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China: A Source of Certainty and Stability in a Changing World

2019/10/22

Keynote Remarks by Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng
At the Special Plenary Session: The 70th Anniversary of the Founding of
The People's Republic of China and Peace and Development in the World
Of the 9th Beijing Xiangshan Forum

Beijing, 22 October 2019

Distinguished Guests,
Friends,

I am delighted to attend the 9th Beijing Xiangshan Forum and discuss with you, friends old and new, the shifting global environment on the security front. On behalf of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, let me extend our warm congratulations on the successful opening of the Forum.

The Chinese people just celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. In the last seven decades, the Chinese people have, with hard work, wisdom, courage and even sacrifice, forged ahead in unison and made remarkable achievements. A review of world history suggests how formidable a task it has been for super big nations to develop and prosper. The last couple of centuries have seen the rise of big nations with populations on a scale of one million, ten million or up to 100 million. Yet, the world has yet to witness, and even find it hard to imagine, the modernization of a super big country with a population exceeding one billion. However, the Chinese people have made the unimaginable possible.

In a short span of several decades, China has completed an industrialization process that took western nations several centuries, and heralded a momentous shift from standing up, growing rich to becoming strong. China has become the world's second largest economy, largest trader in goods, and second largest destination for foreign investment. And it is well on its way to become the largest consumer in goods.

Today, the Chinese people feel more fulfilled, happy and secure than ever before. The country has put in place the fundamentals of the world's largest systems for education, social security, medical services and primary-level democracy. There is adequate food and clothing for the 1.4 billion people whose average life expectancy has risen from 35 years when the People's Republic was just founded to the current 77 years. We have lifted over 800 million people out of poverty, contributing over 70 percent to the global poverty reduction. When the Chinese nation attains its century-old dream of moderate prosperity in all respects by 2020, absolute poverty will have been eliminated in the country for the first time in its history.

China has been rated on multiple occasions one of the safest places in the world in recent years. An Argentine hiker trekked for 15 months along the Great Wall in China from the Jiayuguan Pass in the west to the Shanhaiguan Pass in the east, covering over 4,000 kilometers. As he told the media, all this time throughout the journey, be it in cities or outlying wilderness, he, not even for once, found himself in danger. No robbery. No theft. And all the Chinese he met were nice, friendly, and happy. In his eyes, China was the most stable and safest country in the world. This first-hand experience of a foreigner says more than words. After 70 years of hard work, warfare, turmoil, hunger and refugees are nowhere to be seen in today's China. What meets the eye across the vast expanse of the country is vigor, dynamism, and promise.

In the last seven decades, the Chinese people have found, through painstaking exploration and persistent experiments, a path of development that suits China's national conditions. That is the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The Chinese believe that "among the thousand different paths in existence, what has worked for one is the one that matters." The Chinese miracle is more than the renewal of a big, ancient country in the East. It is also, and more important, about the success of a new trail in quest of development. One may wonder where lies the strength of this path that has worked for China? The strength lies in its independence, taking control of one's own destiny rather than copying others or living on handouts. The strength lies in the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) whereby the Party plays an overarching role to bring together the strongest possible resources of the whole nation. The strength lies in the philosophy of governing for the people and by the people which orients toward the people's wish for a better life and relies on the people for big undertakings. The strength lies in the policy of reform and opening-up, enabling China to keep abreast of the times and progress with the rest of the world through openness and cooperation.

Distinguished Guests,

Friends,

As China develops rapidly and its influence on the world stage continues to grow, it is getting more and more attention from the world. While most people have come to appreciate, welcome and recognize the progress that China has made, some argue that China's development comes at other countries' expense, and assert that China is bound to seek hegemony when it becomes stronger. So what is the truth? Here I wish to offer some of my observations. I hope you will find them helpful when you try to find out what China has really brought to the world through its development.

China brings peace and security to the world. For the past 70 years after the founding of the People's Republic, China has been committed to the path of peaceful development. We have never started a war, or taken an inch of others' land. We have settled land boundary for good with 12 of our 14 neighbors through peaceful negotiations. Though many Chinese islands and reefs in the South China Sea have been illegally occupied by some neighbors for decades, we remain committed to seeking solution through dialogue rather than the use of force. No other major country has been able to do any of the above. Last year, China became the only country to enshrine in its Constitution "adherence to the path of peaceful development". As President Xi Jinping has stated loud and clear on multiple occasions, China will never seek hegemony, expansion or sphere of influence no matter how the international landscape evolves and how much development China achieves.

While safeguarding its own peace and security, China is actively contributing its wisdom, solution and strength for world peace and stability. The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, advocated by China, are now the basic norms governing international relations. Visions put forth by China, such as building a community with a shared future for mankind, have won extensive and ever increasing recognition from the international community. China firmly safeguards the UN-centered international order. It is now the second largest funding contributor to the UN regular budget and UN peacekeeping assessments. We always pay our contributions in full and on time. We never, not even for one single time, repudiate our funding obligations. Nor have we ever been in arrears. The 10-year US$1 billion China-UN Peace and Development Fund created by China is supporting efforts to safeguard peace and development worldwide. By the end of last year, China had dispatched a total of 39,000 military personnel to 24 UN peacekeeping operations, ranking the top among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. China has signed or acceded to over 20 multilateral treaties on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, including the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

These are straightforward facts. Indeed, China has come a long way in its development and is better off than before. But we never posed any threat or created any troubles to the world. In fact, the world has become more peaceful and safer thanks to China's development.

China brings development and opportunity to the world. China has been a big contributor to the world economy and a main force driving global growth. According to the IMF, China contributed as much as 34 percent to global GDP growth between 2009 and 2018. During the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and the international financial crisis in 2008 triggered by the US sub-prime mortgage crisis, China played a pivotal role in helping prevent another Great Depression. Today, as the world economy is beset by uncertainties and downward pressure, the Chinese economy continues to enjoy overall stability with good progress. In the first three quarters of this year, it has sustained a growth rate above 6 percent, leading most of the world's major economies. Indeed, China's development has been a source of confidence for the international community.

With its development, China also provides an enormous market to the whole world. Throughout the years, foreign investors have invested more than US$2 trillion and established nearly one million businesses in China. Many countries, particularly Western countries, have gained immeasurable profits from the unprecedented "feast" of China's development. According to the statistics of a US institution, notwithstanding trade frictions between China and the US, 97 percent of the US companies operating in China reported profits in 2018, totaling over US$60 billion. In the first seven months of this year, the EU invested US$5.4 billion in China, up by 18.3 percent over last year. Sixty percent of EU companies take China as a major investment destination. Now China has a population of nearly 1.4 billion, a workforce of 900 million, and a talent pool of 170 million with higher education or professional skills. It also has more than 100 million market entities, as well as the world's largest middle-income population. Improving people's lives and upgrading consumption will unlock the huge demand in the Chinese market. It is estimated that in the next 15 years, China will import US$30 trillion of goods and US$10 trillion of services into its market. This will undoubtedly bring greater opportunities to the world.

China brings openness and cooperation to the world. Over the past 40 years and more, China has, through reform and opening-up, embraced the world with open arms. By the end of 2018, China had more than 230 trading partners across the globe, and signed 16 free trade agreements with 24 countries and regions. China fulfilled its commitment on tariff cuts it made upon joining the WTO as early as in 2010, and its overall tariffs level has now gone down to 7.5 percent, lower than that of the overwhelming majority of developing countries. Going forward, China will open even wider, and lower its tariffs level further.

China will remove all restrictions on foreign investment beyond the negative list to create a better business environment. The Chinese government recently announced that it will lift foreign ownership cap in the financial sector in 2020. A German insurance company has become the first beneficiary of this policy, and will be the first foreign-controlled insurance company in China.

Next month, China will host the second China International Import Expo (CIIE). To date, more than 3,000 foreign companies and 400,000-strong buyers from over 170 countries and regions have signed up for the Expo, a scale larger than the first one. In the future, China will open its door wider and provide a broader market to other countries.

Seeking self-interests and profit at the cost of others has never been in the genes of the Chinese culture. We do not put our interests above those of others. We do not believe in "interest first" and "interest maximization". On the contrary, we pursue both the greater good and shared interests. And when necessary, we put the greater good first. Over the past 70 years, China has provided nearly 400 billion yuan of foreign aid to 166 countries and international organizations, and sent more than 600,000 aid workers in our humble part to help at least 120 developing countries in meeting the MDGs.

Under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China has signed cooperation documents with 160 countries and international organizations, making the BRI the world's most popular public good and largest platform for cooperation. A World Bank report released last June showed that if fully implemented, the BRI would lift 32 million people out of moderate poverty, increase global trade by 6.2 percent and trade between participating economies by 9.7 percent, and drive up global income by 2.9 percent.

China has also actively fulfilled its international obligations, including upholding and advancing the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change. We have fulfilled our commitments under the Paris Agreement ahead of schedule.

Distinguished Guests,

Friends,

The world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century. We are facing both unprecedented opportunities and challenges. History has already showed us that unilateralism leads nowhere, power politics is doomed to end in failure, and that the return of the law of the jungle means nothing but the regression of civilization. Confronted with a myriad of global issues and challenges, no country can stay immune or go it alone. The world needs openness, cooperation and new opportunities, not barriers, decoupling or a new Cold War. We must all work together for the sake of the world, not fight each other like enemies. Unilateralism, zero-sum game, alliance and confrontation, believed to be necessary for the outdated mindset on security, must be rejected. We must champion a new vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and act upon this new security vision. This is the right way forward for our times.

As an important member of the international community, China is determined to advance and act according to this new security vision. We believe that security is indivisible. The right to security for each and every country should be respected and protected. An integrated approach should be taken to counter traditional and non-traditional security challenges. Countries must work together for their national and regional security through dialogue and cooperation, and put equal emphasis on development and security, so as to eventually achieve enduring peace and security for all.

- We will continue to resolutely safeguard China's national security and core interests. Providing peace, security and a happy life for all the Chinese people, or one fifths of the world's population, is in itself a major contribution by China to world peace and development. We don't covet other countries' development success, nor will we ever allow other countries to undermine China's stability and security. We will never trade away our core interests. No one should expect China to swallow the bitter consequences of undermining its interests, whether on land or on the sea, whether it's Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, or Tibet.

- We will continue to firmly uphold multilateralism and international rule of law. Multilateralism is the cornerstone of greater democracy in international relations and essential to addressing global challenges in the 21st century. China will always support the equality of countries, regardless of their size, strength and wealth. China will always act upon the vision for global governance featuring extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. China remains committed to upholding the international system underpinned by the UN and the international order anchored upon international law. China will continue to preserve the multilateral system including the G20 and the WTO. China will bolster emerging multilateral mechanisms such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS. And China will continue to oppose unilateralism and protectionism that are incompatible with our times.

- We will continue to build a new model of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind. All countries should live together in harmony in this global village. This is our shared aspiration. We will stick to our independent foreign policy of peace and the win-win strategy of opening-up. We will actively promote high-quality development under the Belt and Road initiative. We will work to build a new model of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation so as to put in place an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity.

- We will continue to actively promote the peaceful settlement of regional and international flash points. China will work with the rest of the international community to enhance coordination and cooperation, jointly tackle climate change, nuclear proliferation, terrorism, cyber and information security, energy and resources security, major natural disasters, and other global issues. We will work hard for the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue, the Iranian nuclear issue, and issues regarding Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan, and the Rakhine State. We must let peace prevail, and work together for common security and peaceful solutions to disputes. This is the way forward for there to be lasting peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific and the world at large.

Distinguished Guests,

Friends,

Some of you might have noticed that in the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, a formation of Chinese blue helmets appeared in the military parade for the first time in our National Day celebrations. In various corners of the world, these guardians of peace from China have worked hard to build peace and turn conflicts into hope. In Lebanon, they set a new record by removing the heaviest bomb in peacekeeping history. In Liberia, they completed the construction of the China-aided Ebola treatment center more than 30 days ahead of schedule despite the risk of being infected. In Mali, they invited local children as their guests to the peacekeeping camps, and they sang and danced together. Peacekeeping is like a mirror. It reflects a powerful fact that China is a force for peace, and that the more China develops, the safer the world will be.

Standing at a new historical starting point, China's commitment remains unchanged. Always ready to contribute to world peace and global development and uphold the international order, China will do its best to build a new model of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind for a brighter future of our world.

Thank you!

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