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A Changing China in a Changing World

A Changing China in a Changing World

Address by H.E. Yang Jiechi

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China

At the Munich Security Conference

Munich, 5 February 2010

Mr. Chairman,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to come to Munich at the beginning of the new year to attend the Munich Security Conference and exchange views with you on major issues concerning world peace and security.

Looking back at the first decade of the 21st century, I am convinced that the enormous and profound changes the world has experienced will leave indelible imprints in the long annals of human history. And China is without doubt an important part of the changing landscape. When I read newspapers or watch television these days, I see stories about China almost every day. Many people ask: how will China, a country ever growing and developing, interact with the rest of the world? And what role will China play on the international stage? Let me therefore begin my speech with China.

We celebrated the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China a few months ago. In these 60 years, we have found a new development path through long and hard exploration. The past 30 years, in particular, have witnessed tremendous achievements in China, thanks to the policy of reform and opening up. China’s GDP has been growing at an average annual rate of nearly 10% and 235 million people have been lifted out of poverty. China has achieved three historic transitions: from a highly centralized planned economy to a dynamic socialist market economy, from a closed or semi-closed society to a fully open one, and from a state of mutual estrangement with the rest of the world to one of close interactions.

But on the other hand, China still faces many difficulties, and we in China are most keenly aware of our weaknesses and challenges. China’s per capita GDP has just exceeded 3,000 US dollars, ranking the 104th in the world. Uneven development remains a prominent problem. Big cities like Beijing and Shanghai can in no way represent the whole of China, and many rural and remote areas are still very poor. One hundred and thirty-five million people are living on less than one dollar a day and 10 million have no access to electricity. China is a developing country and it will take the strenuous efforts of several and even a dozen generations before China can truly achieve modernization. To enable the 1.3 billion people to live a comfortable life, we must focus all our time and energy on development. We will seek a peaceful international environment to develop ourselves and at the same time contribute to the cause of world peace through our own development. This is a strategic choice that China has made. It is a choice rooted in China’s own interests as well as the long-term interests of the whole world.

A more developed China is an opportunity rather than a threat to the world. History is the best teacher and keeps a fair record of the paths that all countries have traveled. “Harmony without sameness” has been a much cherished value of the Chinese people since ancient times. The argument that a strong nation is bound to seek hegemony finds no supporting case in China’s history and goes against the will of the Chinese people. China today is committed to a path of peaceful development. We pursue a defense policy that is defensive in nature and a nuclear strategy solely for self-defense. We adhere to the policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstance, and we have made the unequivocal commitment that we will unconditionally not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states and nuclear-weapon-free zones. China’s military development has a clear purpose, that is, to maintain national security and unity and ensure smooth economic and social development.

A more developed China will continue to treat others as equals and will never impose its own will on others. Gone are the days when one or two countries made decisions for the whole world. China has always maintained that all countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal members of the international community and must respect one another and treat one another with equality. China’s diplomacy is guided by this principle. The equality we call for is not just equality in form, but more importantly equality in substance. All of us should embrace a diverse world with an open mind. We must respect the values and independent choice of the development path of other countries, respect other countries’ core concerns and refrain from interfering in their internal affairs. In the same vein, China, like any country in the world, will stick to principles on issues affecting its core interests and major concerns, and defend its hard-won equal rights and legitimate interests.

A more developed China will undertake more international responsibilities and will never pursue self interests at the expense of the interests of others. We know full well that in this interdependent world, China’s future is closely linked to that of the world. Our own interests and those of others are best served when we work together to expand common interests, share responsibilities and seek win-win outcomes. That is why while focusing on its own development, China is undertaking more and more international responsibilities commensurate with its strength and status. We have taken an active part in the international cooperation on the financial crisis. We promoted the establishment of an Asian foreign exchange reserves pool worth 120 billion US dollars and signed with other countries currency swap agreements totaling 650 billion US dollars. We have cancelled the debts of 49 heavily indebted poor countries and least developed countries and provided over 200 billion RMB yuan assistance to other developing countries. China has been actively involved in international peacekeeping operations. As the largest peacekeeper contributing country among the permanent members of the UN Security Council, we have altogether sent over 10,000 peacekeeping personnel to 24 UN peacekeeping missions, including over 2,100 who are currently performing peacekeeping duties. Some Chinese peacekeepers even gave their lives to the cause of world peace and security. As you may know, eight of our peacekeeping personnel lost their lives in the recent massive earthquake in Haiti. China has shown with its concrete actions that it is a positive force for world peace and common development.

Mr. Chairman,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Concomitant with the historic changes in China are the new development and changes in the whole world. How should we read the changes our world has gone through in the past decade? The way I see it is this: as multipolarity and globalization gather momentum, the call for peace, development and cooperation, which represent the trend of the times, has become stronger than ever. The destinies of all countries have never been so closely linked as they are today, and multilateralism and democracy in international relations have won even greater popular support. But there is also the other side of the coin. Globalization, while generating rapid growth, has brought forth various problems and challenges. The impact of the financial crisis is continuing, and the prospects of the world economic recovery are unclear. Climate change, food security, energy security, public health security and other global issues have become more acute. Non-traditional security threats, including terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and transnational crimes persist, while some long-standing local conflicts and hotspot issues remain unresolved. All these pose grave challenges to world peace and development.

Living in a changing world, we must see things in the light of their development and seek solutions with a cooperative spirit. We should foster a cooperation outlook based on mutual respect and equal consultation and safeguard the right of developing countries to equal participation in international affairs. We should foster an outlook on interests which emphasizes mutual benefit and common development, and advance economic globalization in the direction of balanced progress and shared benefits. We should foster a security outlook featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and coordination, respect each other’s security interests and pursue security for all. We should foster an outlook on civilization that encourages mutual learning and seeks common ground while reserving differences, and facilitate exchanges among civilizations and development models for common progress. And we should foster an outlook on the environment that champions mutual support and coordinated progress, and make joint efforts to preserve planet Earth, our common home.

To promote world peace and development, it is particularly important that we properly manage the following hotspot issues and global challenges.

First, the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula. Tension surrounding this issue has recently eased to a certain extent, and there is now a new opportunity to restart the Six-Party Talks and push forward the denuclearization process. The Korean nuclear issue is a complex and sensitive one, and it involves the interests of different parties. We must find a peaceful solution to this issue through dialogue and consultation and by political and diplomatic means. This is the only right choice, a choice which serves the common interests of all parties. We must all work together to keep the dialogue going, demonstrate flexibility and create conditions for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. China will work tirelessly with other parties concerned and the international community as a whole for the denuclearization of the peninsula, the normalization of relations between relevant countries and the achievement of enduring peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

Second, Afghanistan. I just attended, on behalf of the Chinese government, the international conference on Afghanistan in London. Afghanistan has made headway in its peace and reconstruction endeavor, but it still faces daunting challenges, including the resurgence of terrorism, rampant drug trafficking and slow progress in reconstruction. To bring full stability to Afghanistan requires the arduous efforts of people of all sectors in that country and the entire international community. As a friendly neighbor, China hopes to see a peaceful, stable and independent Afghanistan that enjoys development and good neighborliness. We will continue to take an active part in Afghanistan’s reconstruction process, and work with the rest of the international community for the early realization of stability and development there.

Third, the Iranian nuclear issue. This issue has entered a crucial stage. The parties concerned should, with the overall and long-term interests in mind, step up diplomatic efforts, stay patient, and adopt more flexible, pragmatic and proactive policies. The purpose is to seek a comprehensive, long-term and proper solution through dialogue and negotiations and uphold the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and peace and stability in the Middle East. China will make concerted efforts with the international community and play a constructive part in settling this issue.

Fourth, climate change. Climate change is a major challenge facing the world today. A review of the history of industrialization shows that over the past 200 years and more, only developed countries, with a combined population of less than one billion, achieved modernization, and their modernization came at a huge cost of global resources and the eco-environment. It represented an unsustainable development model. We must enhance international cooperation to counter climate change. The Copenhagen conference produced positive outcomes, but it was by no means the end of our endeavor. It only signified a new beginning. All parties should stick to the basic framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, adhere to the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”, build on the consensus shown in the Copenhagen Accord, and meet their respective commitments through credible actions. The Chinese government, for its part, takes climate change very seriously, and has adopted a series of major steps in this regard. China’s carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP were cut by 46% between 1990 and 2005. Building on that, we have committed to lowering CO2 intensity by 40-45% by 2020 from the 2005 level. To reduce CO2 emissions on such a large scale and over such an extended period of time will require tremendous efforts on our part. The Chinese government will honor its word with real actions, and do its best to achieve and even exceed this target.

Mr. Chairman,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Germany is the last stop of my trip to Europe. Being in Munich, this famous historic city, I would be remiss if I did not touch upon China-Europe relations. This year marks the 35th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and the EU. Thanks to the joint efforts of the two sides, China and the EU have established a comprehensive strategic partnership that is all-dimensional, wide-ranging and multi-tiered. The major development, transformation and adjustment of the world have brought China-EU relations to a new historical starting point. China and the EU are among the most important economic and trade partners of each other. We share broad consensus on promoting multilateralism and seeking peaceful solutions to international disputes, and we need closer cooperation in addressing climate change and other global challenges. Our common interests are expanding, our shared responsibilities in international affairs are increasing, the foundation of our cooperation is getting stronger and exchanges and coordination between us are growing. All these will lend a powerful boost to China-EU relations.

The Chinese government attaches great importance to Europe and relations with Europe have always been high on its diplomatic agenda. We are pleased to note that with the Lisbon Treaty coming into effect, EU integration process has entered a new stage. We hope to see a Europe that plays a bigger and more active role in international affairs, and we look forward to working with Europe for an even brighter future of China-EU relations.

To achieve such a brighter future, we must manage our relations from a strategic and long-term perspective, cherish and build on the progress that we have worked so hard to achieve, and see to it that the relations are not obstructed by any individual incident at any particular time. We must respect each other, treat each other as equals, and accommodate each other’s core interests and major concerns. It is our hope that Europe will see China in a more objective and sensible light, and recognize that China’s development is not a challenge but an opportunity. We do not expect China and Europe to see eye to eye on each and every issue, and we need not be afraid of our differences. As long as we both embrace an open and inclusive spirit, we will have more consensus than differences and more mutual benefits than frictions, and cooperation will be the defining theme of China-EU relations.

Germany is an important country with considerable influence in Europe, and relations with Germany are part and parcel of China’s overall relations with Europe. In recent years, China and Germany have intensified communication and consultation at various levels and stepped up practical and mutually-beneficial cooperation in response to the international financial crisis. China-Germany bilateral ties have maintained dynamic growth. Today, in the face of the complex international situation and various grave challenges, China and Germany must bear in mind the larger and long-term interests and further enhance mutual trust and cooperation. China is ready to join Germany in a common effort to elevate our partnership of global responsibility to a higher level.

Mr. Chairman,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The German literary giant Goethe once said, “Whatever man lays hold of and deals with, the individual is not enough. Society remains the highest need of any honest man.” As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, we are heralding the dawn of a new era full of hope and challenges. United actions and win-win cooperation represent the call of the day and offer the only viable pathway to security and development for all. China will work in concert with other countries to advance common security and build a splendid future of prosperity and progress.

Thank you.


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