On 24th September 2010, Tang Jiaxuan, Former Chinese State Councilor, was invited to attend the first Singapore Global Dialogue and delivered a keynote speech as followed:
China's Status and Role in An Evolving International Architecture
--Keynote Speech At the First Singapore Global Dialogue
Singapore, 24 September 2010
Dean of S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies of Nanyang Technological University Ambassador Barry Desker,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a distinct pleasure for me to join all the friends, experts and scholars here at the inaugural Singapore Global Dialogue to exchange views on the evolution of the international architecture and global governance. I wish to begin by expressing sincere thanks to Nanyang Technological University, particularly the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, for their kind invitation to me and careful preparations and thoughtful arrangements for the meeting.
Singapore has a unique strategic location, a place where Eastern and Western cultures meet and blend. It is therefore a highly relevant venue for discussions under the theme of "the future of global order" amid the ongoing profound changes in the current international order. I am confident this meeting will encourage candid exchange of ideas and in-depth discussion, increase understanding and broaden consensus.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In late 1980s and early 1990s, when the Cold War ended and the bipolar structure fell apart, the world started moving toward multi-polarity, and peace and development became the trend of the times. Since the beginning of the new century, the September 11 terrorist attack and the financial crisis have exerted a profound and complicated impact on the international situation. The evolution of the international architecture has taken on new trends and features.
First, global balance of power is going through new changes and the prospects of a multi-polar world become clearer. Fast development of major developing countries and further growth of the collective strength and international influence of developing countries have become one of the most important development trends in the early days of the new century. While tackling the international financial crisis, major powers are generally busy adjusting their respective development strategies and foreign policies in preparation for international competition and cooperation in the post-crisis era. A new round of contest of comprehensive national strength at a higher level is unfolding. With their basic policies oriented toward safeguarding national interests, major powers are found competing with each other as they engage each other in cooperation. New groupings are formed on different issues. A world of multiple power centers is taking shape. International and regional organizations of all kinds are more active than ever, and new cooperation mechanisms keep coming to the fore. They are playing an increasingly important role in addressing global issues and major international and regional issues.
Second, positive reform steps have been taken toward a more just and more reasonable international financial system. The underlying impact of economic globalization has gradually been felt. Growing global challenges further accentuates the inadequacy of the reform of the global governance mechanism. The international financial crisis has laid bare the flaws in the existing international economic and financial system. The international community now has a more urgent desire to reform and improve the current international system, and consensus has been reached in many aspects. With the concerted efforts of all parties, the G20 summit has been institutionalized and become a new and premier platform for global economic governance. Both the voting share reform at the World Bank and IMF quota reform have made positive progress. These reforms will help break the monopoly of international economic and financial affairs by a small number of countries or a group of countries, and lead to greater democracy in global governance mechanism.
Third, international security situation is on the whole stable, but factors affecting peace and security become more complicated and diversified. This round of evolution of the international architecture takes place in the times of peace and development. It is proceeding gradually in a peaceful way, not through warfare on a global scale. Peace, dialogue and understanding, rather than war, confrontation and estrangement is the shared aspiration and the inevitable trend. Countries are more interdependent and their interests have never been so closely interconnected. The security of one country is more and more inseparable from that of the entire international community. Common security and multilateralism have gained greater popularity. Traditional security challenges still exist, geopolitical factors are more conspicuous, and hotspot issues keep flaring up. Non-traditional security threats like terrorism, food security, energy and resources security, public health security, climate change, transnational crimes and drug trafficking continue to worsen. Traditional security issues and non-traditional ones are more than ever closely intertwined.
Fourth, as an important part of the international architecture, Asia features more prominently in global strategic configuration. Asia is the largest continent in the world. With its vast landmass, large population and rich resources, Asia enjoys great potential for development. It is one of the fastest growing and most dynamic regions in the world and has played an irreplaceable role in the international community's common response to the financial crisis. This is particularly so for East Asia. Asian countries' vigorous exploration of development paths suitable to their national conditions have not only advanced their own economic and social development but also greatly inspired other developing countries. Asia's accelerated regional cooperation features combined strength and synergy between various mechanisms on the whole. Major forces attach greater importance to the status and role of Asia in the international architecture and have scaled up their attention to and input in Asia. The ongoing profound transformation of the regional landscape and order in Asia, interacting with what's going on globally, is, in a sense, a miniature of the evolving international architecture.
Meanwhile, we should note that the imbalance of development worldwide, the gap between the South and the North and the economic and technological advantages of the West will not change fundamentally in the near future. Reform of the international system concerns the immediate interests of all countries, and will not be completed overnight. Major unexpected contingencies occur from time to time. The world is still confronted with predictable and unpredictable challenges and risks.
In general, the evolution of the international architecture toward greater balance, security, democracy, justice and rationality is an irreversible historical trend. Yet it will also be a long, tortuous complicated and gradual process.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 put an end to China's miserable history of humiliation and aggression by Western powers. The Chinese nation became an equal member of the international community. Since reform and opening up in 1978, historic changes have taken place in China's relationship with the rest of the world. The future and destiny of China is more and more closely linked with that of the world. As a responsible member of the international community, China is firmly committed to the path of peaceful development, an opening up strategy for win-win results and friendly cooperation with all countries on the basis of the five principles of peaceful coexistence. While pursuing its own development, China has made positive contribution to the lofty cause of world peace and development.
China has sustained rapid economic growth for over 30 years since the beginning of reform and opening-up, which has enhanced its overall national strength and turned it into the world's third largest economy, top exporter and second largest importer. Through its own efforts, China has managed to feed over 20% of the world's population with less than 10% of the world's farmland, raising the living standards of the Chinese people from below subsistence to overall moderate prosperity. By properly balancing reform, development and stability, we have achieved a significant historic transition from a highly-centralized planned economy to a dynamic socialist market economy, from a closed and semi-closed country to a fully open one, while maintaining social and political stability and order. China, a country with a population of 1.3 billion, has focused its efforts on managing its own affairs well, sustained growth and maintained stability. This is important for both the region and the world at large.
China's development would not have been possible without the world. China's development also brings huge development opportunities to countries in Asia and beyond. Increasingly, it has become a major engine for world economic growth. On average, China has been importing US$687 billion of goods annually since the beginning of the century, generating more than 14 million jobs in the countries and regions concerned. In the process of tackling the international financial crisis, China, as one of the first to realize an economic upturn, has made an additional contribution of US$50 billion to the IMF replenishment plan, worked for the establishment of a US$120 billion Asia foreign exchange reserve pool and signed international currency swap agreements worth RMB650 billion, thus playing a major role in facilitating the stabilization and recovery of the world economy. With the growth of its national strength, China has provided more assistance to developing countries according to its ability. We have cancelled the debts owed by 49 heavily-indebted poor countries and least developed countries and introduced zero-tariff treatment to imports from over 40 least developed countries, contributing to the attainment of the UN Millennium Development Goals.
China is always a staunch force for world peace. The new security concept of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination that we advocate has gained the understanding of a growing number of countries, who have come to identify with such a concept. China is committed to peaceful solutions to international disputes and hotspot issues. On the Korean nuclear issue and the Iranian nuclear issue, we urge the parties concerned to stay calm and exercise restraint, pursue engagement and dialogue and avoid escalation of tensions. China is the largest contributor of peacekeepers among all the permanent members of the UN Security Council, having sent a total of over 14,000 peacekeepers to 24 UN peacekeeping missions, according to statistics. China is also actively engaged in the international cooperation on counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, arms control, disarmament and counter-piracy and has worked with countries the world over to jointly address global issues and non-traditional security issues, including climate change, energy and resources security, food security, public health security, transnational crimes and drug trafficking.
China's relationship with the international system has changed profoundly. China is an important participant, builder and contributor in the international system. With the restoration of China's lawful rights at the United Nations in 1971 through the resolution of the 26th General Assembly and the accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001, China fully integrated into the international system. To date, China has joined more than 130 intergovernmental international organizations and concluded more than 300 multilateral treaties. We always stand for equality between all countries in the international system, increased representation and say of developing countries and greater democracy in international relations. We take an active part and play a constructive role in the reform of the international system, coming up with reasonable policy proposals on international rule-making and revision and encouraging the international system to go with the trend of the times with a view to solving various issues and challenges more effectively. China believes that the international system should be reformed in a way that strengthens justice and fairness and that the principle of proactive, reliable and gradual progress must be adhered to. All the parties should have full consultation, maximize consensus and minimize obstacles and resistance to the reform so as to achieve mutual benefit and win-win results.
I want to emphasize that despite China's achievements and its rising international status and increasing role, it is still a developing country due to its huge population, weak economic foundation and development disparity. At roughly US$3,700, China's per capita GDP accounts for only 30% of the world's average and lags behind more than 100 countries in the world. There is overall moderate prosperity, albeit at a low-level, incomplete, imbalanced and far from the level of developed countries. By UN standard, 150 million Chinese still live under the poverty line and, even by China's standard, over 43 million are in poverty. In terms of economic structure, the World Development Report 2010 of the World Bank shows that in 2008, China's agriculture, industry and services sectors accounted for 11%, 49% and 40% of the GDP respectively, reflecting a relatively heavy dependence on the primary industry, a severe dependence on manufacturing and a backward services sector. This is a typical example of lower-middle-income countries. For China, a problem, however small, becomes huge when multiplied by 1.3 billion, the size of China's population, and a sizeable amount of financial resources becomes a small per capita figure when divided by 1.3 billion. The scale and complexity of the problems and difficulties faced by China are rarely seen in the world. China has a long way to go and needs to work hard for decades before it achieves modernization on all fronts.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
There are all kinds of discussions about where a growing China is heading and how it will approach its relations with the rest of the world. These questions might be in your mind as well. Here, I wish to share with you some of my observations.
First, to pursue a peaceful development path is not a short-term convenience, but a long-term strategic choice of China.
A peaceful development path is, in essence, to seek a peaceful international environment for one's development and, at the same time, uphold and promote world peace through one's development. China follows an independent foreign policy of peace and works to develop friendly and cooperative relations with all countries in the world on the basis of the five principles of peaceful coexistence regardless of the differences in ideology and social system. We pursue a win-win strategy of opening-up, strive for greater convergence of interests, accommodate the legitimate concerns of our cooperation partners while developing our own country and never seek to gain at the expense of others or shift trouble onto our neighbors. In the spirit of peace, development and cooperation, we endeavor to build a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity. We follow a national defense policy that is defensive in nature, oppose arms race, and stand firmly for peaceful solutions of disputes over the territory, territorial sea and maritime rights and interests through negotiations. China will never seek hegemony or expansionism even if it grows stronger. China's peaceful development path is fundamentally different from the historical rise of colonial powers through plunder and expansion. China has chosen to tie its interests closely to the interests of the international community and follow a path that leads to development for all.
Peaceful development is an inevitable choice given China's historical and cultural tradition, national conditions and trend of the times.
China's historical and cultural tradition determines that the Chinese are a peace-loving nation. We cherish such values as "peace is of supreme value", "harmony exists in diversity", and "do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you", and hold the aspiration that "all men within the four seas are brothers". More than 600 years ago, Zheng He, the famous navigator of China's Ming Dynasty, led seven voyages to the Western Seas. His fleet, then the most powerful in the world, visited more than 30 countries and regions in Asia and Africa. The Chinese brought with them tea, ceramics, silk and craftsmanship. They did not occupy a single inch of foreign land. As long-time victims of foreign aggression and humiliation, the Chinese people are keenly aware of the meaning of national independence, sovereignty, security and world peace. We will never inflict such sufferings upon other nations.
China's national conditions make it the central task of the Chinese government to promote economic and social development and continuous improvement of people's lives. Therefore, China's foreign policy aims to create a peaceful and stable international and neighboring environment so that we can commit ourselves whole-heartedly to development under more favorable external conditions.
China believes that the trend of our times, which features peace and development as the main call, as well as growing global challenges, makes it hard for any country to develop itself behind closed doors or stay immune from troubles. Anyone's survival and development hinges upon the concerted efforts of all to cross the troubled water and pursue shared benefits and success.
China knows deeply from history and its own experience that peaceful development is the right and successful path, a path that serves best China's fundamental interests and the interests of the people in the world. China will not and shall not deviate from this path.
Second, China will stay committed to the policy of good-neighborly and friendly relations with its neighbors and other Asian countries and to the diplomatic guideline of good-neighborly relationship and partnership in the surrounding region. As the largest country in Asia, China has many neighbors, close in terms of both geography and interests. Stability and development in the region are vital to China's own stability and development. "Family members wish each other well, and so do neighbors." China wishes its neighbors tranquility and opposes any act that undermines regional stability, good-neighborliness and mutual trust. China will work together with other Asian countries to promote dialogue and exchanges, strengthen bonds of interests, consolidate popular and public support for our friendship and create a regional environment where peace, stability, equality, mutual trust and win-win cooperation prevail.
ASEAN is an important organization in our region. China always takes ASEAN and its member countries as reliable brothers, partners and neighbors. China hails greater unity, stability and development of ASEAN and supports its more active role in regional and international affairs. We also appreciate ASEAN's support and assistance to us in many areas. The comprehensive establishment of China-ASEAN Free Trade Area earlier this year is a milestone in our relations, fully demonstrating the vigor and vitality of our strategic partnership. China and ASEAN have taken concrete steps to advance their cooperation on inter-connectivity, agriculture, education, poverty reduction, the environment and other fields. Our cooperation in the defense and non-traditional security fields enjoy good momentum of development, creating new highlights in our strategic partnership. Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of the dialogue partnership between China and ASEAN. This will be another great opportunity to strengthen our relations.
East Asia cooperation is at an important stage of development. China is always open and inclusive towards different initiatives for East Asia cooperation. We believe that East Asia cooperation should reflect regional diversity. Countries involved should stay committed to consensus building, adopt a gradual approach, handle easier issues before moving on to more difficult ones, accommodate the comfort level of each other, and keep a good pace in the cooperation in order to reduce resistance. We also believe that existing mechanisms should serve as the platform while different mechanisms may complement each other and move forward together. No single mechanism should blanket or replace the others. At the same time, there should be active exploration of new models of cooperation so that countries can work together to promote regional peace and development. I'd like to stress that ASEAN, as the initiator of East Asia cooperation, should remain in the driving seat of regional cooperation and maintain its central role.
The area of the South China Sea remains stable on the whole despite some disrupting factors. It serves the common interests of China, ASEAN and countries in this region to maintain peace and stability of the South China Sea, prevent the widening and complication of the issue, and avoid regional conflict and tension. China is committed to upholding stability of the South China Sea. We stand ready to continue to strengthen dialogue and cooperation with countries concerned to allow parties to the matter settle the dispute peacefully through bilateral friendly consultations. Pending the resolution of the dispute, differences may be shelved and joint development be conducted. The Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) need to be followed in good faith to create mutual trust between countries concerned and favorable conditions and atmosphere for the ultimate settlement of bilateral disputes. The Chinese government attaches great importance to the security of international shipping routes and freedom of passage in the South China Sea, and ensures legitimate freedom of navigation and overflight of other countries in the South China Sea according to international law. I believe, through concerted efforts of countries concerned, the South China Sea can, by all means, be a sea of peace, cooperation and friendship.
South Asia and Central Asia are undergoing profound adjustments and complex changes. It is the central task for South and Central Asian countries and the common aspiration of the international community to uphold peace and stability, eliminate poverty and promote development. Instead of maintaining or seeking any selfish interests in South and Central Asia, China is committed to good-neighborly relations and cooperation with all South and Central Asian countries. None of China's relations with a South or Central Asian country is targeted at a third country, nor will it threaten anyone. We welcome any effort that promotes political and social stability, ethnic harmony, and economic development in South and Central Asia, and will continue to work with other members of the international community to strengthen dialogue, coordination and cooperation and play a constructive role for peace, stability and development in South and Central Asia.
The situation on the Korean Peninsula has a direct bearing on peace and stability in Northeast Asia and, by extension, in the Asia-Pacific region as a whole. Although the recent "Cheonan" incident, which compounded the situation on the Peninsula, has been properly handled in the UN Security Council and achieved soft landing thanks to the concerted efforts by all parties concerned, the situation on the Peninsula remains complex and sensitive. China believes that ultimately, the issue of the Korean Peninsula can only be solved peacefully and China opposes any move to create tension on the Peninsula or in the region. We will continue our close communication and coordination with the relevant parties. We sincerely hope that all parties concerned will adopt a long-term perspective, turn the page on the "Cheonan" incident, and actively create conditions to move forward the Six-Party Talks in an effort to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, uphold its peace and stability and achieve enduring peace and stability in the region.
Third, China has always taken a strategic and long-term approach to China-US relations and is firmly committed to acting in the larger interests of the bilateral relations to promote long-term, sound and steady development of China-US relations.
As the biggest developing country and the biggest developed country in the world, China and the United States share growing common interests, challenges and responsibilities amid major changes and adjustments in the international situation. China-US relations have increasingly gone beyond the bilateral scope and assumed greater global and strategic significance. Although problems and disagreements are hardly avoidable between China and the United States given their differences in social system, history and culture and level of development, it is important that the two countries handle the differences properly on the basis of equality and mutual respect. More than 30 years of diplomatic ties show that despite a bumpy journey with various obstacles and even twists and turns along the way, China-US relations have, on the whole, moved forward, and cooperation has become the main stream in China-US relations. This is ample proof that for China and the United States cooperation is better than containment, dialogue is better than confrontation and partnership is better than rivalry.
After the current US administration took office, President Hu Jintao and President Obama reached agreement on building a positive, cooperative and comprehensive China-US relationship for the 21st century. Bilateral communication and exchange mechanisms such as the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogues have been working effectively, and the two countries have maintained close coordination and cooperation in response to the international financial crisis. We believe that China and the United States can continue to push forward the bilateral relationship along the positive, cooperative and comprehensive track as long as the two countries earnestly execute the agreement of the two presidents, and, by having candid dialogues, building trust, seeking common ground while shelving differences and cooperating for win-win results, sustain close exchanges at the top and other levels, deepen pragmatic cooperation in all fields, strengthen communication and coordination on major international and regional issues, respect each others' core interests and major concerns and handle differences and sensitive issues properly.
China and the United States are both Asia-Pacific countries and their relations concern peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. It is a fact that the United States has broad interests in Asia. We welcome a constructive role of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region and its positive contribution to peace and stability in the region. China and the United States have good cooperation within relevant regional mechanisms. We are ready to continue and strengthen communication and consultation with the United States on regional issues. We believe that all countries should abandon the Cold War mentality and zero-sum thinking and encourage benign interactions and win-win cooperation in the region rather than vicious competition and infighting to build a harmonious Asia, a harmonious Asia-Pacific region and a harmonious world.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We now stand at the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century. Let's join hands, share development opportunities, meet various challenges together and make unremitting efforts for greater democracy and equality in international relations, enhanced justice and fairness in the international system and a more peaceful and stable world of greater development and prosperity.
Finally, I wish the Singapore Global Dialogue success!