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Bringing the East and West Together In Shared Commitment to Multilateralism
2020/02/15

Speech by H.E. Wang Yi
State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of
The People's Republic of China
At the 56th Munich Security Conference

Munich, 15 February 2020

Your Excellency Chairman Wolfgang Ischinger,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to attend the 56th Munich Security Conference and join friends old and new.

We attend this year's MSC at an unusual moment, as my colleagues and I came straight from a battlefront. Under the strong leadership of President Xi Jinping, the Chinese government is engaged in a vigorous effort to combat the sudden outbreak of a novel virus. The 1.4 billion Chinese people are united as one in fighting this "war without smoke". We resolve to protect the city of Wuhan, protect Hubei province, and protect every fellow countryman who is struggling with the virus. And we are determined to fight and win this battle.

On the very day of the lunar new year, President Xi Jinping personally chaired a meeting to direct the outbreak response, declaring an all-out war on the epidemic. The government promptly established a national framework of comprehensive, inter-agency response. Premier Li Keqiang went to Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, to inspect epidemic control efforts. From the central government to local governments, from urban to rural areas, the whole nation is battling the epidemic with resolve and self-sacrifice. Nothing short of the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough-going measures have been taken.

As many world leaders noted, it is admirable that the Chinese government and people have shown firm resolve in dealing with the epidemic. The high speed and massive scale of China's response are rarely seen in the world. China's speed, scale and efficiency all demonstrate the strengths of China's system.

Wuhan may be the front line in this battle, yet Wuhan is not fighting alone. We Chinese across the country stand firmly with our brothers and sisters in Wuhan and Hubei. Let me highlight a few examples of our united effort.

Scientists and researchers, who have been working day and night, isolated the first virus strain and developed the test reagent in less than seven days. Hailed as heroes in harm's way, over 20,000 healthcare workers in 100 plus medical teams converged in Hubei, the hardest hit province, from across the nation to support epidemic control. Exemplifying professional dedication, all medical workers are saving and protecting lives around the clock despite the risk of infection and exhaustion from overwork.

Another group of people working around the clock were several thousand engineers and construction workers, who built the two specialized hospitals equipped with 2,500 beds in less than 15 days. Braving freezing weather, community workers leave no stone unturned in checking on every block to make sure that no family in need is left unattended to. Tens of thousands of volunteers are working non-stop to help deliver supplies and assistance to the affected regions. Overseas Chinese around the globe rushed to make donations in cash and kind to help battle the outbreak.

Winter will eventually pass, and spring is sure to come.

China's rigorous and thorough measures are paying off. As of 14 February, the number of confirmed cases outside Hubei has recorded a 12-day consecutive drop, and the situation in Hubei and Wuhan is being put under more effective containment. This shows that overall, the epidemic is controllable. The number of cured cases exceeded 8,000 as of yesterday. The case fatality rate has been kept at around 2.29 percent nationwide, and 0.55 percent outside Hubei. These facts and figures demonstrate that the disease is largely curable. Just as President Xi Jinping said, we have full confidence, capacity and determination to defeat the epidemic. Dawn is breaking and we are seeing light coming through.

The challenges the outbreak has posed to China's economic and social development will be temporary and short-lived. With its strong resilience, potential and vitality, the Chinese economy is well positioned to overcome all risks and challenges. The fundamentals sustaining sound economic growth have not changed and will not change.

After the storm comes the rainbow. We are confident that China will emerge stronger from the epidemic. Its pent-up consumer demand and growth potential will be quickly unleashed and China will enjoy more sound and sustainable economic and social development.

The Chinese nation has been through all kinds of trials and tribulations in its history, which forged a national character of perseverance and resilience. Fighting this epidemic will be no exception. It will only make us stronger and more tenacious. Our country will march on in more determined strides to usher in moderate prosperity in all respects, to eradicate absolute poverty, and to realize the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

The history of civilization is a history of struggle against disease. Virus respects no borders. That is why we have attached great importance to international health cooperation from the start of the outbreak. In the spirit of openness and transparency, we promptly notified the world about the outbreak and shared the genetic sequence of the virus. We have been working closely with WHO, invited international experts to join our ranks, and provided assistance and facilitation to foreign nationals in China.

To date, confirmed cases outside China account for less than one percent of the world's total. It means China has effectively curbed the spread of the outbreak beyond our borders. For that, we have made extraordinary efforts and a heavy sacrifice.

That said, China is not fighting alone. The international community has given us valuable moral and material support. This joint fight is strengthening the friendship between the Chinese people and peoples across the world.

Russia, Belarus and the ROK swiftly delivered badly needed medical supplies to Wuhan through chartered flights. Pakistan, our iron-clad brother, sent us virtually all the masks in its stock. At the peak of the outbreak, Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia paid a special visit to Beijing to offer his staunch support for China. Through a specially made video, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of Thailand conveyed the message that Thailand and China are one family committed to fighting the epidemic together. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka prayed for China at the Abhayarama Temple in Colombo, alongside nearly a million Buddhist believers in his country. Italian President Sergio Mattarella visited a school with a large number of Chinese students and hosted a concert in the Quirinal Palace in support of China's epidemic response.

In the toughest times of the fight, people around the world are standing firmly by our side. Japanese groups sent assistance supplies to China, attached with ancient Chinese poetic lines: "Fear not the want of armor, for mine is also yours to wear", conveying a touching message of empathy from a close neighbor. In other parts of the world, Americans from all walks of life donated medical items and supplies; an Indonesian policeman sang the song "Go, Wuhan!"; UK pupils performed a Chinese song "Fill the World with Love"; the Burj Khalifa Tower in the UAE was lit up in red in solidarity with China; and from this city, Bayern Munich sent its best wishes to China.

In the face of danger, Philippe Klein, a French doctor working in Wuhan, did not hesitate to stay and fought alongside the Chinese people. He said he kept a bottle of champagne to be popped open for celebrating the end of the epidemic. Munyaradzi Gurure, a Zimbabwean student who lived in Wuhan for three years, also chose to stay and signed up to be a volunteer.

To date, leaders of more than 160 countries and international organizations have sent letters or messages to express their firm support. Political leaders around the world have spoken in public to cheer for Wuhan and for China.

The Chinese are a grateful nation. We will remember and hold dear every act of support. On behalf of the Chinese government, let me say a heartfelt thank-you to all the countries, international organizations and people who have supported China's ongoing epidemic control efforts.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This sudden outbreak reminds us once again that we live in a time when traditional and non-traditional security issues are entwined, and when local issues easily become global and vice versa. No country can prosper in isolation or meet all challenges on its own, as our interests are closely inter-connected.

"Westlessness", the title of Munich Security Report 2020, reflects a perception of the world among some in Europe and the United States.

China's view is that as human society has entered the age of globalization, we must transcend the East-West divergence and the North-South divide, to see our shared planet as a community for all. We must go beyond the ideological gap and accommodate historical and cultural differences, to see the international community as one global family.

In the era of globalization, we face the same challenges, shoulder common responsibilities and have a shared future. This means we must set up an effective framework for multilateral cooperation to jointly tackle the myriad of challenges. It also points to the need for committing to multilateral cooperation, whereby international affairs are truly discussed and decided by all involved.

Many countries have proposed constructive ideas on building multilateralism. As President Xi Jinping pointed out, in promoting and enforcing multilateralism, our aim should be to safeguard peace and development for all, and uphold fairness, justice and mutual benefit. And the practice of multilateralism should be grounded on international law and widely recognized norms of international relations. This is China's considered answer to the question of how to put multilateralism into action in a globalized world.

First, to uphold multilateralism, we should pursue shared development.

Multilateralism does not stand for putting any country above others. Instead, it advocates the equal right to development shared by all countries. If the West enjoys lasting prosperity and progress while the rest are mired in backwardness, multilateralism can never be truly implemented and the common progress of humanity would be impossible to achieve. Fei Xiaotong, a renowned Chinese sociologist, envisioned a world in which countries treasure their own distinct heritages, appreciate other cultures and promote shared prosperity. In the globalized era, only when more countries get to develop, can the international community be empowered and can there be more partners in our joint response to challenges.

As a big country with 5,000 years of civilization, China's modernization, which is being achieved through the hard work and wisdom of its people, represents an inevitable trend of history. Given its national conditions, China will not copy the Western model. Given its cultural traditions, China will not seek hegemony even when it grows in strength. What we have chosen is peaceful development of our own country and mutually beneficial cooperation with the world. The path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, which has underpinned China's remarkable success, is brimming with vitality and leading to an even more promising future. The Communist Party of China (CPC) represents the fundamental interests of all Chinese people, and its leadership is supported by the 1.4 billion people of China.

China respects the choices of Western countries, and will draw on the experience of developed countries to work for shared prosperity. Likewise, the West also needs to eschew the subconscious belief in the superiority of its civilization and abandon its prejudices and anxieties regarding China. It needs to respect the choices of the Chinese people and accept and welcome the development and rejuvenation of a major country in the East, one with a system different from the West. For China's development and rejuvenation is an important part of human progress and embodies the colorful diversity brought by multilateralism.

Second, to uphold multilateralism, major countries should set a good example.

Collaboration between major countries is instrumental to the success of multilateralism. In international and particularly in multilateral affairs, major countries play a key role and shoulder significant responsibilities. Therefore, they need to behave in a way that befits their status. Instead of putting their own interests above those of others, they should care for the common interests of all countries; instead of carving out spheres of influence, they should work for an open world; and instead of provoking confrontation, they should work together to maintain world peace and stability.

China will further strengthen strategic coordination with Russia. Following the strategic guidance of our presidents, we will advance our comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era on all fronts, and instill more positive energy into global security, stability and strategic balance.

China will work with the US to find a way of promoting peaceful co-existence and mutually beneficial cooperation. We hope the US side will embrace a more open and inclusive approach when viewing China's development, work with us to manage differences in a spirit of equality and mutual respect, and adhere to the principles of coordination, cooperation and stability in bilateral ties. We should work together to keep China-US relations on the right track.

China will deepen cooperation with Europe across the board with a focus on upgrading China-EU relations, enhancing cooperation on green development and the digital economy, and expanding China-CEEC cooperation. As always, we support European integration, support a united and strong Europe, and support Europe's active role in multilateral affairs.

Third, to uphold multilateralism, we should uphold international norms.

Multilateralism is antithetical to unilateral moves. Instead, it supports greater democracy in international relations based on international rule of law and justice. The principles enshrined in the UN Charter, including respect for national sovereignty, peaceful resolution of disputes and non-interference in internal affairs, are the bedrock of modern international law.

As the first founding member of the UN to sign its Charter, China has stayed true to the UN's founding aspirations and firmly defended the purposes of the Charter and international law.

Proceeding from our commitment to national sovereignty, China has called for a "Syrian-led, Syrian-owned" approach for Syria and an "Afghan-led, Afghan-owned" solution for the Afghan issue.

Proceeding from our commitment to non-interference, China has rejected unwarranted interference in its internal affairs on issues related to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang, and opposed the power politics of meddling in other countries' internal affairs.

Proceeding from our commitment to the peaceful settlement of disputes, China has advocated a negotiated solution to the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue based on the simultaneous achievement of complete denuclearization and a lasting peace mechanism. In the same spirit, we endeavor to properly resolve disputes in the South China Sea through dialogue and negotiation, and are working with ASEAN countries on a Code of Conduct to be observed by all relevant parties.

Proceeding from our commitment to international fairness and justice, China has firmly stood with the Palestinian people and all the oppressed peoples in their call for justice. We oppose the strong bullying the weak, the big bullying the small, and unilateral sanctions or long-arm jurisdiction which find no ground in international law. We provided assistance to fellow developing countries to the best of our ability and without any political strings attached, and advanced South-South cooperation.

The mission of China's foreign policy is to promote world peace and common development. It is rooted in international law and the basic norms governing international relations and will not be swayed by turns of events. We pursue no selfish interests. Our policy, which is stable and consistent, can stand the test of history and has won the trust of others.

Fourth, to uphold multilateralism, we need to see the world as one community.

The outbreak of the epidemic has once again reminded us that our countries' future is closely linked. Global governance and international coordination must be strengthened without delay.

On this front, President Xi Jinping put forward an important initiative of building a community with a shared future for mankind, calling on all countries to rise above differences in social system, history, culture and development stage, jointly preserve Mother Earth, our common home, and work for a prosperous global village in which we all have a stake.

The initiative of building a community with a shared future is inspired by the traditional Chinese philosophy that sees the world as one big family. It reflects profound thinking on the future of mankind and embodies a spirit of humanity; it points the way forward for global governance and represents the ultimate goal of multilateralism. It is a Chinese proposal on how to address today's challenges and has become an overarching goal of our major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. China is ready to join hands with all countries and make unremitting efforts to this end.

Thank you!

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