Join Hands to Create a Bright Future of Peace and Prosperity

Liu Yandong
Mid-summer is a season of lush exuberance. And it is especially so in my alma mater, Tsinghua University. It is a great pleasure to be back here for the Fifth World Peace Forum. Let me begin by extending congratulations on the opening of the Forum and warm regards to distinguished guests, experts and scholars from different parts of the world.
The World Peace Forum is the first high-level, non-governmental international security forum hosted by China. Since its inception five years ago, Chinese and foreign participants have had in-depth discussions on major international security topics, shared ideas for future cooperation, and offered advice for long-term stability and security, thus contributing to world peace and security.
The theme of this year’s Forum, “The Order of Common Security: Cooperation, Inclusiveness and Open-access”, is highly relevant to the reality and needs of today. Just two days ago, an appalling act of terror struck Nice, France, causing severe casualties. I just visited Nice two weeks ago and was deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of innocent civilians. We condemn the terrorist attack in the strongest possible term and extend our deep condolences to the families of the victims and our sympathy to the wounded. We hope there will be greater cooperation between China, France and the international community in combating both the symptoms and root causes of terrorism, the common enemy of human society.
As an ancient Chinese saying goes, “Tranquility enables all to live and thrive, while chaos allows no moment of peace for anyone.” For thousands of years, the pursuit of peace has been the primary aspiration of mankind.
History and reality tell us that the future and destiny of human society is determined by how countries engage with each other. In the world today, countries share more things in common than ever before, common development, shared interests, common challenges and joint governance. The human society has increasingly become an inter-connected community of shared future. That said, the world is not tranquil and mankind is troubled with various security challenges and threats. It remains a long and arduous task to maintain world peace and promote common development.
Ours is an era that calls for win-win cooperation.Against the backdrop of globalization, countries are inter-dependent like never before with their interests deeply entwined. There are important opportunities such as the prevailing trend of peace and development, rapid advances in science and technology and vibrant regional cooperation. There are also challenges posed by terrorism, climate change, and energy and resource security. No single country can monopolize the benefits of opportunities, nor stay immune to challenges. The only viable choice is to share opportunities and meet challenges together in the spirit of solidarity and through win-win cooperation.
Ours is an era that calls for inclusive co-existence. Different political systems and development paths exist in parallel. Many ethnic groups and civilizations draw on each other’s strength. Various political thoughts and social trends interact with and influence each other. All this form a picture of diversity. However, hegemonism and power politics manifest themselves from time to time. Lack of justice, equality and fairness is still prevalent in international relations, posing potential threats to world peace and security. “It is only natural that things cannot be all the same.” Different countries and civilizations need to uphold the spirit of inclusiveness, abandon arrogance and prejudice, and respect other countries’ choice of development path, model and concept. Only in this way can they live in harmony and jointly foster a sound environment of stability and development.
Ours is an era that calls for openness and sharing. The deep impact of the international financial crisis continues to unfold. Protectionism and isolationism in various forms have resurfaced. Multilateral trade negotiations encountered continuous setbacks. World economic recovery is an uphill journey. Openness leads to progress while isolation backwardness. Reality calls on all parties to carry forward the spirit of openness when pursuing development, build a new system of an open economy, and accelerate regional cooperation and connectivity. This will help countries realize integration through openness and development through integration, and achieve common progress and prosperity.
In the face of these global challenges, President Xi Jinping has proposed an important initiative to build a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation and develop a community of shared future for mankind. This is a creative leap over the traditional theory on international relations and offers foresight and vision for the progress of human civilization. It contributes China’s wisdom and proposal for coping with the complex and grim security threats and building a common security order. I hope we will uphold the spirit of cooperation, inclusiveness and openness, step up dialogue to enhance mutual trust and coordination, and jointly create a bright future of peace and prosperity.
First, we need to build partnerships of equality and mutual trust. Partnership is vital for state-to-state relations just like friendship is for people-to-people relations. Those who work in unity of purpose can be partners. Those who seek common ground and shelve differences can also be partners. China respects countries’ right to independently choose their foreign policy. We maintain that a more inclusive and constructive partnership should be cultivated that has no imaginary enemy and does not target a third party. A new path of “partnership but not alliance” should be explored. Countries are all equal irrespective of size, strength and wealth. They shall abide by basic norms governing international relations with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter at the center, respect other countries’ sovereignty and territorial integrity, and refrain from interfering in others’ internal affairs. Countries need to uphold equal consultation in international affairs, enhance trust, and work for more democratic, law-based and rational international relations.
Second, we should stick to win-win cooperation to promote common development of all countries. Development holds the master key to maintaining peace and stability and resolving all kinds of security issues. Countries should concentrate on development, actively carry out practical cooperation in business and trade, energy and science and technology, and make great efforts to improve people’ s lives and narrow the wealth gap so that all peoples can better share in the fruits of development. Countries should establish the concept of win-win and all-win development and abandon the zero-sum mentality and winner-takes-all approach. While pursuing one’s own interests, those of others should also be taken into account. And one’s own development should be promoted in the context of common development. We must step up macro-economic policy coordination, push for reforms in global economic governance, uphold an open world economic system, and jointly respond to the risks and challenges in the world economy.
Third, we should increase dialogue and consultation to strive for peace and security. Albert Einstein once said that peace is based on understanding and self-restraint, not on violence. If some of us indulge in the Cold-War mentality, believe in jungle law, and opt for a military-focused and confrontational approach, they will go against the trend of our times and only aggravate the security dilemma. China calls on all countries to follow the path of peaceful development, establish a security concept featuring common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security, and work hand in hand to create a fair and just security architecture by all and for all. We believe dialogue, consultation and cooperation is the right way to resolve disagreements and address complex hotspot issues. Consensus should be built through dialogue and security strengthened through cooperation.
Fourth, we should pursue sustainable development to ensure the preservation of a sound ecology for the world. There is only one Earth that mankind calls home. Countries, while exploiting and developing nature, should also preserve it and promote sustainable development and the all-round development of man. We should collaborate with one another to encourage scientific and technological innovation, make robust efforts to develop green, low-carbon, and circular economy, actively implement the Paris Agreement on climate change, and realize global sustainable development at a higher level. Developed countries should truly assume their historical responsibilities, honor their commitment on emission reduction, and help developing countries with climate change mitigation and adaptation. The competent government authorities, business associations, and NGOs in various countries should engage in international cooperation to protect the Earth, our shared home.
Fifth, we should deepen people-to-people and cultural exchanges to encourage mutual learning among civilizations. State-to-state relations are based on amity between the peoples. There is a great diversity of histories, cultures, social systems, and development stages in our world. Exchanges and mutual learning between different civilizations offer peoples in different countries the chance to experience different cultures, draw on one another’s wisdom, and find common ground. This gives us the lubricant for addressing differences and the impetus for growing mutual understanding and friendship.
Interactions and cooperation in the fields of education, science and technology, culture and health care also provide driving forces for the development of all countries and the world economy. We should deepen cooperation in people-to-people and cultural exchanges, make good use of various mechanisms of exchange and dialogue, and give full play to the role of the United Nations and relevant international and regional organizations, governments, think tanks, the media, and NGOS. Cultural interaction will connect hearts and minds and generate popular support and positive energy for the peaceful co-existence and common development of all countries.
The aspiration for peace and development runs deep in the genes of the Chinese nation. To strive for the great renewal of the nation is the greatest dream of the Chinese people since modern times. Now, the Chinese economy is in the middle of a new transformation marked by a new normal of moderated growth speed, improved structure, and the rise of new drivers of growth. Only 40 years ago, China was still an agrarian country with large swathes of rural areas. Per capita GDP was less than US$200, and urbanization rate below 18%. Now, China is the world’s second largest economy, with per capita GDP close to US$8,000 and 56% of the permanent residents living in cities. We have lifted over 600 million people out of poverty and contributed 70% to the global poverty-reduction endeavor. Within only decades, we have brought about enormous changes in national development and people’s lives and reached a new historical starting point.
That said, there are also growing pains and challenges in the process of transformation. The problems that developed countries had dealt with for centuries during their industrialization have cropped up in China in only 40 years. We are confronted with serious problems of an extensive growth model and unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable development. We still have 55 million people living in poverty and 222 million Chinese are above the age of 60. As a society that has yet to achieve moderate prosperity, we face huge pressure in old-age care and social security. There remains a long way to go before we can realize modernization for the 1.3 billion Chinese people. The next five years will be decisive for China’s efforts to build itself into a society of initial prosperity in all respects. We have laid out a new development plan and established the concept of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development. We will make development the top priority and innovation the primary driving force and work hard to double the 2010 GDP and incomes of urban and rural residents by 2020 to deliver a better life for all Chinese people.
China is a member of the international family and we need a peaceful and stable international environment to make the Chinese dream come true. At the same time, China’s development will bring opportunities and benefits to countries around the world. Having suffered a great deal from the scourge of war, the Chinese people know full well the value of peace. An ancient Chinese saying tells us that you should not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you. China will stay committed to peaceful development and deepen strategic mutual trust, business cooperation and people-to-people and cultural exchanges with other countries to work for a community of shared future and interests for mankind.
China is committed to the independent foreign policy of peace and steadfastly fulfills its international obligations. China advocates and works towards the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, plays a constructive role in the political settlement of global hotspot issues, engages in international cooperation in counter-terrorism, cyber security, climate change and other non-traditional security fields and actively participates in various international disaster rescue and relief efforts and humanitarian assistance. China has been conducting escort operations in the Gulf of Aden and waters off the coast of Somalia to safeguard important international shipping lanes.
China is the biggest contributor of peacekeepers among the permanent members of the UN Security Council, having sent more than 30,000 peacekeepers on 29 peacekeeping operations. On 31 May, Shen Liangliang, a 29-year-old Chinese peacekeeper in Mali died in a terrorist attack on the UN camp. According to his parents, he had planned to come home for his betrothal at the end of his one-year stint. A young life was thus tragically lost so far away from home before he could tie the knot with the love of his life. He laid down his life for the cause of peace in Mali and Africa. Just six days ago, when intense armed conflicts erupted in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, Li Lei and Yang Shupeng, two young Chinese peacekeepers were killed in action, and another five Chinese soldiers were wounded. These touching stories are a testimony to the sacrifices and solemn commitment made by the Chinese people to uphold world peace.
China follows a win-win strategy of opening-up and is doing all it can to contribute to world development. In 2015, China ranked No.1 in trade in goods. Its outbound investment totaled US$118 billion and the number of outbound tourists reached 120 million. The Chinese economy contributed as much as 25% to world economic growth, serving as an anchor and stabilizer for world economic recovery. China will continue to work with various countries on the “Belt and Road” initiative, building a silk road that is green, healthy, hi-tech and peaceful, and promoting common development on the Eurasian continent. This September, China will host the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, aiming to make new contribution to world economic recovery and global economic governance.
China stands for no confrontation, no conflict, friendly consultation and peaceful resolution in addressing tensions and disagreements. Since the 1960s, China has, through negotiation and consultation, delimited 20,000 kilometers of land boundary with 12 out of its 14 neighbors on land. This fully demonstrates China’s sincerity for good-neighborliness and commitment to mutual benefit and marked a concrete contribution to stability in Asia and beyond.
Recently, the arbitral tribunal on the South China Sea arbitration case brought by the Philippines issued its so-called final award, trying to negate China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime entitlements in the South China Sea. The arbitral tribunal established at the unilateral request of the Aquino III government lacks legitimacy. Its conduct has been unlawful from the very beginning as it willfully expanded, overstepped and abused its mandate. Its so-called award is thus null and void. The Chinese government did not accept or participate in the arbitration case, still less would we recognize or enforce the so-called award. China will continue to observe the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations enshrined therein, and stay committed to peacefully settling relevant disputes in the South China Sea through negotiation and consultation with countries directly concerned on the basis of respecting historical facts and in accordance with international law. China will continue to work with ASEAN countries to make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation.
China is actively advancing people-to-people exchanges with other countries to promote mutual learning and harmonious co-existence among civilizations. China has long been committed to promoting friendly exchanges with all countries and has established high-level people-to-people exchange mechanisms with countries and international and regional organizations including the US, Russia, the UK, France, the EU and Indonesia. As a participant and facilitator of these exchanges, I feel keenly that exchanges among civilizations and the sharing of thoughts and ideas have a subtle but powerful influence that can provide strong momentum for the growth of international relations and pursuit of common security.
When the Ebola outbreak hit Africa in 2014, we responded swiftly and carried out the largest ever overseas health assistance since the founding of New China. Altogether, we provided RMB750 million in funds and materials and sent more than 1,000 health workers to Africa. In the face of difficulties, we extended a helping hand to the people in West Africa and worked closely with other countries. This success story in global health cooperation also showcased the great power of people-to-people exchanges. All in all, China will always be a contributor to world peace, facilitator of global development and proponent of a just and reasonable international order. We stand ready to make unremitting efforts and greater contribution to lasting peace and prosperity of the world.
The World Peace Forum has become an important Asian, even global forum for international security. I hope the Forum will build on its successful experience to cultivate a sound high-level platform and play an important role in advancing friendship, deepening mutual trust, building consensus and promoting cooperation. I hope that during the Forum, you will have in-depth dialogue and communication, contribute ideas and suggestions and share with each other your insights for common security and development.
The famous Chinese writer Ba Jin once said, hope is like a star which will shine through any cloud. The aspiration for peace is like the star of hope for mankind. It will cut through the dark clouds of turbulence and conflict and shine upon our beautiful world with full splendor. Let us stay true to the conviction of safeguarding world peace and promoting common development, uphold the spirit of cooperation, inclusiveness and opening-up and work together for a better future of lasting peace and common prosperity.