Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me begin by thanking Dr. Niblett for his kind words. Chatham House is a prestigious institute well-known for its rigorous scholarship and inclusiveness. You have here many eminent scholars and research fellows, whose keen insight in international affairs is most impressive. I am delighted to have the opportunity to come here and exchange views with you.
This is my first official visit to the United Kingdom and to Europe as China's Foreign Minister. But the UK and Europe are not new to me. I first came to the UK as a student more than 30 years ago. Time flies. Looking back at these 30 odd years, we cannot but marvel at the profound changes that have taken place in the world, China and Europe included. Relations between China and Europe have also come a long way. China's achievements in reform and opening-up, in particular, have attracted global attention. I have friends overseas who have asked me time and again: Given China's fast growth, what direction will you follow in foreign policy? What does China's development mean for the rest of the world?
Today, I want to focus on the main themes of China's foreign policy and the implications of China's development for its relations with Europe.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The world today is undergoing major changes and readjustments. With deepening economic globalization and regional integration, countries are becoming increasingly interdependent and their interests are more closely intertwined. To pursue peace, development and cooperation constitute an irresistible trend of the times. However, the world is far from tranquil. Local conflicts and hotspot issues flare up one after another. Global economic imbalance is aggravating. North-South gap is widening. And non-traditional security threats have emerged on top of traditional security threats. How can we effectively confront challenges under the new international situation and better safeguard world peace and promote common development? This is a serious question that all of us have to address.
As you may know, the Communist Party of China held its 17th National Congress not long ago. This was an important meeting held at a time when China's reform and development have entered a crucial phase. In terms of foreign affairs, the meeting made a review of China's diplomacy for the past five years and set out future foreign policy objectives in light of the new international situation. There are three main messages coming out of the congress, namely, peaceful development, win-win opening-up, and building a harmonious world. I will address each of these.
First, China will unswervingly pursue the path of peaceful development. This is our strategic choice and its essence is that we seek to develop ourselves in a peaceful international environment and contribute to the cause of world peace through our own development. It is a choice consistent with the peace-loving tradition of the Chinese nation and the need for building socialism with distinctive Chinese features. As an integral part of China's independent foreign policy of peace, it not only serves the fundamental interests of the Chinese people but also conforms to the trend of human progress.
Some people have some misgivings about the development of China. Their argument is that the rise of major powers in the past has never been peaceful. These misgivings, in my view, are unfounded. In an era of globalization and interdependence, China cannot develop itself in isolation from the world and the development of the world cannot be realized without China. Countries can only achieve sustained development in an environment of enduring peace and fully share the benefit of peace through common development.
China's peaceful development is conducive to the fundamental interests of the Chinese people as well as the common interests of people of other countries, and China's foreign policy objectives are consistent with the call for progress of people of the whole world. We stand for cooperation as the way to resolve disputes and achieve peace and development. In short, we are committed to peaceful, open and harmonious development.
Second, China will unswervingly follow a win-win strategy of opening-up. Reform and opening-up have transformed China from a closed or semi-closed society to one that fully embraces the world. A multi-faceted and multi-tiered opening-up pattern has taken shape in China. Our interactions with other countries in the political, economic, cultural, security and other fields have never been as extensive and close as they are today.
To achieve development in China, a big developing country with a population of 1.3 billion, we have to rely mainly on our own effort. But we also have to get actively involved in international economic and trade cooperation and learn from the experience of other countries. Reform and opening-up have not only benefited the Chinese people, but also contributed significantly to world economic growth and the cause of progress of mankind. China is now a major engine driving the economic growth of Asia and beyond. In the past three decades, China's imports have been growing by an average annual rate of 15 percent, making China the third largest importer in the world and the biggest one in Asia. China's exports have also brought benefits to consumers around the world. The size of China's market and overseas investment will get bigger as the country continues to develop, enabling China to make even greater contribution to stability and prosperity of the world economy.
China's opening-up is comprehensive and mutually beneficial. China does not pursue opening-up at the expense of the interests of other countries. Instead, our opening-up is based on mutual benefit, mutual complementarity and mutual assistance. While seeking its own development, China will make efforts to accommodate the legitimate concerns of other countries. We will properly manage economic and trade frictions with other countries, increase market access, optimize foreign trade structure and ease trade imbalances in accordance with international trade rules. We will be more actively engaged in economic globalization and international economic and technological cooperation and competition.
Third, China will remain firmly committed to building a harmonious world of enduring peace and common prosperity. The concept of building a harmonious world is deeply rooted in China's cultural tradition. It gives full expression to our desire for peace, our commitment to be a responsible member of the international community, and our willingness to work with other countries to achieve peace and prosperity. It also serves our cause of peaceful development.
China observes the following principles in developing relations with other countries: Politically, all countries should respect each other, settle differences through consultations on an equal footing and live together in amity. The right of all countries to choose their own social system and development path should be respected. All countries have the right to equal participation in international affairs and should work together to promote democracy in international relations. Economically, we should cooperate with each other, draw on each other's strengths and make joint efforts to ensure balanced progress of economic globalization so that it can benefit all. Culturally, we should learn from each other, expand common ground while shelving differences, respect diversity, and advance the progress of human civilization through a common endeavor. In the area of security, we should build mutual trust, strengthen cooperation, settle international disputes by peaceful means, and work together to safeguard world peace and stability. On environmental issues, we should help and cooperate with each other and take good care of the Earth, the only home of mankind.
A harmonious world is a long-term goal that requires persistent and painstaking efforts. It will be a process in which countries work together to meet challenges, build consensus and expand common interests. It will also be a process in which different civilizations and cultures interact with one another, draw upon one another's strengths and achieve common development and prosperity.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Reform and opening-up have brought about historic changes in the relations between China and the rest of the world and ever closer interconnection between China's future and destiny and those of Europe and the world.
With over 30 years of development, relations between China and Europe have now reached an unprecedented level, both in depth and in breadth, despite our differences in ideology and social system. Politically, our relations have gone through three stages --- from constructive partnership to comprehensive partnership and then to today's comprehensive strategic partnership. A few days ago, the 10th China-EU Leaders' Meeting was successfully held in Beijing, during which the two sides reached broad agreement. On the economic and trade front, the volume of trade between China and Europe has increased 100 times in 30 years. The EU has been China's largest trading partner for three years running now and, I may add, among the EU countries, the United Kingdom has remained China's biggest investor and third largest trading partner. China-EU cooperation now covers more than 40 sectors and the two sides have maintained good consultation and coordination on UN reform, the Iranian nuclear issue, the Middle East, Africa and other international issues.
Amid rapid globalization, the fundamental factors that contribute to the growth of China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership are increasing rather than decreasing. The shared interests between China and Europe are expanding rather than diminishing. We need each other more, not less. China's fast development will give a strong boost to the growth of relations between China and Europe and between China and the United Kingdom.
I am confident about our future relations, because first of all, we do not have conflict of fundamental interests or outstanding historical issue. There is no major political obstacle standing in the way of relations between us.
Second, China and Europe follow similar principles in addressing international issues. Both China and Europe are key members of the international community and have important influence in determining the trend of the international situation and shaping the international system. We both advocate multilateralism and support upholding the authority of the United Nations, promoting global cooperation, and seeking peaceful solutions to international disputes through diplomatic means.
Third, China and Europe are both in a crucial stage of development and our interests increasingly overlap. In keeping with the country's advocation of Scientific Outlook on Development, we are working hard to build a harmonious society and ensure sound and fast economic growth. We need to draw upon the successful practices of the United Kingdom and other European countries in this process. The EU integration has made encouraging progress and is now at a key juncture. I think you will agree with me when I say that the United Kingdom and other European countries also need to intensify cooperation with China in a wide range of areas. China and Europe can offer more opportunities to each other through their development and our cooperation is mutually beneficial.
Fourth, China and Europe need to work together to meet global challenges. As things stand, the international community is confronted with increasingly complex and diverse challenges. In addition to regional and international hotspot issues, terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, trans-national crimes, communicable diseases and issues concerning energy, environment and climate change have become all the more serious. Cooperation between China and Europe in responding to these challenges not only serves the interests of both sides, but also conduces to international peace, stability and development.
Last but not least, we are attracted to each other's culture. Cultural exchanges are an important way for different peoples to understand each other and different countries to live in harmony. Blessed with time-honored and rich cultural heritage, China and Europe have much to learn from and offer each other. A telling example is the exhibition of the First Emperor: China's Terracotta Army in the British Museum, which showcases the charm of the ancient Chinese culture. The British people's strong interest in the exhibition shows that culture is a bridge that links peoples together.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We should make the best use of the aforementioned opportunities to elevate China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership to a new high. To that end, we should make greater efforts in the following aspects.
First, build stronger political mutual trust. As two important forces in the world, China and Europe shoulder the responsibility of safeguarding world peace and promoting common development. We should view our relations from a strategic and global perspective, increase high-level and strategic dialogues to gain an objective appreciation of each other's development policies and direction and cooperate more closely on regional and international hotspot issues.
Second, upgrade the level of practical cooperation. The growth of Sino-European relations serves the immediate, long-term and fundamental interests of both sides. We should make full use of the existing mechanisms to broaden the mutually beneficial cooperation in economy and trade, culture, education, science and technology, environmental protection, finance and other sectors and solidify the material basis of our relations. As we both take the issues of climate change and energy very seriously, we should explore new ideas and avenues for cooperation in these two sectors and make it another highlight in cooperation.
Third, promote greater mutual understanding. Understanding is the prerequisite and basis for successful cooperation. To deepen friendship between peoples of China and Europe, we need to learn more about each other's history, culture and traditions. Exchanges and cooperation between academics and media organizations of the two sides are of particular importance in this regard.
Fourth, properly manage differences. China and European countries differ in national conditions, history, culture and traditions, and we are at different levels of development. It is therefore only natural that we don't see eye to eye on everything. Issues such as trade imbalance and intellectual property rights (IPR) protection are issues that have emerged with the growth of Sino-European relations. These growing pains, put in a different light, prove how close our cooperation is. We should try to resolve them step by step through dialogue, consultation and cooperation and we should do so by respecting each other and treating each other as equals. We should draw upon each other's strengths through cooperation and achieve common development by expanding common ground while shelving differences.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Mankind faces both opportunities and challenges for development in the new century. And I believe there are more opportunities than challenges. There exist broad common interests between China and Europe and between China and the UK. The common challenges we face and the common responsibilities we carry require us to work together to meet the challenges, promote peace, and pursue development.
I wish to conclude my remarks with two quotations. From China, it's an old saying: Things that accord in tone vibrate together. Things that have affinity in their inmost natures seek one another. From Britain, it's a famous line from the great poet Samuel Johnson: To improve the golden moment of opportunity, and catch the good that is within our reach, is the great art of life.
Let us, China, the UK, and Europe in general, join hands and work together for an even brighter future of our relations and an even better world.