Working Together to Meet Our Shared Responsibility and Build a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind
– Keynote Speech by H.E. Yang Jiechi at the Opening Ceremony of Beijing Forum 2019
Honorable Mr. Han Qide,
Honorable Ms. Irina Bokova,
Honorable Party Secretary Qiu Shuiping and President Hao Ping of Peking University,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In this autumn season when Beijing is clad in a riot of colors, it gives me great pleasure to meet with friends, old and new, at the Beijing Forum and discuss the progress of human civilization.
Since its inauguration, the Beijing Forum has been convened under the general theme of “The Harmony of Civilizations and Prosperity for All”. Discussions have focused on advancing peace and development, making the Forum a valuable platform for deepening mutual learning and understanding. The theme of this year’s forum, “The Changing World and the Future of Humankind”, is highly relevant. It dovetails with current global developments and touches on matters of interest to all.
The world today is going through changes of a kind unseen in a century. Looking around, we see faster evolution of the global governance system and international order. With different ideas vis-à-vis each other, there is a heated debate on how to perceive all those changes.
People will naturally ask: Where is our world headed? How are different countries and civilizations to interact with each other? Do we choose openness or seclusion, cooperation or confrontation, a win-win or zero-sum outcome?
To answer these important questions, we must see through the mist of change, and grasp the trend of history. Most importantly, we must understand fully the nature and direction of current global developments. Let me share with you a few observations:
In today’s world, economic globalization is still the predominant trend. Globalization is a huge boost to economic development and human progress. It has lifted productivity and living standards to an unprecedented degree. Between 1990 and 2010, global economic growth averaged 5.51 percent. Since the start of this century, 1.1 billion people worldwide have been helped out of poverty. For all this to happen, economic globalization has had a sure part to play.
On the other hand, for some time there has been an obvious backlash against globalization. The reasons may be complicated. Yet, the world economy has grown into something like the ocean. As President Xi Jinping has rightly pointed out, “To channel the waters in the ocean back into isolated lakes and creeks is simply not possible.”
The trend of economic globalization is irresistible. It has given rise to the latest round of scientific, technological and industrial revolution. Of the many global challenges we face, development disparity, digital divide, equity deficit, among others, none could be addressed without the leveling effect of economic globalization. In this day and age, the right answer can only be continued globalization. The focus should be on a more open and inclusive mentality, more balanced and universal benefits, and more equitable and win-win outcomes.
In today’s world, multi-polarity is clearly the order of the day. The transition to a multi-polar world has been fraught with ups and downs. The end of the Cold War actually started a process toward a more multi-polar world. The collective rise of emerging markets and developing countries at the turn of the century, among other things, marks a major shift in global politics and greater equilibrium in the balance of power. Accounting for two-fifths of the world economy and four-fifths of global growth, they make a strong force for world peace and development.
In today’s world, more democratic international relations is all the more what people aspire for. This is part and parcel of the yearning for a multi-polar world. Countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are all equal members of the world community. Global affairs should be decided by all countries working together, and international relations should be conducted on the basis of recognized norms like sovereign equality, dialogue and consultation, and the rule of law. All these are strongly desired by the overwhelming majority of countries worldwide.
The basic norms of international relations, built on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, together with the international system centering around the United Nations, have brought more than 70 years of peace, stability, development and prosperity since World War II. Today, to preserve and promote multilateral cooperation under the auspices of the UN and to reform and improve the international system is the common choice of the majority of countries in the world. Hegemonism and power politics cannot stop the advance toward more democratic international relations. Protectionism and unilateralism cannot shake countries’ commitment to openness, cooperation, and multilateralism.
In today’s world, diversity of civilizations is exactly the choice of history. In 2014, President Xi Jinping spoke on the importance of exchange and mutual learning between civilizations at UNESCO. As President Xi noted in his speech, civilizations become richer through exchange and mutual learning. Diversity, equality and inclusiveness are the hallmark of human civilization. Each civilization and culture is valuable in its own right. One may be different from another, but no one is superior over the other. The achievements of all civilizations need to be respected and treasured. History tells us that human progress is enabled by mutual learning among civilizations, and world peace and prosperity is underpinned by the harmonious coexistence of all civilizations.
That said, we must also remember that history doesn’t move in a straight line. It zigs and zags. The deepening changes in the world have brought more uncertainties and destabilizing factors - intricate entanglements in international relations, fast-changing reconfiguration of various forces, turbulence in some regions, to name just a few. All these have come up naturally in an international system under adjustment. But on the whole, I think it is fair to say the following about today’s world:
– Clashes between unilateralism and multilateral cooperation are on the rise, but the trend toward a more balanced dispensation of power and a stronger international system is unstoppable.
– Opinions seem to be more divided over economic globalization and openness, but come what may, the world economy will be more open, inclusive, balanced, and beneficial to all.
– It is increasingly true that major countries have both shared interests and differences. Yet it remains the case that they depend on each other as much as they balance each other.
– We face grave strategic security challenges and serious regional hot-spots, but the global security environment is generally stable and under control.
– Countries may have more ideological disagreements and differences in terms of their system and culture, but there remains a strong international consensus for open and inclusive exchange and mutual learning between different civilizations.