I am glad to meet all friends, old and new, here at the Beijing Xiangshan Forum. In the beautiful October in Beijing, as the 1.4 billion Chinese people are still in the festive mood of celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the 9th Beijing Xiangshan Forum opens today. I wish to warmly welcome all of you and thank you for joining us. I also hope that you will find time to visit the Xiangshan Mountain to enjoy its beautiful landscape.
Two days ago, President Xi Jinping attended the opening ceremony of the 7th CISM Military World Games and met with the defense and military leaders of various countries attending the event. Today, President Xi sent a congratulatory message to the Forum, in which he expressed his fervent wish for the success of the Forum and charted the direction for us to build consensus for maintaining peace and boost security cooperation.
Beijing Xiangshan Forum, which was first held at the foot of the Xiangshan Mountain in 2006, has developed into a high-level platform for security dialogue with significant international influence. Today, our forum is attended by over 650 distinguished guests, including 23 defense ministers, six chiefs of staff, senior generals from 39 countries, representatives of eight international organizations as well as experts and scholars, who are meeting here to explore ways to uphold security and peace. I am sure that this forum will contribute the Xiangshan Wisdom to maintaining regional stability and world peace. The theme of this year’s forum is “Maintaining International Order and Promoting Peace in the Asia-Pacific”. I am glad to make an opening speech and then invite Russian Defense Minister General Sergei Shoigu to speak after me. We welcome the insightful and candid views from all participants attending the Forum.
I. The Chinese armed forces have entered the new era with new drive to pursue our abiding mission of safeguarding national security and world peace.
Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China 70 years ago, we Chinese, with courage, drive and an enterprising spirit, have explored our way forward, embarked on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and made world renowned achievements. The Chinese nation now stands tall and firm in the East. No force can ever shake the status of China, or stop the Chinese people and nation from marching forward.
The People’s Liberation Army, a force of the people created by the Communist Party of China and under its leadership, has made great contributions to the independence of the nation, liberation of the people and prosperity of the country. In the new era, guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, we, the Chinese armed forces, have delivered on Xi Jinping’s thinking on strengthening the military and continued to develop ourselves in the Chinese way. We have resolutely safeguarded China’s sovereignty, security, development interests, and stood firm in upholding world peace and the UN-centered international system. We are ready to make even greater contributions to building a community with a shared future for mankind.
First, China will stay on the path of peaceful development. The Chinese nation has stood up, become prosperous and grown in strength. We owe this great achievement to the vision, grit and hard work of our people. China has developed itself by taking the path of peaceful development, not by engaging in aggression, expansion or plundering of others. China is a peace-loving nation. We do not go by, agree with or accept the logic that a country which becomes strong is bound to seek hegemony. China’s development does not pose a threat to any other country. No matter what stage of development it may reach, China will never seek hegemony, expansion, or sphere of influence.
The commitment to peaceful development is now an integral part of China’s Constitution and the Constitution of the Communist Party of China. It is a consistent national policy pursued by China. This commitment to peaceful development should not be underestimated, still less should it be questioned. In July 2019, the Chinese government released a white paper entitled China’s National Defense in the New Era, which is a declaration of peace made by China to the world. The white paper fully demonstrates China’s resolve to follow the path of peaceful development.
Second, China remains firm in pursuing a defense policy that is defensive in nature.
This is determined by China’s socialist system and its independent foreign policy of peace. China pursues a military strategy of active defense featuring defense, self-defense and post-strike response, and follows a military doctrine that “we will not attack unless we are attacked, but we will surely counterattack if attacked”. Since its founding, the People’s Republic of China has never provoked a war or conflict, nor has it ever occupied an inch of land of other countries.
The Chinese armed forces maintain an appropriate size. In this round of defense and military reform, we have cut military personnel by 300,000. Since the introduction of the reform and opening up, China has cut the size of its military by over 4 million troops. Currently, the number of its active force is kept at 2 million, which serves the basic demand of China’s defense.
China’s defense expenditure is reasonable and transparent. China’s defense expenditure has remained below 2% of its GDP for the past three decades, a percentage that is the lowest among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. The development of China’s military capabilities has been appropriate, restrained and limited. A stronger military of China will boost the force for peace in the world, and the upgrading of China’s military capabilities will increase the capacity to safeguard world peace.
Third, China’s armed forces are resolute in safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests.
China is the only major country in the world that is yet to be completely reunified. Resolving the Taiwan question so as to realize China’s full reunification is the irresistible trend of the times. It is China’s greatest national interests, the righteous path to follow, and the longing of all Chinese people. No one and no force can ever stop China’s full reunification. We are committed to promoting the peaceful development of cross-Strait relation, and the peaceful reunification of the country. However, we will never allow separatists for Taiwan independence to have their way or interference by any external forces. Advancing China’s reunification is a just cause, while separatist activities are doomed to failure.
The South China Sea islands and Diaoyu Islands are inalienable parts of the Chinese territory. We will not allow even an inch of territory that our ancestors have left to us to be taken away.
In the great celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the reformed and restructured armed forces of China made their first public appearance. With awe-inspiring formations and march past, they pledged allegiance to the Party and the people. We, the Chinese armed forces, have every confidence and full ability to safeguard China’s sovereignty, security and development interests, and provide strong strategic support for revitalizing the Chinese nation.
Fourth, China’s armed forces are active in contributing to building a community with a shared future for mankind.
We are committed to building a new type of security partnership. In China’s foreign military relations, China-Russia military relationship enjoys the highest level of mutual trust, strategic coordination and practical cooperation, and maintains a vigorous momentum of development. It is a model of security cooperation and an important cornerstone underpinning world peace.
The China-US military relationship is generally stable, but we are confronted with many difficulties and challenges. Cooperation between the two militaries on strategic communication, mutual trust and risk control should be further strengthened, so as to promote a China-US relationship featuring coordination, cooperation and stability.
China is committed to forging friendship and partnership as well as stable military relationships with its neighbors. Defense cooperation between China and its neighboring countries is steadily enhanced.
We are striving to deliver public security goods. China is the largest troop contributing country among the permanent members of the UN Security Council and the second largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget. The PLA has deployed a total of over 40,000 peacekeepers, 13 of whom lost their lives on the frontline of the peacekeeping missions. Moreover, we have sent more than 100 PLAN ships in 33 task groups to escort over 6,600 Chinese and foreign merchant vessels, and held over 100 joint exercises and training with over 30 countries.
We have properly handled differences and disputes with other countries. China has settled border issues with 12 land neighbors and completed the demarcation of Beibu Gulf with Vietnam. We are in active consultations with ASEAN countries on reaching a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, and build effective communication mechanisms with countries concerned on maritime security.
II. Faced with severe challenges to the international security system and order, all countries share the goal to maintain mutual respect, and deliver mutual benefit and win-win outcomes.
The world today is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century. Peace and development remain the call of the times, but destabilizing factors and uncertainties are rising. Hegemony, power politics and cold war mentality erode and undermine the foundation of the international order. Do we want peace or war, cooperation or confrontation, connectivity or isolation, and win-win outcomes or zero-sum game? We need to make the right choice.
First, the zero-sum game is contrary to what people desire today, while win-win cooperation is in keeping with the trends of the times. Zero-sum game and winner-taking-all run counter to the trends of the times, while pursuing a shared future of mutual benefit has become the joint aspiration of all countries. People of all regions across the world, regardless of nationality and race, have equal rights to pursue development, and our shared dream is to deliver a better life for all.
No country can stay immune to security threats. It is extremely short-sighted to focus only on one’s own security to the neglect of the security of others. Only by observing the principle of achieving mutual benefit through consultation and cooperation can we achieve security and bring win-win outcomes to all.
Second, isolation and exclusiveness are unsustainable, while only openness and inclusiveness can lead us to a bright future. In the age of economic globalization, no country can afford to retreat into self-isolation. To bend international rules as one sees fit can only undermine international order.
I know there is a lot of international concern about the China-US trade issue. It is obvious that no one will emerge victorious in a trade war. In the recent 13th round of China-US high-level trade consultations, substantive progress was made in some areas. We are ready to address each other’s concerns through dialogue and consultation on the basis of equality and mutual respect. This will prevent trade conflict from escalating and spreading, and this is in the interest of both countries and the world. Security cooperation in the Asia-Pacific should also be open and inclusive. We firmly oppose the pursuit of exclusive security strategy, attempt to deploy intermediate-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific and bolstering military alliances against other countries by some countries outside the region, for these can only destabilize security in our region and weaken its stability.
Third, reckless interference in other countries’ internal affairs finds no support, while mutual respect fosters harmonious relations. All countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal members of the international community. They all have the equal rights to embark on development paths of their own choice. Intervention in affairs of other regions and the internal affairs of others, inciting color revolutions, and attempts to overthrow the lawful governments of other countries are the true causes of wars and turbulence in some regions. We are pained and deeply concerned to see people in the war-torn regions suffer from chaos, poverty and displacement.
China urges all countries to treat each other with respect and as equals. We are against big countries bullying small ones and the strong bullying the weak, and we are against the practice of coercion in state-to-state relations. On its part, in its exchanges with other countries, China never imposes any political conditions, forces others to take side, interferes in other countries’ internal affairs, or imposes its own will on others.
Fourth, imposing sanctions and exerting pressure have no chance to succeed, while dialogue and consultation can solve the problems. Problems are hardly avoidable in state-to-state interactions. However, differences are not to be feared. What is important is to enhance strategic dialogue and manage risks. Big stick policy and long-arm jurisdiction can never solve any problem, neither will sanctions and pressure. Such tactics just do not work on us Chinese. Quite the contrary, difficulties and pressure can only serve to harden our resolve, and we believe that no peoples in other countries will yield to power politics.
Several recent local wars have amply shown that the use of force only escalated tension and turbulence instead of resolving conflicts. Only by maintaining dialogue, avoiding confrontation and resolving differences through consultation on an equal footing can we dispel suspicion, defuse conflicts and meet each other half way on the right path.
III．The call for building a community with a shared future for mankind has gained strong support. Improving the security architecture and intensifying security cooperation are fundamental to prosperity and stability in our region.
We have but one planet that we call home, and all countries share but one world. Countries in the Asia-Pacific are interdependent and share a common stake. Therefore, building a community with a shared future serves the common interests of all of us. Facing various security threats, both conventional and non-conventional, China will work with countries in the region to build a community with a shared future in the Asia-Pacific, foster a new vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and put in place a security framework that is compatible with regional integration, accommodates the interest of all countries and is widely accepted by them.
First, we should actively promote the adoption of norms governing Asia-Pacific security. China does not believe that adoption of norms governing Asia-Pacific security is meant to overturn the existing rules. Rather, we aim to improve and complement them in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, so as to make the current international system and order fairer and more equitable. China is a member of almost all inter-governmental organizations, a party to more than 500 multilateral treaties and a committed upholder of the UN Charter. We will work with ASEAN countries toward the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. We will strictly act on the Rules of Behavior for Safety of Air and Maritime Encounters agreed with relevant countries, so as to jointly safeguard regional security and order. We will work together with all other countries to promote consultations on international norms governing cyber security, outer space security and land border security.
Second, we should endeavor to upgrade and improve multilateral security mechanisms in the Asia-Pacific. China will work with other Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states to strengthen exchanges and cooperation in defense and security. We will actively support the institutional building of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, continue to host the Beijing Xiangshan Forum, and participate in Moscow Conference on International Security, so as to strengthen good neighborly relations and strategic mutual trust.
China will continue to actively participate in multilateral dialogue and cooperation mechanisms including the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus, ASEAN Regional Forum and Shangri-La Dialogue, hold regular informal meetings between China-ASEAN defense ministers, and put forward constructive proposals to strengthen cooperation on defense and security in the region.
We believe that all security mechanisms should be open, transparent, inclusive, and conducive to promoting security, stability and peace in the Asia-Pacific.
Third, we should endeavor to forge a new type of Asia-Pacific security partnership. The Asia-Pacific countries should reject the obsolete practice of geopolitical confrontation. Rather, we should embark on a new path, on which confrontation and alliance give way to dialogue and partnership. We call on all countries in the region to act with reason and restraint in handling differences and disputes, and peacefully defuse crisis to avoid conflicts through dialogue and negotiation.
The Chinese side advocates that regional affairs should be handled by regional countries. Countries outside the region should refrain from doing anything that will undermine regional peace and stability. We call for increasing military exchanges among countries on the basis of equality and win-win cooperation, and improving defense and security consultations and working meeting mechanisms, so as to jointly safeguard peace and stability in the region.
Fourth, we should effectively carry out military cooperation for Asia-Pacific security. To achieve common security and development in the Asia-Pacific, China will continue to participate in the SCO Peace Mission exercises, the China-ASEAN maritime exercises and China-Russia multi-level joint exercises and training in multiple areas. We are also ready to participate in the joint exercises and training organized by other countries at their invitation.
China will strengthen cooperation with regional countries in international counter-terrorism, peacekeeping and disaster relief under the framework of UN, SCO and ASEAN, and continue to enhance collaboration with relevant countries in personnel training, equipment, technology, logistics and medical service.
The Chinese armed forces will fulfill the international responsibilities of a major country, provide due assistance to regional countries to enhance their military capabilities, provide more public security goods to the international community, with a view to making new contributions to the prosperity and stability of the Asia-pacific.
In the end, I wish the 9th Beijing Xiangshan Forum a great success!