improve their infrastructure and lay the foundation for economic growth in Russia, Central and West Asian countries, but also greatly shorten the time of land transportation between Europe and China, lowering the trade cost, and making future trade between the West and the East easier.
Economic growth brings about political stability. “Once there is development, there is stability. People will have a better feeling of their livelihood, and this is conducive to national and regional stability.” Dominique de Villepin began his career in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was assigned posts in the U. S., India and Africa, and assumed the post as the French Foreign Minister from 2002 to 2004. Due to the experiences gained from being a seasoned diplomat, he is well aware of the impact of economic growth on national stability.
Meanwhile, Dominique de Villepin also noticed the business opportunities that “One Belt One Road” brings to France. He said that “France’s development capability has now changed. In my point of view, we have high technology, service industry, small and medium-sized enterprises. These industry exchanges can cooperate with counterparts in other countries by drawing upon their individual strengths. Countries along the route such as Russia, Indonesia, Turkey and Iran should all welcome this wonderful opportunity. We should work earnestly together to make good use of the new situation.”
Jin Liqun will be the right person in the right position if elected as the president of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank
On 27 February 2015, Mr. de Villepin published an article entitled, "Engaging in the Construction of the New Silk Road" in the French newspaper Les Echos. In this article, he provided three reasons why France should participate in the “One Belt One Road” project. One of the reasons is that the construction of the route “is expected to become a template for a new form of multilateralism, and some new multilateral institutions will be established along with each individual project.” Participation in the “One Belt One Road” initiative and these “new multilateral institutions” is also consistent with the “independent diplomacy” long held by the French government.
The “new multilateral institutions” mentioned by Dominique de Villepin include the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), whose founding was led by China. Its statutory capital totals 100 billion US dollars, and is expected to reach 1 trillion U. S. dollars in the future. The AIIB will provide funding for the "One Belt One Road" initiative and France announced to join the AIIB after the UK's ascension in March 2015.
“I think the establishment of the AIIB is an epic achievement. The presidential candidate of the AIIB, Jin Liqun is an acquaintance of mine. I believe if he won the election, then we will have the right person in the right position. Currently, about 40 countries have expressed their willingness to join the AIIB, which is of great importance to its establishment, said Mr. de Villepin frankly. "Major powers in Europe such as France, Britain, Germany and Italy have joined the AIIB, and I believe more countries will follow, especially those who have not made their decisions, such as the US and Japan.
They are likely to join the AIIB in the near future, because the world is gradually recognizing the important role that the AIIB will play in the future and the necessity of carrying out close cooperation with these multilateral institutions."
Up till now, all major powers have joined the AIIB except for the US and Japan, leading to concerns about the marginalization of Japan among many Japanese politicians.
Looking forward to the founding of the AIIB, Dominique de Villepin said: “the situation we are facing now is that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund fail to resolve the existing economic problems. As a result, we undoubtedly need a new tool, a powerful new tool just like the AIIB. The establishment of 'the new Silk Road' and the AIIB will bring unlimited opportunities and potential to countries and regions in need of financial support. We can also see that, the major problem many developing countries are facing now is their lack of funding for building infrastructure, these measures will have a great impact on the development of developing countries and regions. I am convinced that 'the new Silk Road' and the AIIB will bring new opportunities and development to these countries."
The arrival of China’s capital will change Europe’s perspective on China
Dominique de Villepin is not only the former Prime Minister of France, but he also has another identity. He is an expert member of the Global Advisory Council of China Minsheng Investment Corp., Ltd. (CMIG). As the first leading private investment company with "China" in its name, CMIG was approved by the State Council in April 2014. With 50 billion yuan worth of resisted capital and 59 large private firms as its shareholders, CMIG is the most remarkable private investment institution in the market.
On January 30th, Dominique de Villepin was invited to join the Global Advisory Council of CMIG which is composed of domestic and overseas senior politicians, entrepreneurs and pundits. The Council will hold at least two meetings each year to offer ideas for CMIG’s global strategy.
Dominique de Villepin has worked in the international political circles for many years. He knows very well that it is important for enterprises with strength, capacity and strategy to participate in transnational projects, since these corporations have top-quality resources and most abundant capital. He believes that CMIG will play an important role in the “One Belt One Road” initiative. Its great force of integration can unite the best private companies in China, and harness their synergy to contribute to major projects.
“The integration of resources is of great importance, because more and more projects will be carried out in Central Asia, Turkey, Russia and Indonesia
in the future. CMIG has identified this opportunity and has laid solid foundations. I am positive about the investment in Indonesia. However, I believe we still need to be aware of the existing challenges and difficulties. As long as we can work together to find solutions to these problems, we will surely succeed,” said Dominique de Villepin.
On March 27th, CMIG reported that it will lead dozens of Chinese leading private companies in competitive industries to invest in the China-Indonesia industrial park in Indonesia. CMIG is now considering investment opportunities in Central Asia, such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. It will make industrial arrangements along “the new Silk Road Economic Belt.”
Dominique de Villepin is very proud that he could be part of the Council to help facilitate the “going global” of Chinese private capital and voice his input for CMIG's development and vision. He believes CMIG’s investment will serve as a bellwether to attract more enterprises to invest in major projects of “One Belt One Road.” As a result, relevant countries can enjoy economic growth and social stability.
In fact, the original intention of founding CMIG is to resolve China’s domestic excess production capacity, integrate industries with overcapacity through capital so as to promote the transformation and upgrading of China’s economy. After the proposal of “One Belt One Road”, China’s enormous production capacity can enjoy a large market, and Chinese capital more opportunities.
In addition to countries along the “One Belt One Road” such as Indonesia and Central Asian countries, Chinese companies will also make presence in European markets, the “end point.” Last June, CMIG signed an agreement in London. It promised to establish regional headquarters in Europe, and set up an investment fund worthy of 1. 5 billion US dollars for investments in financial service, science and technology, offshore engineering, green energy, etc.
Chinese enterprises have moved from selling cheap commodities to exporting capital. They not only managed to sell goods to Europe, but also are ready to take roots there.“European countries are increasingly aware of the influence of Chinese enterprises and economy. They have realized that today’s situation is different from any other time in history,” said Dominique de Villepin, “even though many Chinese companies are investing in Europe, CMIG is such a large investment group and a force to be reckoned with in the market. This is because it serves as an example of leading many Chinese private economies to go global. It has the ability to integrate resources to form a joint force. In addition, such integration is very beneficial to CMIG’s investment strategy and implementation of specific projects. Chinese private companies can demonstrate their strength, confidence and vision while they are going global, and make China’s economy more open and closer to the international level.
If we say that some European “conservatives” once exclaimed that “the Chinese took Europeans’ jobs,” then this is no longer the case. The large- scale investment in Europe made by CMIG, a giant Chinese private company, will not only create jobs in Europe, but also change some Europeans’ views on China.
“It is a strong signal indicating that European countries will truly change their views, and understand the important role that China and Chinese enterprises play in world economy. They are striving to make technological innovations and invest in new industries, fields and sectors.
The role China plays in world economy is undergoing important changes,” said Dominique de Villepin firmly.
Mr. De Villepin was Prime Minister of France from 2005 to 2007. He began his career as a diplomat, where he served in the Department for African Affairs and in the Embassies of Washington and New Delhi.
From 1995 to 2002 he was Chief of Staff to the President of the Republic, before becoming Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2002 to 2004 and Minister of the Interior from 2004 to 2005, before being appointed Prime Minister by President Jacques Chirac.
Born in Morocco in 1953, Mr. de Villepin holds a B.A. in Law, and graduated from the Paris Institute of Political Sciences and the Ecole Nationale d’Administration.