Upholding and Advancing Shared Human Values
In his speech at the ceremony marking the centenary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), General Secretary Xi Jinping declared to the world that the Party will continue to work with all peace-loving countries and peoples to promote the shared human values of peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy, and freedom, and strive to keep the wheels of history rolling toward bright horizons. These statements put Chinese Communists' sense of duty to the international humanity on full display, and present impactful ideas, compelling theories, and practical inspiration to the globe.
Recognizing the great significance of the shared human values
The shared human values are the crystallization of consensus between different civilizations, and reflect the greatest common denominator of values universally recognized among the people of countries around the world. They transcend differences in terms of ideology, social system, and level of development, move with the tide of history, and accord with the needs of the times. This concept reflects yet another major theoretical achievement of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.
From a high-level strategic perspective on the course of human history, the shared human values have provided powerful drive to human progress on a conceptual level.
The world is currently entering a period of change and upheaval. Global challenges related to issues such as climate change, cyber security, and public health are emerging one after another, a number of regional wars and conflicts continue to persist, famine and disease are still raging, and division and antagonism are deepening. Meanwhile, people from around the world are crying out more loudly for happy lives. After experiencing the devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic, the international community now recognizes more clearly that we live in a global village, and that we are all in the same boat and share the same fate. Now more than any other moment in history, the world needs to think from the perspective of humanity as a whole and to generate strength by coming together. At this critical historical juncture where it is unsure what path human society will take, Xi Jinping has, through a broad global perspective and people-centered vision, put forward the shared human values of peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy, and freedom. These are a concise summarization of the most widespread consensus among all the world's progressive forces. They contribute Chinese wisdom for safeguarding the shared longterm interests of humanity, outline norms for promoting lasting progress for human civilization, and offer mental motivation for creating a brighter future for humanity.
On September 28, 2015, President Xi Jinping delivered a speech during the General Debate of the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly in which he proclaimed, "Peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy, and freedom are values shared by all humanity." PHOTO BY XINHUA REPORTER PANG XINGLEI
The shared human values reflect the deep historical background of the best elements of China's traditional culture and have injected new energy into the cultural development of the world.
Culture breeds ideas, and ideas provide direction. Since ancient times, the Chinese civilization has constantly developed through a process of carrying on tradition and innovating and improved itself by dealing with changes and adapting to the times, accumulating a profound set of intellectual achievements that provide a rich source of nourishment for the Chinese nation's continued development and growth and contribute in important ways to the advancement of human civilization. The values and mental world of Chinese people are always rooted in the fertile soil of China's fine traditional culture. The shared human values carry on concepts from traditional Chinese culture including the ideas of all under heaven belonging to one family, of seeking harmony among nations, and of pursuing a just cause for the common good. They reflect how the Chinese nation embraces principles like benevolence, sincerity, justice, harmony, putting people first, showing love for one's fellow men and pursuing common ground. The introduction of these values has extended China's pursuits in this regard into the global space and linked together Chinese and foreign systems of discourse. This serves as a shining example of how China is expressing itself internationally, represents a successful trial in sharing Chinese wisdom with the international community, and has made new and important contributions to the development of human civilization.
The shared human values highlight a broad-minded appreciation of diversity, and offer powerful motivation for achieving great unity between the people of the world.
A great era calls for a great vision, which in turn requires breadth of mind. The fate of the world must be decided jointly by all countries, and matters of global concern must be handled together through discussion; these are principles that all members of the international community should abide by. Although different countries are not completely alike in terms of their histories, cultures, systems, and levels of development, people around the world all aspire to the shared human values of peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy, and freedom. In championing these shared human values, Xi Jinping has demonstrated understanding of the contrasting value systems of different cultures, respect for the methods that different countries use to realize their values, and support for the people of different countries in their pursuit of happy lives and equal rights. The introduction of the shared human values represents a profound innovation in the history of human thought that resonates with the universal expectations and demands of people around the world. This has provided the international community with a reliable bond through which to achieve the broadest possible unity and created space for the values of different human cultures to converge.
The shared human values reflect the deep thought behind the vision of building a global community with a shared future, and make the values at the core of this important vision explicit.
Since Xi Jinping first proposed the building of a global community with a shared future at the Moscow Institute of International Relations in 2013, the idea has continued to grow and become a trademark of China's major country diplomacy in the new era. It has been written into the Constitution of the Communist Party of China and the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, thus being elevated to the will of the Party and the state, and has also been included in documents from important international and regional organizations like the United Nations, thereby making a growing global impression. As it has developed from a proposal to an idea with broad recognition and finally to an expanding initiative, the vision of a global community with a shared future has tallied with the values and spirit shared by people around the world. Xi Jinping's important conclusions on shared human values have brought to light the profound ethical dimension of the vision of a global community with a shared future, set the development of such a community as the overall goal with the establishment of a new type of international relations as the practical means of achieving this goal, and formed a sound system of thought centered on shared human values. This will help bring about further and more tangible progress in building a global community with a shared future.
Understanding the rich meaning behind the shared human values
The shared human values manifest the theoretical features of dialectical unity and universal relation, and possess the theoretical qualities of being simple, vibrant, and practically oriented. They represent a great theoretical achievement made by Chinese Communists in using Marxism to observe, understand, and steer the times.
Peace and development are the themes of the present era and bear upon the rights of people to life and development.
Peace is something that people perpetually hunger for, just like air or sunlight, while development is the top priority for every nation and the pillar upon which the continued existence of any civilization rests. China has made a solemn commitment to always following the path of peaceful development, and to never seeking hegemony or engaging in expansion. We have stressed that while pursuing our own development, we will also use its own development as a means to provide opportunities for the world. At the same time, however, China is opposed to pacifism without principle and developmentalism that is only concerned with short-term success. We stand for the dialectical unity between peace and struggle and between development and security, and are focused on helping to bring about enduring peace and development for all humanity. Xi Jinping has said, "If people want to enjoy peace but do nothing to uphold it, then it will no longer exist," and pursuing peaceful development "is the sure way for all the countries in the world to seek common development and peaceful coexistence." These statements explain the practical obligations of all countries in upholding peace and security. He has also said, "We should promote innovative, coordinated, green, and open development that is for everyone and coordinate social and economic progress between countries," and, "We must directly confront real major issues like the wealth and development gaps, pay close attention to underdeveloped countries and regions, show care for impoverished peoples, and see that every piece of land fosters hope." These are clear pronouncements on advancing the great mission of common prosperity for all nations.
Fairness and justice are important standards in international relations and bear upon human dignity.
At the national level, China is focused on upholding social equity as well as promoting well-rounded human development and all-round social progress. At the international level, the pursuit of fairness and justice is the lofty goal that people from countries around the world share in the realm of international relations. China stands by the principle that all countries are equals, regardless of size, and is especially committed to increasing the representation and strengthening the voice of developing countries, thus upholding international fairness and justice in concrete ways. Meanwhile, China opposes the idea of taking on responsibility in international affairs indiscriminately or with ulterior motives, and is even more opposed to actions taken in the name of justice that are in fact unjust. China supports efforts to address problems related to fairness and justice by steering economic globalization in a more open, inclusive, and balanced direction so that its benefits can be shared by all, and by baking a larger cake while also ensuring that everyone gets a proper slice. We are in favor of making global development fairer, more effective, and more coordinated, and oppose those who would seek to shut others off from technology, create scientific and technological divides, and engage in decoupling for the purpose of restricting others' progress. We support joint efforts to ground international relations in the rule of law and to uphold the authority and inviolability of international law and the international order in international relations, and oppose the setting of international rules by a minority of countries. It is our position that international law should be applied in an equal and uniform manner. All countries should refrain from using double standards or applying international law in a selective manner, and strive to ensure that they are without bias or favor. The above reflects a realistic approach for achieving fairness and justice.
Democracy and freedom are crucial components of modern political culture and bear upon individual wellbeing.
At the national level, China is committed to ensuring that the people enjoy broader, fuller, and more tangible democratic rights, protecting people's freedom and dignity in accordance with the law, and pursuing the lofty goal of free and well-rounded individual development. On the international level, China supports efforts to uphold multilateralism and advance the democratization of international relations, and advocates free trade, investment, and movement of people. Meanwhile, we oppose erroneous ideological trends like abusing democratization and liberal absolutism, firmly reject wanton interference in the domestic affairs of other countries under the guise of promoting "democracy" or "freedom," and oppose violation of other nations' sovereignty using "freedom of navigation" as an excuse. No matter how the international landscape changes, we must always stay committed to the principles of equality, democracy, and inclusiveness, and respect the right of the people of every country to choose their own system and path of development. We must recognize that democracy is not the property of a small number of countries, but rather the right of people around the world. There are many ways to achieve democracy; it is not something to be pigeonholed. We must bolster exchanges and mutual learning, promote democratic politics that fits with each nation's own conditions, and enhance capabilities and effectiveness in seeking happiness for the people. This is the way to achieve democracy and freedom.
The shared human values thread through the individual, national, and global levels, reflecting the pursuit of survival, development, equality, and freedom that all people share as individuals, and also manifesting the understanding shared by the countries of the world as they handle their relationships with one another. Peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy, and freedom are the six essential elements of the universal human values and are connected at every level, constituting a coherent logical chain. Without peace and development, the other elements would be nothing but fantasy. Without fairness and justice, the other elements would only be the privilege of a minority of countries and peoples. Without democracy and freedom, the other elements would be aimless and enervated.
For a long time, certain Western countries have posited the so-called "universal values," but in reality, they have always remained wrapped up in hegemonism and power politics. They have exported their values by rehashing the same artificial concepts like the idea that human rights supersede sovereignty, the "clash of cultures," and the struggle between democracy and authoritarianism, all while pursuing their own selfish interests in international affairs. They have thus betrayed classic hypocritical, narrow-minded, and exclusionary tendencies, and are therefore falling more and more out of favor. Xi Jinping has said, "We must act as champions for the shared human values out of a sense of responsibility for the future of humanity, open our minds to appreciate how other cultures understand the meaning of values, respect the efforts of other countries in exploring how to fulfill their values, and give specific, concrete expression to the shared human values in the practice of realizing the interests of our country's people."
People line up to receive the Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Colombo, Sri Lanka, August 7, 2021. XINHUA / PHOTO BY AJITH PERERA
Upholding and carrying forward the glorious practice of the shared human values
The CPC is a political party that seeks happiness for the Chinese people and fights for the advancement of all humanity. Chinese Communists have always stuck to their original aspirations, matched their words with their actions, and promoted and practiced the shared human values with unwavering commitment.
The CPC upholds peaceful development.
Peace, amity, and harmony are the ideals that the Chinese nation has pursued and passed down for more than 5,000 years. Since its very founding, the CPC has maintained a big-hearted perspective, seeing efforts to safeguard world peace and increase people's wellbeing as the major issues with which all of humanity is concerned, and uniting and leading the Chinese people to work with all of the world's progressive forces to advance these efforts. Since the founding of the PRC, China has never instigated a war or occupied even an inch of another's land, and has facilitated the peaceful resolution of a multitude of hotspot regional issues. China has explicitly committed to no first use of nuclear weapons at any time or under any circumstances, and maintains the most stable, consistent, and predictable nuclear policy of any nuclear-weapon state. In the 50 years since its rightful seat in the United Nations was restored, China has taken part in 29 UN peacekeeping operations in which more than 50,000 personnel were deployed, making it the largest contributor of troops among the permanent members of the Security Council as well as the second largest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping. China has accurately grasped the contemporary themes of peace and development, and is using its own development to offer new opportunities to the world. As the world's second largest economy, China has remained the largest contributor to global economic growth for 15 years running. Over the more than 40 years since the launch of reform and opening up, more than 700 million people have escaped poverty in China, accounting for more than 70% of worldwide poverty reduction. Since the introduction of the Belt and Road Initiative, total trade volume between China and partner countries has exceeded US$9.2 trillion, and total direct investment from Chinese enterprises in countries along the Belt and Road has surpassed US$130 billion. According to reports from the World Bank, full implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative will lead to a 6.2% increase in global trade and a 2.9% increase in global income. China is taking real action to promote world peace and to add impetus to global development.
The CPC is a staunch defender of fairness and justice.
Over the past century, the CPC has remained devoted to the pursuit of fairness and justice and to realizing human liberation. During the new democratic revolution, it formulated the anti-imperialist, anti-feudal program of democratic revolution. Since the founding of the PRC, it has done its utmost to support national liberation movements in Asian, African, and Latin American countries, stood up for developing countries in international affairs, and remained firmly opposed to the regressive trends of unilateralism and bullying. The CPC has always stood on the side of fairness and justice. We are actively pushing for the establishment of a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice, and win-win cooperation, and driving the international order and the international system in a more just and equitable direction. We are committed to solving the dearth of governance in a just and equitable manner, and to opening up an approach to global governance based upon achieving shared growth through consultation and collaboration. Confronted with the challenge of climate change, China has overcome enormous difficulties to make the commitments to reaching a carbon peak by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060, and is working hard to make good on these commitments. We have pushed for all parties to fully and effectively implement the Paris Agreement on climate change, to undertake shared yet differentiated responsibilities, and to work together to promote harmony between humanity and nature. Over the course of the global pandemic, China has carried out timely emergency humanitarian relief operations around the world, and provided supplies and assistance to more than 150 countries. Xi Jinping made the solemn declaration that Chinese vaccines would be global public goods in an effort to make vaccines accessible and affordable in developing countries. China is striving to provide 2 billion doses of vaccine to the world while also taking concrete action to promote fair vaccine distribution, and is actively promoting efforts to establish a global community of health.
The CPC is firmly committed to democracy and freedom.
As the saying goes, only the wearer knows if the shoe fits. In many important international settings, Xi Jinping has stressed that whether or not a country is democratic is up to its people to judge, rather than a small minority. By the same token, only a country's people have the right to say whether or not it is on the right path of development. China's socialist democracy is a type of broad, full-process democracy that manifests the will of the people, tallies with China's national conditions, and enjoys the support of the people. It has been proven through practice that Chinese-style democracy works and is effective in China. China respects all countries' choice of development path and model, and has used its own success to generate confidence and offer lessons for countries around the world, particularly developing countries, that are seeking a practical and effective democratic model. The CPC is committed to seeking freedom and happiness for the Chinese people, with human rights protected and guaranteed in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China. A white paper on the CPC's endeavors in respecting and protecting human rights released on the occasion of the Party's centennial comprehensively presents the process, principles, and achievements made in the CPC's efforts to advance the cause of human rights in China. Over the past 100 years, the CPC has led the people in successfully pioneering a Chinese socialist path to the development of human rights, contributing Chinese wisdom and Chinese solutions for global governance on human rights.
After an incredible century-long journey, the CPC remains unshakeable in its original aspiration. On its new journey in the new era, we must be grounded in development and answering the needs of the people, grounded in China and facing the world, and grounded in history and geared to the future. We must stand on the right side of history and human progress, and always safeguard world peace, contribute to global development, and uphold the international order with steadfast commitment. China must join hands with other countries under the notion that we are all one family, and work together to resist falsehoods that hamper heart-to-heart human interaction and to break through mental barriers that block human exchange. We must uphold the shared human values, and make collective efforts to build an open, inclusive, clean, and beautiful world with lasting peace, universal security, and common prosperity.
This article was written by Xu Bu, Yu Jiang, Wu Xiaodan, Wang Wenqi, Chen Xiao, and Zhang Weipeng.
(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 16, 2021)