A Developing China and its Foreign Policy
--A Speech by Ambassador Zhang Keyuan to MEDAC Students
(22 March, 2010)
Professor Stephen C. Calleya,
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
It's my great pleasure today to meet the diplomats from 17 countries. I wish to start by thanking Prof. Calleya for his kind invitation. I also want to extend my appreciation to MEDAC for its continuing interest in China's development over the years, which is far beyond the Mediterranean region.
The first decade of the 21st century has witnessed enormous and profound changes in the world. As part of it, China's transition into playing a growing role in the world and in particular, its pace and extent has drawn attention from the international community.
So how should we read this 'China phenomenon'? What is real China? How China will interact with the outside world? Will China become another dominant hegemony in the world? I hope my discussion with you today would answer these questions and help you understand China and its direction.
There is a story about studying a huge subject. An elephant was brought to 4 blind people. They tried to figure out what he looked like. One said the elephant was like a smooth club. Another said no, he looked like a wall. The third blind said it was like a rope and the last guy said it's like a pillar. Why, because they touched the tusk, back, tail and leg, respectively, of the huge animal. This is China, a country so difficult to describe in a few words.
Briefly, China is the largest developing country with the largest population on the way of world largest scale modernization. China advocates peace, development and cooperation, adheres to an independent foreign policy of peace and the path of peaceful development, pursues an open strategy of mutual benefit, promotes the building of a harmonious world with durable peace and common prosperity.
Thirty years ago, Mr. Deng Xiaoping, the chief architect of China's reform, defined China as both 'big and small, strong and weak'. 30 years later, Premier Wen Jiabao once remarked, with a population of 1.3 billion, any small problem in China can grow into a huge one if multiplied by the number, and any big achievement can become too tiny to notice once divided by the population.
So to give a balanced picture of China, on one hand, through 30 years of nearly 10% GDP annual growth, 235 million people have been lifted out of poverty. China is the 3rd largest economy in the world and THE largest in terms of export and industry output. On the other hand, China is far less powerful and faces much more challenges than the rest of the world realizes. China's per capita GDP has just exceeded 3,000 US dollars, ranking the 104th in the world, about 50 places behind Malta. 135 million Chinese are living on less than one dollar a day and 10 million have no access to electricity. Every year, 12 million jobs are needed for young Chinese who just entered the labour market, 30 times the entire population of Malta.
Without question, to enable the 1.3 billion people to live a decent life, we Chinese must focus all our efforts on development, both economic and political. It is our overriding strategic choice to maintain peace in the world and what ever China can contribute to this noble course.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As a country with 5000 years of recorded civilization, the sustainability and inherent vitality of the traditional Chinese culture speak volumes for itself.
'Harmony', a much cherished value of the Chinese people since ancient times has now been the guiding principle of China's foreign policy. 'Harmony without uniformity', once expounded by philosopher Confucius 2500 years ago, meaning a world is full of differences and contradictions, but the righteous man should balance them and achieve harmony.
Chinais a peace-loving nation. Looking through the history, one can easily reach the judgment that the argument that when China becomes a big power, she is bound to seek hegemony finds no supporting case. Expansionism is not in China's cultural genes. In its foreign relations, China has always advocated cordiality, benevolence, good-neighborliness and universal harmony. China has maintained that all countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal and must respect one another and treat one another with equality.
It is particularly noteworthy that among the five nuclear-weapon- states, China is the only country that has publicly promised not to be the first to use nuclear weapons and not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon-states. The Chinese people need peace more than anybody else and hold them the dearest. China was not, is not and will not be a threat to other nations, even with a much stronger economy.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The world today is undergoing profound changes and adjustments. While multi-polarity, multilateralism and greater democracy gather momentum in international relations, global challenges including climate change, food security, energy and resources security and public health security have become more serious. Countries are increasingly realized the right way to survive and thrive is to stick together like sailors on the same boat and pursue mutual benefit and a win-win situation.
While focusing on its own development, China is taking more and more international responsibilities proportionate to its strength and status. China has shown with its concrete actions that it is an opportunity for world peace and common development. Here are some examples,
We have taken an active part in the international cooperation in current economic crisis. In the past few weeks, Greek has been in the lime light for its debts crisis and EU members are talking about a possible European Monetary Fund to deal with such crisis in Europe. While in Asia, China promoted, at early stage of the crisis, the establishment of an Asian foreign exchange reserves pool worth 120 billion US dollars and signed with other countries currency swap agreements totaling 650 billion US dollars. We have cancelled the debts of 49 heavily indebted poor countries and least developed countries and provided economic assistance over RMB200 billion to other developing countries. Being the first major economy to emerge from the global economic crisis, China's contribution to the world economy has received wide acclamation.
As a responsible member of the international community, China has been playing an active and constructive role in tackling climate change. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has worked tirelessly during his 60-hour trip to Copenhagen Conference to help foster the Copenhagen Accord at the conference. Although many politicians in Europe expressed their disappointments and accusations on the Accord, it is the only agreement supported by the majority of the countries attended the conference. In a letter to the UN Secretary-General BanKi-moona few weeks ago, China has expressed its full support for the document. Although a developing country in the crucial stage of rapid industrialization and urbanization, China has set an ambitious goal of cutting carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 from the 2005 level. It is unconditional, and links to no other country's emission reduction targets. As ever, China will honour its words with tangible actions, and do its best to achieve and even exceed this target.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The year 2010 is a very important year in continuing to deal with the world economic crisis and promote world-wide recovery. It is also a critical year for China to solidify the basis for a sustainable economic growth.
On the recent concluded National People's Congress, China has ambitiously set the 8% target with the aims at ensuring the quality of economic growth, focusing on transformation of economic development pattern and adjustment of economic structure.
On May 1st, we will witness the world biggest ever Expo in Shanghai, The theme, "Better city, better life" will bring 192 countries and 50 international organizations together in the largest city of China, not mentioning around 70 million visitors all over the world who will come to the Expo.
With such developments of the country in mind, China's foreign policy is destined to more opportunities and challenges in the years ahead.
Chinawill work in concert with other countries for a better world. And as she becomes stronger and more prosperous, China, same as many other great nations, will make greater contribution to the world peace, stability and development.