|Chinese Modernization: New Opportunities for the World|
Keynote Speech by H.E. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang
At the Opening Ceremony of The Lanting Forum on Chinese Modernization and the World
Shanghai, 21 April 2023
Your Excellency Secretary Chen Jining,
President Wu Hailong,
Good morning. I am very pleased to join you at the Meet-the-World Lounge by the Huangpu River. This is the first Lanting Forum event in Shanghai. My heartfelt appreciation goes to Secretary Chen Jining and the Shanghai municipal government for your strong support.
Shanghai is the right place for our Forum themed “Chinese Modernization and the World”. As is often said, you should go to Shanghai if you want to know about the last 100 years of China. A little over a century ago, the Communist Party of China (CPC) started its journey from here. Since then, Shanghai has witnessed not only the vicissitudes of the Chinese nation, but also the profound transformation across the country. The old Shanghai, dominated by foreign powers, is a forerunner today in China’s reform and opening-up. A bustling and prosperous metropolis has risen from devastation since 1949. As China’s biggest economic and innovation powerhouse and a trading and shipping hub of the world, Shanghai is leading the trends of our times and development. It is a shining hallmark of the Chinese path to modernization.
A towering tree grows from its roots, and a long river flows from its source. Likewise, our success in Chinese modernization was not handed down from the heaven or just emerged by itself. It has been attained step by step through determined, painstaking efforts of the Chinese people under the leadership of the CPC always staying true to its founding mission. Chinese modernization is deeply rooted in Chinese history, practices and philosophies.
Chinese modernization is the natural choice of China’s 100-year-long quest for development. Modernization for China has been a journey of hardship and perseverance, anguish and glory, honor and dreams. During modern times, countless patriots looked to the West for a formula of modernization to save the nation, but they all failed. It was not until the birth of the CPC in 1921 that China found the pillar and guidance for its modernization. It is under the CPC’s strong leadership that we have embarked on the great journey of independently building a modern country. We have turned China from an impoverished and backward land into the world’s second largest economy, top trader in goods, biggest holder of foreign exchange reserves, and biggest manufacturer. We have put in place the world’s largest compulsory education system, social security system, and medical and health system. China has realized, in a short span of several decades, industrialization that had taken developed countries several centuries. We have caught up with the times in great strides.
Chinese modernization is the natural requirement for promoting national rejuvenation on all fronts. As of the 18th CPC National Congress, under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, the “acceleration button” was pressed in China’s modernization drive. The two major miracles — fast economic development and long-term social stability — continued. Absolute poverty was eradicated. A moderately prosperous society in all respects became a reality. With this, the First Centenary Goal was realized. The Chinese nation has achieved a great transformation from standing up and growing prosperous to becoming strong. National rejuvenation is now on an irreversible course. At the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) sessions last month, General Secretary Xi Jinping was again unanimously elected President of the People’s Republic of China. It was a choice by history and by the people. With the conviction and responsibility of “serving the people selflessly”, President Xi Jinping is steering Chinese modernization forward and leading us in marching on the right path toward a better future.
Chinese modernization is a natural outcome of the laws governing human development. Modernization is a common cause of all humanity. Although the West enjoyed the fruits of modernization ahead of others, history will not end there. As early as 140 years ago, Karl Marx envisioned crossing the Caudine Forks of capitalism, providing a solid theoretical basis for a path of modernization different from that of the West. Through the past 100 years and more, China has found by itself a path to modernization, and created a new form of human advancement. Ample facts have proved that there is no fixed model of, or single solution to, modernization. Any country can achieve modernization, as long as the path suits its conditions and answers the need of its people for development. On the contrary, mechanically copying ill-fitted foreign models is counter-productive, and may even lead to catastrophic consequences.
As a Chinese saying goes, “A just cause should be pursued for the common good.” As the biggest developing country, China always keeps in mind the greater good of the whole world. The Chinese path to modernization is not a one-flower show, still less for self-interest. It is a path toward development of China, through which more positive energy will be added to global peace and new opportunities created for global development. Here is what I believe:
The modernization of China with such a huge population will be a stronger boost for global economic recovery. Over the past 40-plus years since reform and opening-up, the Chinese government has lifted over 800 million people out of poverty, and enlarged the middle-income group to over 400 million people. Today, China is the main trading partner of over 140 countries and regions, making US$320 million direct investment around the world each day and attracting over 3,000 foreign businesses every month. Over the past decade, China has contributed more to global growth than all the G7 countries combined.
With over 1.4 billion people on course toward modernization, a number larger than the combined population of all developed countries, China will give a much stronger impetus for the global economy. The China Development Forum and the Boao Forum for Asia, which were successfully held last month, attracted many political and business leaders from around the world. The most repeated call we heard was to seize the new opportunities that will come along with China’s high-quality development and high-standard opening-up. The Number One unanimous view was to reject decoupling and move forward with China.
The modernization of China with common prosperity for all will open up a broader path to the common development of all countries. Modernization should not make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Nor should it serve the interests of only a few countries or individuals. Common prosperity for the whole world requires the development of all countries. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Global Development Initiative (GDI) are public goods that China offers to the international community. They are also open platforms for pursuing common development and prosperity. Ten years on since the start of the BRI, over 3,000 cooperation projects have been launched, involving close to US$1 trillion of investment and creating 420,000 jobs for participating countries. Many nations have thus realized their dreams of railways, big bridges, and poverty alleviation.
The GDI is also widely welcomed by the international community. With the support of over 100 countries and many international organizations, and with some 70 countries in the Group of Friends of the GDI, the Initiative is giving a strong boost to the early attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. China takes seriously the debt issue of developing countries. We are actively and fully implementing the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative, and have contributed as much as 63 percent of the total debt payments suspended. It is fair to say that Chinese modernization has helped inspire confidence in many countries in their pursuit of modernization. As an African leader put it, the Chinese path inspires all developing countries to believe that every country is able to achieve development even from scratch.
The modernization of China with material and cultural-ethical advancement will open up bright prospects for human progress. Some countries, while highly developed in economy, science and technology, have descended into a capital-centric mode, rampant materialism, cultural impoverishment, moral degradation, and public disorder. As President Xi Jinping underscored, the ultimate goal of modernization is the free and well-rounded development of people, which means not only material abundance but also cultural-ethical enrichment.
As a Chinese saying goes, “Only when the granary is full will people learn etiquette; only when people are well-fed and clothed will they know honor and shame.” The Chinese nation always yearns for a world of great harmony in which people are free from want and follow a high moral standard. It is a world where people put their cultural pursuit before material needs and see it as part of their social ideal. Back in the Axial Age 2,500 years ago, philosophers of great civilizations, like Confucius and Mencius in China and Plato in Greece, went on their respective yet common pursuit of cultural and ethical enrichment. Modernization is not the demise of ancient civilizations, but a renewal of traditional cultures. The Global Civilization Initiative (GCI) put forth by President Xi Jinping advocates the importance of inheritance and innovations of civilizations, promotes the respect for the diversity of civilizations, and advances the principles of equality, mutual learning, dialogue and inclusiveness among civilizations. The Chinese believe that even for an established country, its future hinges on self-renewal. Chinese modernization will add new vigor and vitality to the profound Chinese civilization, and contribute more Chinese wisdom to global peace and prosperity and to human progress. We envision a better world in which all civilizations prosper from generation to generation through constant self-renewal, enjoying both material abundance and cultural and ethical advancement.
The modernization of China with harmony between humanity and nature will provide a more viable pathway to a clean and beautiful world. As President Xi Jinping noted, lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets. China readily takes on its responsibility of protecting the environment and tackling climate change, and leads the world on many counts: in terms of afforested area, which accounts for a quarter of the world’s total; in the development and utilization of renewable energy, with one-third of the world’s installed capacity of wind and solar power; and in the output and sales of new energy vehicles, with half of the world’s NEVs running on Chinese roads. China has made the solemn pledge of achieving carbon peak and carbon neutrality to the world, and committed itself to moving from carbon peak to neutrality in just 30 years. That is at least years less than the United States and 40-plus years less than the European Union. China has taken the initiative to set up and invest in the Kunming Biodiversity Fund, and contributed to the conclusion of the Paris Agreement. Just early this month, President Xi Jinping and President Emmanuel Macron agreed on jointly developing a carbon neutrality center, in a bid to add new momentum to the global low-carbon transition.
The modernization of China on the path of peaceful development will bring more certainty to world peace and stability. Dominance and hegemony is not the aim of China’s development. The notion that strength will lead to hegemony is incompatible with Chinese culture, and defiance of hegemony is a noble character of Chinese diplomacy. Until today, China is the only country in the world that has put in its Constitution the commitment to a path of peaceful development. China is the top contributor of peacekeeping personnel among the permanent members of the UN Security Council, and the only country among the five Nuclear-Weapon States that has made the promise of no-first-use of nuclear weapons. We have joined over 20 multilateral arms control treaties, and pushed for the conclusion of a joint statement among the five Nuclear-Weapon States on preventing nuclear war. We advocate peaceful resolution of international disputes through consultation and dialogue.
The Global Security Initiative (GSI) put forward by President Xi Jinping has pointed out the right direction of pursuing common and universal security. As a Chinese proverb says, it is better to remove enmity than keep it alive. Facilitated by China, Saudi Arabia and Iran resumed diplomatic relations. And it is encouraging to see that more countries are shaking hands and embracing peace. In the face of the protracted Ukraine crisis, China does not inflame or take advantage of the situation. Rather, China has taken an impartial stance and pushed for peace talks in order to reduce the pressure and lower the temperature around the crisis. Facts have proved that a China moving toward modernization is a boost to the force for peace and justice.
The 20th CPC National Congress held last October drew up the blueprint for China’s future development and laid out the task of advancing the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernization. Fulfilling this central task is an unshirkable responsibility for Chinese diplomacy. We will stay committed to the path of peaceful development, and to fostering a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation. We will work with all countries to build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world of lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity, and develop a community with a shared future for mankind.
China will defend the right to development of all countries with greater determination. Modernization is an inalienable right of every country, not a privilege reserved for a few. Those who have realized modernization should not tear down the bridge or block other countries’ path to modernization. And they should not suppress, contain or stop other countries that choose a different path to modernization. China has no intention to engage in major-power competition. What we are firmly defending is our own development interests and the Chinese people’s right to pursue a better life. China respects the modernization path chosen by the people of other countries, and opposes attempts to create ideological confrontation and a new Cold War, interference in others’ internal affairs and imposition of one’s will on others. China stands committed to the right direction of globalization, opposes attempts to build walls and barriers and push for decoupling and severing supply chains, and opposes unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure. China is doing its utmost to ensure stable and smooth functioning of industrial and supply chains, so that economic globalization and the modernization of all countries could move forward in tandem and complement each other.
China will advance high-standard opening-up with more proactive efforts. China’s modernization has made advances in the course of opening-up, and is bound to embrace a brighter future through opening-up. In hosting the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation and the China International Import Expo, China will deepen convergence of interests with the world. We will invest more resources in global development cooperation, and do our utmost to help relieve the debt burdens of developing countries. We will endeavor to save international financial and currency circulation from the plight of speculation, manipulation, sanction and pressuring, and help it return to its fundamental purpose of serving the real economy and promoting modernization.
I’d like to take this opportunity to once again congratulate Madame Rousseff on assuming the Presidency of the New Development Bank. I trust the Bank will provide even greater support to the modernization processes of developing countries.
China will promote more actively exchanges among civilizations. We call on all countries to promote peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom — the common values of humanity, and let cultural exchanges transcend estrangement, mutual learning transcend clashes, and coexistence transcend arrogance. We firmly oppose discrimination against races, countries and civilizations in international relations. We are ready to explore with all countries the building of a global network for inter-civilization dialogue and cooperation, to open up new prospects of enhanced exchanges and understanding among different peoples and better interactions and integration of diversified cultures. Together we can make the garden of civilizations colorful and fragrant.
China will work more vigorously for a community of all life on Earth. We will step up efforts to build a sound economic structure that facilitates green, low-carbon and circular development, and promote a transition to green economic and social development across the board. Following the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, we will actively participate in international cooperation in climate response, ocean governance, global biodiversity protection and other areas, and promote a fair and equitable global environmental governance system of win-win cooperation, so as to contribute to addressing global challenges such as climate and environment and building a clean and beautiful world.
China will safeguard the international order with greater resolve. Recently, there have been some absurd rhetoric accusing China of challenging the so-called rules-based international order, of unilaterally changing the status quo across the Taiwan Strait through force or coercion, and of disrupting peace and stability across the Strait. Such claims go against basic common sense on international relations and historical justice. The logic is absurd, and the consequences dangerous. Having suffered among the heaviest casualties in the world anti-fascist alliance during WWII, and as a founding member of the UN and the first country to sign the UN Charter, China sees it as its solemn duty to defend the authority of the UN and uphold the post-war international order. We have the best record in abiding by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, international law and the basic norms of international relations. We need no reminder by certain countries or groups of countries. Fair-minded people can see full well who is exploiting and discarding the UN at its own will, who is disrupting the international order, and who is engaged in hegemonic, bullying and high-handed practices.
Taiwan has been an inalienable part of China’s territory since ancient times, and both sides of the Strait belong to one and the same China. This is Taiwan’s history, and it is also the status quo of Taiwan. Taiwan’s return to China is a component of the post-war international order, written in black and white in the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation. It is not the Chinese mainland, but the “Taiwan independence” separatist forces and a handful of countries attempting to take advantage of “Taiwan independence”, that are disrupting international rules, unilaterally changing the status quo, and undermining stability across the Strait. Their definition of rules, status quo and stability is in fact aimed to hollow out the one-China principle, achieve “peaceful division” of China, and ultimately tamper with the history of WWII, subvert the post-war order, and trample on China’s sovereignty. This is unacceptable to the 1.4 billion Chinese people. China will not lose any part of its territory that has been restored. And the established post-war international order will not be upended.
It is right and proper for China to uphold its sovereignty and territorial integrity. We would like to make it clear to those who seek to sabotage international justice in the name of international order: The Taiwan question is the core of the core interests of China, and there will be no vagueness at all in our response to any one who attempts to distort the one-China principle; we will never back down in face of any act that undermines China’s sovereignty and security. Those who play with fire on Taiwan will eventually get themselves burned.
As a Chinese saying goes, with thousands of mountains already behind, the road ahead is full of promises of a budding spring. While Chinese modernization is conceived in China, the opportunities it brings belong to the world. We are ready to work together with all parties to promote diverse ways of modernization and create an even brighter future for our planet.
To conclude, I wish the Forum a full success. Thank you!