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Toward a New Type of International Relations of Win-Win Cooperation

Speech by Foreign Minister Wang Yi at Luncheon of the China Development Forum

2015-03-25 16:30

Beijing, 23 March 2015

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to attend the annual conference of the China Development Forum and to talk about a new type of international relations oriented toward win-win cooperation. A topic as such surely attracts the attention of experts on international relations, yet it might sound a bit unfamiliar to those from the business community, who happen to make a larger part of the audience today. The truth is, we live in a globalized age when everything is connected and has a bearing on each other, be it political issues, economy, culture or diplomacy. So what I will do today is to talk about the political and diplomatic aspect of things, which I hope will help you better understand China's foreign policy and its strategic intention.

International relations is an old subject, yet it often makes a new topic for discussion. Since the birth of nation states, how to develop state-to-state relations has always remained high on the agenda of human exploration.

More than 300 years ago, with the rise of nation states, the Westphalian System was born in Europe. It established the key principles of sovereignty and equality, and marked the beginning of international relations of modern times. Yet this system had failed in the end to prevent major-power rivalry in Europe.

More than 200 years ago, the Vienna System came into being, under which the post-Napoleonic War geo-political landscape of Europe was re-aligned under the principle of equilibrium of power. The outcome was decades of peace in Europe. Yet as it evolved, alliances were formed and confrontation and arms race emerged before the eventual eruption of World War I.

What has happened over the centuries has proved one thing. The development of international relations, and the forming of the international system, at each period, bears a unique mark of the time. We all need to move on and keep abreast of the times to make the international relations and international system of our times effective and relevant to the world we live in.

70 years ago, in the wake of victory of the world's anti-fascist war, nations on earth created an international order and a corresponding international system with the United Nations as the core underpinned by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. What it marked was a giant step forward in the history of human civilization, a proud new chapter in the evolution of international relations and the international system.

The past seven decades has witnessed overall peace and stability of the world and unprecedented progress in mankind's development. At the same time, globalization and the shift of international forces have posed new challenges to the existing international order and system. We have seen, more often than not, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter not being observed to the letter, and equity and justice in international relations not honored as people would have hoped. In recent years, in particular, countries in the world have had to cope with a sluggish global economy, geopolitical turbulence, the threat of terrorism and friction among civilizations, to name just a few. No wonder some western scholars have cried out that we are about to enter a world of disorder.

Distinguished Guests,
Dear Friends,

Now, 70 years after the founding of the United Nations, it is highly necessary that we think over the question of what kind of international relations to foster under new historical conditions so that we could continue to uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and better safeguard and bring forward the international system with the United Nations at its core. Some people have in recent years raised the argument of hegemonic stability, calling for the creation of an omnipotent superpower to command world affairs. Some have come up with the notion of global governance and argued that nations should dilute sovereignty and engage in the formulation of common rules for world governance. Still some have emphasized the idea of "universal values", indicating that a certain kind of values and social system, believed to be "superior" to others, be used to govern our world.

What China proposes as a solution is to build a new type of international relations of win-win cooperation. This major concept, proposed by President Xi Jinping on the basis of grasping the overall world trend, actually builds on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. At the same time, it goes beyond the traditional theory of international relations. Its impact on the future development of international relations will surely be profound and significant.

Well, people might ask, what makes this type of international relations new? To put it simply, such a new type of international relations is aimed at replacing confrontation with cooperation, and exclusiveness with win-win cooperation. What it rejects is the practice of zero-sum game and the winner-takes-all approach.

Globalization has made countries increasingly interconnected and their interests more than ever intertwined. Even a minute mis-function in the global chain of supply, of industry, and of value, could affect all the countries that each make a single link of the chain. Meanwhile, the challenges facing world peace and development are increasingly becoming cross-cutting, overarching and long-term. No country is immune and all must stand together to cope with challenges head on. Such is the reality we find ourselves in, which puts into perspective the vision for this new type of international relations of win-win cooperation.

The notion of this new type of international relations of win-win cooperation did not come to us in a strike of the magic apple. It actually originates from the rich cultural tradition of the Chinese nation and is the natural outcome of the diplomatic practice of the People's Republic of China over past decades.

The Chinese people, throughout the millennia, have been nurtured by the philosophical thinking of our forefathers, who taught us to help others if we wanted to be successful and to refrain from pursuing gains for ourselves only. These profound wisdoms guiding interpersonal relationship stand very much in contrast with the western political philosophy that is based on the belief of human nature being evil and the doctrine of the survival of the fittest.

Since the founding of the People's Republic, the Chinese government has championed the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, and has committed itself to growing friendship and cooperation with all other countries. While doing our best to achieve our own development, we also choose to help others in their development endeavor.

Over 40 years ago, some 50,000 Chinese men and women journeyed to Africa, where they shed sweat and blood to build Tazara, a 1,860-kilometer railway linking Tanzania and Zambia on the African continent. That was the time when things were pretty tough for China itself. Yet, by tightening our own belt, we managed to lend a helping hand to a large number of developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America to assist them in their struggle for independence and liberation.

The reform and opening up program that started over 30 years ago has enabled us to marry China's advantage in market and labour resources with the capital and technology of developed countries in the pursuit for win-win cooperation. This has made the pie of common interests between China and other countries larger and larger. China has grown into the largest trading partner of over 120 countries in just a couple of decades, and made indispensable contribution to stability and growth of the world economy.

To put it in a nutshell, the Chinese people know full well that, just as a right cause has the support of many, cooperation makes the surest way to win-win progress. China's friends are all over the world, near and far, which gives us even greater confidence to carry forward win-win diplomacy for the benefit of all in the world.

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

China has now found its path of peaceful development. Going forward, we will work with other countries to open yet a new path of win-win cooperation. As President Xi Jinping pointed out, we need to work in earnest in the political, economic, security and cultural fields to make sure that our cooperation is truly win-win.

Politically, we need to foster a new thinking of building partnerships. International relations, in the traditional sense, are often about making a choice between alliance and confrontation. To build partnerships, however, is to find a new path of having dialogue without confrontation and making partners without forming alliance. As President Xi Jinping put it, countries, with or without agreement, could all be partners. It is true that political alliance does exist, and China respects countries' right to independently choose their foreign policy. In the meantime, we hope that parties may, by acting along the trend of the times, explore a new type of partnership that is more inclusive and constructive, that is not targeted at a hypothetical enemy or against a third party. As far as China is concerned, we have in recent years established partnerships of various forms with 75 countries and 5 regions or regional organizations in an effort to build a global network of partnerships of peace, development and cooperation and of equality, inclusiveness and win-win development.

China and the United States have worked to build a new model of major-country relations. The two countries focusing more on strategic communication and practical cooperation and better managing differences and disputes serves not only the interests of the two peoples, but also peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific and beyond. We look forward to new and fruitful results to be achieved by President Xi Jinping's state visit to the United States this fall. The China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination has accomplished high level of development. The two countries have made breakthroughs in major cooperation projects and increased their strategic coordination. China-EU relations have been elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership and are moving toward the partnership for peace, growth, reform and progress of civilizations. China's solidarity and coordination with emerging markets and developing countries are growing from strength to strength. More substance has been added to the new type of strategic partnership between China and Africa, and China and Latin America have established a comprehensive cooperative partnership of equality, mutual benefit and common development. We could all so proudly state that China's circle of friends and partners is getting bigger and bigger as we make more and more friends in the world.

Economically, we need to foster new prospects of common development. This year, the United Nations will formulate the post-2015 development agenda. Over the past 15 years since the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals, the target of halving the world's population living in extreme poverty has been basically met, yet more than 1 billion people are still living under the line of extreme poverty. Development imbalance is not a mere economic issue. It is at the root of many of the problems facing our world today. China calls on all countries to foster a true sense of community of shared interests and work to secure the greatest common interests possible in seeking common development.

Such is the vision we have in mind when the Chinese government put forward the initiative of building "the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road", which has already got positive response from about 60 countries. Inspired by the ancient Silk Road, the "Belt and Road" initiative is designed to embrace the tremendous need for cooperation among countries concerned by prioritizing the development of infrastructure facilities for transportation on the Eurasian Continent. Currently in Asia alone, infrastructure needs to be upgraded for many countries and regions, for which the funding from existing financing institutions is hardly sufficient. That is where we see the potential and opportunity to turn demand into driving force for development. And that is why we believe the proposal to establish a US$100 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is most opportune. In fact, the proposal has been warmly received by many countries, and the latest application for admission by the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and Switzerland will make the founding membership of the AIIB more broad-based and representative.

China will work with other countries and parties concerned to make the AIIB a success and ensure that the Silk Road Fund is put to good use. We will make the most of the Dialogue on Connectivity Partnership and other platforms and build multiple economic corridors. Once materialized, those mechanisms and platforms will benefit vast regions along the Belt and the Road and help narrow the gaps in development. They will also serve to reduce tension over hotspot issues and speed up the process of regional integration. The "Belt and Road" initiative will be a public good China provides to the world, and we welcome all countries, international organizations, multinationals, financial institutions and NGOs to join in and be part of the specific cooperation programs.

On the security front, we need to commit ourselves to building a world of security for all. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. For our world, peace has not come easily and must be preserved however hard we need to work. We need to better leverage the safeguard mechanisms established by the UN Charter to prevent war and uphold peace. We need to lend support to a more effective role of the UN and its Security Council to enhance the capacity of conflict prevention. We must make sure that the Cold War mentality, whatever its form, gives way to a shared commitment to common, cooperative, comprehensive and sustainable security. Disputes between countries should be addressed through dialogue and consultation instead of the use or threat of force. This way, we will ensure that peace and security are enjoyed and safeguarded by all countries in the world.

China is an active contributor to international peace and security operations. It has sent nearly 30,000 men and women to UN peacekeeping operations, more than other permanent members of the UN Security Council. A 700-soldier infantry battalion has just arrived in South Sudan to join UNMISS. By now, 19 Chinese fleets have conducted escort missions for the safe passage of over 5,800 ships in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia.

China is an active contributor to regional stability and security, and to the building of regional security dialogue and cooperation platforms. China successfully hosted the CICA summit, and stands ready to engage in bilateral and multilateral defense and security exchange and cooperation with other countries through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and East Asia cooperation frameworks. China calls for peaceful handling of disputes over territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. China has completely settled boundary issues with 12 out of its 14 neighbours on land. China has advocated a "dual-track" approach regarding the issue of the South China Sea, believing that relevant disputes should be settled peacefully by countries directly concerned through dialogue and consultation and that peace and stability of the South China Sea should be maintained by China and ASEAN countries working together. Such an approach has received understanding and support of most countries in the region. China has acted as a major responsible country in the world by taking an active part in the global cooperation to fight terrorism, strengthen cyber security and curb the spread of communicable diseases.

China is actively involved in the peaceful settling of hotspot issues in the hope to provide a Chinese perspective to the solution of relevant issues. China believes in the following three principles in handling hotspot issues, i.e. no country should interfere in other countries' internal affairs or impose its own will on others; countries concerned should act in an impartial and objective manner and refrain from seeking selfish interests; and political solutions, not the use of force, should be sought in addressing hotspot issues. China's commitment has been honored with real actions, from its dedication to peace, stability and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula to the successful hosting of the fourth Ministerial Conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan, from its active involvement in negotiations over the Iranian nuclear issue to active shuttle diplomacy by special Chinese envoys to the Middle East, and to the "Special Consultation in Support of the IGAD-led South Sudan Peace Process" that China initiated. On the question of Myanmar, China used its resources and played a mediating role to facilitate the process of national reconciliation within Myanmar, efforts that contributed to long-term peace of Myanmar and to peace and stability along the China-Myanmar border.

China takes an objective and impartial stance on the question of Ukraine and seeks to actively promote peaceful talks over the question. China believes that Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity should be respected and that external forces should not be allowed to interfere in Ukraine's internal affairs. China hopes to see the question of Ukraine being resolved peacefully through political means. From China's perspective, the solution to the Ukraine crisis lies, ultimately, in balancing the interests and concerns of different regions and ethnic communities in Ukraine and in balancing Ukraine's relations with Russia and with its European neighbours. It is crucial for Ukraine to strike that balance, so that it could act as a bridge linking the East and the West instead of being caught in the front line of East-West confrontation.

Culturally, we should promote inclusiveness and mutual learning between civilizations. The world we live in is home to over 200 countries and regions and more than 2,500 ethnic groups and various religions, and is thus blessed with a remarkable cultural diversity. Each civilization is proudly unique of its own and all add to the common asset of the human race. The Chinese nation values inclusiveness and accommodation. For millennia, different cultures and faiths, including Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and Islam, have co-existed in harmony on this land, which is in fact not commonplace elsewhere in the world. The history of progress of the Chinese civilization is a powerful example of how different cultures and faiths could interact and thrive together without doing each other harm. The secret to that, I believe, is nothing but equality, mutual appreciation and accommodation.

Distinguished Guests,
Dear Friends,

China works to promote win-win cooperation both through policy initiatives and with real actions. China calls for the building of a new type of international relations of win-win cooperation, a relationship that we believe are for the dignity, development interests and peace and security of all countries and peoples. China's diplomacy will be firmly rooted in the conditions both at home and in the wider world to serve the fundamental interests of the Chinese people and people of other countries. Let us be firm in our commitment to peaceful development and work together in win-win cooperation to usher in even brighter prospects for the benefit of all in the world.

Thank you all very much.

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