This is the transcript of Professor Klaus Schwab’s address at the Opening Plenary of the Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2014.

A cordial welcome to all of you – and particularly to Your Excellency Li Keqiang, premier of the People’s Republic of China.

For me, to stand here is always a very special moment. It has now been 35 years since the first time I came to China. And during all these years, the World Economic Forum has developed a very special relationship, partnership and friendship with this great country and its people – thank you.

The world has changed so much over the past 35 years, and China’s leadership has consistently shown the vision, the determination and the innovation required to master the challenges it has faced. As a great economic and political power, China has a significant influence in changing the world of today, and will continue to have a tremendous role in strengthening our collective global future.

To capitalize on the great opportunities the future provides, and to respond to the economic and social challenges we face today, courageous and comprehensive reforms are needed. These require the collaborative efforts of governments, businesses and other actors in society to be truly successful.

This is the reason we are all gathered here in Tianjin, at the eighth Annual Meeting of the New Champions. Eight is a particularly lucky number in China – and we are fortunate to be able to welcome the largest number of participants ever (more than 2,000, including the media), representing over 90 countries and all stakeholders of society.

Mr. Premier, in your opening speech last year you said, and I quote: “China will continue to encourage foreign companies to make investments and do business in China.” Looking at all of you gathered in this room, I can only say: Mr Premier, you have been heard! With more than 1,000 participants from outside China, this highlights the world’s confidence in China and its continued attractiveness for foreign business.

We have chosen the theme of this meeting to be “Creating value through innovation”. The innovation capacity and entrepreneurial spirit assembled in this room is unlike that of any other gathering in the world.

Mr. Premier, last year in your opening speech you quoted another ancient Chinese saying: “A gentleman is always ready to help others attain their goals.” To me, this means we are here as members of a community committed truly to improving the state of China, and the world.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming Li Keqiang, premier of the People’s Republic of China.

Author: Professor Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum

Image: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L) speaks next to Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF), during the World  Tianjin September 9, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon