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Speech by H.E. Xi Jinping President of the People's Republic of China At the Körber Foundation

2014-03-29 10:44

Berlin, 28 March 2014

Mr. Richard von Weizsäcker, Former President of Germany,
Mr. Helmut Schmidt, Former Chancellor of Germany,
Dr. Klaus Wehmeier, Vice President of Körber Foundation,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

Guten Tag. Good Afternoon. It gives me great pleasure to meet you and speak to you at the invitation of former President Weizsäcker and the Körber Foundation. Let me begin by expressing my sincere thanks to the Körber Foundation for its commitment to promoting mutual understanding between Europe and China.

I visited Germany five years ago. Back then, the international financial crisis was unfolding, the European debt issue just emerged, and the global economy was shadowed by dark clouds of uncertainty and anxiety. Against such a backdrop, China and Germany agreed during my visit to lift bilateral cooperation in various fields to a higher level and overcome difficulties with joint actions.

Five years on, I am glad to see the progress Europe has made in addressing the sovereign debt issue and clear signs of economic recovery. Germany, as the anchor of European economy and champion of European integration, has played a key role in this endeavor and gained international applause. We are heartened by the progress made in the joint efforts of China, Germany and Europe to fight the international financial crisis.

China-Germany relationship is never so strong as it is today, with bilateral exchanges and cooperation reaching unprecedented depth, breadth and warmth. All this shows that by drawing on each other's strengths, we can not only achieve common development to the benefit of both countries and peoples, but also contribute significantly to promoting world peace and development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

What has made it possible for China and Germany to make such good progress in exchanges and cooperation? A key factor, in my view, is that thanks to mutual efforts made over the years, our two sides have come to appreciate that countries different in history, culture, national condition and social system need to deepen mutual understanding, treat each other with sincerity, be ready to listen to the other's views, and put oneself in the other's position in addressing related issues.

Mutual understanding is the foundation of state-to-state relations. Deeper mutual understanding will cement and broaden the foundation of our exchanges and cooperation.

Thanks to over 30 years of rapid growth achieved through reform and opening up, China's GDP now ranks the second place in the world. As China continues to grow, some people start to worry. Some view China through colored glasses and believe that China will inevitably become a threat as it develops further. They even portray China as being the terrifying Mephisto who would some day suck the soul of the world. Absurdity as such couldn't be more ridiculous, yet some people, regrettably, are never tired of preaching it. This shows that prejudice is indeed hard to overcome.

A review of human history tells us that what keeps people apart are not mountains, rivers or oceans, but a lack of mutual understanding. As Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz once observed, only the sharing of our talents will light the lamp of wisdom.

Let me take this opportunity to talk to you about China's reform and development, focusing on China's commitment to peaceful development. I hope this will help you gain a better understanding of China.

China made the solemn declaration to the world long ago that it is committed to pursuing peaceful development. It strives to develop itself by upholding world peace and maintain world peace through its development. Pursuing peaceful development is China's response to international concern about the direction of China's development. Moreover, it demonstrates the Chinese people's confidence and commitment to realize its development goals. Such confidence and commitment are rooted in the rich heritage of the Chinese civilization, in our understanding of conditions for achieving the goals of China's development, and in our keen appreciation of the general trend of global development.

The Chinese nation is a peace-loving nation. And the most profound pursuit of a nation has its origin in the national character formed through generations. The Chinese civilization, with a history of over 5,000 years, has always cherished peace. The pursuit of peace, amity and harmony is an integral part of the Chinese character which runs deep in the blood of the Chinese people. In ancient times, the following axioms were already popular in China: "A warlike state, however big it may be, will eventually perish." "Peace is of paramount importance." "Seek harmony without uniformity." "Replace weapons of war with gifts of jade and silk." "Bring prosperity to the nation and security to the people." "Foster friendship with neighbors." "Achieve universal peace." These axioms have been passed down in China from generation to generation. China was long one of the most powerful countries in the world. Yet it never engaged in colonialism or aggression. The pursuit of peaceful development represents the peace-loving cultural tradition of the Chinese nation over the past several thousand years, a tradition that we have inherited and carried forward.

China has set the following goal for its future development: By 2020, China will double its 2010 GDP and per capita income of urban and rural residents and finish the building of a society of initial prosperity in all respects. By the mid-21st century, China will have turned itself into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious. We refer to this goal as the Chinese dream of the great renewal of the Chinese nation. We will quickly enhance China's overall prosperity and raise the happiness index for over 1.3 billion Chinese people as long as we are on the right path. Yet, it will not be as easy to make this happen for every individual. Consider the difference between eight people sharing one meal and 80 or even 800 people sharing the meal. No matter how big the meal is, the individual share of it will differ dramatically for diners different in number. We are keenly aware that China will remain the world's largest developing country for a long time to come and that to make life better for the over 1.3 billion people calls for strenuous efforts. Two things will enable China to focus on development: a harmonious and stable domestic environment, and a peaceful and stable international environment.

History is the best teacher. It faithfully records the journey that every country has gone through and offers guidance for its future development. In the over 100 years from the Opium War in 1840 prior to the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, China was ravaged by wars, turmoils and foreign aggressions. To the average Chinese, it was a period of ordeal too bitter to recall. The war of aggression against China committed by Japanese militarism alone inflicted over 35 million Chinese military and civilian casualties. These atrocities are still fresh in our memory. We Chinese have long held the belief that we should not do onto others what we would not want others do to us. China needs peace as much as human beings need air and plants need sunshine. Only by pursuing peaceful development and working together with all other countries to uphold world peace can China realize its goal and make even greater contribution to the world.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the pioneer of China's democratic revolution, had this to say, "The trend of the world is surging forward. Those who follow the trend will prosper, and those who go against it will perish." History shows that a country, in order to achieve prosperity, must recognize and follow the underlying trend of the changing world. Otherwise, it will be abandoned by history. What is the trend of today's world? The answer is unequivocal. It is the trend of peace, development, cooperation and win-win progress. China does not subscribe to the outdated logic that a country will invariably seek hegemony when it grows in strength. Can the old practice of colonialism and hegemonism still work in today's world? Definitely no. It can only lead to a dead end, and those who stick to this beaten track will only hit a stone wall. The only alternative is peaceful development. That is why China is committed to it.

Facts speak louder than words. Over the past decades, China has consistently followed an independent foreign policy of peace and made it abundantly clear China's foreign policy is aimed at maintaining world peace and promoting common development. China has stated on numerous occasions that it opposes hegemonism and power politics in all forms, does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, and will never seek hegemony or expansion. This is our guiding policy which underlies China's political system. And this is a policy we follow in practice. At the same time, China will firmly uphold its sovereignty, security, and development interests. No country should expect China to swallow the bitter fruit that undermines its sovereignty, security and development interests.

In short, 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. As peaceful development benefits both China and the world, we cannot think of any reason why we should not pursue this approach that has proven so effective.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

Last November, the Third Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China was held, at which a top-level decision on furthering China's reform and opening-up program was made, and a roadmap and timetable for carrying out reform was adopted. The overarching goal is to improve and develop the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, advance the modernization of national governance system and capabilities, and thus lay down a solid institutional foundation for China's long-term development.

China is accelerating its efforts to promote a new type of industrialization, application of IT technologies, urbanization and agricultural modernization, which will unleash tremendous demand in investment and consumption. With a per capita GDP of close to US$7,000, China is in a crucial stage of fast upgrading the mix of private consumption and industrial structure. In 2013, the service sector overtook industrial manufacturing for the first time as a bigger share of the Chinese economy. The share of the service sector and its importance in the Chinese economy will continue to rise, and so will high value-added, high-tech industries; and new growth areas of consumption and drivers of growth will keep emerging. In the next five years, China is projected to import over US$10 trillion of goods and make over US$500 billion of overseas investment, and over 500 million Chinese tourists will make overseas visits.

Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher, observed that "a big country should be like the lower reaches of a river." It means that a big country should be as inclusive as the lower reaches of a river that admit numerous tributaries. China is eager to strengthen dialogue and exchange of views with the rest of the world and listen to the voices of other countries with an open and inclusive mind. We hope that time will dispel prejudices and misunderstanding. We also hope that the world will view China in an objective, historical and multi-dimensional light, and see the true and full picture of a dynamic China.

China will never pursue development at the expense of other countries' interests or follow a beggar-thy-neighbor policy. With the lofty cause of peace and development of the world in mind, we will contribute the Chinese vision to the management of contemporary international relations, offer the Chinese solution for improving global governance, and work with the international society to meet various challenges of the 21st century.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

The Chinese nation and the German nation are two great nations who have made important contribution to promoting the progress of human civilization. Germany is famous for its advanced science, technology and developed manufacturing industries. It has also produced many luminaries with global renown in philosophy, literature and music, and many of their works are popular in China: poems and other literary works by Johann W. von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller and Heinrich Heine, tomes of philosophy by Gottfried W. Leibniz, Immanuel Kant, Georg W. F. Hegel, Ludwig Feuerbach, Karl Marx, Martin Heidegger and Herbert Marcuse, and enchanting melodies by Johann S. Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms, to name just a few. Many Chinese, including myself, enjoy their works, marvel at the power of thinking and have thus gained a deeper understanding of the world and life.

As a German saying goes, "Mountains never meet, but people do." The Chinese and the Germans have a long history of exchanges and profound friendship. As I speak to you, I recall a German widely respected and loved in China. His name is John Rabe. Over 70 years ago, Japanese troops invaded the Chinese city of Nanjing and committed a heinous crime by killing more than 300,000 Chinese soldiers and civilians. When the killing continued, Mr. Rabe contacted a dozen other foreigners in Nanjing and set up the Nanjing Safety Zone, sheltering over 200,000 Chinese. Mr. Rabe kept a detailed record of the massacre in his diary, which has become an important evidence for study on this historical incident. In 1996, the John Rabe House was jointly opened by China and Germany in Nanjing. At the end of last year, renovation of the Rabe tomb in Berlin, funded by the Nanjing municipal government, was completed. We in China cherish the memory of Mr. Rabe as a man who demonstrated great compassion for life and love of peace.

I also think of another German friend-Mr. Norbert Goerres, who was a grape grower. Between 2000 and 2009, he and his assistant Hans-Werner Beu went to Zaozhuang in the Chinese province of Shandong 17 times to help local farmers improve grape growing and grafting. Norbert also granted a local winery, free of charge, the right to use the centuries-old brand of his family business. Norbert and Hans also paid the tuition of eight students from poor local families. In 2007, Hans was suddenly diagnosed with cancer. Before he died, he asked Norbert to give 2,000 yuan to two of the students he helped to enable them to finish senior high school. When Norbert gave the money to the two students on 1 August 2008, all those present were moved to tears.

These are just two of the many touching stories of friendship between the Chinese and Germans. Over the years, many Germans have contributed personally to the growth of China-German relations and the reform and opening-up endeavors of China.

The 21st century is a century of cooperation. A broad vision will open up broad vistas for our future cooperation. The next five to ten years will be a crucial period in reform and development for both China and Germany. The deepening of such reform will expand our cooperation to more areas and inject new impetus for it. I am convinced that with the integration of "Made in Germany" and "Made in China", we will not only produce quality products together, but also make life better and more inspiring for our two peoples. China and Germany are respectively the biggest economy in Asia and Europe. Bringing closer our two economies, the two pillars of growth in Asia and Europe, will surely boost the world economy.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

This year marks the centenary of World War I and the 75th anniversary of World War II. Gotthold Ephraim Lessing said, "History should not encumber memory. It should enlighten common sense." Former Chancellor Willy Brandt said, "He who forgets the past will get sick in his soul." And we Chinese often say, "History, if not forgotten, can serve as a guide for the future." We in China have chosen a path of peaceful development based on what we have gone through. We sincerely hope that all other countries will follow the path of peaceful development and work together to build a harmonious world of enduring peace and common prosperity.

Thank you!

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