Work Together to Build Partnerships and Pursue Peace and Development
– Speech by Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Luncheon of the China Development Forum
Wang Yi, Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China
Beijing, 20 March 2017
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good afternoon. I am very glad to be here again at the China Development Forum.
In 2015, I was invited to speak at this Forum. My message was that, in an unstable world of “disorder”, China was willing to work together with all other countries to build a new type of international relations and find a new path of win-win cooperation. To realize that goal, China was willing to pursue dialogue and partnership rather than confrontation and alliance and develop equal-footed, open and cooperative partnerships with all countries.
Two years have passed, yet the world has still not got out of the state of “disorder”. World economy remains in the doldrums, regional turbulences intensify and protectionism and isolationism rise against globalization. Facing such chaos, the international community has turned its eye to China, hoping for a bigger role from China for world stability and development. Some even expect China to play some kind of leadership role in international system and global governance.
As the world’s second biggest economy and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China is willing to fulfill its due international responsibilities. China has made efforts and is becoming an anchor of world stability, an engine of global growth, a champion of peace and development and a new impetus for global governance. Yet, China never has the intention to lead the world. A globalized world, where countries are more closely inter-connected than ever before, needs not a single-handed hero but partners of cooperation who stick together in times of difficulty. This is why China has put forward the idea of building partnerships as the new direction for state-to-state relations, a proposal welcomed by most countries.
In recent years, under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as its core, China has made active efforts to expand and deepen its partnerships with other countries. Our “circle of friends” has been growing ever bigger. By the end of last year, China has set up partnerships with 97 countries and international organizations, which include big countries, neighboring countries as well as developing countries. Partnership has become an important feature and a highlight of China’s foreign policy.
China’s pursuit of a new type of partnership is deeply rooted in its history and culture. It is also a pioneering effort in line with the trend of the times.
In Chinese culture, unity means strength, while isolation means weakness. We believe an able fellow still needs the support of others and more hands make light work. These are the cultural origins of China’s pursuit of partnership.
Since the founding of New China, we have been committed to a foreign policy of peace and we have developed friendly relations and cooperation with all countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. These are the historical traditions of China’s pursuit of partnership.
We now live in a world with a degree of interdependence unseen before where peace, development and win-win cooperation form an irresistible trend of the times. Old thinking such as the balance of power, zero-sum games are hard to keep up. What we need is a new way for state-to-state interaction. This is the current background of China’s pursuit of partnership.
Different from conventional theories of international relations, the partnership China advocates has the following distinctive features.
First, pursue peace and cooperation. In the age of globalization, the strength of any individual country is limited. Only through cooperation can countries effectively handle the ever-increasing regional dangers and global challenges. The type of partnership which China proposes does not target an imagined enemy or any third party. It advocates a win-win approach instead of a zero-sum game approach to state-to-state relations, and stresses the importance of seeking common interests. This is a positive proposal that will encourage dialogue and cooperation in international community and prevent confrontation and conflict.
Second, treat each other as equals. Countries may differ in size, strength and wealth, but all are equal members of the international community. China advocates a partnership which follows the principle of equality of nations, respects all countries’ sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and respects each other’s core interests and major concerns. Such a partnership values people’s independent choice of social systems and development path of their countries and rejects power politics whereby the big, strong and rich bully the small, weak and poor. This will inject a new driving force for more democracy in international relations and rule of law.
Third, advocate openness and inclusiveness. The ocean is vast, as it admits all rivers. The partnership that China proposes conforms to the global trend of interdependence and the shared aspiration of all countries for friendly relations with others. It aims to draw on each other’s strengths through exchanges and mutual learning, seeks common progress despite differences and prevents isolation and exclusion created by small group politics. Countries with different social systems and ideologies can as well form partnerships based on shared interests and goals and create common instead of exclusive circles of friends.
Fourth, highlight benefits for all. In the world today, the winner-takes-all approach and seeking self-interests to the neglect of others is both obsolete and counterproductive. Those who want absolute security will only find themselves less secure. Those who only care about their own development will eventually run out of steam and lose space of progress. The partnership that China strives for aims to make the pie of common interests bigger through cooperation, so that more fruits of success and common development and prosperity can be shared.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Early this year, in his speech at the UN office in Geneva, President Xi Jinping said that China remains unchanged in its commitment to foster partnerships and will build a circle of friends across the world. We will do what President Xi announced, further enrich, upgrade and expand existing partnerships and build a closer network of global partnerships.
We will actively build partnerships with major countries to jointly promote world peace and development. Major countries have more resources and greater capabilities, therefore play a more vital and important role in the cause of world peace and development. History shows that the world is peaceful and prosperous only when major countries live in harmony and work in partnerships. China is ready to strengthen strategic communication with major partners like the United States, Russia and the EU, deepen cooperation in all fields, promote sustained, stable and healthy development of relations with them, play a bigger role in upholding global peace and security and contribute more to development and progress of humankind.
As one of the most consequential bilateral relationships in the world, China-US relationship is always closely watched by the international community. In recent years, some people have been worried that China and the United States could fall into a “Thucydides Trap” which refers to potential conflicts between an established power and a rising power. Lately, there is another worry, i.e. the “Kindleberger Trap”. It says if the emerging power fails or refuses to shoulder due international obligation, the global system could plunge into greater chaos.
First of all, let me say this: historical comparison shouldn’t be so simplistic. Today, the future prospects of different countries are closely intertwined. As the interests of rising powers and established ones deeply converge, there will be no winner should a conflict break out between them. Moreover, in such a complex and multi-faceted world, no country can single-handedly provide all global public goods. The only right choice is international cooperation and the only right way is improved global governance.
I want to stress that China is confident in avoiding a repetition of past lessons by increasing dialogue and coordination with the United States.
Our confidence comes from the history of China-US relations. This year marks the 45th anniversary of the signing of the Shanghai Communiqué and the resumption of exchanges between China and the United States. The past 45 years shows that despite ups and downs, this relationship has generally maintained the momentum of continuous progress, and this has become a trend that cannot be reversed.
Our confidence comes from the concrete results of China-US cooperation. China and the United States are each other’s largest trading partner. Our trade volume is over 210 times as large as 38 years ago at the inception of the diplomatic ties. Mutual investment, which was virtually zero back then, topped US$170 billion last year. People-to-people exchange which was non-existent, now sees nearly five million visits a year. China-US cooperation has benefited people of both countries. According to US statistics, China is one of the US’ fastest-growing export markets. From 2001 to 2015, US exports of goods to China grew by 500% in accumulative terms, five times faster than the growth of its exports to other parts of the world. In 2015, trade and investment between the two countries created 2.6 million jobs for the United States. In the same year, Chinese tourists made 2.59 million visits to the United States, generating for it US$30 billion of tourism revenue. As the facts show, there is great complementarity and potential for China and the United States to work together. As long as both sides stay open, cooperation between the two will continue to deepen not just in traditional fields, but produce more results in fields like trade in services, finance, agriculture and hi-tech.
Our confidence also comes from the clear message sent by the two leaders. Last month, President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump had an important telephone conversation. President Trump reaffirmed the US government’s commitment to the one-China policy. Both sides expressed their belief that the two countries have every reason to become good partners for cooperation. The positive message from the two presidents has opened up broad prospects for the two countries to work together bilaterally, in the region and at the global level. Two days ago, Secretary Tillerson made his first visit to China. He met with President Xi, exchanged views with State Councilor Yang Jiechi, and held a candid, friendly and in-depth talk with me. The two sides reached explicit consensus on ensuring sound growth of China-US relations from a new starting point based on non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. Secretary Tillerson noted that since the historic opening of relations between our two countries nearly 50 years ago, major progress has been made on all fronts and both countries have experienced important changes in the meantime. Now the two countries need to develop a common understanding that will guide our relationship and cooperation for the next half-century. The statement by the US side is highly encouraging. China always views its ties with the United States from a long-term perspective and stands ready to advance this relationship from a strategic level. When important things are addressed first, secondary issues will not be difficult to settle. When you ascend to the top of Mountain Tai, you will find other mountains much less challenging. As the largest developing country and the largest developed country, China and the United States need to bear in mind both the past and the future when steering and planning their bilateral relations.
The China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination is a strategic choice made by our two countries after reviewing historical experience and lessons. Having weathered various changes in the international landscape, this partnership does not shift or waver easily. More importantly, it increasingly serves as an important cornerstone for global strategic stability. This year, President Putin will visit China twice and President Xi Jinping will pay a visit to Russia. The two sides are ready to build an all-round, high-level and robust relationship and make greater contribution to world peace and development. An improved Russia-US relationship would be a good thing that would enhance overall peace and stability in the world. Relations between China, the United States and Russia in the new era are not a zero-sum game. Through constructive interactions, the three countries are able to help each other succeed, share the responsibilities of our times and work together for peace and development.
China values, as always, the strategic position and role of Europe, supports European integration and hopes that the upcoming UK-EU negotiations will produce a win-win agreement. The EU member states are conducting meaningful discussions on the next steps for Europe and the future of the EU. As people often say, “After the storm comes the rainbow.” We are confident that the EU will emerge more united, stronger and more dynamic from the test. China is ready to step up coordination and cooperation with Europe in promoting a multi-polar world and upholding multilateralism, and work together to enrich the substance of our partnerships for peace, growth, reform and civilization.
We will deepen partnerships with neighboring countries to promote overall prosperity and revitalization of Asia. As a Chinese saying goes, “A distant relative may not be as helpful as a close neighbor. “We will continue to build friendship and partnership with our neighbors, foster an amicable, secure and prosperous neighborhood, and uphold the principle of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness. We are committed to working with neighboring countries as a reliable partner to keep Asia on a positive trajectory, advance regional cooperation and integration and build a balanced, stable, open and inclusive regional security framework, thus enabling Asia to play a bigger role on the world stage.
China has all along seen ASEAN as a high priority in its neighborhood diplomacy. We firmly support ASEAN community building, its centrality in regional cooperation and the commemoration of its 50th anniversary. We stand ready to work with ASEAN for a closer China-ASEAN community of shared future. This year also marks the 25th anniversary of China’s diplomatic ties with central Asian countries. We support their efforts to follow a development path compatible with their national conditions and to uphold their independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. We will build a circle of close partnership with central Asia and set good examples of a new type of state-to-state relations. We will continue to expand trade and investment with south Asian countries, enhance people-to-people exchanges, build platforms for mutually beneficial cooperation and contribute our share to the development of south Asia.
China is a strong advocate of and contributor to regional cooperation and supports the Asian Way of mutual respect, consensus building and accommodating each other’s comfort level in advancing regional cooperation. We stand ready to work with the parties to follow through on the outcomes of the upgraded China-ASEAN FTA as soon as possible and bring ASEAN Plus Three cooperation to a higher level. We are willing to help China-Japan-ROK cooperation to overcome obstacles, build consensus and move toward the goal of realizing an East Asia economic community by 2020. We will take solid steps to advance the result-oriented and efficient Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) and build an LMC corridor and an LMC community of shared future at a speed that produces progress every day and outcomes every month. We hope to accelerate the negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and strive to conclude the negotiations by the end of the year to demonstrate the region’s resolve in promoting trade liberalization. We will encourage the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the East Asia Summit, the ASEAN Regional Forum and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia to make fresh contributions to regional peace and development.
We are firmly committed to seeking the political settlement of regional issues and will play a constructive role in bridging differences and promoting peace talks. Recently, tensions have risen again on the Korean Peninsula, putting the situation at yet another crossroads. We now face two scenarios: one is to let confrontation escalate and eventually lead to conflict or even war; the other is where the parties calm down and bring the Korean nuclear issue back to the track of political and diplomatic settlement. It is not difficult to make a wise choice as to which scenario is better and more feasible. Every chance for dialogue should be seized. We should not give up on peace, as long as there is a glimpse of hope.
China is a close neighbor of the Korean Peninsula and a responsible country in the region. A nuclear-free Peninsula has long been China’s overriding goal, and we have worked unremittingly for the peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue. China was there at the launch of the Three-Party Talks, which later evolved to Six-Party Talks, to enable contact between the DPRK and the United States. China was there when the 19 September 2005 Joint Statement was concluded, providing the roadmap for the settlement of the Korean nuclear issue. And China has been there working out Security Council resolutions to deter the nuclear and missile programs, and talking with the parties to grasp even the slightest chance of restarting the negotiation. Our role has been indispensable and our contribution undeniable. Responding to the new situation prevailing on the Peninsula now and taking into account the concerns of all parties, we once again put forward a proposal, namely the dual-track approach to seek parallel and coordinated progress of denuclearization and the establishment of a peace mechanism, and the suspension-for-suspension idea as a first step of the dual-track approach, under which the US and the ROK halt their large-scale joint military exercises and the DPRK suspends its nuclear and missile programs. With this proposal, we hope to find a way to restart the talks and harvest the “low-hanging fruits”. This is a sensible, realistic, fair and reasonable proposal, one which is in full compliance with the purposes of Security Council resolutions to both implement tough sanctions and call for a peaceful settlement. According to a Chinese poem, “Despite the difficulties posed by mountains and rivers, there is a way to the next village shaded in soft willows and bright flowers.” I believe when we change the mindset and be more creative, flexible and pragmatic, we can find a way out of the dangerous situation and turn the challenge into an opportunity.
As for the differences with some of our neighbors created by history, we are ready to address them properly through dialogue and negotiation in the spirit of good-neighborliness. Last year, foreign ministers of ASEAN member states and China issued the Joint Statement on the Full and Effective Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), at the core of which is the agreement that disputes over the Nansha islands and reefs should be peacefully addressed through dialogue and negotiation by the parties directly concerned and that stability in the South China Sea should be maintained by China and ASEAN countries together. Thanks to the joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries, consultations on the “code of conduct in the South China Sea” are making new progress. China is ready to work with ASEAN countries to develop, by consensus, binding regional rules on the basis of the DOC, thereby demonstrating that we in this region are fully capable of managing our differences and safeguarding regional stability. Every unbiased observer can see that tension in the South China Sea has cooled down significantly. It is important to cherish this hard-won result and not allow ill-intentioned forces to stir up trouble again.
We will enhance partnership with other developing countries to support each other for common development and progress. The developing world is the foundation of China’s diplomacy as well as a sincere partner in pursuing peaceful development. We will vigorously deepen mutually beneficial cooperation with other developing countries following President Xi Jinping’s enlightened view on moral principles, and friendship on the one hand and practical interests on the other, which prioritizes the former over the latter. China will, as always, remain committed to non-interference, attach no political conditions, never impose its views on others, abide by local laws and regulations, respect local customs, and pursue green, shared and sustainable cooperation, so that the future and destinies of China and fellow developing countries will be more closely connected.
China will continue to implement the ten cooperation plans proposed by President Xi Jinping during the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit, support African countries’ efforts of accelerating industrialization and agricultural modernization, and participate more actively in Africa’s peace and security programs. 2017 will be a year of harvest for implementing FOCAC Summit outcomes, which will be beneficial to Africa’s overall stability, development and rejuvenation. We will integrate China’s westward opening-up with Arab countries’ eastward development, leverage our complementarities in industries and resources, focus on industrialization cooperation and dialogue between civilizations to write a new chapter in China-Arab traditional friendship. We will firmly support countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to explore development paths suited to their national conditions to help them draw strength from unity and achieve better development and rejuvenation.
China’s cooperation with the rest of the developing world has entered a new phase featuring improved quality and upgraded modality, with new opportunities ahead for win-win cooperation. We encourage the shift from government-led cooperation to market-based cooperation, from trade in goods to industrial capacity cooperation, and from project contracting to capital investment and operation, so that our cooperation will leverage our complementarity, boost common development, and help other developing countries build up capacity for home-grown development.
China remains a member of the developing world. We will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with other developing countries and resolutely safeguard our common interests. In September this year, China will host the ninth BRICS Summit in Xiamen. We have extended invitations to leaders of various emerging economies and developing countries representing their regions and leaders of some international organizations as well as BRICS leaders for a dialogue between emerging markets and developing countries. The Xiamen Summit is an opportunity to draw the cooperation blueprint for the second decade of BRICS, enhance the quality of BRICS cooperation, build a global platform of South-South cooperation and further increase the voice of emerging markets and developing countries in global governance.
We will keep deepening the partnerships with countries along the Belt and Road and others for common development. The Belt and Road Initiative put forward by President Xi Jinping is the most important public good that China has provided to the world and an important effort by China to build partnerships. Following the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, the Initiative encourages partner countries and others to combine comparative advantages, narrow development gaps, accelerate regional integration and achieve common development and prosperity by promoting the connectivity of policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people.
The Initiative was put forward by China, but its benefits will flow across the world. Over the past three years and more, the Belt and Road has seen an ever-expanding “circle of friends”, with over 100 countries and international organizations giving active response and support, and over 40 countries and international organizations signing cooperation agreements with China. With their support and participation, the Initiative is well underway with a large number of “early harvest” outcomes. Chinese enterprises have established 56 economic cooperation zones in over 20 countries along the Belt and Road with an accumulated investment of over US$18.5 billion. The positive impact and prospect of the Initiative is a big plus for all countries as it creates a more enabling environment for their development.
In May this year, China will hold the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, where we will work with the participants to plan our cooperation, revive the splendor of the Silk Road and share enduring prosperity. Together with the relevant countries and international organizations, we will further consolidate cooperation consensus, set out cooperation measures, enhance strategic complementarity, link China’s economic transformation and upgrading with the industrialization, modernization and infrastructure development of other countries, and open up new space for and lend new impetus to the development of all. We will promote cooperation on production capacity and equipment manufacturing with other countries, improve cross-border connectivity, enhance trade and investment cooperation and create new opportunities for global growth. By pooling our ideas and resources, we will explore the establishment of a long-term cooperation mechanism, a win-win cooperation network and a new cooperation model, thus drawing a blueprint for the continued progress of the Initiative.
At present, globalization is encountering headwinds from rising protectionism, isolationism and populism, putting the global governance system at a historical juncture of adjustment and transformation. China, firmly upholding multilateralism with the United Nations at the core and the global free trading system, is fully committed to working with other countries to rebalance economic globalization and make the global governance system more just and equitable. With the entry into force of the Paris Agreement, we will continue to take concrete steps to work with the international community to shift toward a green, low-carbon global development model, and build a better homeland for humankind. China will continue to take an active part in UN peacekeeping missions, carry out counter-terrorism cooperation and work for an international cyberspace featuring peace, security, openness and cooperation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As President Xi Jinping has pointed out with great insight, countries, with or without agreement, could all be partners. China will continue to improve partnerships with countries world-wide with a more open and inclusive approach and, on this basis, make unremitting efforts to accelerate the building of a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation and ultimately achieve the long-term goal of building a community of shared future for humankind. China is taking a journey that is in keeping with the call of the times and the course of human progress. We are convinced that, as time passes, China’s thinking and vision will find resonance with more and more countries, and they will all join us in this journey forward. Thank you!