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Remarks at the Opening Ceremony by Wang Yang, Member of the Political Bureau, the CPC Central Committee, Secretary of the CPC Guangdong Provincial Committee


Remarks at the Opening Ceremony of the Commemoration of the International Day of Peace 2012 & China-Southeast Asia Peace and Development Forum

Wang Yang

Member of the Political Bureau, CPC Central Committee, and Secretary of the CPC Guangdong Provincial Committee



Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends,

It gives me great pleasure to attend, on this beautiful autumn day, the Commemoration of the International Day of Peace 2012 and the China-Southeast Asia Peace and Development Forum jointly organized by the Chinese People’s Association for Peace and Disarmament and the United Nations System in China in Shenzhen City of Guangdong Province. First, I wish to express warm congratulations on the opening of this event, and extend sincere greetings to all guests present here!

At the beginning of this century, following the setting of the Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to designate 21st September of each year to be the International Day of Peace. This indicates that maintaining world peace and promoting common development have become universal aspirations of the international community in the new era. In China, “harmony” has always been cherished as a core value since ancient times, and “amity between people and concord among states” has been a consistent pursuit in the Chinese cultural traditions. As President Hu Jintao once pointed out that “the Chinese nation cherishes peace”. In foreign relations, the Chinese have always believed that “the strong should not oppress the weak and the rich should not bully the poor”, and have advocated that “all nations live side by side in perfect harmony”. Before 1949, the Chinese people had suffered from the invasion and humiliation by western powers for more than 100 years. Such historical experience allows us to keenly understand the value of peace and the importance of development, and leads to our strong belief that only with peace can people be assured of a stable life, and only with development can they enjoy affluent living. That is why since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government have taken it as a major diplomatic task to create a peaceful and stable international environment for China’s development. In the 1980s, the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, based on his comprehensive assessment of the international situation, came to the conclusion that “a world war can be avoided, and there is hope of maintaining world peace”. This conclusion has served as an important premise for the promotion of reform and opening-up in China. Since then, China has been concentrating all its efforts on developing itself, while remaining committed to world peace. Take Guangdong for example, in the past three decades, we have scored tremendous achievements in reform, opening up and the socialist modernization drive and have successfully transformed from a backward agricultural province into the number one province in the country in terms of economic aggregate, which has occupied the first place among all provinces for 23 consecutive years. Thirty years ago, this city Shenzhen where we are meeting, was still an unknown small fishing village. But now it has become a modern metropolis. These achievements could not have been possible without a peaceful and stable environment.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Peace and stability are prerequisites of development, and the comprehensive, balanced and sustainable economic and social development, in turn, is the major guarantee for maintaining peace and stability. China is firmly committed to the path of peaceful development, that is, to achieve development by safeguarding world peace, and, at the same time, to preserve world peace by means of its own development. During his inspection tour to South China in 1992, Mr. Deng Xiaoping emphasized that “a socialist China should prove to the world with its actions that it stands as a staunch guardian of world peace”. Over the past twenty years, with its actions — from providing 161 countries and over 30 international and regional organizations with 253.6 billion Yuan of aid in various forms, to being the first country in the world to formulate and implement the National Climate Change Programme; from carrying out more than 30 United Nations peacekeeping operations, to deploying naval escort in Somali waters including the Gulf of Aden; and from boldly holding a last stand during the 1997 Asian financial crisis, to braving the challenges after the outbreak of the 2008 international financial crisis — emerging China has indeed proved to the world that the kind of development it seeks is peaceful, open, cooperative and mutually beneficial in nature. China has now become a key builder of today’s international system, and a great source of positive energy propelling world prosperity!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are now at a time of major development, major transformation and major adjustment, with the international landscape undergoing complex and profound changes. While peace and development remain the themes of our era, the world is also seeing a growing list of global problems such as terrorism, financial crisis, climate change and energy insecurity, which put the survival of humanity and sustainable economic and social development at stake. No country can stay clear of these problems, or single-handedly solve them to ensure “absolute security”. A country must allow others to develop in order to achieve its own development, must allow others to have peace and stability in order to ensure its own security. China holds that countries in the world should adopt a new vision to see each other as in the same boat, uphold the new concept of pulling together in cooperation for mutual benefits, unfold a new spectacle of mutual learning and exchanges between different civilizations, explore new connotation of the common interests and values of mankind, and blaze a new path for countries to work together to tackle diversified challenges and bring about inclusive development, so as to ensure sustainable peace for a sustainable future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Southeast Asian nations and China are close neighbours, either sharing the same border or linked by the same seas. Our ancestors have lived together in this part of the world since ancient times. As a Chinese saying goes, “a close neighbour means more than a distant relative”. Geographic proximity has bound our countries closely together, leaving imprints of exchanges and fusion between our peoples all over the region. In the 1980s and 1990s, China and Southeast Asian nations, with the view to enhancing communication and mutual trust and promoting closer cooperation for mutual benefits, established the China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations, which opened a new chapter in their relationship. Over the past twenty odd years, the China-ASEAN relationship has been upgraded from a Full Dialogue Partnership to a Good-neighbourly Partnership with mutual trust and then to a Strategic Partnership. An all-dimensional, wide-ranging and multi-layered cooperation structure has taken shape, especially with the official start-up of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area two years ago, a result of more than 10 years’ joint efforts. This is an all-win FTA that covers a population of 1.9 billion, involving nearly 6 trillion US dollars in combined GDP and 4.5 trillion US dollars in trade volume.

Guangdong province enjoys geographic proximity, cultural affinity, and close business ties with Southeast Asian nations. More than 70% of the Cantonese diaspora totaling 20 million people in the world are settled in these countries, where they are well-merged in the local communities, playing a significant part in the exchanges and cooperation between China and their countries of residence. In 2011, Guangdong scored 93 billion US dollars worth of foreign trade with ASEAN countries, ranking the first among all provinces in China. My first overseas visit after taking up office in Guangdong was to Southeast Asia. That visit remains a most favorable memory to me. I still remember at a hotel in Jakarta, the bell boy was greeting the entrepreneurs in our delegation “Mr. Canton”. I still remember how the mainstream media in Kuala Lumpur cheered our industry and labour transfer policies known as “vacating the cage for a new bird”. I remember how General Secretary Nong Duc Manh, in Hanoi, expressed his congratulations to, and full trust in, the city of Shenzhen, which had won the bid over the construction of an economic and trade cooperation zone in North Vietnam. And I definitely remember how the three prime ministers of Singapore – Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, Mr. Goh Chok Tong and Mr. Lee Hsien Loong – unreservedly shared their experience in guiding industrial transformation and upgrade and creating a happy life for the Singaporean people. That visit let me believe, without a shred of doubt, that China and Southeast Asian nations sincerely see each other as brothers, and that the foundation of our friendship will not be shaken by any force!

While acknowledging friendly cooperation as the mainstream in our relations, we are also aware that there are some differences and disputes between us as well as pending issues left over from the past. This is nothing strange and there is no need to evade them. They should be addressed with cool head and reason. The key question here is what principles should we observe in addressing these differences and disputes. Should we, as passengers on the same boat, pull together and help each other out or jostle against each other? Should we try to cool down disputes and resolve them peacefully, or resort to tit-for-tat revenge and make a mountain out of molehill? Should we seek consultation and cooperation on an equal footing, or aggravate the disputes and go down with internecine strife? Fifty-seven years ago, under the impetus of the Bandung Conference, China and Southeast Asian nations successfully transcended their ideological differences and opened the gate to peaceful coexistence amid the tide of national liberation. Twenty-one years ago, China and ASEAN once again successfully transcended political misgivings, and jointly initiated a historic process of dialogue and cooperation. Based on such a history, it is reasonable to believe that our governments and peoples today can address the disputes and the issues rooted in history through dialogue and consultation with greater wisdom, seriousness, rationality and flexibility, and work together to promote common development and shared prosperity in our region!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The great achievements of China’s peaceful development have been recognized by the world, but we are keenly aware that our country faces heavy pressure in ensuring sustainable development given its large population, weak economic foundation and imbalance in development. Even in Guangdong, the economically strongest province, there are still poverty-stricken areas with annual per capita income averaging less than 400 US dollars, and a number of other “growing pains” as well. The peaceful development of China, a country with over one billion people in its population, is a great exploration and practice unprecedented in the history of mankind. It is our sincere hope that the international community could better recognize China’s long-standing cultural traditions, and understand that it takes time for China, the largest developing country, to solve its numerous problems. We hope that other nations will respect the Chinese people’s longing for lasting peace and their cherishment for sovereignty, security, territorial integrity, and social stability, and believe in the sincerity and resolve of the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government in adhering to the peaceful development path.

It is my sincere wish that delegates to the conference could make the best of your stay here and look around in the province as much as possible. I hope that through face-to-face and heart-to-heart engagement with our people, you can feel the profound changes that have happened to the mindset of the Chinese people since reform and opening-up, and find the reasons behind their earnest wish for China to follow a peaceful development path.

Finally, I wish the Commemoration of the International Day of Peace 2012 and the China-Southeast Asia Peace and Development Forum a complete success!

Thank you!