Yang Jiechi is State Councillor of the People’s Republic of China, having previously served as the country's Foreign Minister.
THIS YEAR marks the 70th anniversary of the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War and the founding of the United Nations, which represents an important opportunity to review the post-war development of the world and a new starting point for creating a better future for human society.
Seven decades ago, having reflected on the “scourge of war which […] brought untold sorrow to mankind,” the international community created a UN-centered international system based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, thus turning a new page in the history of international relations.
Over the past 70 years, the international community, guided by the UN Charter, has succeeded in preventing another world war and taken significant strides in human development. Still, one must not lose sight of the wars and conflicts flaring up around the world, or the hunger and poverty that are the primary threat to over one billion people. Realizing the noble goals of peace, security, and justice-enshrined in the UN Charter-remains a long and arduous journey.
The Call of the Times
As the world moves toward greater multipolarity and economic globalization whilst cultural diversity and IT application advance further, countries are becoming increasingly interconnected and interdependent. Yet global challenges, such as climate change, terrorism, food security, and energy and resource security, are on the rise. World peace and development now face unprecedented opportunities, as well as challenges.
The history of international relations over the past seven decades shows that the wanton use of force, hegemony, and expansionism offer no way out; the Cold War mentality and zero-sum game have become outdated; and a world where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer is not sustainable. How to ride the trend of the times, and build a new type of international relations of shared opportunities, a collective response to challenges, and joint efforts for common development, has become a major issue for the international community.
China has given its clear answer to the call of the times. Chinese President Xi Jinping has proposed to work for the building of a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation, with this concept reflected in political, economic, security, cultural, and all other aspects of China’s cooperation with the rest of the world. This is a major breakthrough of the established theories of international relations and is bound to have a far-reaching impact on its development.
To build a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation is to replace confrontation with cooperation, zero-sum game with win-win results. It also means helping each other in times of difficulty and assuming both rights and responsibilities in pursuit of a community of common destiny for mankind. To that end, we need to commit ourselves to the following four strategies.
Xi Jinping and Yang Jiechi Photo:GettyImages
The first is to uphold mutual respect and equality. Among the ten fingers, some are shorter than others, but none are dispensable if the hand is to function well. All countries, regardless of their size, strength, or level of development are equal members of the international community, and are entitled to equal participation in international affairs.
The sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of a country brook no violation, and every country has the right to independently choose its social system and a development path compatible with its national conditions. A country may provide advice to other countries on their development, but should under no circumstances willfully meddle in other countries’ internal affairs. International affairs should be handled through equal-footed consultations by all countries rather than be dominated by certain countries.
The second strategy to which we need to commit is to pursue mutual benefit and common development. The world’s enduring prosperity and stability will be elusive if only some countries are rich and others poor. While advancing one’s own development, countries should actively seek common development with others.
It is important to uphold and promote an open world economy; oppose all forms of protectionism; make economic globalization more balanced, inclusive, and beneficial for all; and jointly work for strong, sustainable, and balanced growth of the world economy. Developed countries should make good on their Official Development Assistance commitments, beef up support for developing countries, and narrow the North-South divide.
The third strategy is to commit to help one another through thick and thin. With the interests of countries increasingly intertwined, their security has become indivisible. It is necessary to adopt the new vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security in order to ensure security not just for oneself, but also for others, whilst jointly maintaining regional and international peace and stability. Regional hotspot issues and differences and disputes between countries should be addressed peacefully through political means.
Strategic mutual trust should be strengthened through candid, in-depth dialogue and communication, so as to reduce mutual suspicion, show mutual understanding and accommodation, and avoid conflict or confrontation. It is also important to work together to address terrorism, cyber security, public health, and other non-traditional security threats that are becoming more serious, while embarking on a new path featuring security by all, of all, and for all.
With the 70th anniversary of the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War approaching, countries need to firmly safeguard the victorious outcomes of World War II and uphold human conscience and international fairness and justice.
The fourth strategy to which we need to commit is to step up exchanges and mutual learning in an open and inclusive spirit. Different places cultivate different peoples. Over 2,500 ethnic groups from over 200 countries and regions in the world form a colorful tapestry of civilizations. Every civilization has its distinctive features and no one is superior or inferior to another. Just as a Chinese saying goes, “in whiteness, snow is ahead of plum blossom; but plum blossom beats snow equally in fragrance.” We should respect the diversity of civilizations, and promote joint progress through mutual learning and seeking common ground, while shelving differences.
China has put forward the vision of building a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation. This vision, rooted in the five-thousand-year-old Chinese civilization, represents a continuation and development of the diplomatic tradition of New China. In ancient times the Chinese civilization advocated harmony without uniformity, promoted inclusiveness, valued harmonious coexistence, and pursued universal peace.
After the founding of New China, we have been committed to an independent foreign policy of peace, followed a peaceful development path, and engaged in sound interaction and win-win cooperation with other countries. China knows full well that only through win-win cooperation can one accomplish big things, good things, and things of enduring importance.
In today’s world, China is ready to work with other countries to build a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation.
We will work hard to foster a global network of partnerships. A partnership is based on equality, peace, and accommodation. It is not targeted at any third party or against any imagined enemy; and it transcends the traditional military alliance. As President Xi Jinping has pointed out, “those countries that share the same ideal and follow the same path can be partners; those that seek common ground while shelving differences can also be partners.” China has set up partnerships of different types with 75 countries and five regions or regional organizations, offering a brand-new approach to handling state-to-state relations in a friendly and practical manner.
We have endeavored to foster a framework of major-country relations featuring overall stability and balanced development. China and the United States have agreed to jointly build a new model of major-country relations and work together to avoid the so-called Thucydides trap, which foretells an inevitable collision between an established power and an emerging power.
China and Russia have established a comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination featuring non-alliance, non-confrontation, and not targeting any third party. We are, thus, setting a successful example of win-win cooperation between major countries.
China is committed to forging partnerships for peace, growth, reform, and inter-civilization exchange with the EU and its member states in order to bring even greater benefit to the people of both sides.
We have pursued friendship and partnership with our neighbors; sought to build an amicable, secure, and prosperous neighborhood; practiced a neighborhood policy featuring amity, sincerity, mutual benefit, and inclusiveness; and worked with neighboring countries to build a community of common destiny.
We have expanded business and personnel exchanges, and deepened cooperation with countries in Northeast Asia.
Our relations with ASEAN have scaled new heights time and again: we were the first non-ASEAN country to accede to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, the first country to establish a strategic partnership with ASEAN, and the first country to set up a Free Trade Area and launch negotiations to upgrade the FTA with ASEAN.
We have established different types of partnerships with most South Asian countries and forged strategic partnerships with all Central Asian countries, giving a strong boost to the development of bilateral relations.
We have upheld the right approach to principles and interests, and remained a reliable friend and sincere partner for developing countries. The new type of China-Africa strategic partnership has been enriched; the China-Arab strategic cooperative relationship has been deepened; and the partnership of comprehensive cooperation featuring equality, mutual benefit, and common development has been established between China and Latin America and the Caribbean.
We have strengthened overall cooperation with developing countries through the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum and the China-CELAC Forum, which improved the quality and level of cooperation, injecting new vigor into the development of bilateral relations.
Reviving the Silk Road
We will actively advance the building of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the twenty-first-century Maritime Silk Road. President Xi Jinping has put forward the important initiative of jointly building the land and maritime Silk Road to promote the spirit of peace, cooperation, openness, inclusiveness, mutual learning, and win-win cooperation, whilst advancing all-round practical cooperation with countries along the routes.
By reviving the ancient Silk Road, the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative will bring about leapfrog progress in mutually beneficial cooperation between Asia, Europe, and Africa.
This initiative will link the booming East Asian economic circle at one end, the advanced European economic circle at the other, and many countries with huge economic potential in-between. It is an initiative of win-win cooperation to promote common development and prosperity, and an initiative of peace and friendship to enhance mutual understanding, mutual trust, and all-round exchanges.
China will follow the principles of wide consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits; actively promote the alignment of development strategies of countries along the routes, with a focus on building connectivity of policies, facilities, trade, capital, and people; and push for diversified, independent, balanced, and sustainable development of countries along the routes.
So far, over 60 countries and international organizations have shown their interest in joining the ‘Belt and Road’ development. Thanks to the joint efforts of China and relevant countries, a number of major early harvest cooperation projects with exemplary significance have already been launched. What has happened shows that the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative has served as a bridge linking the development of China and other countries; the initiative has also served as an important avenue enabling China and the rest of the world to benefit from each other’s opportunities. We welcome the active participation of countries and parties in the initiative to share opportu-nities and create a bright future for all.
China’s Positive Role
We will work hard to promote democracy and rule of law in international relations. China is a participant, builder, and contributor to the existing international system. China, together with India and Myanmar, advocated the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, which have become the basic norms governing state-to-state relations and fundamental principles of international law.
As a party to more than 23,000 bilateral treaties and more than 400 multilateral treaties, as well as a member of almost all inter-governmental international organizations, China has played a positive role in, and made due contributions to, advancing international rule of law, and upholding international equality and justice.
In our view, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be upheld, demo-cracy and rule of law in international relations should be promoted, and the international order should be made more just and equitable.
We must improve the international governance system, move faster to implement the quota and governance reform of the IMF and other international organizations, support the G20 in playing a greater role in global economic governance, and increase the representation and voice of developing countries in the international system.
China has initiated the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, funded the establishment of the Silk Road Fund, and participated in the establishment of the BRICS’ New Development Bank and its Contingency Reserve Arrangement. Instead of replacing existing multilateral financial institutions, all these serve as useful complements to, and further the development of, the international economic governance framework.
China will take on more international responsibilities and provide more public goods to the international community, as its capability permits.
We will work with all parties to tackle hotspot issues and global challenges. China has worked vigorously to promote the peaceful settlement of international and regional hotspot issues through political means.
We have been firmly committed to peace, stability, and the denuclearization process on the Korean Peninsula; successfully hosted the fourth Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the Istanbul Process on the issue of Afghanistan; and played an important and constructive role in facilitating the conclusion of a comprehensive agreement in the Iranian nuclear talks.
China takes an objective and just position on Ukraine, calling on relevant parties to stick to political settlement; accommodate each other’s interests and concerns; and seek a comprehensive, balanced, and lasting solution to the issue.
China is deeply engaged in international security dialogue and cooperation. Our country has sent a total of nearly 30,000 personnel to UN peacekeeping operations—more than any other permanent member of the UN Security Council. China has engaged in escort missions in the Gulf of Aden with relevant countries, dispatching 20 fleets to provide escort for over 5,800 international vessels.
China believes disputes in the South China Sea should be settled peacefully, through dialogue and consultation between the countries directly concerned, and that peace and stability in the South China Sea should be jointly safeguarded by China and ASEAN countries. Such a “dual track” approach has received understanding and support from most countries in the region.
China takes an active part in international cooperation to tackle global challenges. As a responsible major country, China has made unremitting efforts on issues such as counter-terrorism, climate change, and communicable diseases, for the sake of the lasting peace and stability of the international community.
Solid Steps Forward
Human society moves forward with solid steps. China will continue to work with the rest of the world to respond to the call of our time, write splendid chapters of win-win cooperation, and create a better future of lasting peace and common prosperity for our world.