Toward a New Type of International Relations if Win-Win Cooperation

Speech by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at Luncheon of the China Development Forum Beijing, March 23, 2015.


Seventy years ago, in the wake of victory of the world’s antifascist war, nations on earth created an international order and a corresponding international system with the United Nations as the core underpinned by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.

The past seven decades has witnessed overall peace and stability of the world and unprecedented progress in mankind’s development. At the same time, globalization and the shift of international forces have posed new challenges to the existing international order and system.

Now, 70 years after the founding of the United Nations, it is highly necessary that we think over the question of what kind of international relations to foster under new historical conditions so that we could continue to uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and better safeguard and bring forward the international system with the United Nations at its core.

What China proposes as a solution is to build a new type of international relations of win-win cooperation. This major concept, proposed by President Xi Jinping on the basis of grasping the overall world trend, actually builds on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. At the same time, it goes beyond the traditional theory of international relations. Its impact on the future development of international relations will surely be profound and significant.

Well, people might ask, what makes this type of international relations new? To put it simply, such a new type of international relations is aimed at replacing confrontation with cooperation, and exclusiveness with win-win cooperation. What it rejects is the practice of zero-sum game and the winner-takes-all approach.

Politically, we need to foster a new thinking of building partnerships. International relations, in the traditional sense, are often about making a choice between alliance and confrontation. To build partnerships, however, is to find a new path of having dialogue without confrontation and making partners without forming alliance. As President Xi Jinping put it, countries, with or without agreement, could all be partners. It is true that political alliance does exist, and China respects countries’ right to independently choose their foreign policy. In the meantime, we hope that parties may, by acting along the trend of the times, explore a new type of partnership that is more inclusive and constructive, that is not targeted at a hypothetical enemy or against a third party. As far as China is concerned, we have in recent years established partnerships of various forms with 75 countries and 5 regions or regional organizations in an effort to build a global network of partnerships of peace, development and cooperation and of equality, inclusiveness and win-win development.

China and the United States have worked to build a new model of major-country relations. The two countries focusing more on strategic communication and practical cooperation and better managing differences and disputes serves not only the interests of the two peoples, but also peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific and beyond. We look forward to new and fruitful results to be achieved by President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the United States this fall. The China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination has accomplished high level of development. The two countries have made breakthroughs in major cooperation projects and increased their strategic coordination. ChinaEU relations have been elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership and are moving toward the partnership for peace, growth, reform and progress of civilizations. China’s solidarity and coordination with emerging markets and developing countries are growing from strength to strength. More substance has been added to the new type of strategic partnership between China and Africa, and China and Latin America have established a comprehensive cooperative partnership of equality, mutual benefit and common development. We could all so proudly state that China’s circle of friends and partners is getting bigger and bigger as we make more and more friends in the world.

Economically, we need to foster new prospects of common development. This year, the United Nations will formulate the post-2015 development agenda. Over the past 15 years since the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals, the target of halving the world’s population living in extreme poverty has been basically met, yet more than 1 billion people are still living under the line of extreme poverty. Development imbalance is not a mere economic issue. It is at the root of many of the problems facing our world today. China calls on all countries to foster a true sense of community of shared interests and work to secure the greatest common interests possible in seeking common development.

Such is the vision we have in mind when the Chinese government put forward the initiative of building “the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road”, which has already got positive response from about 60 countries. Inspired by the ancient Silk Road, the “Belt and Road” initiative is designed to embrace the tremendous need for cooperation among countries concerned by prioritizing the development of infrastructure facilities for transportation on the Eurasian Continent. Currently in Asia alone, infrastructure needs to be upgraded for many countries and regions, for which the funding from existing financing institutions is hardly sufficient. That is where we see the potential and opportunity to turn demand into driving force for development. And that is why we believe the proposal to establish a US$100 billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is most opportune. In fact, the proposal has been warmly received by many countries, and the latest application for admission by the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and Switzerland will make the founding membership of the AIIB more broadbased and representative.

On the security front, we need to commit ourselves to building a world of security for all. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. For our world, peace has not come easily and must be preserved however hard we need to work. We need to better leverage the safeguard mechanisms established by the UN Charter to prevent war and uphold peace. We need to lend support to a more effective role of the UN and its Security Council to enhance the capacity of conflict prevention. We must make sure that the Cold War mentality, whatever its form, gives way to a shared commitment to common, cooperative, comprehensive and sustainable security. Disputes between countries should be addressed through dialogue and consultation instead of the use or threat of force. This way, we will ensure that peace and security are enjoyed and safeguarded by all countries in the world.

China is an active contributor to international peace and security operations. It has sent nearly 30,000 men and women to UN peacekeeping operations, more than other permanent members of the UN Security Council. A 700-soldier infantry battalion has just arrived in South Sudan to join UNMISS. By now, 19 Chinese fleets have conducted escort missions for the safe passage of over 5,800 ships in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia.

China is actively involved in the peaceful settling of hotspot issues in the hope to provide a Chinese perspective to the solution of relevant issues. China believes in the following three principles in handling hotspot issues, i.e. no country should interfere in other countries’ internal affairs or impose its own will on others; countries concerned should act in an impartial and objective manner and refrain from seeking selfish interests; and political solutions, not the use of force, should be sought in addressing hotspot issues. China’s commitment has been honored with real actions, from its dedication to peace, stability and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula to the successful hosting of the fourth Ministerial Conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan, from its active involvement in negotiations over the Iranian nuclear issue to active shuttle diplomacy by special Chinese envoys to the Middle East, and to the “Special Consultation in Support of the IGAD-led South Sudan Peace Process” that China initiated. On the question of Myanmar, China used its resources and played a mediating role to facilitate the process of national reconciliation within Myanmar, efforts that contributed to long-term peace of Myanmar and to peace and stability along the China-Myanmar border.

Culturally, we should promote inclusiveness and mutual learning between civilizations. The world we live in is home to over 200 countries and regions and more than 2,500 ethnic groups and various religions, and is thus blessed with a remarkable cultural diversity. Each civilization is proudly unique of its own and all add to the common asset of the human race. The Chinese nation values inclusiveness and accommodation. For millennia, different cultures and faiths, including Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and Islam, have co-existed in harmony on this land, which is in fact not commonplace elsewhere in the world. The history of progress of the Chinese civilization is a powerful example of how different cultures and faiths could interact and thrive together without doing each other harm. The secret to that, I believe, is nothing but equality, mutual appreciation and accommodation.

This article is an excerpt from a speech by Minister Wang Yi made in Beijing March 23, 2015.

Photo courtesy of Minister Wang Yi.

For more information on China-Canada relations, click here.