China: A Source of Certainty and Stability in a Changing World
– Keynote Remark at the Special Plenary Session: The 70th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China and Peace and Development in the World of the 9th Beijing Xiangshan Forum
Le Yucheng, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs
Beijing, 22 October 2019
I am delighted to attend the 9th Beijing Xiangshan Forum and discuss with you, friends old and new, the shifting global environment on the security front. On behalf of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, let me extend our warm congratulations on the successful opening of the Forum.
The Chinese people just celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. In the last seven decades, the Chinese people have, with hard work, wisdom, courage and even sacrifice, forged ahead in unison and made remarkable achievements. A review of world history suggests how formidable a task it has been for super big nations to develop and prosper. The last couple of centuries have seen the rise of big nations with populations on a scale of one million, ten million or up to 100 million. Yet, the world has yet to witness, and even find it hard to imagine, the modernization of a super big country with a population exceeding one billion. However, the Chinese people have made the unimaginable possible.
In a short span of several decades, China has completed an industrialization process that took western nations several centuries, and heralded a momentous shift from standing up, growing rich to becoming strong. China has become the world’s second largest economy, largest trader in goods, and second largest destination for foreign investment. And it is well on its way to become the largest consumer in goods.
Today, the Chinese people feel more fulfilled, happy and secure than ever before. The country has put in place the fundamentals of the world’s largest systems for education, social security, medical services and primary-level democracy. There is adequate food and clothing for the 1.4 billion people whose average life expectancy has risen from 35 years when the People’s Republic was just founded to the current 77 years. We have lifted over 800 million people out of poverty, contributing over 70 percent to the global poverty reduction. When the Chinese nation attains its century-old dream of moderate prosperity in all respects by 2020, absolute poverty will have been eliminated in the country for the first time in its history.
China has been rated on multiple occasions one of the safest places in the world in recent years. An Argentine hiker trekked for 15 months along the Great Wall in China from the Jiayuguan Pass in the west to the Shanhaiguan Pass in the east, covering over 4,000 kilometers. As he told the media, all this time throughout the journey, be it in cities or outlying wilderness, he, not even for once, found himself in danger. No robbery. No theft. And all the Chinese he met were nice, friendly, and happy. In his eyes, China was the most stable and safest country in the world. This first-hand experience of a foreigner says more than words. After 70 years of hard work, warfare, turmoil, hunger and refugees are nowhere to be seen in today’s China. What meets the eye across the vast expanse of the country is vigor, dynamism, and promise.
In the last seven decades, the Chinese people have found, through painstaking exploration and persistent experiments, a path of development that suits China’s national conditions. That is the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The Chinese believe that “among the thousand different paths in existence, what has worked for one is the one that matters.” The Chinese miracle is more than the renewal of a big, ancient country in the East. It is also, and more important, about the success of a new trail in quest of development. One may wonder where lies the strength of this path that has worked for China? The strength lies in its independence, taking control of one’s own destiny rather than copying others or living on handouts. The strength lies in the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) whereby the Party plays an overarching role to bring together the strongest possible resources of the whole nation. The strength lies in the philosophy of governing for the people and by the people which orients toward the people’s wish for a better life and relies on the people for big undertakings. The strength lies in the policy of reform and opening-up, enabling China to keep abreast of the times and progress with the rest of the world through openness and cooperation.