(March 28th, 2014)
Former Federal President Richard von Weizsacker,
Former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt,
Vice President of Korber Foundation Klaus Wehmeier,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the invitation of former President Weizsacker and the Korber Foundation, it gives me great pleasure to meet and speak to you today. Let me begin by expressing my sincere thanks to the Korber Foundation for its commitment to promoting mutual understanding between Europe and China.
I visited Germany five years ago. Back then, the international financial crisis was unfolding, the European debt issue had just emerged and the global economy was overshadowed by dark clouds of uncertainty.
In order to battle these difficulties, China and Germany agreed to lift bilateral cooperation in various fields to a higher level.
Five years on, I am glad to see the progress Europe has made in addressing the sovereignty debt issue. I am also happy to see that there are now clear signs of economic recovery.
Germany is the anchor of the European economy and champion of European integration. It has played a key role in this endeavour and gained international applause.
We are encouraged by the progress made in the joint efforts made by China, Germany and Europe, in fighting the international financial crisis.
China-Germany relations have never been stronger, with bilateral exchanges and cooperation reaching unprecedented levels.
All this shows that by appreciating each other’s strengths, we can not only achieve great mutual benefits, but also contribute significantly to promoting world peace and development.
Ladies and gentlemen, what has made it possible for China and Germany to make such good progress in exchanges and cooperation? The key factor in my view is that both sides over the years have come to appreciate the differences in the history, culture, national condition and social systems between the two countries.
We need to deepen such mutual understanding, treat each other with sincerity, be ready to listen to each other, and put ourselves in the other’s position.
Mutual understating is the foundation of state-to-state relations. It helps cement and broaden the foundation of our exchanges and cooperation.
Thanks to over thirty years of rapid growth, achieved through reform and opening up, China’s GDP now ranks second in the world.
As China continues to grow, some people start to worry. Some view China through tinted glasses and believe it will become a threat. They portray China as some kind of monster that will someday suck the soul out of the world.
This portrayal could not be more ridiculous, yet regrettably some people never get tired of repeating it. It shows that prejudice is indeed hard to overcome.
A review of human history tells us that what keeps people apart are not mountains, rivers or oceans, but a lack of mutual understanding.
As Leibniz once observed, only by sharing our talents will we light the lamp of wisdom.
Let me take this opportunity to talk to you about China’s reform and development, focusing on our commitment to peaceful development. I hope this will help you to gain a better understanding of China.
China made a solemn declaration to the world long ago that it is committed to pursuing peaceful development. It strives to uphold and maintain world peace through its own development. Pursuing peaceful development is China’s response to international concerns about the direction of China’s development.
Moreover, it demonstrates the Chinese people’s confidence and commitment to realizing its development goals. Such confidence and commitment is rooted in the rich heritage of the Chinese civilization, our understanding of the conditions for achieving our development goals and in our keen appreciation for the trends of global development.
China is a peace-loving nation. This pursuit for peace has its origin in the national character that was formed through generations.
Chinese civilization, with a history of over 5,000 years, has always cherished peace. The pursuit of peace and harmony is an integral part of the Chinese character, which is grounded deep in the blood of Chinese people.
In ancient times, the following proverbs were popular in China: The war-like state, however big it maybe, will eventually perish. Peace is of paramount importance; Seek harmony without uniformity; Replace weapons of war with gifts of jade and silk; Bring prosperity to the nation and bring the security to the people; Foster friendship with neighbours and achieve universal peace.
These proverbs have been passed on from generation to generation.
China was for a long time one of the most powerful countries in the world, yet it never engaged in colonialism or aggression. The pursuit of peaceful development represents the cultural tradition of the Chinese nation over the past several thousand years, the tradition that we have inherited and carried forward.
China has set the following goals in its pursuit of domestic development. The first goal is to double the GDP and the average income of urban and rural residents by 2020 in order to build a comprehensive well-off society. The second is to build a prosperous, democratic, civilized and harmonious modern socialist country by the middle of the 21st century.
We refer to this goal as being the Chinese dream. We will quickly enhance China’s prosperity and increase the happiness of over 1.3 billion Chinese people as long as we are on the right path.
Yet it will not be easy to make this happen for every individual. Consider the difference of eight people sharing one meal and eight hundred people sharing the meal. No matter how big the meal is, the individual share will differ dramatically.
We are aware that china will remain the world’s largest developing country for a long time to come. And to make life better for a population of over 1.3 billion calls for significant effort.
There are two things that will enable China to focus on development: a harmonious and stable domestic environment and a peaceful and stable international environment.
History is the best teacher. It records the journey that every country has gone through, and offers guidance for its future development.
Over more than one hundred years, from the opium war in 1840, to the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, China has been ravaged by war, turmoil and foreign aggression.
To the ordinary Chinese, it was a period of ordeal.
Japan’s war of aggression against China caused more than 35 million Chinese military and civilian casualties. These atrocities are still fresh in our memories.
Chinese have long held the belief that one should “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
China needs peace, as much as human beings needs air, and plants need sunshine. Only by pursuing peaceful development, working with other countries, and upholding world peace, can China realize its goal, and make a greater contribution to the world.
Dr. Sun Yat-sen, a pioneer of China’s democratic revolution, said the trend of the world is moving forward. Those who follow the trend will prosper.
History shows a country, in order to achieve prosperity, needs to recognize and follow the underlying trend of the changing world, otherwise it will be abandoned by history.
What is the trend of today’s world? The answer is unequivocal. It is a trend of peace, development, cooperation and win-win progress.
China does not subscribe to the outdated logic that a country will invariably seek hegemony when it grows in strength.
Can the old system of colonialism and hegemonism still operate in today’s world? Definitely not. It can only lead to a dead end. And those who follow this beaten track will hit a wall. The only alternative is peaceful development.
That is why china is committed to it.
Action speak louder than words. Over the past decades, China has consistently followed an independent foreign policy of peace, and made it clear that China’s foreign policy is aimed at maintaining world peace and development.
China has stated on numerous occasions that it opposes hegemonism and power politics in all forms. It will not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, and will never seek hegemony and expansion.
This is our guiding policy, which underlines China’s political system, and this is a policy we will follow in practice.
At the same time, China will firmly oppose its sovereignty, security and development interests. No country should expect China to swallow the bitter fruit and undermine its sovereignty, security and development interests.
In short, pursuing peaceful development is not only about diplomatics. Rather it’s a conclusion we have reached based on an objective assessment of China’s history present and future. It represents confidence in thinking and readiness to practice it. As peaceful development benefits both China and the world, we cannot think any reason why we should not pursue this approach.
At the 18th central committee meeting of the Communist Party of China, a top level decision on furthering China’s reforms and opening programs was made. A road map and timetable for carrying out reforms was adopted. Our goal is to improve and develop the socialist system in Chinese characteristics, advance the modernization of national governance system and capabilities and thus lay down a solid institutional foundation for China’s long term development.
China is accelerating its efforts to promote a new type of industrialization, application of IT technologies organization and agricultural organization, which will unleash tremendous demand in investment and consumption.
With a per capital GDP of close to 7,000 U.S. dollars, China is in a crucial stage of fast upgrading the mixed private consumption and industrial structure.
In 2013, the service sector overtook manufacturing industry sector for the first time as a bigger share of the China’s economy, the share of the service sector and its importance in China’s economy will continue to rise, so as the high value and high tech industries. And new growth areas of consumption and drivers of growth will keep emerging.
In the next 5 years, China is projected to import over 10 trillion U.S. dollars of goods and make over 500 billion U.S. dollars of overseas investment and over 500 million Chinese tourists will make overseas visits.
Lao Zi, an ancient Chinese philosopher, observed that a big country should be like the lower richest of river. That means a big country should be as inclusive as the lower richest river that admit the numerous attribution. China is eager to strengthen dialogue exchange with the rest of the world, and listen to the voices of other countries with an open and inclusive mind.
We hope the time will dispel prejudice and misunderstanding. We also hope that the world will view China in an objective, historical and multi-dimension light, and see the true and full picture of a dynamic China. China will never pursue development at the expense of the interests of other countries.
With a course of peace and development of the world in mind, we will contribute the Chinese vision to the management of contemporary international relations and offer Chinese solution for improving global governance and make our own contribution and efforts to the mankind in meeting the very challenges of the 2014.