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Providing New Opportunities to the World Through Chinese Modernization

By Qin Gang Source: Updated: 2023-05-19

Providing New Opportunities to the World

Through Chinese Modernization

Qin Gang

State Councilor and Foreign Minister

In his congratulatory message to the Lanting Forum on Chinese Modernization and the World, General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that realizing modernization has been a relentless pursuit of the Chinese people since modern times, and that it is also a common aspiration of the whole world. Through more than 100 years of painstaking efforts, hardship and sacrifice, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has led the entire Chinese nation in successfully finding the Chinese path to modernization. Chinese modernization is the modernization of a huge population, of common prosperity for all, of material and cultural-ethical advancement, of harmony between humanity and nature, and of peaceful development. It is based on China’s national reality, and draws on other countries’ experience. It carries forward China’s historical and cultural traditions, and absorbs essentials of modern civilization. It benefits the Chinese people, and promotes common development of the world. It is a bright path to China’s prosperity and rejuvenation, and also a sure path to human progress and world harmony that China pursues. China is ready to work with all countries to make sure that its new accomplishments in modernization will be new opportunities for global development and will facilitate humanity’s search for paths to modernization and better social systems with a view to building a community with a shared future for mankind.

1. Developing a deep understanding of the fundamental logic in Chinese modernization

Chinese modernization is a major outcome of the decades-long exploration and practice of the Chinese people under the CPC leadership. A towering tree grows from its root, and a long river flows from its source. Likewise, our success in Chinese modernization was not handed down from the heaven or just emerged by itself. It has been attained step by step by the Chinese people through painstaking efforts under the leadership of the CPC that always stays committed, with real actions, to its founding missions for happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Chinese modernization is deeply rooted in China’s history, practices and philosophies.

Chinese modernization is the natural choice of China’s 100-year-long quest for development. Modernization for China has been a journey of hardship and perseverance, anguish and glory, honor and dreams. During modern times, many patriots looked to the West for a formula of modernization to save the Chinese nation, but they all failed. And historically, this weighty task fell on the shoulders of the CPC. It was not until the birth of the CPC in 1921 that China found the pillar and guidance for its modernization. Under the CPC’s strong leadership, we have embarked on the great journey of independently building a modern country. We have turned China from an impoverished and backward land into the world’s second largest economy, top trader in goods, biggest holder of foreign exchange reserves, and biggest manufacturer. We have put in place the world’s largest compulsory education system, social security system, and medical and health system. In a short span of several decades, China has realized industrialization that had taken Western developed countries several centuries. We have caught up with the times in great strides.

Chinese modernization is the natural requirement for promoting national rejuvenation on all fronts. As of the 18th CPC National Congress, under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, the “acceleration button” was pressed in China’s modernization drive. The two major miracles — fast economic development and long-term social stability — continued. Absolute poverty was eradicated. A moderately prosperous society in all respects became a reality. With this, the First Centenary Goal was realized. The Chinese nation has achieved a great transformation from standing up and growing prosperous to becoming strong. National rejuvenation is now on an irreversible course. While it may appear easy to bystanders, China’s success has been gained through pains and hardships. Fundamentally, the historic achievements and transformations in the cause of the Party and the country are attributable to the stewardship of General Secretary Xi Jinping as the core of the CPC Central Committee and of the whole Party, and to the scientific guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era. With the conviction and responsibility of “serving the people selflessly”, General Secretary Xi Jinping, as the chief architect and pioneer of Chinese modernization, is leading us in advancing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernization and marching on the right path toward a better future.

Chinese modernization is a natural outcome of the laws governing human development. Modernization is a common cause of all humanity. Although the West enjoyed the fruits of modernization ahead of others, history will not end there. As early as over 140 years ago, Karl Marx envisioned crossing the Caudine Forks of capitalism, providing a solid theoretical basis for a path of modernization different from that of the West. Through the past 100 years and more, China has found by itself a path to modernization that is deeply rooted in its fine traditional culture and reflective of the advanced nature of scientific socialism. It emulates and absorbs the outcomes of all outstanding civilizations, represents the future direction of human progress, and displays a new prospect distinct from the Western model of modernization, thus creating a new form of human advancement. Ample facts have proved that there is no fixed model of, or single solution to, modernization. Any country can achieve modernization, as long as the path suits its conditions and answers the need of its people for development. On the contrary, mechanically copying ill-fitted foreign models is counter-productive, and may even lead to catastrophic consequences.

2. Correctly grasping the global significance of Chinese modernization

General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that China will better develop itself and benefit the world as it continues to broaden the new path of Chinese modernization. As a Chinese saying goes, “A just cause should be pursued for the common good.” As the biggest developing country, China always keeps in mind the greater good of the whole world. The Chinese path to modernization is not a one-flower show, still less for self-interest. It is a path toward development of China, through which more positive energy will be added to global peace and new opportunities created for global development.

The modernization of China with such a huge population will be a stronger boost for global economic recovery. China has delivered a good answer to the question of how to tackle the challenge of a super-large population and unleash its massive productivity and creativity. Our Party follows a people-centered development philosophy, and ensures that development is for the people and by the people and that its fruits are shared by all people. Since the beginning of reform and opening-up, China has lifted close to 800 million people out of poverty, and enlarged the middle-income group to over 400 million people. Today, China is the main trading partner of over 140 countries and regions, making US$320 million of direct investment around the world each day and attracting over 3,000 foreign businesses every month. Over the past decade, China has contributed more to global growth than all the G7 countries combined.

With over 1.4 billion people on course toward modernization, a number larger than the combined population of all developed countries, China will give a much stronger impetus to the global economy. The China Development Forum and the Boao Forum for Asia were successfully held recently, and the Canton Fair and the China International Consumer Products Expo both witnessed a huge turnout. All these events attracted political and business leaders from around the world. The most repeated call we heard was to seize the new opportunities that will come along with China’s high-quality development and high-standard opening-up. The Number One unanimous view was to reject decoupling and move forward with China.

The modernization of China with common prosperity for all will open up a broader path to the common development of all countries. Modernization should not make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Nor should it serve the interests of only a few countries or individuals. Common prosperity for the whole world requires the development of all countries. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Global Development Initiative (GDI) are public goods that China offers to the international community. They are also open platforms for pursuing common development and prosperity. Ten years on since the start of the BRI, over 3,000 cooperation projects have been launched, involving close to US$1 trillion of investment and creating 420,000 jobs for participating countries. Many nations have thus realized their dreams of railways, big bridges, and poverty alleviation.

The GDI is also widely welcomed by the international community. With the support of over 100 countries and many international organizations, and with some 70 countries in the Group of Friends of the GDI, the Initiative is giving a strong boost to the early attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. China takes seriously the debt issue of developing countries. We are actively and fully implementing the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative, and have contributed as much as 63 percent of the total debt payments suspended. Chinese modernization has helped inspire confidence in many countries in their pursuit of modernization. As an African leader put it, the Chinese path inspires all developing countries to believe that every country is able to achieve development even from scratch.

The modernization of China with material and cultural-ethical advancement will open up bright prospects for human progress. Some countries, while highly developed in economy, science and technology, have descended into a capital-centric mode, rampant materialism, cultural impoverishment, moral degradation, and public disorder. As General Secretary Xi Jinping underscored, the ultimate goal of modernization is the free and well-rounded development of people, which means not only material abundance but also cultural-ethical enrichment.

As a Chinese saying goes, “Only when the granary is full will people learn etiquette; only when people are well-fed and clothed will they know honor and shame.” The Chinese nation always yearns for a world of great harmony in which people are free from want and follow a high moral standard. It is a world where people put their cultural pursuit before material needs and see it as part of their social ideal. Back in the Axial Age 2,500 years ago, philosophers of great civilizations, like Confucius and Mencius in China and Plato in ancient Greece, went on their respective yet common pursuit of cultural and ethical enrichment. Modernization is not the demise of ancient civilizations, but a renewal of traditional cultures. The Global Civilization Initiative (GCI) put forth by General Secretary Xi Jinping advocates the importance of inheritance and innovations of civilizations, promotes the respect for the diversity of civilizations, and advances the principles of equality, mutual learning, dialogue and inclusiveness among civilizations. The Chinese believe that even for an established country, its future hinges on self-renewal. Chinese modernization will add new vigor and vitality to the profound Chinese civilization, and contribute more Chinese wisdom to global peace and prosperity and to human progress. We envision a better world in which all civilizations prosper from generation to generation through constant self-renewal, enjoying both material abundance and cultural and ethical advancement.

The modernization of China with harmony between humanity and nature will provide a more viable pathway to a clean and beautiful world. Since the beginning of industrial civilization, humankind has created massive material wealth. Yet, it has come at a cost of intensified exploitation of natural resources, which disrupted the balance in Earth’s ecosystem, and exposed the growing tensions between humanity and nature. In recent years, climate change, biodiversity loss, worsening desertification and frequent extreme weather have posed severe challenges to human survival and development. There is only one planet Earth and one home for us all. As General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out, we should protect the nature and preserve the environment like our eyes, and endeavor to foster a new relationship where humanity and nature can both prosper and live in harmony.

Convinced that lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets, China has made great efforts to advance ecological conservation. China readily takes on its responsibility of protecting the environment and tackling climate change, and leads the world on many counts: in terms of afforested area, which accounts for a quarter of the world’s total; in the development and utilization of renewable energy, with over one-third of the world’s installed capacity of wind and solar power; and in the output and sales of new energy vehicles, with half of the world’s NEVs running on Chinese roads. China has made the solemn pledge of achieving carbon peak and carbon neutrality to the world, and committed itself to moving from carbon peak to neutrality in just 30 years. That is at least 10-plus years less than the United States and 40-plus years less than the European Union. China has taken the initiative to set up and invest in the Kunming Biodiversity Fund, and made active efforts to push for the signing, coming into effect and implementation of the Paris Agreement. In April this year, China and France agreed on jointly developing a carbon neutrality center, in a bid to add new momentum to the global low-carbon transition.

The modernization of China on the path of peaceful development will bring more certainty to world peace and stability. Dominance and hegemony is not the aim of China’s development. The notion that strength will lead to hegemony is incompatible with Chinese culture, and defiance of hegemony is a noble character of Chinese diplomacy. Until today, China is the only country in the world that has put in its Constitution the commitment to a path of peaceful development. China is the top contributor of peacekeeping personnel among the permanent members of the UN Security Council, and the only country among the five Nuclear-Weapon States that has made the promise of no-first-use of nuclear weapons. We have joined over 20 multilateral arms control treaties, and pushed for the conclusion of a joint statement among the five Nuclear-Weapon States on preventing nuclear war. We advocate peaceful resolution of international disputes through consultation and dialogue.

The Global Security Initiative (GSI) put forward by General Secretary Xi Jinping has pointed out the right direction of pursuing common and universal security. As a Chinese proverb says, “It is better to remove enmity than keep it alive.” Facilitated by China, Saudi Arabia and Iran resumed diplomatic relations. This has inspired and encouraged more countries to shake hands and embrace peace. In the face of the protracted Ukraine crisis, China does not inflame or take advantage of the situation. Rather, China has taken an impartial stance and pushed for peace talks in order to reduce the pressure and lower the temperature around the crisis. Facts have proved that a China moving toward modernization is a boost to the force for peace and justice.

3. Broadening the development space for Chinese modernization

The 20th CPC National Congress drew up a grand blueprint for building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects and advancing the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernization. Fulfilling this central task of the Party on the new journey of the new era is an unshirkable responsibility for Chinese diplomacy. We will stay committed to the path of peaceful development, and to fostering a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation. We will join hands with all countries to pursue modernization and build a community with a shared future for mankind, and endeavor to create a more favorable external environment and broader development space for Chinese modernization.

China will safeguard the international order with greater resolve. The purposes and principles of the UN Charter are an important cornerstone for a stable international order. They provide a solid framework of international relations for the modernization of all countries. China firmly upholds the international system with the UN at its core, the international order underpinned by international law, and the basic norms of international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. China firmly opposes all hegemonic, high-handed and bullying acts, and rejects the practices of exceptionalism, double standards, and exploiting and discarding the UN at one’s own will. Taiwan’s return to China is a component of the post-WWII international order. The “Taiwan independence” separatist forces and a handful of countries attempting to take advantage of “Taiwan independence” are breaking international rules and undermining stability across the Taiwan Strait. Their real goal is to hollow out the one-China principle, subvert the post-war order and trample on China’s sovereignty. This is unacceptable to the more than 1.4 billion Chinese people! China will not lose any part of its territory that has been restored. And the established post-war international order will not be upended. It is right and proper for China to uphold its sovereignty and territorial integrity. There will be no vagueness at all in our response to any one who attempts to distort the one-China principle; we will never back down in face of any act that undermines China’s sovereignty and security. 

China will defend the right to development of all countries with greater determination. Modernization is an inalienable right of every country, not a privilege reserved for a few. Those who have realized modernization should not tear down the bridge or block other countries’ path to modernization. And they should not suppress, contain or stop other countries that choose a different path to modernization. China has no intention to engage in major-power competition. What we are firmly defending is our own development interests and the Chinese people’s right to pursue a better life. We respect the modernization path chosen by the people of other countries, and oppose attempts to create ideological confrontation and a new Cold War, interference in others’ internal affairs and imposition of one’s will on others. China stands committed to the right direction of globalization, opposes attempts to build walls and barriers and push for decoupling and severing supply chains, and opposes unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure. China is doing its utmost to ensure stable and smooth functioning of industrial and supply chains, so that economic globalization and the modernization of all countries could move forward in tandem and complement each other.

China will advance high-standard opening-up with more proactive efforts. China’s modernization has made advances in the course of opening-up, and is bound to embrace a brighter future through opening-up. We will accelerate the building of a new development paradigm, steadily expand high-standard opening-up, and further ease market access to open our door wider. In hosting the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation and the China International Import Expo, China will deepen convergence of interests with the world, more deeply involve itself in global industrial division of labor and cooperation, and contribute its part to building an open world economy. We will invest more resources in global development cooperation, and do our utmost to help relieve the debt burdens of developing countries. We will endeavor to save international financial and currency circulation from the plight of speculation, manipulation, sanction and pressuring, and help it return to its fundamental purpose of serving the real economy and promoting modernization.

China will promote more actively exchanges among civilizations. Mutual accommodation, coexistence, exchanges and mutual learning among different civilizations play an irreplaceable role in advancing humanity’s modernization process. We call on all countries to promote peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom — the common values of humanity, and let cultural exchanges transcend estrangement, mutual learning transcend clashes, and coexistence transcend arrogance. We firmly oppose discrimination against races, countries and civilizations in international relations. We are ready to explore with all countries the building of a global network for inter-civilization dialogue and cooperation, to open up new prospects of enhanced exchanges and understanding among different peoples and better interactions and integration of diversified cultures. Together we can make the garden of world civilizations colorful and fragrant, and provide sustained boost for the modernization processes of all countries.

China will work more vigorously for a community of all life on Earth. Only by promoting green development and harmonious coexistence between humanity and nature can we advance steadily along the path to modernization. We will step up efforts to build a sound economic structure that facilitates green, low-carbon and circular development, and promote a transition to green economic and social development across the board. Following the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, we will actively participate in international cooperation in climate response, ocean governance, global biodiversity protection and other areas, undertake environmental governance obligations suited to our national conditions, development stage and capacity, and promote a fair and equitable global environmental governance system of win-win cooperation, so as to make greater contributions to addressing global challenges such as climate and environment and building a clean and beautiful world.

As a Chinese saying goes, “With thousands of mountains already behind, the road ahead is full of promises of a budding spring.” While Chinese modernization is conceived in China, the opportunities it brings belong to the world. We are ready to work together with people of all countries to promote diverse ways of modernization and create an even brighter future for our planet.