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China’s Role in the World
Brussels, 02 October 2001

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Two years ago, Chairman Crossick provided me an opportunity to talk about the development of China-EU relations. It is a great pleasure for me today to discuss with you China’s role in the world. I wish to express my hearty thanks to the China-Europe Management Centre, the European Institute for Asian Studies and the European Policy Centre for their gracious invitation.

Let me begin by trying to give you an overall view of China’s foreign policy. China, home to a large population and a vast territory, is the world’s largest developing country and a permanent member of the UN Security Council. The Chinese Government has all along been implementing an independent foreign policy of peace. The aim of this foreign policy is safeguarding world peace and promoting common development.

Ever since the reform and opening-up policy was introduced twenty or so years ago, China has been constantly seeking to open its door wider and wider to the outside world. We stick to the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, participating actively in the international affairs.  We advocate building a fair and just international order, realizing democratization of international relations, and propose to adopt a new concept of security with mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation as its core content. We are making great efforts to promote international cooperation and dialogues, and develop friendly relations with all countries that desire peace, development and progress. In a word, China is an important force in maintaining world peace and stability today.

Since China adopted the reform and opening-up policy more than twenty years ago, the GDP growth rate of the country has been 9% on average each year and China is now the world’s seventh largest economy. The Chinese people’s living standard has been remarkably raised with the economic development. Two hundred million people have got rid of poverty as a result. With its increasingly wealthier 1.3 billion people, China has provided and will continue to provide the world a huge market.

As an active player in the globalisation process, China has committed itself tremendously to developing trade and economic relations with various countries in the world. The recent conclusion of substantive negotiations on China’s WTO accession paves the way for China to enter the WTO within this year. As a WTO member, China will implement its commitments, while enjoying its full rights in the multilateral trading system. The opening process in some areas such as energy, transportation, telecommunication, finance is expected to be gradually accelerated as a result, providing foreign business with more trade and investment opportunities. In this regard, Mr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, the designated WTO Director-General once said that China’s accession to the world trade body provides each of us a bigger pie, that is a much bigger market. No doubt, China is also an important force in the sustainable development of the world economy.

The Chinese people are now devoting great efforts in the modernization drive. Allowing for the growth rate we have today, if ever sustained, it takes at least 50 years for China to build itself into an average developed country. At present, we still have 30 million people living under the poverty line and the country’s GDP is only one ninth of that of the US or the EU.

China’s modernization still has a long way to go. Our fundamental objective is to do well in our own nation-building. The Chinese people thus need nothing but a peaceful environment. If we do well in our country-construction, satisfy people’s needs, lift their livelihood and maintain social stability, that itself is a great contribution made by China to the world peace, stability and development.

It is certainly not good news to the world if a big country with one fifth of the global population slips into chaos or even plunges into turmoil.  All in all, our objective as defined above serves not only the interests of the Chinese people but also that of the peoples worldwide.

One allegation goes that China’s development constitutes a threat to the world. Such a view on China’s development, at least, could be attributed to the lack of understanding and proper knowledge of China’s current circumstances as well as its history and cultural traditions.

China has no tradition of expansionism. In history, there were indeed wars within the Chinese borders in a move to resist the nomadic tribes coming from the north or to maintain national unification. These wars of the Middle Ages were waged among various ethnic groups with the view of realizing a unified China. The ultimate result of this historical process is an integrated Chinese nation of different ethnic groups we have today. However, during the period of more than 100 years between the mid-19th century and mid-20th century, China suffered foreign aggression and oppression enormously. Confucius, a prominent philosopher of China over 2500 years ago once observed, “Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire”. The Chinese people, with vivid memories of such sufferings, have profound sympathy for peoples in the world who have similar experiences. We, the Chinese, will not do anything detrimental to other countries.   Mr. Deng Xiaoping, who led the Chinese people onto the path of reform and opening-up, repeatedly remarked that China is opposed to hegemonism and will never seek hegemony.

There is another allegation, which says that the nationalism in China is rising. This, as claimed, is a threatening factor and something not good to the world.  I think there exist some misunderstandings. Actually, rising now in China is not what labelled by some people as nationalism but patriotism.  

This kind of patriotism is, in essence, different from the narrow-minded nationalism which is featured by xenophobia and militarist expansionism. We firmly oppose nationalism of this sort.

When a certain national spirit embodies the aspiration of a nation to stand on her own feet as an equal member of the world, this kind of spirit reflects a wakening of national consciousness, thus serving as a driving force for the constant development of human society and the world progress. It is a demonstration of patriotism. The spirit of patriotism as such is neither narrow-minded nor expansionist, but a common value shared by the peoples of various countries all over the world.

In this perspective, patriotism and internationalism complement each other instead of conflicting with each other.  As everybody knows, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, China’s forerunner in the democratic revolution advanced the Three Principles of the People (i.e. Nationalism, Democracy and the People’s Livelihood). Here, he used the term, “nationalism”, which is just the equivalent of patriotism. Patriotism promoted by the Chinese people today not only benefits China itself but also is conducive to regional and world peace. It is just this very spirit that enables China to play a more active part in international cooperation and exchanges than ever before.  A poor, weak and isolated China, with no ability to play her due part in the international affairs, is neither good news to the world.

There is an old saying in China, which goes, “It is most valuable for a country to treat its neighbours kindly”. The Chinese people have a tradition of desiring peace and justice. What I intend to get across here is that China’s development and prosperity will promote world peace, stability and development, with no threat to anyone.  

This judgement stems from the Chinese people’s good tradition developed in the course of thousands of years. It reflects the aspiration of the Chinese people for a happy and better life and gets along with the trend of the development of human society and social progress. We are ready to work together with all countries in the world, including European countries, to make new contributions to peace and progress of human society. Make the world even better tomorrow!

Thank you. Now I am happy to take questions.

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