Towards a Community of Shared Future for Mankind*
January 18, 2017
Your Excellency Mr Peter Thomson, President of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly,
Your Excellency Mr António Guterres, UN Secretary General,
Your Excellency Mr Michael Møller, Director General of the UN Office at Geneva,
Ladies and gentlemen,
As a new year begins, everything takes on a new look, and it gives me great pleasure to visit the United Nations Office at Geneva and discuss with you a community of shared future for mankind, which is the call of our time.
I have just attended the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. In Davos, many speakers pointed out that today's world is full of uncertainties. They observed that people long for a bright future but are bewildered about what lies ahead. What has happened to the world and how should we respond? The world is reflecting on these questions, and they are also very much on my mind.
I believe that to answer these questions, we need to be clear about fundamental issues: Where did we come from? Where are we now? And where are we going?
Over the past century and more, humanity has gone through blood-drenched hot wars and the chilling Cold War, but has also achieved remarkable development and huge progress. In the first half of last century, humanity suffered the scourges of two world wars, and the people yearned for the end of war and the advent of peace. In the 1950s and 1960s, the peoples of the colonies awakened and fought to shake off their shackles and achieve independence. Since the end of the Cold War, people have pursued a shared aspiration to expand cooperation for common development.
Peace and development have been the aspirations held dear by all humanity over the past century or more. However, the goal is far from being met. We need to respond to the people's call, take up the baton of history, and forge ahead on the marathon track towards peace and development.
Humanity is in an era of major development as well as profound transformation and change. The trend towards multipolarity and economic globalization is surging. Progress is being made in the application of IT in social development and in the promotion of cultural diversity. A new round of scientific and industrial revolution is in progress. Interconnection and interdependence between countries are crucial for human survival. The forces of peace far outweigh factors causing war, and the trend of our times towards peace, development, cooperation, and win-win outcomes has gained stronger momentum.
On the other hand, humanity is also in an era of numerous challenges and increasing risks. Global growth is sluggish, the impact of the financial crisis lingers on, and the development gap is widening. Armed conflicts occur from time to time. Cold War mentality and power politics still exist. Nonconventional security threats, particularly terrorism, refugee crises, major communicable diseases and climate change, are spreading.
There is only one Earth and we humans have only one home. Dr Stephen Hawking has raised the possibility of parallel universes. He also believes we should seek out other planets that might serve us as new home. We do not know when that hope will come true. For the time being Earth is still the only home we have, so to care for and cherish it is our only option. There is a Latin motto inscribed in the dome of the Federal Palace of Switzerland which says "Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno" (One for all, and all for one). We should not only think about our own generation, but also take responsibility for those to come.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Pass on the torch of peace from generation to generation, sustain development and ensure civilization flourishes: This is what people of all countries long for; it is also the responsibility that statespersons of our generation ought to shoulder. And China stands for building a community of shared future for mankind and achieving inclusive and win-win development.
Vision guides action, and direction determines the future. As modern history shows, to establish a fair and equitable international order is the goal for which humanity has always striven. From the principles of equality and sovereignty established in the Peace of Westphalia over 360 years ago to international humanitarianism affirmed in the Geneva Convention more than 150 years ago; from the four purposes and seven principles enshrined in the UN Charter more than 70 years ago to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence championed by the Bandung Conference over 60 years ago, many principles have emerged in the evolution of international relations and have been widely accepted. These principles should guide us in building a community of shared future for mankind.
Sovereign equality has been the most important norm governing state-to-state relations over the past centuries, and the cardinal principle observed by the United Nations and its agencies and institutions. The essence of sovereign equality is that the sovereignty and dignity of all countries, whether big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, must be respected; their internal affairs brook no interference, and they have the right to independently choose their social system and development path. In organizations such as the United Nations, World Trade Organization, World Health Organization, World Intellectual Property Organization, World Meteorological Organization, International Telecommunication Union, Universal Postal Union, International Organization for Migration and International Labor Organization, all countries should have an equal voice in decision-making, and they constitute an important force for improving global governance. In a new era, we should uphold sovereign equality and work for the equality of all countries in enjoying rights and opportunities and in making and observing rules.
Geneva witnessed the adoption of the Final Declaration on the Problem of Restoring Peace in Indo-China, the first summit meeting for reconciliation between the two blocs during the Cold War, and the dialogue and negotiations on sensitive issues like the Iranian nuclear issue and the Syrian issue. What we can learn from both past and present is that dialogue and consultation are an effective way to bridge differences, and political negotiation is the fundamental solution to conflicts. When we have sincerity, goodwill, and political wisdom, no conflict is too big to settle and no ice is too thick to break.
An ancient Chinese philosopher said, "Law is the very foundation of governance."1 Here in Geneva, on the basis of the UN Charter, member states of the United Nations have concluded a number of international conventions and legal instruments on political security, trade, development, social issues, human rights, science and technology, health, labor, intellectual property, culture and sports. The relevance of law lies in its enforcement. It is thus incumbent on all member states to uphold the authority of the international rule of law, exercise their rights in accordance with the law, and fulfill their obligations in good faith. The relevance of law also lies in fairness and justice. All UN member states and international judicial institutions should ensure equal and uniform application of international law and reject double standards or selective application of international law, thus ensuring genuine equality and justice in the world.
As a Chinese saying goes, "The ocean is vast because it admits all rivers." Openness and inclusiveness have made Geneva a center of multilateral diplomacy. We should advance democracy in international relations and reject dominance by just one or a few countries. All countries are entitled to shape the future of the world, making international rules, managing global affairs and sharing the fruits of development.
In 1862, in his book Un Souvenir de Solférino, Mr Henry Dunant wondered whether it was possible to set up humanitarian organizations and conclude humanitarian conventions. The answer came one year later with the founding of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Over the past 150 years and more, the Red Cross has become a symbol and a banner. In the face of frequent humanitarian crises, we should champion the spirit of humanity, compassion, and dedication, and give love and hope to innocent people caught in dire situations. We should uphold the basic principles of neutrality, impartiality, and independence, refrain from politicizing humanitarian issues, and ensure non-militarization of humanitarian assistance.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Great visions can be realized only through actions. Actions hold the key to building a community of shared future for mankind. To achieve this goal, the international community should promote partnership, security, growth, inter-civilization exchanges and the building of sound ecosystems.
– We should build a world of lasting peace through dialogue and consultation. When countries enjoy peace, so will the world; when countries fight, the world suffers. From the Peloponnesian War in the fifth century BC to the two world wars and the Cold War that lasted more than four decades, we have drawn painful and profound lessons. As a Chinese saying goes, "History, if not forgotten, can serve as a guide for the future."2 Established by those before us, the United Nations has made it possible for us to enjoy relative peace for more than 70 years. What we need to do is to improve the mechanisms and means to more effectively resolve disputes, reduce tension, and prevent wars and conflicts.
The Swiss writer and Nobel laureate Hermann Hesse stressed the importance of serving "not war and destruction but peace and reconciliation". Countries should foster partnerships based on dialogue, non-confrontation and non-alliance. Major powers should respect each other's core interests, take care of their main concerns, keep their differences under control, and build a new model of relations featuring non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation. As long as we maintain communication and treat each other with sincerity, we can avoid the Thucydides trap. Big countries should treat smaller ones as equals instead of acting as hegemons imposing their will on others. No country should open Pandora's box by willfully launching wars or undermining the international rule of law. Nuclear weapons, the Sword of Damocles that hangs over humanity, should be completely prohibited and thoroughly destroyed over time. Guided by the principles of peace, sovereignty, inclusiveness and shared governance, we should turn the deep sea, the polar regions, outer space and the internet into new frontiers for cooperation rather than a wrestling ground for competition.
– We should build a world of common security for all through joint efforts. No country in the world can enjoy absolute security alone. A country cannot have security while others are in turmoil, as threats facing other countries are likely to haunt it too. When neighbors are in trouble, instead of strengthening one's own fences, one should extend a helping hand to them. As a saying goes, "United we stand, divided we fall."3 All countries should pursue common, comprehensive, and sustainable security through cooperation.
The terrorist attacks that have occurred in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East in recent years once again demonstrate that terrorism is the common enemy of humanity. Fighting terrorism is the shared responsibility of all countries. In fighting terror, we should not only treat the symptoms, but also remove the root causes. We should enhance coordination and build a global united front against terrorism so as to create an umbrella of security for people around the world.
The number of refugees has hit a record high since the end of World War II. While tackling the crisis, we should also get to its roots. Why would anyone want to be displaced if they have a home to return to? UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration should act as the coordinator to mobilize the world to respond effectively to the refugee crisis. China has decided to provide an additional RMB200 million in humanitarian assistance for refugees and the displaced of Syria.
As terrorism and refugee crises are closely linked to geopolitical conflicts, resolving conflicts provides the fundamental solution to these problems. Parties that are directly involved in the conflicts should return to the negotiating table, while others should facilitate peace talks. We should all respect the role of the United Nations as the main mediator.
Pandemic diseases such as bird flu, Ebola and Zika have sounded the alarm for international health security. The WHO should play a leadership role in strengthening epidemic monitoring and in sharing information, best practices and technologies. The international community should step up support and assistance for public health in African countries and other developing countries.
– We should build a world of common prosperity through winwin cooperation. Development is the top priority for all countries. Instead of beggaring their neighbors, countries should stick together like passengers in the same boat. All countries – the main economies in particular – should strengthen macro policy coordination, pursue both current and long-term interests, and focus on resolving deepseated problems. We should seize the historic opportunity presented by the new scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation, shift growth models, drive growth through innovation, and further unleash productivity and creativity. We should uphold WTO rules, support an open, transparent, inclusive, and nondiscriminatory multilateral trading regime, and build an open world economy. Trade protectionism and self-isolation will benefit no one.
Economic globalization, a surging historical trend, has greatly facilitated trade, investment, flow of people, and technological advances. Since the turn of the century, under the auspices of the UN and riding on the waves of economic globalization, the international community has set the Millennium Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Thanks to these initiatives, 1.1 billion people have been lifted out of poverty, 1.9 billion people now have access to safe drinking water, 3.5 billion people have gained access to the internet, and the goal has been set to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. All this demonstrates that economic globalization is generally good. Of course, there are still problems, such as development disparity, governance dilemma, digital divide, and equity deficit. But they are growing pains. We should face these problems squarely and tackle them. As we Chinese like to say, "One should not stop eating for fear of choking."
We should draw inspiration from history. Historians told us long ago that rapid economic development necessitates social reform; but people tend to support the former while rejecting the latter. Instead of watching and hesitating, we should move forward against all odds. Answers can also be found in reality. The 2008 global financial crisis has taught us that we should strengthen coordination and improve governance so as to ensure sound growth of economic globalization and make it open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all. We should make the cake bigger and share it fairly to ensure justice and equity.
Last September, the G20 Summit in Hangzhou focused on global economic governance and other major issues, adopted the Blueprint on Innovative Growth, put development for the first time in the global macro policy framework, and formulated an action plan.
– We should build an open and inclusive world through exchanges and mutual learning. "Delicious soup is made by combining different ingredients."4 Diversity in human civilizations not only defines our world, but also drives human progress. There are more than 200 countries and regions, over 2,500 ethnic groups, and multiple religions in our world. Different histories, national conditions, ethnic groups and customs give birth to different civilizations and make the world colorful. There is no such thing as a superior or inferior civilization. Civilizations are different only in identity and location. Diversity in civilizations should not be a source of global conflict; rather, it should be a driver for progress.
Every civilization, with its own appeal and roots, is a human treasure. Diverse civilizations should draw on each other to achieve common progress. Exchanges among civilizations should become a source of inspiration for advancing human society and a bond that keeps the world in peace.
– We should make our world clean and beautiful by pursuing green and low-carbon development. Humanity coexists with nature, which means that any harm to nature will eventually come back to haunt humanity. We hardly notice natural resources such as air, water, soil and blue sky when we have them. But we will not survive without them. Industrialization has created material wealth as never seen before, but it has also inflicted irreparable damage on the environment. We must not exhaust all the resources passed on to us by previous generations and leave nothing to our children, or pursue development in a destructive way. Clear waters and green mountains are as good as mountains of gold and silver. We must maintain harmony between man and nature and pursue sustainable development.
We should pursue a green, low-carbon, circular, and sustainable way of life and work, advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in a balanced manner, and explore a model of sound development that ensures growth, better lives and a good environment. The Paris Agreement is a milestone in the history of climate governance. We must ensure this endeavor is not derailed. All parties should work together to implement the Paris Agreement. China will continue to take steps to tackle climate change and fully honor its obligations.
The Swiss Army Knife embodies Swiss craftsmanship. When I first got one, I was amazed that it had so many devices. I could not help thinking how wonderful it would be if an exquisite Swiss Army Knife could be made for our world. Whenever there is a problem, we could use one of the tools on the knife to fix it. I believe that with a ceaseless effort on the part of the international community, such a knife can be created.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We in China always believe that China will do well only when the world does well, and vice versa. Many people are interested in what policies China will pursue, and are speculating on the subject. Here, I wish to give you an explicit answer.
First, China remains unchanged in its commitment to world peace. Amity with neighbors, harmony without uniformity, and peace are values very much cherished in Chinese culture. The Art of War, a Chinese classic, begins with this observation, "The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road to either survival or ruin. Hence it demands careful study." What this means is that every effort should be made to prevent a war and great caution must be exercised when it comes to fighting a war. For several millennia, peace has been in the blood of us Chinese and a part of our DNA.
Even when China was so strong that its GDP accounted for 30 percent of the global total several centuries ago, it was never engaged in aggression or expansion. In the century following the Opium War of 1840, China suffered immensely from aggression, wars and chaos. Confucius said, "Do not do to others what you do not want others to do to you." We Chinese firmly believe that peace and stability are the only way to development and prosperity.
China has grown from a poor and weak country to the second largest economy not through military expansion or colonial plunder, but through the hard work of its people and their efforts to uphold peace. China will never waver in its pursuit of peaceful development. No matter how strong its economy grows, China will never seek hegemony, expansion or spheres of influence. History has borne this out and will continue to do so.
Second, China remains unchanged in its commitment to pursuing common development. As an old Chinese saying goes, "When you reap fruits, you should remember the tree; when you drink water, you should remember its source."5 China has benefited from the world in its development, and China has also contributed to the world's development. We will continue to pursue a mutually beneficial opening-up strategy, share our development opportunities with other countries and welcome them on board the train of China's development.
Between 1950 and 2016, China provided foreign countries with over RMB400 billion in aid, and we will continue to increase assistance to them as far as our ability permits. Since the outbreak of the global financial crisis, China has contributed on average over 30 percent of global growth each year. In the coming five years, China is expected to import US$8 trillion worth of goods, attract US$600 billion in foreign investment, and make US$750 billion in outbound investment. It is also expected that Chinese tourists will make 700 million outbound visits. All this means more development opportunities for other countries.
China pursues development in light of its national conditions. We always put people's rights and interests above everything else and have worked hard to promote and protect human rights. China has met the basic living needs of its 1.3 billion-plus people and lifted over 700 million people out of poverty, which is a significant contribution to the global cause of human rights.
The Belt and Road Initiative that I have proposed aims to achieve win-win and shared development. Over 100 countries and international organizations have positively responded to and supported the initiative, and a large number of "early harvest" projects have been launched. China supports the successful operation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and other new multilateral financial institutions in order to provide more public goods to the international community.
Third, China remains unchanged in its commitment to fostering partnerships. China pursues an independent foreign policy of peace, and is ready to enhance friendship and cooperation with all other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. China is the first country to make partnership-building a principle guiding its relations with other countries. It has formed partnerships of various forms with over 90 countries and regional organizations, and will expand its circle of friends around the world.
China will promote efforts to put in place a framework of majorcountry relations featuring general stability and balanced growth. We will strive to build a new model of major-country relations with the United States, a comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination with Russia, a partnership for peace, growth, reform and civilization with Europe, and a partnership of unity and cooperation with other BRICS countries. China will continue to uphold justice and friendship and pursue shared interests, and boost pragmatic cooperation with other developing countries to achieve common development. We will further enhance mutually beneficial cooperation with our neighbors based on friendship, good faith, mutual benefit, and inclusiveness. We will pursue common development with African countries in a spirit of sincerity, affinity and good faith and with a result-oriented approach. And we will elevate our comprehensive cooperative partnership with Latin America to a higher level.
Fourth, China remains unchanged in its commitment to multilateralism. Multilateralism is an effective way to peace and development. For decades, the United Nations and other international institutions have made a universally recognized contribution to maintaining global peace and sustaining development.
China is a founding member of the United Nations, and it was the first country to put its signature on the UN Charter. China will firmly uphold the international system with the UN at its core, the fundamental norms governing international relations embodied in the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, the authority and stature of the UN, and its core role in international affairs.
The China-UN Peace and Development Fund has been formally inaugurated. We will make funds available to peace and development oriented programs proposed by the UN and its agencies in Geneva on a priority basis. China will increase its support for multilateralism as the country continues to develop itself.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Geneva invokes a special memory in us. In 1954, Premier Zhou Enlai led a delegation to the Geneva Conference, and worked with the Soviet Union, the United States, the United Kingdom and France for a political settlement to the Korean issue and a ceasefire in Indo-China. This demonstrated China's desire for peace and contributed Chinese wisdom to world peace. Since 1971, when China regained its lawful seat in the UN and began to return to Geneva-based international agencies, we have gradually involved ourselves in disarmament, trade, development, human rights and social issues, offering Chinese proposals for the resolution of major issues and the making of important rules. In recent years, China has taken an active part in dialogues and negotiations on the Iranian nuclear issue, the Syrian issue, and other flashpoints, giving Chinese input to their political settlement. China applied to the International Olympic Committee to host both the summer and winter Olympic games and the Paralympics, and we won the bids. In addition, we have gained endorsement from the International Union for Conservation of Nature for over a dozen applications for world natural heritage sites as well as world cultural and natural heritage sites. All this has presented Chinese splendor to the world.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As an ancient Chinese saying goes, "One should be good at finding the laws of things and solving problems."6 Building a community of shared future is an exciting goal, and it requires efforts from generation to generation. China is ready to work with all the other UN member states as well as international organizations and agencies to advance the great cause of building a community of shared future for mankind.
On January 28, we Chinese will celebrate the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rooster. The rooster symbolizes bright prospects and auspiciousness. As a Chinese saying goes, "The crow of the golden rooster heralds a great day for all." With that, I wish you all the very best and a very happy Chinese New Year.
* Speech at the United Nations Office at Geneva.
1 Xun Zi.
2 Strategies of the States (Zhan Guo Ce).
3 Wei Shou: Book of Wei (Wei Shu). Wei Shou (507-572) was a historian and writer during the Northern and Southern Dynasties.
4 Chen Shou: Records of the Three Kingdoms (San Guo Zhi). Chen Shou (233-297) was an official and historian of the Western Jin Dynasty.
5 Yu Xin: “Poems to the Tune of Zhi” (Zhi Diao Qu). Yu Xin (513-581) was a poet during the Northern and Southern Dynasties.
6 Xun Zi.
(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)