Dinner meeting with Chinese businesspeople
Date: September 18, 2014 Venue: Yeong Bin Kwan at Shilla Hotel
Da jia hao (Greetings, everyone)! I am Park Won-soon, the Mayor of Seoul. It is my honor to be here at this meaningful meeting to discuss mutual exchanges and cooperative measures between the Seoul Metropolitan Government and Chinese businesses. I would like to express my gratitude to the Chinese Ambassador Qiu Guohong, the Chief Representative of China Chamber of International Commerce & China Council for the Promotion of International Representative Office in Korea Du Zetian, as well as representatives and members for holding this great event.
Recently, exchanges between Korea and China in almost all areas, including economy, diplomacy, culture, and tourism have seen sharp increases. This year alone, the number of Chinese visitors to Korea increased by around 46% compared to the same period last year, and last July the number of Chinese tourists surpassed half of all foreign tourists for the first time in history. It is expected that this year alone the number of Chinese tourists will be more than 6 million.
This upbeat news has been seen not only in the tourist industry but also in the economy. Recently, many Chinese businesses have chosen Korea as an appealing investment destination, and in the first half of this year China’s investment spending into Korea increased by as much as 670% compared to the same period last year.
I have been thinking about the cause behind this. Have you ever heard about ‘My love From The Star,’ a Korean TV drama that became a big hit in China some time ago? I was a huge fan. In a way, I am also from a star because the word ‘star’ is pronounced as ‘Byeol’ in Korean and Seoul Special City is translated into Seoul Teuk ‘Byeol’ Si in Korean.
I think the unexpected popularity of ‘My Love From the Star’ among Chinese people is a testimony to the sharp increase in exchanges between Korea and China. A bond of sympathy may be the key to that popularity. Koreans and Chinese people have similar feelings, laughing and crying together when they watch the same TV dramas. Such a bond of sympathy and familiarity seems to tighten the long lasting ties between Korea and China. Earlier in this meeting, the Seoul Metropolitan Government had a meeting with Chinese students. I realized something important at that meeting. These Chinese students will play an important role in increased exchanges between our nations in the future. However, opportunities for exchange are unfortunately rare. Therefore, I will hold more meetings to communicate with Chinese residents in Seoul and expand more exchanges between Korea and China. At the same time, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will spare no effort to advance the city of Seoul as a more creative and innovative place in order for it to become a more attractive investment destination for promoting and activating more exchanges between our nations.
Anyone can start a businesses and succeed, regardless of nationality. The Seoul Metropolitan Government will improve the city’s competitiveness and lay the foundation through discussions among businesses, which will serve as a bridge for a large number of innovators to go further into the global market. At the same time, it will also make it possible for the city of Seoul to have a self-sustaining economy by nurturing specified industries located in several areas of Seoul, such as the Seongsu Shoemaker District and the Jongno Jewelry Shopping Street, developing clusters under the Hongneung Smart Aging Cluster plan, and also enhancing the city of Seoul as a world class MICE city and dynamic economic powerhouse by constructing International businesses districts for exchanges in the Yeongdong areas.
China is an important cooperative ally to Korea and the city of Seoul. Last July, Korean and Chinese leaders agreed to make all efforts to finalize and sign the FTA between our nations by the end of this year. Chinese president Xi Jinping and around 100 Chinese businesspeople showed their strong interest in making investments in Korea. In addition, both nations have reached an agreement on strengthening cooperation in various fields, including opening the Won-Yuan Direct Trading Market for establishing a financial infrastructure between our nations. Under these circumstances, if the Seoul Metropolitan Government and Chinese businesses strengthen their mutual exchanges and cooperation to build a cooperative partnership through a strategic association, forming a Korean-Chinese Community to lead the future of Seoul will not be a difficult task at all.
To this end, I hope that Korea and China together will grow into the economic hub of East Asia by forming a foundation of cooperation and trust with the Chinese businesspeople who are with us today. With such a dream, I will ask for and pay attention to your various opinions, which are required to forge a path where the Seoul Metropolitan Government and Chinese businesses can work towards the development of cooperation. From the point of view of a Chinese businessperson interested in Seoul, I would like you to give your valuable opinions on what further actions the city of Seoul should take in order to attract Chinese investment and tourists.
As in the saying from Shuōyun (a Chinese didactic myth), ‘If soil accumulates, it becomes a mountain,’ I am certain that our first step today toward mutual cooperation will be a stepping-stone towards a great future hope. My continuous endeavors will allow today’s meeting to pave the way for a series of meetings to expand a roundtable as well.
I will try my best to allow today’s meeting to give way to more roundtable talks with Chinese businesses. Once again, as Chinese business leaders, I would like you to give us your wisdom and insights, which will help the Seoul Metropolitan Government decide where to go and which strategies will be used for attracting Chinese investment, as well as help us decide which options to implement.
I will close my remarks by asking for your continuous interest in Seoul and advice on cooperation between the Seoul Metropolitan Government and Chinese businesses. Xie Xie (Thank you). Qing gei women bao guiyijian (I ask for your good advice).