16 December 2013
Chairman Li Zhaoxing,
The theme of today's symposium is new starting point, new thinking and new practice. These phrases have accurately and vividly captured the main features of China's diplomacy this year. I will be happy to review with you China's diplomacy in the past year. We can exchange ideas, sum up experience and build more consensus, so as to make China's diplomacy more successful.
The year 2013 has been an extraordinary year in the international situation. The Syrian issue, which has caught much attention, was pulled back from the brink of war to the track of political settlement. The two processes of destruction of chemical weapons and negotiations on a political transition plan are mutually reinforcing. The Iranian nuclear issue, after 10 years of hard negotiations, finally saw its first agreement reached, which was the first step toward a peaceful solution. The situation on the Korean Peninsula turned from touch-and-go tension to a state of relative relaxation and all parties are busy exploring ways to restart the Six-Party Talks. Not long ago, the WTO clinched its first trade agreement in its 18-year history, injecting new vitality to the global trading regime. A new wave of scientific and technological, industrial and energy revolutions is getting ready amid intensive global economic adjustment.
The year 2013 has also been an extraordinary year in China's development. Under the leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) with Comrade Xi Jinping as General Secretary, the 1.3 billion Chinese people have, with solidarity and great enthusiasm, started a historic journey towards meeting the two centenary goals, i.e., to finish building a society of initial prosperity in all respects by 2021 when the Communist Party of China celebrates its centenary and to turn China into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious by 2049 when the People's Republic of China marks its centenary. The Third Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee sounded the clarion call for comprehensive deepening of reform in China. The Chinese economy, having withstood severe challenges, has made sound and steady progress. With its healthy development and bright prospects, the Chinese economy has increasingly become an important engine for world economic recovery.
Above all, the year 2013 has certainly been an extraordinary year for China's diplomacy. Carrying forward New China's diplomatic traditions and principles, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as General Secretary has planned ahead and blazed new trails. It has courageously fulfilled its responsibilities and acted with innovation. As a result, China's diplomacy has had a good start. China's international standing has been further enhanced and its strategic influence strengthened. Under the new conditions, China is conducting its diplomacy across the world with a broader vision and more enterprising spirit.
In the past year, many new concepts have been introduced in China's diplomacy. Commitment to the Chinese dream of national renewal has clearly defined the fundamental pursuit of China's diplomacy in the new situation. A more substantive presentation of the theory of peaceful development has elaborated on China's determination, path and principles of peaceful development. The building of a new model of major-country relations has sent a positive signal of win-win cooperation between China and the United States. The concept of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness has fleshed out the basic principles of our neighborhood diplomacy. The right approach to upholding principles and pursuing interests has increased the moral appeal of China's diplomacy.
In the past year, many new initiatives have been put forward in China's diplomacy. A series of major cooperation initiatives include the economic belt along the Silk Road, the maritime Silk Road for the 21st century, an upgraded China-ASEAN FTA, an Asian infrastructure investment bank, the BCIM (Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar) Economic Corridor and the China-Pakistan economic corridor. These initiatives are in line with the trend of the times and serve the common interests of countries concerned. As such, they represent the direction of regional cooperation and are well received in the region and beyond.
In the past year, new horizons have been opened up in China's diplomacy. In a short span of eight months since the annual sessions of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have visited 22 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, hosted 64 foreign heads of state or government in China and met with more than 300 foreign dignitaries. China has reached nearly 800 cooperation agreements with other countries. All these have given a strong boost to China's relations with other countries in the world.
In 2013, China's sincere efforts on the diplomatic front have been rewarded with friendship and achievements. Reviewing our work in the past year, I believe major achievements have been made in the following six areas.
Firstly, the China-Russia Comprehensive and Strategic Partnership of Coordination has been elevated to a new stage. Russia was the first leg of General Secretary Xi Jinping's first overseas visit in March as China's President. The two presidents signed a joint statement that carried much weight. In the statement, the two countries explicitly committed to staunchly supporting each other's development and revitalization, the right of independently choosing development path and social and political system and upholding such core interests as sovereignty, territorial integrity and security. It set up a fine example of mutual trust and cooperation between major countries. The two sides signed a large number of cooperation agreements which were known as agreements of the century, demonstrating the strategic and special nature of the China-Russia relations. Since last March, the two presidents of China and Russia have had five meetings, cooperation in economy, energy, culture, military and other areas as well as people-to-people and sub-national exchanges have been raised to a higher level, and international strategic coordination and cooperation between the two countries have scaled new heights. The China-Russia ties are a strategic relationship of the highest level and with the most substantive contents in China's foreign relations.
Secondly, China and the US have entered a new era of jointly building a new model of major-country relations. Historically, it seemed unavoidable for major countries, especially emerging powers and established powers, to engage in competition and eventually slip into confrontation or even conflicts. But in a rapidly globalizing world of the 21st century, China does not believe in or subscribe to such fatalism. We are fully confident in breaking this so-called "pattern" by working together with the US. In June this year, President Xi Jinping, upon invitation, had a meeting with President Obama at Annenberg Estate, California. They reached important agreement on building a new model of major-country relations. President Xi characterized this new model of major-country relationship with three defining features: no conflict or confrontation, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation. No conflict or confrontation is the necessary prerequisite. It would enable both sides to abandon bearish expectations on their relations and foster confidence in their prospects. Mutual respect is the basic principle. If this principle is not followed, the two countries will not be able to seek common ground while shelving differences, accumulate consensus while addressing differences, and live with each other in harmony. Win-win cooperation is the only way forward. If China and the US fail to continue and enhance their cooperation, they won't achieve win-win results, which will not only benefit the two countries, but also the world at large. In 2013, President Xi and President Obama met twice. This year also saw Vice President Biden's visit to China, the successful conclusion of the fifth round of Strategic and Economic Dialogues and the fourth round of High-level Consultation on People-to-people Exchange, and the start of substantive negotiations between China and the US on a bilateral investment treaty. All these have substantiated the new model of major-country relations between China and the US.
Thirdly, China has broken new ground in its neighborhood diplomacy. China's neighborhood is crucial to its security, development and prosperity. The new government of China has given greater importance to neighborhood diplomacy in its overall diplomatic agenda. Both President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang made neighboring countries the first leg of their first overseas visits after taking office. They exchanged visits with the heads of state and government of 21 neighboring countries and there have been extensive high-level contacts between China and its neighbors. Over the past year, China has put in practice its cooperation concept of benefitting neighbors for win-win results, proposed a number of major cooperation initiatives, and has seen its practical cooperation with its neighbors enhanced. We have deepened political mutual trust with them in a spirit of treating others with every sincerity. We have vigorously advocated the regional spirit of openness, inclusiveness and agreeing to disagree, encouraged various regional cooperation mechanisms such as 10+1, 10+3, the East Asia Summit and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to complement and reinforce each other, and make significant contribution to regional peace and development. In October this year, we held the first conference on neighborhood diplomacy since the founding of the PRC, which set out the strategic objectives, basic principles and overall plan for our neighborhood diplomacy in the next five to ten years, thus opening up even greater prospects for neighborhood diplomacy.
Fourthly, the unity and cooperation between China and other developing countries have come to a new phase. Developing countries are the foundation for China's diplomacy. In 2013, President Xi Jinping visited Tanzania and two other African countries, met with over 10 African leaders, announced a host of new measures supporting Africa, and signed over 40 cooperation agreements with them, including major projects that bear on their national development and people's wellbeing. Meanwhile, African leaders have forcefully refuted the so-called "neo-colonialism" by China in Africa, and have highly appreciated China's policy towards Africa. In addition, President Xi Jinping visited Mexico and two other Latin American countries this year. During the trip, he signed 24 cooperation documents, had bilateral talks with leaders from eight Caribbean countries, and announced a set of new measures supporting the economic and social development of Caribbean countries. All this has been very well received. Not withstanding a substantial increase in its aggregate national strength, China has remained a developing country. This is an objective fact that we should recognize, and it will remind us that no matter how far we go in the course of development, we should always speak for developing countries, act in their interests, and firmly uphold their legitimate rights and shared interests.
Fifthly, China has given full play to the role of a responsible major country and made new contribution in the world. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China has never forgotten its international responsibilities and obligations, and has taken an active part in addressing major regional and international issues. China is a defender of world peace. At the make-or-break moments in both Syria and the Iranian nuclear talks, China has resolutely safeguarded the basic norms governing international relations, upheld equity and justice, and opposed war and power politics. It has thus played a positive role in bringing the Syrian issue back to the track of a political settlement and concluding an agreement between the P5+1 and Iran. China is a builder of Asian security and stability. We have worked together with other parties to ease tension on the Korean Peninsula, actively pushed for a resumption of the Six-Party Talks, and supported peace and the reconstruction process in Afghanistan. We have thus played a vital part in maintaining regional peace and stability. China is a contributor to the cause of international development. We have actively participated in the making of the post-2015 development agenda, and offered our proposals for and contributed our share to possible solutions to climate change and other global issues.
Sixthly, China has achieved new progress in upholding its national interests. President Xi Jinping underscored that China will be firmly committed to the path of peaceful development, but not at the expense of its national interests. Over the past year, we have unswervingly implemented the decisions and arrangements of the central leadership and effectively forestalled the illegal acts of individual countries to encroach upon China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. We also maintain that relevant issues need to be resolved properly through dialogue and negotiation on the basis of fully respecting historical facts and international law. China and ASEAN countries have launched consultations on a code of conduct in the South China Sea within the framework of implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. China has reached agreement with Brunei and Vietnam on promoting joint development and maritime cooperation. All these contributed to the peace and stability in the South China Sea.
In 2013, China's diplomacy has got off to a good start and achieved many exciting results. In 2014, China will make all-round efforts in its diplomacy, and achieve even more exciting result in the year to come. We are going to focus on the following five areas.
We will work harder to build a framework of major-country relations featuring sound interactions and healthy development. We will strengthen high-level exchanges, deepen strategic mutual trust, increase converging interests and promote sustained, stable and sound growth of bilateral relations with major countries. We will go further in building a new model of major-country relationship between China and the United States and give more substance to this relationship by making our cooperation more productive. We will expand practical cooperation across the board and intensify international strategic coordination with Russia to ensure that China's relations with Russia will always operate on a high level. We will implement the China-EU 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation and find more ways for our respective development strategies to truly dovetail. We will also elevate our relations with major developing countries and strengthen our coordination and cooperation on important regional and international issues.
We will work harder to foster a stable, friendly and prosperous neighborhood to underpin our overall diplomatic strategy. We will thoroughly implement the conclusions of the conference on China's neighborhood diplomacy. We will consolidate good-neighborliness and friendship, enhance mutually beneficial cooperation and build a closely-knit community of shared destiny with neighboring countries. We will stick to the goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and promote the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. We will firmly uphold China's sovereignty and dignity and resolve disputes over territories and maritime rights and interests with some neighbors through dialogue and negotiation. We will play a good host to the fourth Ministerial Conference of the Istanbul Process in an effort to promote political reconciliation and economic reconstruction in Afghanistan.
We will work harder to deepen traditional friendship with other developing countries. The notion of sticking to the right approach to principles and interests as adopted by China has become a banner guiding China's diplomacy. We will expand practical cooperation with Africa in various fields, implement announced measures of assistance to Africa and make new breakthroughs in China-Africa trade and economic cooperation. We will ensure the success of the sixth Ministerial Conference of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum and announce new measures of cooperation between China and Arab states. We will promote the establishment of a cooperation forum between China and Latin America and the Caribbean to inject new impetus into China's cooperation with this region as a whole. We will also follow the right approach to principles and interests and uphold justice and equality in the international arena. In particular, we will continue to speak up for developing countries and act in their interests.
We will work harder to step up economic diplomacy to facilitate efforts to comprehensively deepen reform at home. We will vigorously promote the development of the economic belt along the Silk Road and the maritime Silk Road for the 21st century and endeavor to achieve an early harvest on those initiatives. We will accelerate the implementation of the FTA strategy both bilaterally and multilaterally, work with relevant countries for the early conclusion of negotiations on the China-ROK and China-Australia FTAs, make substantive progress in negotiating an upgraded version of the China-ASEAN FTA and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and continue to advance the negotiations on China-Japan-ROK FTA. We are open towards the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other regional and trans-regional free trade initiatives. And we encourage inclusiveness on all parties to work jointly for mutual progress. We will take an active part in the reform of the international economic governance system and steadily raise China's right and say in rule-making internationally.
We will work harder to ensure the success of diplomatic events to be hosted by China. We aim to take the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia and the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in China next year as opportunities to promote security cooperation and economic development. We will also use the occasions of different fora and expos to be held in China to explain to the world the open and inclusive nature of the Chinese dream, China's commitment to peaceful development and the right approach to principles and interests and how they will benefit the whole world, with a view to cultivating and enhancing China's soft power. We will also try to make China's voice heard, present China's proposition and play China's due role regarding proper settlement of the Syrian issue, the Iranian nuclear issue and other regional and international hotspot issues.
The Third Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the CPC opened up a new historic stage of China's reform and development. Under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as General Secretary, China, firmly committed to reform, will continue to adhere to the win-win strategy of opening-up and forge an even closer community of shared interests with the rest of the world. China will continue to serve as an important engine for global growth and a stronger driver of development and prosperity of the world and will continue to play its due role as a responsible major country and make greater contribution to world peace and stability.
In conclusion, I wish the symposium a full success.