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Address by H.E. Ambassador Song Zhe at the Dinner Reception Organized by the European Parliament

China’s Strategic Choice in the Changing World


Mr. Chairman,

Dear Friends,

I am delighted to join you tonight and share with you my perspectives on the future world and China’s foreign policy.

The world is never short of futurists and forecasters. Since 1980, books like Alvin Toffler’s The Third Wave, John Naisbitt’s Megatrends and Megatrends Asia, Daniel Bell’s The Coming of Post-Industrial Society, and Brzezinski’s The Grand Chessboard have inspired us with different predictions for the future. And in recent years, books like The Post-American World and When China Rules the World have attracted much public attention.

After tapping observations and knowledge of government, academic and diverse communities of experts, the US National Intelligence Council published in 2008 a paper known as the Global Trends 2025. Many people have read the report. Although I do not fully agree with its views, I find the “Global Scenario” approach quite inspiring. These scenarios are very helpful for us to understand how the world could evolve as a result of globalization. Now, I wish to discuss my observations for global trends in four most important areas-globalization, decentralization, world economy, and international regime.

For globalization, the process will continue with adjustments. Economic globalization has become the fundamental driving force for the world political, economic and social development. Globalization has indeed produced many negative consequences, but we have to admit that also because of globalization, we are able to distribute resources more efficiently. Globalization stimulates the development of trade and service industry by accelerating the cross-border movement of capital and people, contributing greatly to world progress and prosperity. It is true that in recent one or two years, globalization progress has suffered setbacks of protectionism due to the international financial crisis. But this is only temporary. I believe that with technological advancement and the development of emerging economies, the process of global industrial relocation and international division of labor will continue picking up speed, and we will see a truly flat and more globalized world in the future.

Second, decentralization. The power structure among countries will become more balanced. In recent years, many people have been talking about the movement of global power centers to the East and to the South. Increasingly, world economic growth is driven by emerging countries rather than by western developed countries, and we are heading steadily towards a multipolar world. That said, the international balance of power will not experience drastic change in a short while. The overall strength of developed countries remains strong. The United States and other major economies still have potent capacity for recovery and adjustment. There will not be a fundamental change in the gap between the developed and emerging countries in near term. Unlike some people have argued, I do not think that the United States and other western countries are or will be declining. The European Union, for instance, has demonstrated impressive cohesion and resilience during the international financial crisis and the sovereign debt crisis, maintaining its important influence in international affairs. After all, the decentralization of power centers is a long term process subjective to external changes.

Third, the world economy. There will be major changes in the world economy. The international financial crisis has produced ramifications that will influence the world economy in the next few years. The road to recovery is bound to be tortuous as the profoundness of such implications emerges over long period of time. As countries depart in faster recovery speed, policy coordination will grow more difficult. We cannot ignore the potential risks of high government debt and protectionist measures of certain countries. To put it in a medium and long term perspective, if we want to achieve sustainable growth in the world economy, we must work together to find new areas for economic growth, accelerate structural adjustment, and put an end to the global economic imbalance.

Fourth, international regime. The current international system calls for a profound reform. On the whole, we now have a stable system that has played a positive role in promoting world peace and common development. However, it has become more and more difficult for the existing system to reflect the changes in the international environment and to meet the global challenges that emerge one after another. Emerging countries is the main driving force for the reform of the international regime. What they will do is not to undermine but to improve the existing system. As a member of the international community, China will work together with other countries to promote a more fair, just and reasonable international system that can tackle with global challenges more effectively.

Having discussed these trends, I would also like to echo the view rightly pointed out in the Global Trends 2025, that there remains much uncertainties for the future world. There is still possibility for unexpected major events or incidents. Nevertheless, the global landscape of tomorrow will be largely determined by the policies we pursue today. In today’s world, countries share strong interdependence. We can all win through cooperation and all lose in confrontation. Zero-sum game is no longer suitable, whereas cooperation and mutual benefit have become the mainstream choice of the international community for stability and prosperity.

I understand that against the backdrop of such profound and complex changes, people today have a stronger interest in China’s future strategy. I was asked on many occasions by friends in Europe, “What is the long-term goal of China? What kind of development path will it follow? What influence will its progress have on the rest of the world?”

For the Chinese people, these are also the questions we ask ourselves. And for years, we have committed ourselves to a national strategy with strategic and forward-looking vision. Three elements are essential in our strategy.

The first one is peace. To pursue peaceful development is the strategic choice and solemn commitment made by the government and people of China. A peaceful world is the precondition for social progress and serves the development interest of our country. Without peace, we will not be able to secure past achievements, let alone making new ones. The Chinese people is a peace loving nation deeply committed to the idea of peaceful coexistence. China opposes hegemony and power politics of all manifestations. We will never seek hegemony or expansion, and we are fully dedicated to regional and international security cooperation and peaceful resolution of international disputes and hotspot issues. We have learned the importance of peace through our war torn modern history and the huge success of reform and opening up over the last 30 years. We have benefited immensely from a stable and peaceful international environment, and we are certainly willing to do the same in the future. 

The second element is win-win. With economic globalization, we are no longer able to draw a clear line between interests of different countries. We cannot separate ourselves from world development. As a result, no single country can attain growth and prosperity in the long run at the cost of others. In China, we always strive to expand converging interest and achieve common development with other countries through equal and mutually beneficial cooperation, because we believe that the interest and development of China and that of the world are for rather than against each other. Development remains the primary task for the world. In order to achieve robust, coordinated, balanced and orderly economic growth in a stable environment, we need to strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination, promote economic complementarity and win-win growth, and work strenuously to reduce trade and investment barriers.

The last element is harmony. Information technology has changed the way we work and live. Relations between countries and civilizations are more complicated. In this world where our destinies are closely tied to each other, harmony, respect, tolerance, dialogue and cooperation are the things we need to always remember to effectively meet global challenges and achieve common prosperity. Dialogues and exchanges will help us draw upon each other’s strength, remove misgivings, and expand common ground while shelving differences, laying the solid foundation for a harmonious world of durable peace and common prosperity.

This year marks the beginning of the second decade in the 21st century. For China, this will also be the first year of the 12th Five-Year Plan of national development. The next five years bear great significance on our goal to build a moderately prosperous society. During this period, we will face enormous challenges of  reform and progress. We will accelerate the shift of economic growth pattern. As we develop, we will expand cooperation with other countries. This means important opportunities for China-EU relations. In fact, Chinese Vice-Premier Li Keqiang has just concluded some two weeks ago his visit to Spain, Germany, and the United Kingdom. As the New Year’s first major diplomatic activity of the Chinese leadership in Europe, this visit has played an important role in promoting our comprehensive strategic partnership.

For Europe, 2011 is also an important year for the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty and the EU 2020 Strategy. The EU will continue with institutional reform and integration, and the European Parliament will play an increasingly stronger role in the EU’s external policies and participate more actively in Europe’s relations with China. I sincerely hope that all of you will share my views on China’s strategic choice, view the changes in China in objective terms, and make greater contribution to the deepening of China-EU ties in the new era.

Thank you! 

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