Remarks by H.E. Yang Jiechi at the Foreign Policy Session of the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club
Sochi, 18 October 2018
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to be with you at this year's meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club, which I must say is one of the world's foremost forums. Every year, the Valdai Club brings together the great minds of the world to discuss pressing regional and global issues and explore possible solutions. This year, you have selected the topic "The World We Will Live in: Stability and Development in the 21st Century" for the plenary and "Foreign Policy in Uncertain Times: Pursuing Development in a Changing World" for this session. I am glad to join the other distinguished panelists in discussing these important issues that are highly relevant to our times.
Many of us in this room were born in the 20th century, which saw two world wars followed by the Cold War. They have inflicted untold suffering on humanity. In this new century, the world is experiencing yet another round of profound changes and we must make the right choice. We have no reason to allow the tragedies of the last century to repeat themselves. The road ahead may not be smooth, but our commitment to peace and development must be unwavering.
The international community has drawn hard lessons from the catastrophes of the 20th century. We all agree on the need to promote global peace and development, and, indeed, much has been accomplished in this regard. Economic globalization and scientific revolution have made interconnection and interdependence between countries an inescapable reality. These unstoppable trends have contributed to the well-being of all our peoples and must be preserved by all of us. Please allow me to make five observations about the prevailing trends in our world today:
First, we live in an increasingly multipolar world. The rise of emerging markets and developing countries is proving to be the primary engine of the global economy and is making the global distribution of power more balanced. This makes it possible for countries to have their voices heard in international decision-making and for the discussion and solution of various transnational issues. Whether some people like it or not, this more equal state of affairs will be here to stay.
Second, economic globalization is becoming a fact of life. Economic integration makes countries in the world a community of shared interests. The world economy cannot grow sustainably unless all countries have access to prosperity and development. If you recall, it was by sticking together for win-win solutions that we pulled through the global financial crisis in 2008 and put the world economy back on track toward recovery and growth. Both China and Russia, at that time, did their best and made important contributions to global recovery. It must be remembered that development is a universal aspiration, not a zero-sum game where one nation's gain means another nation's loss. Every nation must pitch in to create and benefit from greater global prosperity.
Third, there is a growing call for reform and improvement of the global governance system. The current international order, built on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, has ensured over seven decades of global peace. The WTO-centered multilateral trading system has fuelled strong global growth for the last 20 years and more. Mechanisms of international cooperation and coordination, most notably the G20 summit, have enabled the recovery and growth of the world economy and the improvement of global governance in the last decade or so. These are important achievements, but much more needs to be done. Many global challenges, from environment degradation to climate change, from terrorism to poverty, cry out to be met. Thus, the reform and improvement of the global governance system requires hard and sustained efforts.
Fourth, all members of the international community aspire for peace and security. There is general peace in today's world, major-country relations enjoy stability on the whole, traditional and non-traditional security threats are largely under control. None of these must be taken for granted and must be carefully preserved. Over many years, the UN Security Council has made an irreplaceable contribution to world peace and security. All countries must continue to pursue common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security and work together for a world of universal security and lasting peace.
Fifth, dialogue and mutual assimilation between civilizations have become the order of the day. Experience shows that it is possible for different cultures, religions, social systems and values to not just coexist peacefully but also enlighten each other. This will lead to the greater progress of human civilization.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The world we live in is filled with both hopes and challenges. It is caught in a transition where the old international system is being replaced by a new one, where uncertainties and instabilities are on the rise, and where all sorts of new challenges are coming to the fore. Let me give you some examples:
First, there are far too many instances of the Cold-War mentality, bullyism, zero-sum game and military coercion. In many cases, there is not enough fairness, equality or justice. Extortion, pressure campaigns and sanctions are still resorted to all too often.
Second, unilateralism is gaining ascendancy, putting international rules and mechanisms at risk. Often, countries put too much emphasis on their own power and interests, not enough on meeting their responsibilities. As a result, the trust and cooperation between countries are being undermined by bullying tactics and a beggar-thy-neighbour approach.
Third, trade protectionism is running rampant and economic globalization is facing headwinds. No country can escape the challenge presented by a variety of misguided practices in international economic cooperation and multilateral trade.
Fourth, many regions are ravaged by instability, conflict and war. Non-traditional security threats, particularly terrorism, are more menacing than before, eroding security in many cases.
Fifth, the export of values and development models in disregard of cultural diversity is becoming a source of turbulence in many parts of the world. The talk of a clash of civilizations" and the self-styled superiority of a certain civilization all cause growing problems for global harmony and peace.
The direction of world affairs will hinge on the choices we make. The international community should come together with a strong sense of responsibility to embrace opportunities and meet challenges so as to make the world a more harmonious and better place for all.