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Keynote Speech at the Luncheon of the Third World Peace Forum

2014/06/21

Executive Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui

Liaoning Hotel, 21 June 2014

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

It is a privilege to speak at the luncheon of the Third World Peace Forum.

As I've noticed, China's foreign policy has drawn much attention from the international community as the country continues to grow. Therefore, I wish to take this opportunity to share with you my thoughts on the following questions.

First, has China changed its foreign policy?

Since the introduction of reform and opening up, China's foreign policy has been stable and consistent. We are firmly committed to an independent foreign policy of peace. We are firmly committed to developing comprehensive and friendly cooperation with all countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. And we are firmly committed to upholding our sovereignty, security and development interests. We are determined, in line with China's fundamental interests and the trend of peace, development and win-win cooperation, to pursue a new path of peaceful development by a major country. That is to say, we strive to develop ourselves through securing a peaceful international environment and maintain and promote world peace through our own development. We want the world's opportunities to work for China and China's opportunities to work for the world, and amidst such sound and win-win interaction, pursue peaceful development. For more than three decades, China has seen 10% growth rate per annum. Its economic aggregate has grown from US$216.5 billion in 1978 to US$9.2 trillion in 2013, or from 1% to 12% of the world's total. With that, China has become the second largest economy in the world. And in those same 30 years and more, China lifted over 600 million of its people out of poverty, contributing over 70% to global poverty reduction efforts. These achievements clearly show that China's foreign policy is not only a strong backing for China's development but also an important contribution to world peace and prosperity. We have no reason to change what has been proven to be the right policy.

China has set the goal of realizing the Chinese dream of the great renewal of the nation, which is about building China into a strong, prosperous, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious modern socialist country by mid-21st century. To realize the Chinese dream and contribute more to the world, China has got to pursue peaceful development and work together with other countries to safeguard world peace. On 28 March this year, President Xi Jinping explicitly stated in a speech during his visit to Germany that China's pursuit of peaceful development is not an act of expediency, still less diplomatic rhetoric. Rather, it is a conclusion we have reached based on an objective assessment of China's history, its present and future. It represents confidence in thinking and readiness to practice it.

At the same time, as it continues to grow, China is also taking diplomatic initiatives to respond to new requirements of the Chinese people and new aspirations of people around the world in order to contribute more positive energy to the great renewal of the Chinese nation and progress of mankind.

China is working more actively to strengthen friendship and cooperation with the rest of the world. The presidents of China and the United States have reached important consensus on building a new model of major-country relations featuring no conflict or confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. China and Russia, with the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, are making solid progress in practical cooperation in all areas. China and the EU are working together to build partnerships for peace, growth, reform and inter-civilization exchange, so that the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership for mutual benefit will deliver more results. China is committed to a neighborhood diplomacy featuring amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness with a view to deepening friendship with its neighbors and building a community of common destiny for Asian countries. China has worked, in pursuit of justice and shared interests, to transform and upgrade its cooperation with Africa, to deepen strategic cooperation with Arab states, and to take the opportunity of the establishment of the China-CELAC Forum to elevate the overall cooperation with Latin American and Caribbean countries.

China is working more actively to uphold world peace and promote common development. Its participation in UN peacekeeping operations has been wide and extensive. From the first non-combat units to Cambodia in 1992 to the first security troops to Mali in 2013, China has sent over 25,000 military personnel in total to peacekeeping operations. It is now the largest contributor of peacekeeping personnel among the permanent members of the UN Security Council and the largest contributor of peacekeeping funds among the developing countries. As regards maritime escort missions, China had dispatched 17 flotillas with a total of 45 vessels to the Gulf of Aden and the waters off the Somali Coast as of May 2014, providing escort services to over 5,600 vessels, half of which were foreign vessels. China also joined the relevant countries in escorting the transportation of chemical weapons out of Syria. On Korean and Iranian nuclear issues and other regional and global hotspots, China's role has been unique and constructive. China has also worked with other countries in Asia and the world to jointly cope with the Asian financial crisis and international financial crisis, and put forward a number of important cooperation initiatives, such as the Silk Road Economic Belt, the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the BRICS Development Bank. As China continues to grow, it will provide still more public goods for the international community and bring more and greater benefits to the world through its own development.

China is working more actively to implement the guiding principles of putting people first and conducting diplomacy in the interest of the people. In recent years, there has been a rapid increase in the number of Chinese nationals and companies overseas, with almost 100 million people traveling abroad each year and over 20,000 companies operating in nearly 200 countries and regions. With some 40,000 consular protection cases handled each year, both the circumstances and requirements for overseas consular protection are unprecedented. Guided by the principle of serving people's needs and delivering real benefits to the people, the Foreign Ministry has opened more consular agencies overseas, accelerated the building of the global emergency call center for consular protection and services, and worked with its counterparts of relevant countries to advance consultations on consular affairs and negotiate agreements with the aim of facilitating personnel interflow. We will continue to do our best to provide better protection and service to overseas Chinese, and strive to make sure Chinese nationals abroad enjoy due consular protection wherever they are in the world.

China cannot develop itself in isolation from the world, and the world cannot achieve peace and development without China. Due to historical reasons, China is in dispute with some of the countries in its neighborhood over territories and maritime rights and interests. However, these issues are only a fraction of China's overall foreign relations, not the entirety. They are only tributaries, not the mainstream. We hope that the international community will form an objective and comprehensive view of China and China's foreign policy, support and join China in pursuing the path of peaceful development, and work with China to usher in an even brighter future for world peace and development.

Second, is China trying to change the international rules?

After the founding of the People's Republic, China had been kept out of the international system for a long time. Following the restoration of its lawful seat in the United Nations, China gradually took its place in the international system. As of today, China has joined over 100 inter-governmental international organizations, including the UN, IMF, World Bank, WTO, APEC and SCO and has acceded to over 400 international and multilateral conventions.

China is a defender and constructive contributor to the international rules. The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence championed by China, India and Myanmar 60 years back is a universally recognized basic norm for managing state-to-state relations. China is earnest in implementing the Five Principles. The Five Principles are written into the Constitution of the People's Republic of China and reflected in the communiques on the establishment of diplomatic relations or bilateral treaties between China and almost all the countries that it has diplomatic ties with. Based on the Five Principles, China has resolved the boundary issue with 12 overland neighbors through negotiations, and completed the delimitation of the Beibu Gulf with Vietnam. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China abides by the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations in every voting, endeavoring to safeguard not its own narrow interests but equity and justice of humanity. China had taken an active part in the formulation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and contributed its share to the formation and evolution of the contemporary international maritime order. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the coming into effect of the UNCLOS. We call on those countries that have not ratified the UNCLOS to do so as quickly as possible in order to further enhance the universality of the convention. As for cyber space and other new international frontiers, China maintains that countries should work together to develop international rules acceptable to all. The standards and rules of individual countries cannot be taken as "international standards and rules".

To maintain freedom and safety of navigation on the sea serves the interests of all parties. Over the years, there has never been any problem with regard to freedom and safety of navigation in the South China Sea, nor will there be any in the future. For disputes over territories and maritime rights and interests with some neighboring countries, China maintains that it is up to the countries directly concerned to seek a peaceful settlement through negotiations and consultations between them, and that pending a settlement, the relevant parties should remain calm and exercise restraint so as to manage differences and avoid conflicts, create conditions for the settlement of disputes through shelving differences and carrying out common development, and work together to uphold peace and stability in the region. China is opposed to the submission of the South China Sea issue for international arbitration by certain country, and we are doing so to exercise the legitimate rights enshrined in the UNCLOS. According to international law, countries are entitled to independent choice of approach to peaceful settlement of disputes, and no country should impose its own will on the other. The UNCLOS allows States to declare that they exclude disputes on the sovereignty over islands and reefs, and delimitation of maritime boundaries from compulsory dispute settlement procedures. So far 34 countries have already made declarations pursuant to this provision and China did so in 2006. China's rejection to accept or participate in the relevant international arbitration is based on international law. China is firmly opposed to certain country's act of violating the legitimate rights and interests of another country under the pretext of its so-called "rule of law". China hopes that relevant country would bear in mind the larger picture and long-term interests, return to the track of dialogue, consultation and negotiations, and uphold the consensus of relevant parties, so as to maintain stability in the region.

Third, what kind of order does China envisage for the Asia-Pacific?

The Asia-Pacific boasts the greatest development vitality and potential in the world. It also faces such problems as big wealth gap, prominent livelihood issues, and unbalanced economic structure. The Asia-Pacific consists of mostly developing countries. Development is the top priority and biggest security concern of most countries in the region, and is the master key to addressing regional security issues. Countries in this region should focus their efforts on development by actively promoting regional integration and advancing regional trade liberalization and investment facilitation so as to turn economic complementarities among them into mutually-reinforcing power for common development and give a strong boost to the development of the Asia-Pacific and the well-being of its people.

It is out of mutual respect that people become friends and countries become partners. We all live in the big Asia-Pacific family, with shared interests and security needs. All countries are entitled to participate in regional security affairs on an equal footing, and are obliged to uphold regional security. We need to respect and accommodate the reasonable security concerns of all parties, and no one should seek the so-called absolute security for itself at the expense of the security of others. It is not constructive to put excessive emphasis on military and security agenda. The right way to uphold regional security is through closer dialogue and coordination and by elevating mutual trust between countries in the region. Given the immense diversity in the Asia-Pacific, we need to handle security affairs in light of the region's reality, and to respect those regional approaches that have been developing over many years and proven effective, including gradualism, consensus and accommodating the comfort level of all parties. We support the discussions on establishing a balanced and effective regional security architecture.

Openness and inclusiveness are basic principles for the healthy development of Asia-Pacific cooperation. We support a cooperative rather than confrontational relationship, advocate an open rather than exclusive mindset, and pursue a win-win rather than zero-sum result. To uphold open regionalism, we need to build an inclusive economy and regional cooperation framework, uphold a free, open and non-discriminatory multilateral trade system, and oppose all forms of protectionism. China is open to all mechanisms and arrangements that facilitate Asia-Pacific regional integration, and hopes that various bilateral, regional and trans-regional free trade initiatives would complement and reinforce each other.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

Since its inception in 2012, the World Peace Forum has grown into an important platform for international security exchange and dialogue. Under the theme of "In Pursuit of Common Security: Peace, Mutual Trust, and Responsibility", this year's forum meeting is highly relevant. I am sure your insights and visions will provide all of us with important inspiration and reference as we work to promote security in the region and beyond. I wish this forum a complete success.

Thank you.

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