The Only Viable Choice for the International Community: Strengthening Solidarity and Cooperation, Rejecting Confrontation and Division
– Keynote Speech by H.E. Wang Yi, State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs, at the Opening Ceremony of the Lanting Forum on International Order and Global Governance in the Post-COVID-19 Era
Beijing, 28 September 2020
Good evening. It is a pleasure to join you all, friends old and new, for the Lanting Forum.
This forum is both important and timely. As we speak, our world is at another historic moment since World War II. The reality is: the coronavirus keeps raging on, putting humanity through a public health crisis with far-reaching implications; unilateral and bullying practices are rampant, presenting unprecedented challenges to the international order; and protectionism is on the rise, with the world economy on the cusp of the worst recession since the Great Depression. In particular, where is our world headed in the post-COVID era? No country should take this question lightly, and more important, everyone should avoid making the wrong choice.
The 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly opened last week, kicking off the “UN moment” for the world. At this most important international stage, leaders from over 170 countries engage in spirited discussions on COVID-19 response, economic recovery, the evolving international order, and reform of global governance. It is gratifying to see that notwithstanding the varied positions and perspectives, the international community has come to valuable common understandings on a number of major principles and directions.
It is broadly agreed that while COVID-19 has highlighted the weak links and deficiencies in global governance, the United Nations remains the best-equipped institution and platform in the international system, international law remains the most authoritative framework of rules governing state-to-state relations, and the purposes and principles of the UN Charter remain the overarching signpost toward global peace and development.
It is broadly agreed that multilateralism is indisputably the foundation and pillar for the current international order, and the temptation to challenge it should be pushed back. Unilateralism will only plunge the world into division and isolation, if not full-on conflicts and confrontation. That’s why countries have reaffirmed and reiterated the imperative of upholding multilateralism in the unanimously adopted Declaration on the Commemoration of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the United Nations.
It is broadly agreed that solidarity and cooperation is the only way for defeating the virus and achieving recovery. The virus exposes the fragilities of the world, and shows that all countries are closely connected and share a common future. As UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stressed, “COVID-19 is not only a wake-up call, it is a dress rehearsal for the world of challenges to come”. Facing such a global challenge posed by the coronavirus, countries will end up in an even greater disaster if they choose to go it alone or even opt for a beggar-thy-neighbor approach. Unity and solidarity is the only choice for us all.
Alongside the mainstream voices of countries, we can also hear some jarring noises. Acting recklessly against the trend of the times, certain country has turned the United Nations, a solemn international forum, into a theater for self-serving political shows and an arena to provoke conflict and confrontation and to divide the world. Countries have expressed in various ways their opposition against such disgraceful acts.
A few days ago, President Xi Jinping delivered an important address at the UN General Assembly. He reaffirmed, in unequivocal terms, China’s firm commitment to support the United Nations, safeguard multilateralism, and build a community with a shared future for mankind with all countries. President Xi also announced a host of major proposals and initiatives on tackling global challenges and promoting common development. The President’s statement attests to his vision, broad-mindedness, and sense of responsibility as the leader of a major country. This meets the shared interests of countries across the world, and is fully in line with the trend of our times and the future trajectory of our world. In a world of profound changes, China’s position is very clear.
First, all countries must jointly uphold the theme of the times featuring peace and development. Seventy-five years ago, humanity emerged from an unprecedented scourge of war. To maintain lasting peace and promote common development was the founding mission of the UN and the shared aspiration of the whole world.
As the first country to put its signature on the UN Charter, China has made relentless efforts to safeguard peace and development of the world while benefiting from it. It is a crucial participant of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is the second largest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping operations as well as an important troop provider, sending more than 40,000 personnel over the past three decades and more. It has also actively and constructively engaged in the political settlement and mediation of international hotspots and played a leading role in tackling global challenges such as climate change.
Seventy-five years on, peace and development, which remain the trend of the times, are confronted with myriad new challenges. As we see it, challenges to peace should be resolved by pursuing common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and development deficit should be addressed with a new philosophy of innovative, coordinated, green and open development for all.
Major countries shoulder a unique responsibility to safeguard peace and development, and should not seek their own security at the expense of others’ security or deny other countries’ right to development with bullying practices. China will stay firmly on the path of peaceful development, and work with other countries to oppose the narrow-minded approach that puts one country’s interest first and the dangerous practice of zero-sum game.
Second, all countries must jointly defend the universal values of fairness and justice. The founding of the UN was an epoch-making step that marked the victory of justice over power politics, conscience over cruelty, and the good over the evil. The wheel of history has kept, and will keep, moving forward. Any attempt to resurrect hegemonism and return the world back to a jungle is doomed to fail.
All countries, big or small, strong or weak, are equal members of the international community. All peoples, wherever they are, are entitled to a good life. Those who think that they could flout and breach international rules simply because they have more muscles will eventually end up in the dustbin of history.
In modern times, the old China suffered untold bitterness of humiliation and injustice. With the founding of the People’s Republic, the Chinese people have not only stood tall in the world of nations, but have become a steadfast defender of international fairness and justice.
We adhere to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. We never interfere in other countries’ internal affairs, nor allow other countries to interfere in our internal affairs.
We support multilateralism, the UN-centered international system, and the international order based on international law.
We are committed to the rule of law. We have joined almost all universal intergovernmental organizations and international conventions, and have signed more than 25,000 bilateral treaties.
We stand against bullying practices. We believe that dialogue, consultation and win-win cooperation should prevail over confrontation, coercion and zero-sum game. A world with justice serves the common good. China is a staunch force for a fair and just world for all.
Third, all countries must stay on the right path to move forward with solidarity. Our world today is a global village where every country’s future is increasingly interconnected. A recent poll by the UN shows that 87 percent of those surveyed believe that COVID-19 has made international cooperation all the more imperative. Only solidarity can help us win this battle that concerns the life and health of the people around the world and bring the world economy back on track at an early date.
Regrettably, when solidarity is needed the most, a few are creating divisions. They conjure up absurd allegations to discredit and put down other countries, blame others for their own problems, and walk away from their international obligations. They are pushing the world into the abyss of ideological confrontation and clash of civilizations. Spreading the political virus of hatred and confrontation is as much a threat to the world as coronavirus to mankind.
China has been at the forefront of the struggle against all kinds of viruses as well as international cooperation against COVID-19. I wish to take this opportunity to express our thanks again for the tremendous support given to the Chinese people. At the same time, China also provided emergency medical supplies to over 150 countries and international organizations and donated US$50 million respectively to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan, a concrete contribution to a global community of health for all.
China is steadily implementing the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative for the Poorest Countries to provide timely help for developing countries in need so that they can overcome difficulties brought about by the virus. While China has achieved important progress in both COVID-19 control and reopening of the economy, we know that the health and prosperity of the Chinese people are closely entwined with that of people across the world. China will continue to use its experience and capability to help as much as it can all countries in need with all sincerity.
Fourth, all countries must keep to the right direction of openness and cooperation. The experience of China and many other countries shows that openness brings progress while seclusion leads to backwardness. We live in a new era where all countries are interconnected and all things are interlinked through an intelligent network. While countries have benefited from economic globalization and the application of information technologies, they also face the challenges of uneven and inadequate development and the need to adapt governance to new realities. To meet these challenges by resorting to protectionism and decoupling leads only to self-imposed isolation. The world’s problems are not without solutions. What we need is better governance, greater opening-up and deeper cooperation. We must strike a proper balance between the government and the market, fairness and efficiency, growth and income distribution, technology application and job creation, and free flow of information and security. We must strengthen our commitment to building an open world economy, upholding the WTO-centered multilateral trading regime, and ensuring the stable and smooth operation of the global industrial and supply chains.
China has learned from its experience in striving for modernization the importance of openness and cooperation in pushing forward reform and development. It is also what makes China as it is today. Guided by a win-win strategy of opening up, China has shortened its negative list for foreign investment, substantially expanded access for foreign investors, fully opened its manufacturing sector, and opened its services sector wider. China has been one of the best-performing economies in the improvement of business environment for the past two years. Going forward, China will continue to pursue a higher level of opening-up across the board, share more benefits with the world, and contribute to global recovery through its own development.
President Xi Jinping stressed in his UN General Assembly speech, “we must act, not just talk.” No matter how the international landscape may evolve, and no matter what twists and turns may lie ahead, China will always shoulder its responsibilities as a major country. We will take concrete actions to add stability and certainty to this volatile world, and give confidence and strength to the cause of multilateralism.
China will vigorously engage in international cooperation against COVID-19, and work with all countries to contain and ultimately defeat the virus at an earlier date. We will provide support for more countries and regions in fighting the virus. We will faithfully deliver our promise of making Chinese vaccines a global public good, actively take part in multilateral cooperation on vaccine research, and contribute to the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in all developing countries. While keeping necessary containment measures in place, we will open more travel bubbles and green lanes for the exchange of personnel and goods to facilitate the cross-border operation of businesses and normal exchanges between countries.
China will actively engage in the global governance reform to make the international order and system more fair, balanced and equitable. We will firmly support the UN in playing a central role in international affairs. We will work with all other countries to steadily push for the reform of the UN, WTO and other multilateral organizations, and defend the legitimate rights and interests and development space of emerging markets and developing countries. We look forward to more countries supporting and joining the Global Initiative on Data Security proposed by China. We are ready to work with all countries to lower the barriers to digital security, unleash the potential of digital economy, and foster an open, secure and equitable environment for growing the digital economy.
China will accelerate the building of a new development paradigm with domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other to bolster the early recovery of the world economy. We will fully leverage our huge domestic market and massive consumption potential to provide a more resilient, dynamic and sustainable source of growth for the global economy. We look forward to signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement within this year, concluding the China-EU investment treaty negotiation, and accelerating the China-Japan-ROK FTA negotiation. With lower tariffs, a shorter negative list and a more favorable business environment, these endeavors will pave the way for a higher level of connectivity and interaction between China and the rest of the world, and create strong impetus for regional and global free trade.
China will advance high-quality Belt and Road cooperation and seek common development and prosperity with BRI partners. Following the principle of consultation and cooperation for shared benefits, we will continue to pursue open, green and clean cooperation and high-standard and sustainable development that benefits the people.
As countries grapple with the impact of COVID-19, there is a greater urgency to build a “Silk Road for health”, a “green Silk Road” and a “digital Silk Road”. China will work with our international partners to make the Belt and Road a model of cooperation, health, recovery and growth.
China will deepen South-South cooperation and promote sustainable development across the world. As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development should feature more prominently in international cooperation. China will set up Phase III of the South-South Cooperation Trust Fund, and give full support to the UN Global Geospatial Knowledge and Innovation Center and the International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals. In addition, we will also deepen international cooperation in agriculture, poverty reduction, education, women and children, and biodiversity in an effort to promote economic and social development in all countries, especially the developing ones.
China will fulfill its commitment on energy conservation and emission reduction to help make our planet a cleaner and more beautiful place. President Xi Jinping announced that China will scale up its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions and aim to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. This is a strategic decision China has made for its own ecological progress. It is also a major commitment underlining China’s readiness to make new contributions to humankind’s development.
We will overcome whatever difficulties that may lie ahead and take robust measures to deliver on our promise. We will launch a “green revolution” in both lifestyle and development pattern, strive for “green recovery” of the world economy after COVID-19, and truly protect our shared home in the course of development.
China will continue its constructive engagement in resolving hotspot issues to safeguard overall peace and tranquility of the world. We will remain deeply involved in the settlement of regional and international hotspot issues such as the Korean nuclear issue, Iranian nuclear issue, Afghanistan, Syria and the Middle East peace process.
We call for equal-footed dialogue, consultation and negotiation to narrow differences and settle disputes. We will safeguard the existing multilateral security agreements and the consensus of various parties, reject unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction, and work with all peace-loving nations to uphold world peace and security.
There is no great historical evil without a compensating historical progress. The future of humankind in the post-COVID era lies with the people of all countries. If we make the right choice, humanity as a whole will emerge stronger from COVID-19, global governance will get better through reform, the international order will surge forward with the tide of the times, and peace and development in the 21st century will open up a new, splendid chapter.