Where is China heading——Consul-General Dr Ruan Zongze’s speech at the Perspectives: Asia series hosted by Griffith Asia Institute

2024-06-21 20:02

Where is Chinaheading

——Consul-General Dr Ruan Zongze’s speech at the Perspectives:Asia series

hosted by Griffith Asia Institute

(Thursday 20 June 2024, Queensland's Gallery of Modern Art)

I will begin by acknowledging professor Christoph Nedopil Wang, Director of Griffith Asia Institutefor your kindinvitationand introduction. It is truly my pleasure to participate in the Perspectives:Asia series.I also like to  acknowledge Mr Chris Saines, Director of Queensland's Gallery of Modern Art  for providing such an excellent venue for this event.

Distinguished guests and friends, welcome everyone.Thank you for being here.

This prestigious forum is conducive to explore issues of contemporary culture, politics and society in Asia, while fostering public discussion of Australia's relations with its region. For this purpose, my talk this evening will focus on the topic of how to get China right.

Where did China come from, where is it now, and where is it going?What is the impact of China's rise on Australia, Asia and the world? Will China be able to achieve sustainable development? Is China a rival or a partner? A threat or an opportunity?

To answer these critical questions, I would like to observe China's past, present and future. I will also discuss the prospect of China-Australia relations and share with you some reflections and thoughts.

The historyshaped China

The Chinese civilization has been passed down for thousands of years. It is the only human civilization in history that has not been interrupted and continues to this day, creating miracles and notable successes one after another. Openness and inclusiveness are the cornerstones of Chinese civilization.

In modern times, however, China was reduced to poverty and weakness, threatened by domestic strife and foreign aggression. In 1840, Britain launched the First Opium War to invade China. Western powers swarmed in to carve up China, turning it into a semi-colonial and semi-feudal country.

It was during this period that China's Hong Kong and Macao were ceded and leased to Britain and Portugal respectively.

From 1931 to 1945, Japan invaded China, causing heavy casualties to 35 million Chinese soldiers and civilians.

The Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression was the main eastern battlefield of World War II, which started the earliest and lasted the longest during the World Anti-FascistWar.

The Chinese people have lived through the longest war and made extraordinary contributions to world peace with massive sacrifice.

The twists and turns have shattered China's mountains and rivers, left people in dire straits, and severely damaged its economy. According to estimates from Western scholars, China's gross domestic product (GDP) ranked first in the world in 1820, accounting for about one-third of the world's total; while by 1945, its GDP was only 4 percent of the world's.

Thankfully, the Chinese people have chosen the leadership of the Communist Party of China(CPC). We are deeply proud of that. Under the strong leadership of CPC, the People's Republic of China(PRC) was foundedin 1949,solemnly announcing that the Chinese people have stood up since then!

China has embarked on the incredible journey of reform, opening up, and modernization, and socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new eraever since the late 1970s.

Obviously the history of both glory and suffering has significantly shaped today's China and constructed the character of contemporary China. The Chinese people particularly cherish peace,independence and firmly safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The Taiwan question, therefore,is China’s red line that must not be crossed. There is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinasince ancient times. This is both a historical fact and a true status quo, which will never change in the future.

Both the Cairo Declaration(1943) and the Potsdam Proclamation(1945) state clearly that all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Taiwan and the Penghu Islands,shall be restored to China.

In 1971, Resolution 2758 adopted at the 26th Session of the UN General Assembly fully reflects and solemnly reaffirms the one-China principle, which has long been an important part of the post-WWII world order. The one-China principle is the political foundation and prerequisite for China to growits diplomatic ties with 183 countries across the world.

Although the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have fallen into a special state of long-term political confrontation, the fact that the mainland and Taiwan belong to the same China has never changed, and China's sovereignty and territorial integrity have never been divided. The Taiwan question is entirely China's internal affair.

The "Taiwan independence" separatist forces' attempt to subvert the international order is the most dangerous change to Taiwan's status quo and the greatest damage to peace across the Taiwan Strait. Opposing "Taiwan independence" is to safeguard the international order and maintain peace. The determination of the Chinese people to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity is rock-solid and the historical trend for China to achieve reunification is unstoppable.

Providing public goods

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the  PRC. The Chinese nationhas experienced a remarkable transformation from standing up, to becoming prosperous, and now becoming strong. China has lifted itself out of poverty, achieved a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and is striving to realize the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

Last year, China's economy grew by 5.2percent,and the expected economic growth target in 2024 is about 5percent.China's contribution rate to the world economy has remained at around 30percent in the past decade, making it a true engine of the world economy.

China has been extensively and deeply integrated into the world economic system, advancing a broader agenda of opening up across more areas and in greater depth. It is the major trading partner of more than 140 countries and regions in the world. China's high-quality development will continue to provide broader market space and bring more opportunities for win-win cooperation for all countries.

China is a builder, contributor, and defender of the current international order. It dispatches the largest number of peacekeepers among the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. In the face of various risks and challenges, people look forward to China offering Chinese solutions and Chinese wisdom to solve problems and achieve peaceful development.

Seventy years ago, China put forward the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-Existence, which are mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit and peaceful coexistence. These principles have been widely accepted and have become important guidelines for modern international relations.

In recent years, China has offered a  number of flagship proposals, such as building a community with a shared future for mankind, the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative, the Global Civilization Initiative as well as theBeltand Road initiative.They aim for improving global governance and contributing Chinese solutions to solve human development problems.These proposals have received support from more than 100 countries and international organizations around the world.

The key message here is that the more China develops, the more capable it becomes of providing public goods.

Invest the future

Where is China headed in the future? China's overall strategic arrangement consists of two steps: basically realizing socialist modernization by 2035 and build a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful from 2035 to the middle of this century.

The unparalleled Chinese way of modernization is guided by mutual respect and win-win cooperation. As President Xi Jinping pointed out, in advancing modernization, China will neither tread the old path of colonization and plunder, nor the crooked path taken by some countries to seek hegemony and export ideology once they grow strong.

The Chinese modernization has the following distinctive features.

First, people-centered modernization with a huge population. China has more than 1.4 billion people, which makes China's modernization process unique in terms of population size. There are about 8 billion people on this planet today, but only about 1 billion live in modern countries. China's modernization will double the modern population of the world. It must be a giant step not only for China, but also for mankind.

Second,modernization that brings common prosperity to all people and achieves inclusive development, which means no one should be left behind. Chinese modernization is a magnificent epic written with a people-centered approach and the pursuit of common prosperity for all. Since the founding of the PRC, hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty, creating a feat in the history of human development and providing assistance to many developing countries that aspire to achieve development while maintaining their independence.

Third,modernization that emphasizes material and cultural-ethical progress. China's infrastructure development has advanced by leaps and bounds, with the operating mileage of high-speed rail reaching 45,000 kilometers. At the same time, China's excellent traditional culture has been rejuvenated and blossomed to realize the all-round development of human beings. The average life expectancy of the Chinese population has increased significantly to 77 years and is expected to reach 81.3 years by 2035.

Fourth,modernization that would not disturb the harmony between humanity and nature. China is accelerating the development of new quality productivity forces, shifting from high-speed growth to high-quality development, adhering to the path of green and low-carbon growth, and actively responding to global climate change. Green growth is surely the next great bonanza. The rapid development of China's new energy industry stems from long-term technology accumulation and an open competition environment. It is fully in line with the laws of market economy and the principle of fair competition. It is an advanced production capacity that promotes the low-carbon transformation of the world economy.

Fifth,modernization that follows the path of peaceful development. In the more than 70 years since its founding, the PRC has never initiated a war or occupied an inch of other country's land. China is also the only country in the world that has written the path of peaceful development into its constitution, and the only nuclear power that has pledged not to be the first to use nuclear weapons. China adheres to the norms governing international relations featuring mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation, and promotes the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

US builds walls, while China builds roads

Unsurprisingly,China's rapid developmenthas always been questioned and denouncedby some people. There are endless voices hyping up the "China threat theory".So far,however,they have been wrong about almost everything.

The United Stateswrongly indulge in building "big yard and high fence" to impede the green-energy transition and launched a "chip war" against China and engaged in unilateral sanctions and "long-arm jurisdiction" , etc.

America has relentlessly imposed draconian sanctions on Chinese companies citing the so-called pretext of "fighting against China’s overcapacity". It cobbled together a "protectionist alliance", suppressed China's high-tech development, deprived China of its legitimate development rights, seriously undermined international trade rules and damaged the stability of global industrial and supply chains.

China's new energy companies represent advanced production capacity, which not only enriches global supply, alleviates global inflation, but also makes great contributions to addressing global climate change and promoting green development.

Ironically, while the United States is asking China to assume greater responsibility for addressing climate change, it is weaponizing discriminatory protectionism to prevent China's new energy products from benefiting the world.It is the most absurd show in hubris.

Apparently,Uncle Sam's foreign policy has been hijacked by fear, greed and xenophobia.It seeks to replace and change the international order based on universally recognized international law with its so-called "rules-based order", promotes hegemonism, adheres to the Cold War mentality and stands on the wrong side of history.

The US builds walls, while China builds roads;

The US provokes wars, while China promotes peace;

The US exports arms, while China exports electric vehicles.

Indeed, the list can be long.

The international community will have its own say on who is the real threat.

Washington's blockade and suppression will be futile. After all containing China will not make America great again.

The era of global boiling has arrived! We are all in the same boat. There is no room for complacency in the battle against the risks posed by climate change.

What would happen to the world if China and the United States went in opposite directions?

The lesson is not far away, as the world was shocked by Wall Streetfinancial meltdown in 2008.Everybody was panic. The international community expected China and the United States to work together to address the unprecedented crisis.

At that time, I happened to work at the Chinese Embassy in the United States and witnessed the close cooperation between Beijing and the Washington to turn the world around.

The planet is big enough to accommodate both China and the United States.

In his phone call with President Biden in April this year, President Xi Jinping emphasized that the issue of strategic perception is always fundamental to the China-U.S. relationship, just like the first button of a shirt that must be put right. China and the United States should respect each other, coexist peacefully, and cooperate for win-win results.

Win-win cooperation

Chinsee Premier Li Qiang's recent productive visit to Australia manifests that Beijing-Canberra ties are back on the right track, and help turn a new page in bilateral relationship. The both sides are encouraged by the new consensus on education, FTA, climate change,cultural,tourism etc.

It is worth mentioning that two new giant pandas will be loaned to down under. The first possible challenge, however, for the new pair is to learn Aussie English.

The China-Australiarelations can be framed as  ABCDE as the following:

"A" refers to adjacency. China and Australia share geographical proximity, and both are important countries in the Asia-Pacific region.Asia is the region with the most growth vitality and development potential in the world.  A productive and dynamic relationship between  China and Australia unequivocally serves the interests of the region.

"B"means benefit. The two countries have no historical grudges or fundamental conflicts of interest and we should become good partners for win-win cooperation.Chinahas been overwhelmingly Australia's largest trading partner for 15 consecutive years. In 2023, China-Australia two way trade volume of goods rose by 4.1percent year-on-year, reaching US$229.2 billion, and that is higher than the total volume of  Australia's next five trading partners. One in four Australian jobs rely on trade.

"C" indicates complementarity. The economies of China and Australia are highly complimentary. More importantly, both China and Australiaare trading nations. China has remained Australia's largest export destination for services trade for many years in a row. Chinese tourists and students in Australia have made significant contributions to the Australian economy.

Australia has helped China's industrial development with its mineral resources, and has also enriched the tables of the Chinese people with beef, wine and dairy products.

Australia's trade with China accounts for one-third of its total foreign trade, andabout 80 percent of its foreign trade surplus comes from trade with China.

"D" equals to dialogue.  Communication will be conducive to enhance mutual understanding and expand shared interests.Both countries' cultures embody the concepts of diversity, unity, and harmony in differences. Both sides are agreed that the bilateral relations should not be defined by differences. I trust that the our growing shared interests shall outweigh the differences.

"E" is engagement. We lose when divided, and we gain when work together. And the takeaway message is that engagement makes us stronger and more resilient. It is not difficult to understand that China and Australia have made incredible achievements over the past 50 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations. This fully demonstrates that improving and developing China-Australia relations is in the fundamental interests of the two peoples. This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the China-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Both sides need to adhere to this status, march forward with less suspicion and disputes, and give full play to the potential of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement to achieve greater development.

The Chinesemodernization will be a new long march,foreshadowing greater openness,  engagement, more trade and investment.

Similarly, Australian economy is under transformation. Its efforts to press ahead  the vision of  A Future Made in Australia is quite impressive. In addition to consolidating and strengthening cooperation in traditional areas such as energy and minerals, China and Australia also have considerable cooperation potential in emerging areas such as green development, digital economy, scientific and technological innovation and health industry.

China and Queensland have close and robust people to people ties as well as economic ties. China is the largest trading partner of Queensland. There are great potentials to expand mutual cooperation in the future. The Great Barrier Reefand the Daintree, Gold Coast and other scenic spots are favored by Chinese tourists. Chinese students also tend to choose Queensland universities for studies.

In recent years, ginger beer fromBundaberg appears on Chinese tables. It is worth mentioning that ginger, which creates a lot of value for Queenslandevery year, came originally from China. It again showcases that the friendly cooperation between China and Queensland enjoys a solid foundation and broad prospects.

The beginning of history

China is committed to playing a pivotal role in powering the future prosperity. We are ready to work with other countries to uphold the banner of peaceful development and win-win cooperation, maintain the stability and smooth flow of the global industrial chain and supply chain, and make continuous progress toward an equal and orderly world multipolarity and economic globalization that benefits all.

China is not only China's China, but also Asia's China and the world's China.

China,Australia,Asia and the rest of the world have shaped and influenced each other and are a de facto community of shared future.

China cannot develop in isolation from the world, and the world cannot develop without China.

China does not export poverty, decoupling or war, but creates opportunities and prosperity.

The world has entered a new period of turbulence and change, but the general direction of human progress and the overall trend toward a shared future for the international community will prevail.Those whoattempt to hold back the progress of history will be left behind by history.

In conclusion, it is the only beginning of history,not the end of history.

If you are disappointed in China, you will be disappointed in humanity!

If youmiss China, you will miss the future!