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Home > Ambassador Liu > Remarks
Keynote Speech by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the Symposium on Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy: Learn the Oriental Wisdom and Understand the Future of China

Chinese Embassy in the UK, 9 April 2019

Chairman Stephen Perry,
Professor Martin Albrow,
Dr. Martin Jacques,
Chairman Fang Wenjian,
My Lords,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Welcome to the Symposium on Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy.

This is the 46th year of my career as a diplomat, and the 10th year as Chinese Ambassador to the UK. Many British friends asked me what has impressed me most during my tour of duty in the UK? My answer is: the successful state visit by President Xi Jinping to the UK in 2015.

This visit was memorable not just because it was the first time for me to receive a head of state from China as Ambassador. More importantly, this historic visit ushered in the China-UK "Golden Era". It also charted the course for China-UK relations in the second decade of the 21st century.

At the banquet held by the Lord Mayor of the City of London, President Xi Jinping said,

"The path that the Chinese people follow has been a choice of history. What the Chinese people want is a better life. What the Chinese people long for is a world of peace and development."

He also said that "China will stand firm with all other countries to meet whatever challenges that may lie ahead", and that "roads will only become broader when more people travel on them".

These powerful words reflect a strategic thinking. They embody the oriental wisdom that values the common good, inclusiveness and mutual learning. They also demonstrate President Xi Jinping's vision, courage and responsibilities as a leader of a big country.

As the Chinese Ambassador to the UK, I regard it as my mission to enhance mutual understanding, mutual trust and cooperation between China and the UK, and to tell the story of the real China to the people of the UK and of the world.

In recent years, the increase of media reports on China has been exponential. But to be frank, these reports are not all of good quality. There are more negative voices than positive ones. China's development is regarded as an opportunity by some but a challenge or even a threat by some others.

So, where is a richer and stronger China headed? How will it influence the world? To these questions, Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy has provided the best answer. To understand today's China and China's diplomacy, one must study and try to understand Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy.

Now I would like to share with you my views by answering three questions.

First, what is at the core of Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy?

Last June, I attended the Central Conference on Diplomatic Work in Beijing, where Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy was established as the guiding thought that provides basic principles and guidelines for China foreign policy. It is an innovation, a breakthrough and a leap forward in the evolution of the thought on China's diplomacy.

Now I would like to share with you my understanding on Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy from three perspectives.

First, Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy inherits and develops China's cultural and diplomatic tradition.

The pursuit for peace, good neighbourliness and harmony has been running in the blood of the Chinese nation.

For generations,

We have prized and pursued "peace for all under heaven";

We have believed in win-win as embedded in the ancient teaching that "the interests to be considered should be the interests of all";

We have upheld the ideals of harmony and inclusion rooted in the words of ancient philosophers, such as "there should be harmony without uniformity" and "do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you";

And because of our belief that "all under heaven belong to one big family", we are convinced that countries should always come to each other's assistance and work towards the same direction.

These are the traditional Chinese wisdoms behind China's diplomacy.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. In the past 70 years, we have formed the diplomatic tradition with unique Chinese features, namely, independence, peaceful development and win-win cooperation.

Several decades ago when China itself was struggling to make ends meet, we shared what little we had with other developing countries striving for independence and economic growth.

In 1976, I was a young diplomat in Zambia, where I had the honour to attend the handover ceremony of Tazara, a railway linking Tanzania and Zambia. More than 60 Chinese workers sacrificed their lives for building Tazara and were laid to rest on the African continent. Tazara highlights the value of putting righteousness above material gains. It embodies the spirit of equality and win-win cooperation. These ideas have always been deeply embedded in China's foreign policy.

Following the adoption of the policies of reform and opening up, China came to the strategic conclusion that peace and development were the theme of the times. This fundamental judgment continued to be the bedrock of China's diplomacy up to and after the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

At the same time, China's diplomacy has also kept abreast with the changing times and made new progress in line with the evolving landscape abroad and reality at home. We have put forward a number of new ideals, proposals and initiatives that are imbued with Chinese characteristics, embody the spirit of our times and provide guidance to the progress of mankind.

Second, Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy encapsulates the concepts and practice of China's diplomacy.

At the centre of Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy are ten key concepts known as ten "persistent efforts". These concepts are the essence of China's diplomacy that are extracted and distilled from China's long-held principles and decades of practice.

Together they constitute the foundation of the idea and practice of major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics.

Out of the ten concepts, I would like to stress three.

First, making persistent effort to build a community with a shared future for mankind, with the aim of safeguarding world peace and promoting common development.

This lofty goal of China's diplomacy in the new era has been written into the Constitution of China and the Constitution of the Communist Party of China. It is also endorsed in the documents of important regional and international organisations including the UN.

Second, making persistent effort to advance the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in line with the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration.

BRI is the overarching design for China's opening up and international cooperation and will remain so for a considerable period of time to come. This is an important measure to open up China wider to the world in the new era. More than six years after it was proposed, BRI is becoming the most popular public goods and largest platform for international cooperation.

Third, making persistent effort to follow a path of peaceful development based on mutual respect and win-win cooperation.

This is a basic principle that must be upheld in China's diplomatic initiatives on a long-term basis. Peaceful development is a path to common development. It is leading to a new type of state-to-state relations.

The third perspective of my understanding of Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy is that it provides an assessment and definition on the development of the world and the role of China.

President Xi Jinping pointed out that the world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a hundred years:

Last century, mankind experienced two World Wars and a Cold War that lasted for nearly half a century.

The 21st century is witnessing accelerated multi-polarisation, the rise of emerging countries and profound adjustments in the international landscape. At the same time, the world economic growth remains sluggish, the financial crisis is taking its toll and unilateralism and protectionism are on the rise.

Under such circumstances, how does China see itself and the world? Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy provides the best answer:

We should strive for national revitalisation;

We should promote the progress of mankind;

We should adopt a historical perspective, see the big picture and play our role.

China's hard work over the past decades has not only brought about a better life for its more than 1.3 billion people. It is also an important contribution to peace and prosperity in the world and the common interests and benefits of people of all countries.

No matter what development stage China reaches, it will continue to be a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of international order.

Now we come to the second question: what does Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy mean to the world?

The year 2018 marked the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up. In the past 40 years, China's GDP increased by 33.5 times, and its total export and import increased by 782 times. Reform and opening up have not only transformed China profoundly but also brought about historic changes to the relations between China and the world. As President Xi Jinping pointed out, "China will do well only when the world does well, and vice versa."

Born against this backdrop, Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy gives a global significance to the Chinese Dream. It emphasizes ever close ties between China and the world. It advocates the ideal of "one world, one family".

First, it draws a new blueprint for human progress.

Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy is based upon the belief that "it is our duty to work for the common good of all people in the world". That is the rational behind the concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind.

What kind of a world do we desire?

What should we do to build a world that we want?

To these important questions of our times, Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy gives the following answer:

Instead of minding one's own business and rocking the boat, the international community should come to each other's aid and row together.

Instead of taking a "beggar-thy-neighbour" approach, we should stand side by side in time of hardship.

Instead of playing a zero-sum game, we should engage in win-win cooperation.

Building a community with a shared future for mankind answers the call of the times, focuses on the shared future, upholds multilateralism and advocates international fairness and justice. This is a road to human progress.

Second, Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy explores a new thinking on international relations.

In the past 500 years, there were 16 cases in which a rising power confronted the established power. 12 cases ended with war. This has led some people to think that China would not be an exception.

But China strives to avoid the beaten track and blaze a new trail. In history, China never sought expansion. Today, China does not accept the law of the jungle, namely the weak falls prey to the strong and the winner takes all.

In order to bring to an end the old logic that "a strong country is bound to seek hegemony" and "an emerging power and an established power are bound to fall into the Thucydides Trap", Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy proposes to build a new type of international relations.

This is the new trail. This new type of international relations features mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation.

Third, Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy provides a new guideline for global governance.

With rising instabilities and uncertainties in the world, mankind is faced with increasing and common challenges, and in need of a joint response. This is exactly why President Xi Jinping's speech at Davos back in the 2017 received enthusiastic response from all over the world.

In that speech, President Xi analysed the problems in the world economy, endorsed globalisation and multilateralism, and contributed China's solution on global governance.

China believes that in global governance

countries in the world should seek common ground while narrowing differences;

take actions rather than just standing by;

and uphold the principle of shared growth through discussion and collaboration;

Only in this way will mankind take the future of in their own hands.

Now let's come to the third question: how to obtain an accurate and comprehensive understanding of Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy?

In recent years, there have been misunderstandings, even misjudgment, about China in some countries, especially Western countries. Some of the interpretations of Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy are not comprehensive and lack accuracy.

In understanding Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy comprehensively, I believe the following three points are crucial.

First, Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy is aimed at safeguarding and improving the international order rather than replacing the existing system.

China is one of the founding members of the United Nations. It is a creator, beneficiary and firm defender of the international order established after the Second World War. As of today, China has taken part in almost all the major inter-governmental international organisations and signed more than 300 international conventions.

The current international system may not be perfect, but on the whole it is effective. China stands for reform and improvement, not "reinventing the wheel". We would like to see a more equitable and reasonable international system that meets the needs of the current international situation.

Second, Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy is aimed at common development, rather than interfering in the affairs of other countries.

China believes that "a country should never sacrifice the greater good for material interests". In our business cooperation with other countries, we follow the principle of win-win results. We do not interfere in other countries' political affairs through economic cooperation or by creating the so-called "debt trap".

Later this month, China will host the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. As of today, China has signed 173 documents on BRI cooperation with 124 countries and 29 international organisations. We have never "forced" any country to cooperate with China. These countries and organisations signed those documents based on their independent strategic judgment and in line with their own needs.

Last but not least, Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy is aimed at shouldering responsibility rather than "flexing muscles".

In the past 70 years since the founding of the People's Republic of China, China has never launched a single war or conflict.

We have been firm in safeguarding our national sovereignty, security and development interests. At the same time, we have provided public goods to the international community to the best of our capabilities.

China is the second largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget, and the largest contributor of peacekeepers among the five permanent members.

China has also taken part in the settlement of almost all the hot-spot issues in the world, and has actively contributed China's wisdom and solutions.

As for what international responsibilities that China should shoulder, it is a matter of both the expectation of the international community and the capability and development stage of China.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Thoughts have always played a crucial part in leading the development of history, in making the achievements of civilisations and in promoting the progress of mankind.

In modern times, the UK is known for being a treasure house of thoughts. Its open and inclusive spirit has not only nurtured the Industrial Revolution but also fostered great writers and thinkers such as Shakespeare, Byron, Shelley, Locke, Russell and Bacon.

You have all been following and studying China and China-related issues for a long time. I am sure you have your own understanding on Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy. I hope you will find my introduction helpful in facilitating a deeper understanding on this topic.

Just as a single flower does not make a spring, the progress of mankind depends on the efforts of all countries.

Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy is the "compass" for China's foreign policy. It demonstrates China's sincerity to join hands with other countries to create a better future for mankind. It will ensure that China takes the right side of history and its interactions with the world heads in the right direction.

I hope that your earnest study and accurate interpretation of Xi Jinping Thought on China's Diplomacy will help strengthen the bond between the people of our two countries, and enhance mutual learning between our two civilizations. I look forward to your wisdom on how to seek common progress for China, for the UK and for the world, and I count on your contribution to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind!

Thank you!


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