Dec 17, 2016
Fu Ying: China’s Growth and the Debates on Order
Fu Ying: China’s Growth and the Debates on Order

Speechby Fu Ying Chairperson of Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People’sCongress, 2015-5-19

The University of Chicago

Thank you, Alan and Mr. Steve Edwards,

Members of the Faculty and Students,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a greathonor for me to address you today. As the renowned architect Frank (Lloyd)Wright said, “Eventually I think Chicago will be the most beautiful great cityleft in the world.”

But I wonder if you know that, in China, Chicago is more famous for its University.

This university is especially attractive to the parents who want to get theirmoney’s worth, as this is known as a place “where fun has come to die”.

A great manymusicians, scientists and politicians were nurtured here. And I am sure some ofyou will one day join them if you so choose. You have my best wishes.

I guess, mostof the students here were born after 1990. In China, we call people like you“90hou”, meaning the post-90 generation.

You share onething in common, that is, you are in synchronization with latest development ofthe world.

For my generation, by the time I first heard of an operating system called Windows,Mr. Bill Gates was already the richest man on earth. Now trendy Chinese wait ontenterhooks for every iPhone launch just like here. “Fast & Furious 7” isreleased in Beijing cinemas at about the same time as in Chicago.

I hope I amnot too idealistic in thinking that since so much information is shared amongyoung people all over the world, shouldn’t the younger generation be more openand more ready to understand each other?

Isn’t it possible to find a new way to build a global order capable of ensuring lastingpeace?

When your President Obama spoke here on a father’s day a few years ago, he said, the mostimportant thing for the parents is to pass along the value of empathy ---theability to stand in somebody else’s shoes; to look at the world through theireyes.

In that regard,the first point of my speech today is about China’s experience with theevolving world order.

Dr. Kissinger’s latest book World Order set off lots of discussion in China. It isabsorbing to read the 400 years of rise and fall of powers since the Westphaliapeace conference, and the wars and conflicts that led to power shifting.

However, asthe book also pointed out, the Westphalian system was, as not universal, butone of the many systems that coexisted and yet in isolation from each othergiven the circumstances. Obviously, they didn’t have the internet.

While in China,where history had been carrying on for a long time, a different system of governance, values and traditions were nurtured, which have an influence to thepresent day.

So our viewof history may have a different base. Let me pick up a few moments of historyalong the evolution of world order laid down in that book.

As you probably remember in your reading that, it was in 1648, Europe finalized theWestphalia Treaty to end the Thirty Years’ War and established a modern senseof order among nation states, recognizing their sovereignty andself-determination of internal affairs. Then it spread its colonial power tomany corners of the world, including America and the United States freed itselfand declared independence in 1776.

In this period in Asia, the long and generally peaceful relationship had continued.China’s Qing Dynasty was in its prime and the population in the 18th century wasmore than the European countries put together. But this serenity for almost2,000 years was broken when the European imperialists arrived in the middle of19th century.

By the time theVersailles Treaty was signed in 1919 at the end of the First World War, mostpart of Asia was colonized and China’s territorial integrity too had beenviolated.

By then, thelast emperor of China had abdicated. The attempt by political elites to installa republic and western style parliamentary system had failed once and again inone way or another. The country was descending into chaos and conflicts. The younggeneration looked in other directions for a solution.

It was inthis context that the Communist Party of China was set up in 1921 by a dozen orso young people mostly in their late 20s, not much older than you. (It’samazing how young people change the world.)

Fast forwardto 1941, when Henry Luce of Time Magazine stated the arrival of the AmericanCentury, two thirds of China’s territory fell under Japanese occupation. 35million people died or wounded in war.

China willhost a major commemoration September this year to mark the 70th anniversary ofthe victory of the War against Japanese Aggression. We will remember theheroes, reflect on history and the value of peace. China and the U.S. fought onthe same side, and we will never forget the heroic American pilots who helpedChina during the war.

When peacedid come in 1949 and the PRC was founded, the economy was on the brink, averagelife expectancy was under 35 years and more than 90 percent of the populationwas illiterate.

In otherwords, for many years following the end of the Second World War, when the twosuper powers contested for world power, achieving a sort of balance of terror, China’smain concern was its very survival, not least feeding its big population. Therewere many setbacks along the way in China. I still have a keen memory of thehunger and confusion of my younger days.

In the late1970s China’s relationship with the world turned a new page. The Mainlandregained China’s legal seat at the UN. The policy of reform and opening to theoutside world led by Deng Xiaoping enabled China to reconnect with the worldeconomy.

So when theChinese talk about the international system, we are referring to the institutionswith the UN at the center, and to which China has committed ever since. Learntfrom its painful history, China believes in the principles of equality amongall sovereign nations and non-interference in the internal affairs of othercountries as enshrined in the UN Charter.

ChinesePresident Xi Jinping, when attending the event marking the 60th anniversary ofthe Bandung Conference, reiterated the Five Principles of PeacefulCo-existence.

The reason Itook you on this brief journey is to illustrate that when discussing worldorder, we should be mindful of different experiences of history and theirimpact on our perspectives. And we may not have the same feeling for certainthings.

Here comes mysecond point. How to look at China today? Now China has very much grown. But, Ihave to say, knowledge and understanding of China in the outside world,especially in Western countries, hasn’t quite kept up.

A friend ofmine, European journalist and a keen observer of China, summed up western mediareporting on China into three categories. China is either

incrediblybig –biggest population, biggest cities, even big demand for luxury goods.

or China isso bad – doing all the wrong things and not fitting into the norms.

and China is soweird – eating weird stuff and having weird ways of doing things.

I receivemany members of the US Congress often making their first visits to China. Whatstrikes them the most is their encounters with ordinary Chinese, such as themigrant workers they bump into while visiting the Palace Museum, or young makerswhose ambition is to be the next Jack Ma of Alibaba.

The ordinarypeople represent the true face of China and they are the real driving force forChina to grow strong and successful.

So my thirdpoint is, what kind of future world order does China want to be part of? Is thefuture destined to be a confrontation between China and the US for world poweras some suggest?

I often readmemoirs by American politicians and I am always fascinated about how the US isdeeply and effectively involved in the world affairs. Not only so, it’s equallyenthusiastic about the internal affairs of other countries.

One cannothelp but wonder: is the prevalent understanding of world order amongstAmericans a world dominated by US rules and power? Is it only centered onAmerican values and interests and supported by US alliances? Does that meanthat from the US perspective, rising powers only have two choices: to submit orto challenge? What would you do if you were in this (our) situation?

China is onesuch rising power. It has grown largely by marrying its natural advantages to theopportunities offered by globalization rather than “flag before trade”. Capital,markets, resources and talents that had accumulated in western countries sinceindustrialization, now have spread outward due to globalization.

Riding onthis tide, China has made continued policy reforms and achieved 9% of growthfor 30 years, allowing great improvement of people’s living standard, and growinginto the world’s second biggest economy. It is now the first trading partner to130 countries. It is even predicted that, China’s economy will be the world’sbiggest by 2020.

And yet, internationalacademics found, to their disbelieve that, most Chinese are disinterested inthe debate about a new shifting of world power or power competition in thetraditional sense.

For us inChina, we see inconsistencies at play. For example, if someone or some groupskill innocent people in western countries, they are terrorists. Yet if the samething happens in China, it’s often viewed as ethnic or political issues byforeign observers. When China’s neighbors act provocatively on territorialissues, the US turns its head away. Yet when China defends its interests, it isdescribed as either assertive or a bully.

If we cannoteven agree on the most basic premises, how can we have a meaningful debate onthe evolution of world order? In Guangdong, when people are talking past eachother, they are described as having a “dialogue between chicken and duck”.

China’s focusremains the many domestic challenges, such as environmental pollution, fightingcorruption, countering the economic slow-down, improving the livelihood of thepeople.

On thequestion of what future world order should look like, the discussions in Chinaare more pragmatic. Though views still differ, one thing people all agree on isthat the world has changed. Many old concepts have lost relevance.

First, intoday’s world, it is no longer possible to have different world orders coexistindependently of each other and addressing separate issues, like in the earliercenturies. The orders of today need to open up and make adjustments to adapt tothe new realities and to different perspectives.

Secondly,it’s no longer viable to try to achieve the transfer of power and find a newequilibrium through means of war among major powers because of theinterconnected nature of today’s world.

Thirdly, whatwe are facing are the new kinds of global issues, which do not respecttraditional order or sovereign borders. Look at Ebola. Look at ISIS. Look atthe boat people trying to cross from Africa to Europe.

Therefore,there need to be new thinking to build a new global framework orwe may use the term globalorderto cope withnew type of challenges.

The good newsis that, as we enter the 21st century, mankind is already experimenting in aninnovative and collaborative manner to tackle the challenges, such as G20, and theconference on climate change.

For its part,China has initiated the land and maritime Silk Road programs to strengthen Asianand Eurasian connectivity, and is setting up the Asian InfrastructureInvestment Bank to support them.

All thesepractices are complementary to the existing international system and will helpwith its gradual evolution into a fairer and more inclusive structure.

Dr. Kissingertellingly ended his book with a question mark: “where do we go from here”? Obviously,history has come to a turning point. The question is in which direction it willturn.

This questionis also for China and the US. Do we have the resolve and wisdom to avoid the oldloop and can we build a new type of relationship and global order throughcooperation instead of confrontation?

That is why ChinesePresident Xi Jinping proposed to President Obama to build what he called China-USnew model of major country relationship.

Actually, inspite of the misunderstandings and stereo types, China and the US, have alreadymade close partnership in many fields. We are even called reluctant twins. Andthe trust level is impressive too. Otherwise how can we give each other 10-yearvisas? So what the young generation is inheriting in our relationship has morepositive elements than negativity.

To build anew model of relationship is an unprecedented endeavor for the two countries.We both understand the importance of strengthening cooperation, managingdifferences and creating a stable strategic framework for peace and developmentof Asia and even the world. This is the direction for our relations and is alsoour shared responsibilities.

So to end myspeech, I want to say that evolving a global order for the 21st century is notgoing to be easy, and the answer takes time. The world will count on the younggeneration, and I am sure you will come up with good answers. Thank you.

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