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Chinese Diplomacy Forges Bravely Ahead in a Chaotic and Intertwined World


In this January 18th, 2022 speech, Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng reflects on the past year and argues that China has achieved several diplomatic successes amidst major global “crises and challenges” in 2021.

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Distinguished guests and friends:


Hello everyone!


It gives me great pleasure to attend the annual Macro Situation Annual Forum held by the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies of the Renmin University of China and exchange views with you on the international situation and diplomatic work.


The year 2021, which just passed, was a year full of crises and challenges. The COVID-19 epidemic has extended and resurged, changes unseen in a century have accelerated, peace and development have encountered “headwinds,” and great power relations, global governance, and regional hotspots have continued to be tense and turbulent. The political, economic, social, epidemic, and foreign relations of many countries have varying degrees of crises, and the whole world can be described as intertwined chaos and abounding disorder.


Last year began with the “Great Occupation” of the U.S. Capitol Hill: Trump supporters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol, plunging American-style democracy and freedom into chaos. Then the whole world witnessed the “Great Defeat” of the U.S. military in Kabul: They left Afghanistan in turmoil and chaos, and the American-style “democratic transformation” failed again. At the end of the year and into the beginning of the new year, there was another “Great Loss of Control” of the epidemic in many countries: The number of newly confirmed cases per day in the United States peaked above 1.5 million, and the cumulative number of deaths reached 850,000, with major hospitals struggling to cope. The world economy is facing the most serious “Great Inflation” in 40 years: Prices in the United States, Europe, and other countries are “rising” everywhere, supply chains are blocked and disrupted, and normal people are complaining.


These instances of world chaos are not only natural disasters, but also man-made disasters. In particular, some countries are “chaotically seeking treatments” and “treating internal diseases with external measures.” This has made the problems worse and exacerbated crises. In the end, these countries simply put the blame on others, going so far as to provoke a “new cold war”. This has disturbed world peace, and various risks and hidden dangers have risen significantly.


Where is the way forward? I think the fundamental solution lies in the promotion of building a community with a shared future for mankind as advocated by President Xi Jinping. This major concept clearly answers the question of the times: “What’s wrong with the world and what should we do?” It has become a bright banner under which China can lead the trend of the times and the progress of human civilization. In his speech at the Davos Forum yesterday, President Xi Jinping pointed out that, to promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, we must uphold dialog rather than confrontation, inclusion rather than exclusion, and oppose all forms of unilateralism and protectionism, and oppose all forms of hegemonism and power politics. This is a further enrichment and development of the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind and fully demonstrates President Xi Jinping’s intense responsibility for maintaining and promoting world peace and justice. The upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics will play the main theme of “Together to the Future” and will also compose a new movement for the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.


Dear friends, 2021 was a year of milestone significance in the history of the party and the country. We solemnly celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, achieved the first centennial objective, and started a new journey to build a modernized socialist country in an all-round way and to march toward the second centennial objective. China’s economic development and epidemic prevention and control maintain its leading position in the world. In the first three quarters of 2021, GDP increased by 9.8% year-on-year, and the annual growth rate reached 8.1%. In 2021, China had two distinctive identifiers, which were common prosperity and open development.


We have established a well-off society in an all-round way, given a historic solution to the problem of absolute poverty, and embarked on the grand road of common prosperity. Over the past 40 years, China has lifted more than 800 million people out of poverty, contributed more than 70% of global poverty reduction, and achieved the poverty reduction goal of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule. A few months ago, a reporter from the UK magazine The Economist visited Malipo County, Yunnan Province, which is designated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a region for assistance and support. The reporter published an article titled The confidence of China’s Communist Party is striking, reporting the story of Chinese diplomats who went to Malipo County to serve as deputy county magistrates and volunteer teachers and praising that “the Chinese Communist Party is serving a rising China” and “the concern of President Xi Jinping can be felt even in remote villages” [Translator’s note: These quotes are taken slightly out of context. The original article is more objective: “They want the masses to believe that, even in the remotest villages, their welfare is the concern of an all-knowing leader, Xi Jinping, served by officials striving to follow his stern but wise example.”] When he left his post at the end of last year, SCO Secretary-General Norov said excitedly that, in his three years in China he had the honor to witness the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. Having witnessed China’s poverty alleviation and anti-epidemic struggle, he was very moved, feeling admiration for and optimism about China from the bottom of his heart!


We continue to push forward reforms, expand opening up, and share development opportunities with all other countries around the world. 2021 marked the 20th anniversary of China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). China’s opening up to the outside world is marching forward at a high level. In the first 11 months of 2021, China’s foreign trade increased by 22% year-on-year, and the scale of our annual foreign trade exceeded US$6 trillion. At last year’s Fourth China International Import Expo, nearly 3,000 companies from 127 countries and regions participated in the exhibition. The number of countries and companies exceeded the previous expo, and the value of intended transactions exceeded US$70 billion. 120,000 tins of Afghan pine nuts that had just arrived in China at that time were bought up in the “blink of an eye” during the live broadcast, and Russian manufacturers sold more than RMB4.6 million in chocolate and ice cream within seconds, once again proving the huge potential of the Chinese consumer market. China formally applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), showing China’s resolute determination to expand opening up and promote regional economic cooperation. With the entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) at the beginning of this year, China will open its door wider and wider, providing more opportunities for cooperation to the world.


Dear friends, with regard to China’s diplomacy over the past year, State Councilor Wang Yi has recently given comprehensive and in-depth descriptions on different occasions. Today I just want to capture a few highlights from the magnificent and splendid picture painted by Chinese diplomacy last year and share them with you.


The first highlight moment was when President Xi Jinping proposed the “Global Development Initiative” at the 76th United Nations General Assembly. This is another important contribution China has made to promote stronger, greener, and healthier global development and accelerate the implementation of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In addition, we have seen that President Xi Jinping has personally carried out a series of head-of-state diplomacy actions with nearly 120 video and phone calls with foreign leaders and heads of international organizations. He proposed a series of new concepts such as “a community of life for mankind and nature” and “a global community of development with a shared future,’ which have further contributed Chinese solutions and Chinese wisdom to the international community’s response to new problems and challenges.


For the second highlight moment, China and Russia solemnly commemorated the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Sino-Russian Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation. The two heads of state issued a joint statement, jointly announcing the extension of the Treaty and giving it a new connotation for the times, while setting out on a new journey of friendship from generation to generation and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries. Next month, President Putin will come to China to attend the “Winter Olympics” and “New Year’s Meeting” together with President Xi Jinping, further demonstrating to the world the strong momentum and vitality of high-level strategic cooperation between China and Russia.


The third highlight moment was the first video meeting between Chinese and U.S. heads of state. This is a historic meeting that will steer Sino-US relations. The two heads of state had a candid and in-depth conversation on fundamental, overall, and strategic issues related to the development of Sino-US relations. President Xi Jinping put forward the three principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and mutually beneficial cooperation between China and the United States. Through this meeting and a series of confrontations from Anchorage, Tianjin, and Zurich to Rome, we have demonstrated our firm position as far as defending national interests and opposing hegemonic powers. We took the initiative to clarify the “Three Bottom Lines” (三条底线) and “Two Lists” (两份清单) to the U.S. side and loudly stated that “the old problem of the U.S. constantly interfering in other countries’ internal affairs needs to be changed.” We laid down rules to the Americans who are accustomed to being condescending and domineering, opened up a new paradigm of mutual respect and equal exchanges for Sino-US relations.


The fourth highlight moment was the safe return to China of Ms. Meng Wanzhou. When, with deep emotion, Meng Wanzhou told the cameras at Shenzhen Airport that “If belief has color, it must be China red,” I think that the hearts of 1.4 billion Chinese people filled with emotion and pride. Over the past three years or so, President Xi Jinping was personally concerned about this situation and made unremitting efforts on the diplomatic front, while the people of the whole country showed strong solidarity. This “Return of the Late Boat” (晚舟归航, a poetic allusion to describe the long-delayed return of Meng Wanzhou) has become a vivid footnote of diplomacy for the people. As many netizens have said, under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has entered into an irreversible historical process, putting an end to the era when intimidation, coercion, and sanctions were used to hinder the progress of the Chinese people!


As the fifth highlight moment, the China-Laos Railway opened to traffic. On December 5 last year, the China-Laos railway, which required 11 years of painstaking construction, was officially put into operation as the heads of state of the two countries jointly shouted the order to “start the train.” This railroad links China and Laos more closely, transforms Laos from a “land-locked country” to a “land-linked country,” increases domestic railways from 3 km to 430 km, and has brought broader space for development and wider hopes to the Lao people. It has also created another successful example of the joint construction of the “Belt and Road.” Concerning this point, Chairman Thongloun said excitedly at the opening ceremony that, “This is a proud moment, and the people of all ethnic groups in Laos can finally see their dreams come true.”


As the sixth highlight moment, China’s vaccine diplomacy assisted in the global fight against the epidemic. When the world was facing a serious “vaccine gap” and in many countries, especially developing countries, it was “hard to find a vaccine”, as a responsible major power, China was the first to commit to making the COVID-19 vaccine a global public good, the first to support intellectual property rights exemptions for vaccine research and development, and the first to cooperate in vaccine production with developing countries. Over the past year, China has provided more than 2 billion doses of vaccines to more than 120 countries and international organizations. Half of the vaccines used globally come from China. The leaders of more than 30 countries went to their airports to welcome the Chinese vaccine. Serbian President Vucic affectionately kissed the five-stared red flag when welcoming the Chinese vaccine. This was a touching scene and one that is now recorded in the history of Sino-Serbian friendship.


Dear friends, looking back on the diplomatic work in the past year, I feel strong emotions. In today’s world that has too many frauds and too many poisonous lies about China, Chinese diplomacy has to expend a lot of energy “fighting fraud and providing antidotes to poison” in order to dispel falsehoods and reveal the truth.


We can see some countries pulling together “small circles” and engaging in “group politics” under the banner of “multilateralism;” interfering in other countries’ internal affairs under the guise of human rights and engaging in unilateral sanctions and “long-arm jurisdiction” [长臂管辖]; and wearing a “democratic” vest and arriving as a teacher to swindle and cheat on all sides, concocting an ugly farce that pits “democracy” against “authority.” In our resolute opposition to these counterfeit and shoddy practices, we do not stand on ceremony. We firmly crack down on counterfeiting, so that everyone will shut down “fake human rights,” we will expose the true form of “fake democracy,” and strip off the disguise of “fake multilateralism” leaving it nowhere to hide. 1


Concerning the spread of political viruses in individual countries, all kinds of groundless accusations were leveled against China’s combating of the epidemic in the name of virus origin tracing, going so far as to concoct the bizarre theory that COVID-19 was leaked by a Chinese laboratory. On the one hand, we resolutely expose criticism and take countermeasures. On the one hand, we have actively cooperated with WHO in global origin tracing and twice invited WHO experts to China to carry out joint research on origin tracing. The experts said with satisfaction that, “I went wherever I wanted to go, and met everyone I wanted to meet.” They finally came to the scientific conclusion that “a laboratory leakage is extremely unlikely.” At the same time, more than 80 countries around the world sent letters to the WHO opposing the politicization of origin tracing, and more than 25 million Chinese netizens joined together to sign a petition for the WHO to investigate the Fort Detrick laboratory in the United States. This shows how unpopular it is to manipulate the politicization of the pandemic. On the other hand, in some countries, although they were notified immediately, still could not effectively control the raging spread of the pandemic, whether it be the Delta or Omicron variants. Facts have once again proved that the old problem of “prescribing medicine to others when one is sick” is a classic way to harm others without benefiting oneself, causing no end of harm.


Another example is that some people in the United States are hyping up the “hard-line theory of China’s diplomacy”, and even label us as practicing “coercive diplomacy.” But just how does the United States treat China? The U.S. side positions China as its “most severe competitor” and will stop at nothing in suppressing China, wantonly interfering in China’s internal affairs, and infringing upon China’s core interests. Just recently, U.S. dignitaries continued to babble their slanders about Xinjiang “genocide” and the “lack of freedom” of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council elections. In addition, another batch of Chinese high-tech companies was sanctioned by the United States for no reason. The U.S. side has repeatedly stated that it wants to conduct “extreme competition” with China. But what is “extreme competition”? The report A Guide to Extreme Competition with China recently released by the RAND Corporation reveals the goal in a single sentence. To put it bluntly, it is to contain China’s by “doing everything possible,” including framing China, manipulating international institutions and rules, bringing together anti-China alliances, undermining the “Belt and Road,” alienating China in its relations with other countries, manipulating international public opinion, “decoupling” with China in key areas, and enhancing military deterrence against China. They can’t wait to put China to death. In the face of such “extreme competition,” do they still expect China to be indifferent, to allow our hands to be bound, and to go to our death like a lamb to the slaughter? That was the old dream of the empire from more than 100 years ago. It’s time to wake up.


There is also a fallacy that accuses China of breaking international rules and trying to overthrow the current order and claims to maintain the so-called “rules-based international order.” However, they still do not seem to know what rules China has broken. And what rules are they maintaining? In fact, they are trying to override international law and impose “family law” [家法, the rules that govern a particular household] or the “rules of a secret society” on the international community. These people bypass the United Nations and international law on their own, do whatever they want, leave groups and break contracts, and engage in unilateral power plays. How are they qualified to talk about obeying rules and maintaining order? Last year, we solemnly celebrated the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the legitimate seat of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations. Over the past 50 years, China has put the aims and principles of the UN Charter into practice with concrete actions, unswervingly upheld justice, defended justice, and opposed hegemony. We have shown the integrity and responsibility expected of a major country in the world and won the respect and praise of the international community.


Dear friends, the world is undergoing major changes, and China has entered a new era, which requires new thinking and great wisdom. A year ago, I came here to discuss with you how to solve the problem of being scolded after we had solved the problem of being beaten into submission and faced with starvation. The “fighting fraud and providing antidotes to poison” I mentioned just now is aimed at this issue of “scolding.” This is not only a task on the diplomatic front, but also the common mission of the experts and scholars seated here. “Fighting fraud and providing antidotes to poison” requires courage, but even more, it requires thought and wisdom. In this regard, think tanks have unique advantages. Think tanks are not “cold storage.” They need to continuously output fresh and effective thoughts and ideas. They must be resourceful, offer advice and suggestions, and be fonts of wisdom and guiding lights. At the same time, think tanks cannot “shut up” themselves and hide away in ivory towers. Everyone still needs to get out of the office and go out into the world. You must have the courage to rectify the name of the Party, defend the country, and speak for the people. You must demonstrate the character and responsibility of Chinese scholars and make greater contributions to promoting communication and understanding between China and the world.


Thank you!


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Cite This Page

乐玉成 (Le Yucheng). "Chinese Diplomacy Forges Bravely Ahead in a Chaotic and Intertwined World [变乱交织的世界与勇毅前行的中国外交 ]". CSIS Interpret: China, original work published in Ministry of Foreign Affairs [外交部], January 18, 2022

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