Take the Path of Peaceful Development and Strive for Common Prosperity in the Asia-Pacific
---- Speech by Vice President Zeng Qinghong At the Opening Ceremony of the 60th Session of UNESCAP
26 April 2004
Mr. Executive Secretary,
Distinguished Guests and Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In this spring season, we are pleased to meet you all at the 60th Session of UNESCAP at the beautiful riverside of Huangpu. I would like to extend, on behalf of the Chinese Government, a warm welcome to all of you.
In 1947, it was in this city that the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, which later grew into the ESCAP, was founded. More than half a century later, the ESCAP is holding its 60th Session at its birth place. At this moment, as we look at the present and recall the past, we can hardly contain our feeling of deep admiration as well as pride.
The old Shanghai more than half a century ago was plagued by social turmoil, economic recession and industrial failure. Today's Shanghai, enjoying social stability and economic prosperity, cuts an image of a charming and vibrant modern cosmopolis. The old China more than half a century ago was an impoverished and war-ravaged land of untold misery. Today, China enjoys economic growth, ethnic solidarity and social progress. Fundamental changes have taken place in the people's livelihood and the country's outlook. The Asia-Pacific region more than half a century ago was virtually a scene of destruction and devastation in the wake of wars. Today, this region, booming with vigour, has changed beyond recognition. It has become one of the fastest growing regions with the biggest potential in the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At present, the world is undergoing major and profound changes. However, peace and development remain the theme of the times. The Asia-Pacific region is facing both huge opportunities for growth and grim challenges that we have to cope with through concerted efforts. In order to jointly open a new dimension of peace and development in this region, I would like to put forward the following four proposals:
First, building political mutual trust and safeguarding peace and stability. We owe the rapid development in this region to a peaceful environment. Maintaining the growth momentum hinges on regional security and stability. We should cultivate a new security concept featuring peaceful coexistence, mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation, a concept that conforms to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the realities of the Asia-Pacific region and the world. We should uphold multilateralism based on the principles of mutual respect, harmony and seeking common ground while shelving differences. We should address our differences through dialogue and consultation and join hands in creating a peaceful, stable and harmonious security environment.
Second, strengthening mutual coordination for common development. Countries are entitled to choose ways and modes of development according to their respective national conditions and create a favourable external environment for development by enhancing coordination, exchanges and cooperation with each other in all fields of economic and social development. In the pursuit of development, we should work together to foster new concepts, broaden our vision and expand dimensions. We should also make efforts to strike a balance between economic growth and social progress, city and countryside, and man and nature, in order to achieve sustainable development of the region.
Third, deepening regional cooperation and opening to the outside world. Regional cooperation is an important way to safeguard regional peace and realize common prosperity. We should adopt an open and pragmatic approach, adhere to the principles of mutual benefit and reciprocity, intensify cooperation and improve ways of collaboration. Collective actions are needed to meet common challenges. The development of the Asia-Pacific region and that of the world are inter-related. Therefore, while strengthening regional cooperation, we should also open ourselves to the entire world and carry out extensive global cooperation.
Fourth, advocating harmony and maintaining diversity of the world. The world is diverse and colourful, and different civilizations complement each other. We should open ourselves to embrace diversity, tolerance and understanding, so as to live in harmony. We can advance human civilization through exchanges and sharing of experience.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
China's economic growth is closely linked with that of the Asia-Pacific region. I would like to take this opportunity to say a few words about China's recent economic and social development. 25 years of reform and opening up in China has resulted in an annual GDP growth rate of 9.4% and a relatively comfortable life for the Chinese people on the whole. In the year 2003, China suffered from such disasters and difficulties as the SARS epidemic. Yet, through our strenuous efforts, China's GDP still rose by 9.1% year on year, totalling US$1.4 trillion, and per capita GDP exceeded US$1,000. Facts have shown that in the course of reform and opening up, China has embarked on a path of peaceful development. A most simple and clear explanation of this path is: in the present era whose theme is peace and development, China, as a socialist country, has decided to follow the path of seeking development while safeguarding world peace and contributes to world peace through its own development. The Chinese nation always loves peace and harmony. It is in the Chinese tradition to regard peace as the best option, seek harmony but not uniformity, and act on the tenet "don't do to others what you don't want others to do you". In modern history, the Chinese nation suffered enormously from bullying and oppression by big powers. Through its experience, it is deeply convinced that power politics leads to militarism, and hegemony seekers have no popular support. China will never seek hegemony, at present or in future, and no matter how well-developed it becomes.
This path of peaceful development features coordinated domestic development and opening up. China is a developing country with a population of nearly 1.3 billion and is faced with numerous difficulties. Its per capita GDP ranks only 111th in the world. It requires the unremitting efforts of generations to come in order to achieve development, rejuvenation, modernization and the common prosperity of all the Chinese people. In this historical process, we need both internal stability and a peaceful international environment. We will unswervingly adhere to the central task of economic development which is top priority, and resolve all problems through development. At the same time, we will also unswervingly uphold peace and cooperation in our foreign policy, and work with all peoples to promote the lofty cause of peace and development.
This path of peaceful development emphasizes bold participation in economic globalization together with active efforts to develop extensive and mutually beneficial cooperation. China's reform and opening up is, from the very beginning, linked with opening to the outside world. Economic globalization interweaves the interests of all countries, facilitates the global circulation of productive factors and makes nations interdependent in their development process. Bold participation in international economic and technical cooperation gives China access to capital, advanced technologies, managerial expertise and various professional people, which were unimaginable during its period of self-seclusion. All this has significantly strengthened the favourable condition for China's further growth. We believe that while carrying out opening-up policy, we should also adhere to independence so as to be able to make decisions on our own. In the process of development, China must rely on new concepts and institutional innovation, on economic and industrial restructuring, on exploring the domestic market and expanding domestic demand, on wider and deeper human resources development, and on stepping up scientific and technological progress and innovation. Our experience has proved that participation in economic globalization according to the principles of independence and seeking advantages while avoiding disadvantages helps to integrate China's development with regional invigoration, with the interests of people of all countries and with the cause of peace and development of the mankind.
Peace is the prerequisite for development, and development is the basic condition for peace. The peaceful development of China is part and parcel of the peaceful development of Asia. The peaceful development of China benefits the common prosperity of the region and the world at large. The sustained, rapid, coordinated and sound development of China has not only brought benefits to the Chinese people, but also presented opportunities to people of all countries in the world, including those in this region. It has not only stimulated worldwide reorganization of productive factors and shifting of industries, but also played a constructive role in facilitating the healthy development of the world economy.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Asia-Pacific region is home to more than half of the world's population. Peace and development in this region will benefit not only the people in this region, but also the whole world. It is the fixed goal of the Chinese Government to peace, stability, development and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. We will continue to pursue the policy of building neighbourly relationships and partnerships with our neighbours, and contribute to the peace and development in the Asia-Pacific region.
ESCAP, as the only comprehensive inter-governmental economic and social organization of the UN in the Asia-Pacific region, has made important contribution to promote regional economic and social development, and has played a unique role in facilitating regional cooperation, economic integration, active participation in economic globalization and addressing all kinds of global and regional emergencies and public crisis. The Chinese Government will, as always, attach great importance to ESCAP and support its work. I am fully confident over the future of ESCAP and the cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.
As the old Chinese saying goes, it is the ploughing and weeding that gives us a good harvest. We expect a good harvest, but we must be prepared for more hard work ahead. I am convinced that with the concerted efforts of all parties, this session of ESCAP in Shanghai will be a great success, and will make more contribution to the common development and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region.