Upholding the Trend of Peace and Development of Our World with Unity, Cooperation, Openness and Inclusiveness
– Speech at the French Institute of International Relations
H.E. Wang Yi, State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China
Paris, 30 August 2020
Executive Chairman Thierry de Montbrial,
It is such a pleasure to come back to Europe. In the past six months, the world was swept up in an unexpected coronavirus epidemic. The disease has held up a mirror to a complex international scene where heartwarming acts of partnership and collaboration such as those between China and Europe are juxtaposed with the undertows of blame games, unilateralism and bullying.
Yet, what is even more alarming than the coronavirus is a political virus that is stoking hatred and confrontation. Politicizing and attaching a geographical label to the epidemic, and even stigmatizing a specific country will not solve one’s own problems. It will only erode international solidarity and cooperation.
Like Europe, China is one of the oldest and most respected civilizations in the world. As President Xi Jinping said, realizing national rejuvenation has been the greatest dream of the Chinese nation since modern times. Only nations that once achieved greatness could appreciate the meaning of rejuvenation. Only peoples that survived so many trials and tribulations would yearn for rejuvenation.
What China’s rejuvenation is about is achieving the prosperity of the country, revitalization of the nation and happiness of the people. It is about bringing the Chinese civilization back to the forefront of human progress and starting a new era of openness and integration with the world.
The assertion that China’s rejuvenation is to remake or conquer the world only reveals a lack of knowledge about Chinese history and the Chinese civilization.
Aggression never flows in the veins of the Chinese nation. For a long time in history, China was one of the world’s most powerful countries, yet it never sought expansion or global dominance.
Among the traditional tenets of the Chinese civilization are phrases such as the “paramount importance of peace”, “seeking harmony without uniformity”, “fostering amity with one’s neighbors” and “promoting harmony among all nations”, to name a few.
Commitment to peace and harmony is deeply rooted in the mindset of the Chinese. It has also been the cultural inspiration behind China’s active pursuit of a community with a shared future for mankind.
The Chinese civilization has a proud history stretching uninterrupted for several millennia, a rare achievement among the mega civilizations in the world. Today’s China has creatively adapted its ancient civilization to seek new progress. Led by the Communist Party of China (CPC), the Chinese people have forged ahead against all odds, and embarked on a successful path of development leading toward national rejuvenation. It is the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
Following this path, China has achieved leapfrog development and seen continued rise of its comprehensive national strength. Once an impoverished country, China has grown into the world’s second largest economy
Once a shortage economy, China has developed into a manufacturing giant, the only one equipped with a complete range of industries.
Once a semi-colonial country subjected to repeated aggression, China has emerged as a major country with a permanent seat at the UN Security Council.
Following this path, we the Chinese people have mastered our own fate and enjoyed a better life. In the past seven decades, more than 850 million Chinese people were lifted out of poverty; average life expectancy more than doubled from 35 to 77 years; the nearly 1.4 billion Chinese people have made a historic leap from destitution to subsistence and to a life of moderate prosperity. A report by Boston Consulting Group on citizen welfare found that China jumped 25 spots in the last decade, the most impressive advance among the 152 countries polled globally.
Under the leadership of the CPC, the Chinese people are on course to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and win a decisive victory against poverty this year. This means that China will eliminate absolute poverty for the first time in its history and meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals on poverty ten years ahead of schedule.
China owes its development achievements, first and foremost, to the hard work, wisdom and courage of the Chinese people. It has also benefited from a peaceful and amicable international environment and win-win cooperation with the rest of the world. At the same time, China’s development has not only benefited its own people, but also the whole world.
China has all along been a promoter of world peace, injecting positive energy into the evolving international architecture. Soon after the founding of the People’s Republic, China adopted an independent foreign policy of peace. We incorporated “to safeguard world peace” into our first constitution, making China the first country in the world to make such a weighty commitment.
Over the past seven decades, China has never provoked a war or conflict, and has never occupied an inch of others’ land.
Today, China is the second largest contributor to the UN regular budget and the peacekeeping budget, and has sent more peacekeepers to UN missions than any other permanent member of the Security Council. We are involved in the settlement of all the major international and regional hotspot issues.
China has all along been a defender of the international order, bringing stability to the global governance system. China has joined almost all the universal inter-governmental organizations and acceded to more than 500 international conventions. We have taken an active part in the reform and development of the global governance system. We have resolutely upheld the international system centered around the United Nations, the international order based on international law, and the multilateral trading regime represented by the WTO.
China has all along been a facilitator of globalization, making major contributions to building an open world. Today, China is one of the most open economies in the world. As of 2019, overall tariffs were brought down to less than 7.5 percent, lower than most countries in the world.
We have kept expanding market access. For two years running, China has been among the major economies that have made the biggest improvement in their business environment. We are the number one trading partner for 130-plus countries and regions and one of the most important markets for multinational companies.
In view of the new developments in globalization seven years ago, President Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for international cooperation. Since then, we have signed cooperation documents with 138 countries. Trade in goods with partner countries has exceeded US$7.8 trillion, and direct investment surpassed US$110 billion, providing a strong boost to local employment and social and economic development.
In the first half of this year, China’s investment in BRI countries increased by 19.4 percent. China-Europe railway express, dubbed as “steel camel fleets”, ran 5,122 cargo trips, up by 36 percent year on year. Bringing hope wherever it goes, the railway express has played an important role in maintaining smooth logistics and stable supplies between China, Europe and other BRI partners under the COVID-19 situation.
China has all along been a contributor to world development, providing sustained driving force for global growth. In the past four decades since reform and opening-up, China has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world, contributing over 30 percent to global growth for the past ten-plus years and over 70 percent to global poverty reduction. In both the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the 2008 global financial crisis, China weathered the storms with its well-calibrated policies and solid economic fundamentals and served as a major engine driving regional and global economic recovery.
Over the past few months, in the face of the pandemic, China launched a global campaign of emergency humanitarian assistance at a scale unseen in the history of the People’s Republic. China has provided timely medical supplies assistance to over 150 countries and international organizations in response to their needs. We have organized thematic video conferences between Chinese health experts and their counterparts in more than 180 countries. We have sent 33 medical teams to 31 countries badly in need.
These telling facts and figures all serve to show that the development path chosen by the Chinese people meets the aspirations of the 1.4 billion Chinese people and conforms with the trend of peace and development of our times. It is a path that serves the interests of not only China but also the entire world. Since it has been proven right, we have every reason to keep following this path.