Address by Mr Pan Xinchun, Consul General of the People’s Republic Of China, at the Annual General Meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group on China:
Mr Pan XinchunOne day I took a taxi in Edinburgh. The taxi driver immediately recognised that I am from China because nowadays many Asian tourists in Edinburgh are from China.
The driver said to me without thinking that China will become a superpower and rule the world. I was totally surprised that an Edinburgh cab driver is so interested in China. His comments did give me pause for thought. He raised questions of who China is, how China sees the world and what China is going to do on the world stage.
His comments highlight the fact that China is in the spotlight, attracting a great deal of attention around the world. If you ask people about China, I am sure a hundred people will have a hundred pictures. But how do we see ourselves?
For us, China is an ancient country with a 5,000-year-old civilisation. The philosophy of Confucius has not only influenced Chinese generations, but also shone out in the world. Chinese inventions of the compass, paper making technology and printing technology not only benefited the Chinese people, but also boosted the progress of human civilisation.
Hope and great potential
China once led the world, but also suffered from foreign invasions. China enjoys the fastest economic growth, but still remains the biggest developing country. The volume of our economy takes second place in the world, but its GDP per capita only ranks around 80th. China is a peaceful nation, but is faced with increasing challenges to our security by forces of separatism, extreme religions and terrorism.
All in all, China is proud of its achievements, but has no reason to be complacent. China harbours an aspiration that by 2020, its GDP per capita will have doubled compared with 2010, and by 2049 China will develop into a modern, democratic, wealthy and harmonious country. We know that the track to our destination will not be smooth, with a lot of hurdles to be overcome. But we are confident that through hard work, deepening reform, innovation and learning from other countries, our dream will come true sooner rather than later.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the world we are living in today is undergoing deep and complex changes. Although far from being perfect, it is a land of hope and great potential. At present, peace, development, co-operation and shared benefits are the themes of our times. Global polarisation and economic globalisation are deepening, cultural diversity and the information revolution make continuous advances, the science and technology revolution create new breakthroughs.
Many rising economies and developing countries are on the fast track of development, with billions of people speeding up their modernisation process, and economic centres popping up around the globe. The power of rising economies and developing countries is strengthened. The balance of power is heading toward the maintenance of world peace. No country will ever rule the world alone. Now countries are more closely related and interdependent with each other and have formed a community of shared destiny.
In the meanwhile, the world is still not pacific, facing a bundle of difficulties and challenges. The impact of the global financial crisis still has deep influence. The elements of instability and uncertainty of global economic growth are adding up. The imbalance of global development is escalating. Regional conflicts are threatening world peace, ranging from North Africa, the Middle East to Ukraine. Some global issues such as food safety, natural resource safety and network safety are more outstanding. Promoting global polarisation and democratisation of international relations, realising the sustainable development of the world economy, and preserving the diversity of global civilisation have become the common tasks of human beings.
An anchor of world peace
We hope the international community will establish a new type of international relationship, based on cooperation and common benefit. We think that all countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, should be treated as equals. We should respect their rights to choose their own way of development, oppose interference into their domestic affairs and maintain global fairness and justice. We appeal to all countries to work together to create a prosperous and peaceful world.
Ladies and Gentlemen, after more than 30 years of reform and opening up, China enjoys rapid development in all fields. Some people may think a rising China will pose a threat to the world. There are question marks surrounding China’s future role in the world. A conventional theory holds that a rising power is set to challenge the existing ones and that this will lead to conflicts or even wars, as evidenced by two world wars. Will China go on the same path? The answer is negative.
First, China will be an anchor of world peace. The Chinese nation is a peace-loving nation. The pursuit for peace and harmony is deeply rooted in our way of thinking. Our ancient philosophers and thinkers have taught us that any warlike countries are doomed to failure; peace is precious. These thoughts have a profound influence on us, enabling us to live in peace with the world. In history, China never invaded or occupied other countries. On the contrary, in modern history, China suffered from foreign invasions and humiliation. We know too well how precious peace will be.
Two world wars have indicated that without peace, there will be no development. Without peace, China would not have achieved today’s progress. The objective of China’s foreign policy is to maintain world peace so that all countries will live in harmony and achieve common prosperity. China means what she says. As a UN Security Council member, China has done its best to preserve world peace. China is the only nuclear power promising not to use nuclear weapons as a first strike and against non-nuclear nations. Sticking to the track of peaceful development and opposing hegemony have already been enshrined in our constitution. China has sent the biggest number of peacekeeping personnel in the world. China maintains that all disputes should be settled by peaceful means, through consultation and dialogue.
Second, China will promote cooperation with rest of the world. The 21th century is a century of co-operation. China will not develop itself at the expense of others and will support and help other countries in order to seek common progress and prosperity.
A lucky star to Britain
China is now the biggest trading country to 128 countries. Last year, China’s trade volume surpassed US $4 trillion and it became the biggest trading nation, importing goods of US $1.95 trillion. China obtained foreign direct investment valued at US $120 billion and invested US $100 billion overseas. In five years’ time, China will import US $10 trillion of products. China’s investment abroad will reach US $500 billion. Chinese tourists will exceed 500 million.
China’s development is an opportunity to the world. China’s development cannot take place without collaboration with the world. The world also needs China for its development. As a Chinese proverb goes: One flower does not make a spring, but one hundred flowers in blossom. China’s progress will not spell the end of the world, rather the beginning of a better world.
Third, China will not only focus on its own development, but also shoulder responsibilities for making greater contributions to the world. China has provided assistance to over 120 countries and help developing countries to strengthen their abilities to develop. This assistance includes building infrastructure, industrial and agricultural projects, providing equipment, sending experts to carry out technical co-operation, sending medical teams and volunteers, providing emergency humanitarian assistance and holding personnel training.
On a bilateral note, China has also become a lucky star to Britain. Britain’s exports to China have kept two-digit growth for the past consecutive years. China’s investment in Britain reached US $13 billion for the last two years, surpassing the total volume of the previous 30 years. Our bilateral trade volume has increased from less than US $20 billion to US $70 billion last year. Since this year, Britain has replaced Holland to become the second biggest trading partner of China in the EU.
During our Premier’s successful visit this June, China and Britain signed over 40 commercial agreements valued over US $30 billion. Both sides set out a target for bilateral trade reaching US $100 billion in 2015. This vibrant bilateral economic co-operation has boosted China’s economic growth, and also helped Britain step out of the shadow of its economic decline and achieve outstanding performance.
Ladies and Gentlemen, a rising China will not seek hegemony, walk its own way, monopolise global resources and the market, or take advantage of others to seek its own economic benefits. I will conclude my speech by simplifying China’s foreign policy: peace, development, co-operation and common prosperity.
Mr Pan Xinchun spoke at the Annual General Meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group on China on 13 August 2014