A Joint Response to the Big Change of the World and a Joint Effort to Build a Community with a Shared Future
– Speech at the Luncheon of the Seventh World Peace Forum
H.E. Le Yucheng, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs
Beijing, 14 July 2018
Madame Chen Xu, Chairperson of Tsinghua University Council,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to join so many friends, old and new, at the seventh World Peace Forum to discuss the way forward for the noble cause of global peace and development. With your experience, knowledge and wisdom as visionary statesmen, strategists and leading academics on international studies, I have full confidence that we will have a highly productive forum this year.
As a diplomat, I often discuss international issues with visiting political figures and academics, and find such exchanges of ideas informing and inspiring.
My recent discovery is that as “black swan” and “gray rhino” incidents happen all too often, words like “uncertain”, “unstable” and “unpredictable” have become most used in characterizing our world today. It feels like we do not know the planet where we live any more, when populism, protectionism and unilateralism resurge worldwide, when free trade and economic globalization encounter strong headwinds, and when regional flashpoints, terrorism and issues like refugees and migration flare up one after another. Living in such a world, people cannot help but feel worried and disoriented, at a loss about where the future lies.
We have once again come to a crossroads of history. In the sweeping arc of human history, the critical moments of choice are but a few. Now is a moment of truth: do we raise or lower the drawbridge, do we walk alone or join hands, do we take a “beggar-thy-neighbor” or win-win approach? When facing a fluid situation, it is all the more imperative that we stay clear-eyed about the underlying trend, maintain strategic focus and resist misguided policies. In a word, we must make the right choice that meets the call of our times.
The truth is, amidst the shifting dynamics in the international landscape, peace, development and win-win cooperation remain the growing call of the times, and the trend toward a multipolar world and economic globalization is unstoppable. Our world has become a global village where our interests and futures are closely entwined. Protectionism could not protect and unilateralism would lead to nowhere. In a globalized economy, no one can break apart the global industrial chain or the closely linked interests among countries. In a world of growing interdependence, the practice of hegemony or pursuit of one’s interests at the expense of others’ would not succeed but boomerang on oneself.
Where is the world heading? What kind of world should we shape? In answering these questions, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the initiative of jointly building a community with a shared future for mankind and an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity.
This initiative is not an empty slogan, nor an illusionary utopia. It is a blueprint President Xi drew up for mankind’s future based on a keen understanding of history and the trend of times, in line with the long-term and shared interests of mankind. It is China’s proposal to the international community in response to the major changes in today’s world.
This proposal is inspired by the global vision and the commitment to peace and harmony inherent in Chinese civilization. It builds on China’s philosophies of peace emphasizing peaceful coexistence, peaceful development and a harmonious world. It meets the need of our times and the trend of the world, and responds to the common aspiration for peace and development of people worldwide. The proposal has hence received high recognition and acclaim from the international community, and shown strong vigor and vitality. We are confident that with the concerted efforts of the global community, the vision of building such a community for mankind will be translated into reality.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up policy. Time is the ultimate arbiter of any endeavor. The transformative change and tremendous progress taking place in this country in the past four decades show that China has stood this ultimate test. I see no need to enumerate China’s achievements here. I just wish to emphasize that these achievements are neither stolen from others nor bestowed upon us. Instead, they are created by our hard-working people with their own hands. China’s opening-up is no “joke” but a miracle in the modern world.
In its forty years of reform and opening-up, China has not only achieved its own development, but also contributed to global wellbeing to the best of its ability. You may recall how hard China worked to shore up its currency in the raging times of the Asian financial crisis, and how China stuck together with its neighbors in face of the difficulties, making a major contribution to easing the crisis.
In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, China scaled up its financial contributions to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and extended a helping hand to countries in distress. With its solid and stable growth, China, together with other emerging market economies, bolstered the hope of a global economic recovery. Since then, China has contributed no less than 30 percent to global growth on average each year.
As an active participant in international humanitarian assistance, China does its best to help whenever and wherever needed. When the Ebola epidemic hit west Africa in 2015, the Chinese government initiated a massive program of humanitarian assistance, the largest of its kind in the history of New China.
Hence came what was seen in the affected region: when others scrambled to leave, Chinese medical workers numbering over 1,000 rushed to help at the risk of their own lives.
Among the foreign ministers of major countries, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was the first to visit the region.
Emergency humanitarian aid worth 750 million RMB yuan was provided and much needed medical supplies were flown in from China.
In fact, the last Ebola patient in Liberia was saved and cured in the local Chinese treatment center.
Today’s China is the largest trading partner of over 130 countries, the fastest growing major export market and one of the most popular investment destinations.
Estimates suggest that in the coming five years, China will import US$8 trillion of goods, attract US$600 billion of foreign investment and invest US$750 billion overseas.
China now has a 300-million-strong middle-income group. The figure may well surge to 400 million, 500 million and even more in just a few years. That will undoubtedly make China the biggest market in the world, a market with better access, greater capacity and stronger consumer demand.
Some of the major opening-up steps President Xi Jinping announced at the Boao Forum for Asia have already been delivered; the rest are in the pipeline. Tariffs on 1,500 types of consumer goods have been lowered considerably. The import tariff on automobiles has been cut from 25 percent to 15 percent. And the tariff on 28 types of anti-cancer drugs were eliminated starting from last May.
The revised negative list for foreign investment released late last month substantially eased market access restrictions for foreign investors. The foreign ownership limits in 22 sectors including automobiles, shipping and aircraft have been lifted. I have read in the news that some world-class companies are planning to act quickly to reap the benefit. I wish to encourage the business community to seize the opportunity and invest more in China.
A few numbers about China I saw yesterday may be of interest to you. On an average day in this country, some 80,000 automobiles are sold; over 80 million packages are handled and delivered; movies are shown on 220,000 cinema screens, 4,200 high-speed trains are running, and more than 400,000 tons of grains are consumed.
These figures are what happens in just one day, yet they speak volumes for the enormous business opportunities in China. With such a huge market, China will remain a source of growth, stability and vitality for the global economy.
I recognize that not everyone is happy with China’s investment environment and some may be quite critical about it. To them I wish to say that the Chinese government is committed to improving the investment environment and has undertaken tremendous efforts in the past forty years of reform and opening-up toward better market access, administrative streamlining and clean governance.
Yes, there is still room for improvement, but it should also be noted that China has been the largest recipient of foreign investment among developing countries, with more FDI inflow than any other country but the US last year. In the first half of this year, foreign investors registered nearly 30,000 new companies in China, showing a 96.6 percent increase year on year. Capital won’t flow to a market with an unattractive investment environment and poor profit prospects.
Some complain that they have been shortchanged by China’s unfair trading practices. To these people, I wish to point out that China was a latecomer to global trade: we did not make the rules, RMB is not the main settlement currency for transactions, and we were obliged to accept the WTO accession terms. If anybody is to be accused of unfair trading practices, China should be the last one.
Forty years ago, China’s foreign trade was merely US$20.6 billion. In 2017, trade in goods alone amounted to US$4.1 trillion. It is mutual benefit, not hard selling that has made such an enormous surge possible. No businessmen are foolish enough to have lived with loss-making deals for forty years.
Still, some accuse China of so-called “intellectual property theft” through multiple means. This accusation too has no leg to stand on. To these people, let me say China is rock-firm in protecting intellectual property rights (IPR) and has been strengthening IPR enforcement.
China paid US$28.6 billion for intellectual property use last year and recently revised the Trademark Law and Law Against Unfair Competition to further strengthen IPR protection.
In China’s foreign investment regulations, there is no mandatory requirement on technology transfer. Those who repeatedly accuse the Chinese government of forced technology transfer have never presented a specific case, not even one, to substantiate their allegation. As for the technologies obtained through commercial cooperation, they are the outcome of voluntary deals between market entities, and have nothing to do with forced technology transfer.
Here, I wish to draw your attention to the fact that despite its growing economy, China remains the world’s largest developing country, and still lags notably behind the advanced Western countries.
China’s economy may have become the second largest in the world, yet its per capita GDP still ranks the 71st globally. Some 30 million people still live below the poverty line, 15 million urban jobs need to be added every year, and there are 87 million people with disabilities.
These are the basic conditions in China. China’s status as a developing country is something one cannot ignore before one makes demands on China. For instance, it would be unrealistic to demand absolute reciprocity in market access between China and developed countries, just as it would be most unfair to put boxers of separate weight classes in the same game or cars of different engine power in the same race.