Remarks at the Second Paris Peace Forum
H. E. Wang Qishan, Vice President of the People’s Republic of China
Paris, 12 November 2019
President Emmanuel Macron,
It gives me great pleasure to attend the second Paris Peace Forum.
Peace is the common aspiration of mankind. Having suffered from the scourge of World War II, the international community established an international order anchored on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. It has ensured 70-plus years of world-wide peace, remarkable economic, social, scientific and technological progress, and unprecedented improvement in people’s life. However, with growing uncertainties and destabilizing factors in the world, humanity has once again come to a crossroads. How does China see the problems we face? What is China’s response? This is a matter of interest to many in the world.
Stories are factual accounts of what happened in history, and logic is abstracted from history. Yet stories are a more powerful presentation of history than logic. We in China just celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic. So let me walk you through the journey we have traversed in the past, and share with you some of the notable episodes. Hopefully it will be helpful for your further understanding of China.
The Chinese nation had its glorious moments during the long agrarian era. However, due to self-isolation and closed-door policies, the country slumped into a tragic semi-feudal and semi-colonial society in the modern period. Our forefathers had searched high and low for the path to national independence and liberation for over a century since the Opium War in 1840.
The founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 enabled the Chinese people to stand up, and greatly boosted their self-confidence. Yet New China was poor and weak in its nascent years. Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, the Chinese people engaged in an arduous struggle, made huge sacrifices, and scored remarkable achievements in national development.
In 1978, China adopted the reform and opening-up policy. When we first opened up to the world, everything looked new, exciting and promising. We saw the gap between China and developed countries in the West. Some of us even went as far as to wonder “if the moon in the West is indeed fuller than that in China”.
Forty years on, we have focused all our energy on development and pursued reform and opening-up with firm determination. We have embarked on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics that suits us well, a path that goes along with the trend of history. From not knowing how the world looked like to seeing the world with their own eyes and to enjoying practically everything the world has to offer, the Chinese people now lead a much better life. Both the country and the people have taken on a new look.
For all this to happen, keeping our own house in order is the basic condition. We have lifted over 800 million people out of poverty mainly through our own efforts, and we are endeavoring to eliminate poverty in the rural areas by 2020. We are pushing forward supply-side structural reform, with the aim of achieving greater balance in the speed, quality, structure and efficiency of development. We are improving education, employment, social security, health care, housing and other public services to give our people a greater sense of fulfillment, happiness and security. Guided by the philosophy of “green is gold”, we are vigorously promoting ecological progress, and working with all countries to preserve planet Earth, our common homeland.
That said, we are sober-minded that China is still a developing country. The process from consolidating the gains of prosperity to truly building China into a strong country will be long and arduous. The Chinese people will be cool-headed about achievements and opportunities, and maintain composure in dealing with risks and challenges. We will uphold and improve the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, promote the modernization of China’s governance system and capacity, and make relentless efforts to pursue the Chinese dream of great national renewal.
For a person, a nation or a country, the path they choose is always inspired by their history and culture. We in China cherish peace and stability more than anything else, because we ourselves had endured the ravages of wars and conflicts. We adhere to the independent foreign policy of peace, and respect the right of all peoples to choose their own development paths, because we ourselves had suffered the misery of humiliation. We pursue a win-win strategy of opening-up, and advocate the building of an open world economy that is more innovation-driven and inclusive, because we, like others in the world, have enjoyed the benefits of economic globalization. China is a champion of world peace, a contributor to global development, and a defender of the international order.
By embracing economic globalization, China has achieved faster development and contributed to the progress of the world. Market economy is driven by the demands of willing consumers. China has a big market of 1.4 billion people and the largest middle-income population in the world. The deepening of reform and opening-up will unleash still greater potential of the Chinese market.
The world today is like a vast ocean in which all countries are interconnected. We all share a promising future and face the same challenges - lack of drive for global growth, serious imbalance and inadequacy in development, flare-ups of regional hot-spots, spread of terrorism, technology security, public health, climate change, environmental degradation and other threats. No one can stay unscathed or deal with these challenges on their own. Shifting troubles to others is not the right way forward. Collective response is the only viable solution.
China is a responsible major country. We are ready to work with all other countries to foster a community with a shared future for mankind, and build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity. China advocates the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits in global governance. We champion a new type of international relations based on mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation. We uphold the international system with the UN at its core. We call for the building of an open world economy based on innovation and inclusiveness. And we stand committed to taking part in international cooperation on climate change based on principles such as common but differentiated responsibilities. Through concrete actions, such as promoting Belt and Road cooperation, hosting the China International Import Expo, reducing the items on the negative list for foreign investment and improving the business environment, China is sharing with the world the vast opportunities of its development.
Economic globalization is a historical trend. Only when seeing the direction clearly can we make a rational and informed choice. The evolution of history is never a linear course. The spread of unilateralism, protectionism and populism and the tendency of replacing rational thinking and actions with the outbursts of emotions are not helpful in resolving problems.
We believe that the more difficulties we face, the more imperative it is for us to stay focused and patient, take concerted and vigorous actions, and let the sensible approach prevail.
We are hopeful that countries could work together to reduce peace deficit by expanding converging interests, reinforce the safeguards for peace by upholding multilateralism, overcome the challenges to peace by enhancing equal-footed consultation, and strengthen the bond of peace by encouraging dialogue among civilizations.
We are confident that with the common efforts of all the peace-loving peoples, we will be able to build a world free of war and poverty, a world with security and prosperity shared by all.
To conclude, I wish the Forum a complete success.