Champion the Idea of a Community of Common Destiny and Build a Bright Future of World Peace and Security
Today, peace, development and win-win cooperation have become the overriding theme of the times, and the world is increasingly growing into a community of common destiny in which the interests of one country are intertwined with those of others. However, this world is by no means trouble-free, since hegemony, power politics and zero-sum gaming have yet to become history, and global challenges like wars and conflicts, terrorism and climate change are emerging in an endless stream. There remains a vast gap between the reality and mankind's ideal of maintaining world peace for common development. In view of such a situation, President Xi Jinping stressed the important idea of "a community of common destiny for all mankind". This idea, which encapsulates the wisdom of mankind and echoes the Zeitgeist, has extensive and profound theoretical significance, is based on a wide range of effective practices, and enjoys a broad prospect of sustainable development. It represents China's contribution of its wisdom and strategy with respect to momentous issues like global governance and international security, on which the world's future depends. At present, the international community is working hard towards the establishment of a just and reasonable order of common security and actively advocating the concepts of cooperation, inclusiveness and open access, which are in a high degree of accord with the principle of building a community of common destiny for mankind.
I. We should promote international cooperation with a broader and more farsighted vision. Sincere cooperation and mutual benefit are always a fundamental way to maintain world peace as well as great objectives pursued by all the peace-loving forces in the world. The idea of a community of common destiny for all mankind advocated by China, which involves the substitution of cooperation for confrontation and that of win-win cooperation for monopoly, is exactly a response to the pursuit of mankind that befits the times. Nowadays, the increasingly close ties between countries and the ever growing need for common progress have urged us to deepen our understanding of and reflections on how to enhance cooperation.
First of all, the advocacy of cooperation should be a rule of survival in the current times. Throughout history, cooperation between one state and another has usually been an expedient or a strategic necessity resulting from antagonism between one of them and a third party. Nowadays, with the deepening of economic globalization, the steady advance in the application of IT to society, the fusion of the interests of different countries, and the complicated entanglement of security threats, cooperation is the only way to protect us from security threats and achieve common development. Enhancing international cooperation can no longer be any state's means of self-interest or opportunist option. Instead, it should be a somewhat mandatory rule of survival and requirement of the times.
Secondly, promoting cooperation calls for strategic initiative on the part of the great powers in the world. Marx and Engels made the profound observation that communication between civilizations is a constant process towards greater initiative. Lasting peace has to be achieved through international cooperation. To attain this goal requires strengthening all countries’ strategic initiative to promote it. In this process, the will and action of great powers will make other countries follow the lead. At present, China is seeking further progress in building a new model of major-country relationship with the United States featuring no conflict or confrontation, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation, making steady efforts to deepen the strategic partnership with Russia in all aspects, and striving to build a partnership of peace, growth, reform and civilization with Europe. At a new starting point, all great powers, rising power and established power alike, with a higher level of strategic initiative, should continue to expand result-oriented cooperation, and work jointly to deal with threats and challenges. This is not only a unique historical obligation to be taken on by great powers, but also an inevitable choice that would serve their interests and meet the needs of the times.
Thirdly, deepening cooperation calls for abandoning the pursuit of monopoly. Sincere cooperation would be impossible without the willingness of the parties involved to meet each other halfway. While pursuing its own interests, any country must consider other countries' concerns and may even need to make compromises or sacrifices on certain issues. As early as the 1950s, the Chinese government proposed the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, essentially as an objection to the bullying of weak countries by powerful ones, which might advance their interests at the expense of the former. This idea, which is rooted in the Chinese nation's traditional advocacy of "universal love" and opposition to war, represents a call for justice from China, a country that struggled in untold misery for 100 years. At present, the Chinese government is advocating the idea of a community of common destiny for mankind, and emphasizing the need to build partnerships of equality, negotiation and mutual understanding. As the latest evolution from the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, this idea has become a fundamental principle and guideline for building a new model of international relations. In recent years, over the North Korean nuclear issue, China has made the greatest contribution, shouldered the greatest responsibilities and withstood the greatest pressures to maintain general stability on the peninsula. Over the South China Sea issue, despite continual provocations and infringements, China has long exercised restraint and insisted on addressing the disputes through dialogue, making a prominent contribution to maintaining stability. We sincerely hope that other countries concerned would share with China the responsibility for building mutual trust and ensuring peace and stability in the region and the world at large.
II. We should enhance inclusiveness on a more profound level. Inclusiveness is a humanistic value commonly praised and pursued in both the East and the West. As Shakespeare put it, "The quality of mercy ... droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath." Like the vast ocean admitting all rivers that run into it, Chinese culture has always espoused the same way of dealing with other people. With the development of globalization and information technology, the coexistence of different civilizations and courses of development has become a distinct feature of the times. In his discussions on the community of common destiny for all mankind, President Xi has emphasized that different civilizations and countries ought to "learn from each other eclectically and incorporate things of diverse nature" and "bring about a creative development in human civilization". Inclusiveness should transcend ideology and social system and be transformed into a source of promoting more cooperation and greater harmony between countries.
Firstly, we should always keep calm in the changing balance of power. Historically, changes in relative strength have frequently led to mutations in the global strategic structure and often caused misunderstandings and even triggered conflicts. It calls for joint efforts of rising powers and established ones to get rid of such historical inertia. The rising powers need to adhere to the path of peaceful development and contribute to world prosperity and stability through their own development. The established powers should accept the development of the emerging powers rather than observe it through colored glasses. In recent years, holding aloft the banner of peaceful development, China has drawn worldwide attention to what has been achieved through the hard work of all the Chinese people. China’s development is neither achieved through robbing other countries nor harming their interests. China has succeeded in feeding 20% of the world population with 9% of the world's arable land and 6% of its fresh water. However, China's per capita GDP still ranks below the 80th in the world, less than 1/7 of that of the United States, with nearly 200 million people still in poverty. For quite a long time to come, China will remain a developing country. Nevertheless, a few countries still regard China's development as a threat and feel rather upset about it. Some of them even insist on containing China. Such an aberrant mentality runs counter to the spirit of inclusiveness. If left unchecked, it is bound to aggravate suspicion and antagonism between countries, even worse, lead to the tension and turbulence in the international community.
Secondly, we need to constantly deepen multilateral and inclusive dialogue and exchange. Civilizations in the world will be enriched by inclusiveness and communication. Inclusiveness promotes communication, which in turn enhances the former. At present, even though countries have attached greater importance to dialogue and communication, inequality is still widespread. Small and weak countries have little right to speak, international arbitration has been manipulated, and little care is shown to the rights of low-income and vulnerable people. All these inequities undermine the communication and mutual trust and impede the cultivation and development of inclusiveness. We maintain that all countries and nations, regardless of their size, strength and level of development, have equal rights to seek development and share prosperity. All countries should, on the basis of treating each other equally and respecting history and reality, manage their differences properly through wide participation, inclusive dialogue, and mutual respect of core interests and major concerns. This would be the only way to translate the inclusive spirit into concrete action to enhance strategic confidence and cooperation for the benefit of all mankind.
Thirdly, we should continue to expand the platforms and mechanisms for pluralism and better understanding. Despite the diversity of global platforms and mechanisms for communication, many of them are alliance-based or exclusive in terms of ideology or levels of development. Worse still, some members of the Western strategic community have recently called for building international mechanisms based on Western values and recommended the substitution of the G7 for the more inclusive G20. This would go against the spirit of tolerance, undermine fairness and justice, and aggravate misunderstanding and misjudgment. We oppose the parochial and closed model of governance in which the destiny of most countries are determined by a few, and advocate the creation of an open, comprehensive, universal and pluralist mechanism of exchange.
III. We should guide harmonious openness with more just and reasonable standards. Since the modern times, the acceleration of opening up around the world has contributed to prosperity and development. However, instances of injustice and violations of the rules have occurred from time to time, with the strong bullying the weak and the smaller blackmailing the larger, which has disrupted regional and global stability. In our opinion, we should reflect upon international behavior in the context of global openness, honor the spirit of international law and the universally acknowledged principles of international relations, and strive to bring about just, rational, harmonious and well-organized open access.
Firstly, we should enforce international norms in a fair and reasonable way. The rule of law is essential to global governance in the context of open access and serves as a cornerstone of world peace and stability. China has always been a staunch defender and practitioner of the existing international law. On the basis of international norms, China has thoroughly settled disputes over land borders with 12 out of 14 neighboring countries, and has finished demarcating the border in the Gulf of Tonkin with Vietnam.
However, the recent South China Sea arbitration case has been a confusion of right and wrong—a farce initiated by the Philippines in bad faith at the instigation and under the manipulation of some great powers. China will never accept or acknowledge the so-called final decision by the ad hoc court of arbitration, which, having been illegally arrived at, has no legal effect whatsoever. Despite the cloak of international law, the litigation and the decision have seriously violated the common practice of international arbitration and represent a complete departure from the purpose of the UNCLOS, which is to promote peaceful settlement of disputes. They have seriously damaged the integrity and authority of the UNCLOS and gravely infringed upon China’s lawful rights as a sovereign state and a signatory to the UNCLOS. Therefore, being unfair and illegal, they constitute an egregious injury to the equitable and rational observation of international rules.
A small number of countries have adopted double standard regarding international rules, refusing to sign and acknowledge relevant international laws and, meanwhile, posing as a judge in the name of maintaining law and order. This constitutes a blatant violation and infringement of the spirit of international law. In our opinion, to follow and maintain the principles of international law and international relations means to firmly defend the integrity and authority of the relevant international legal principles and rules. Like most of the other countries, China hopes for a more fair and just system of international law adhered to by all countries in all aspects, which would provide a legal basis for better-regulated order in an open world.
Secondly, we should find just and rational solutions to real tensions. The fair and just settlement of disputes between countries is a prerequisite of equal and open communication. Most of the regional hot issues have complicated historical background and present-day causes. To focus on either history or the current reality alone would be unlikely to produce a conclusion or solution that is acceptable to all. Only by combining the two would it be possible to find out the crux of the problem and resolve the disputes. Over the South China Sea issue, China respects history and emphasizes the sufficient historical and legal basis for its indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and the adjacent waters; in addition, considering the current situation, it has maintained peace and stability in the South China Sea according to the principle of "carrying out joint development while shelving disputes" proposed in the early 1980s. History has proven, and will continue to prove, that this proposal is the most practical, most viable and most effective way to resolve the disputes. We also believe that all countries, regardless of their size, have equal obligation to respect history and the reality. A larger country should not bully a smaller one—China has never done so; nor should a smaller country make a great commotion about nothing. 17 years ago, the Philippines let a naval vessel run aground at Second Thomas Shoal and, since then, it has never kept its repeated promises to remove it. Who is changing the status quo, and who is making trouble? Public opinion is the best judge, and facts speak louder than words.
Thirdly, we should make objective and accurate judgment between right and wrong. To confuse right and wrong is bound to cause the strong to abuse their strength and the weak to lose the basis for asserting their rights, rendering fair and reciprocal open access impossible. In dealing with other countries, we have always been in true to facts and made policies in a fair and reasonable way. However, over certain major issues, some countries have practiced double standard in favor of their own interests. In recent years, a few of them have made extensive military intrusions into the South China Sea for naval and aerial exercises and frequent close range reconnaissance, posing a serious threat to peace and stability in the region. Moreover, they have criticized and threatened China for its rightful military defense buildup on its own territory, in the name of "defending the freedom of navigation and flight in the South China Sea". A handful of people with ulterior motives slandered China's defense policy and the development of armed forces, making the groundless accusation that China is seeking hegemony through military power. In fact, the per capita military expenditure of the PLA is less than $70,000, which is much lower than that of the U.S., the U.K., France and Japan, which ranges between $200,000 and $300,000. China also contributes more UN peacekeepers than any of the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council, and the world's second largest amount of funds for UN peacekeeping. At present, China is striving to build up national defense and armed forces to a level that is commensurate with international standing, and is sure to make a greater contribution to regional peace and global security.
The PLA never forgets its duty to be ready to fight for peace at any time, and holds dear the vision of mutual support through thick and thin. The waves of difficulty can never be so rough as to drown bright hopes and that the sea of suspicion can never be so broad as to eclipse a broad vision. Building a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity is a lofty and arduous undertaking. However long and tortuous the journey might be, so long as we make concerted efforts to build a community of common destiny for all mankind, join hands to build new partnerships of win-win cooperation, take a constructive part in global security affairs with a more tolerant attitude and an opener mind, and actively seek the ”biggest common denominator” for the security interests of different countries, we will surely be able to cope with all problems and challenges, and forestall the scourge of war.