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.