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Remarks by Ambassador Lu Shaye at Seminar "From Qingdao to Johannesburg: China-Russia Cooperation and International Summitry in an Age of Uncertainty"
(2018/07/20)

Professor John Dirks of the University of Toronto,

Mr. Vladimir Proskuryakov, Charge d'Affaires of the Russian Embassy in Ottawa,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon!

I am very glad to have the opportunity to exchange views with you here. Today, I would like to make three points in my speech. The first is how to view the current international situation; the second is the role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the BRICS mechanism in global governance; and the third is China’s propositions and expectations for global governance.

The world today enters an age of great progress, great transformation and profound adjustments. As Chinese President Xi Jinping said, “The world is undergoing unprecedented major changes since a century.” What is prominent is that the international situation is becoming increasingly instable and uncertain, as it were the world is in a transitional period when the international configuration and order are witnessing profound changes. On one hand, as peace and development remain the common goals pursued by the people of all countries, yearning for peace and development and seeking cooperation accord with their aspirations. On the other hand, the international turmoil is worrisome. Anti-globalization and populism are on the rise, and trade war on many fronts have already broken out. Although the tension of Korean Peninsula nuclear issue has been eased for now, the Iranian nuclear issue comes to the fore in the turbulent Middle East. Traditional and non-traditional security threats such as regional hotspot issues, terrorism, transnational crimes and climate disasters have continued unabated. And the “deficit” in global governance is much more salient. The world today bogs down in an unprecedented chaos since the end of the Cold War.

The current chaos is the result of interaction of several factors, for which the US government hardly absolves itself from blames. In one and a half years after President Trump took office, the US government has been practicing the policy of “America first” characterized by unilateralism and trade protectionism, putting US interests over the ones of other countries and the public interests of the international community. The US adopts an approach consisting in observing international rules and mechanisms when they are beneficial to it, and discarding them when they are not. It pulls out of the Paris Agreement, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Iranian Nuclear Agreement, etc., and recently it also threatened to withdraw from the World Trade Organization. The US has waged trade war not only on China, which is regarded as its strategic competitor, but also on its allies such as European countries and Canada. The trade war has cast a shadow on the recovery of world economy. Therefore, some international organizations and countries have to lower their economic growth forecast for this year and even the next year. Trump’s withdrawal, breach and provocative stance have roiled the world, made even worse the global governance system which has already faced many challenges, and exposed the international order established after the World War Two to the risk of “derailment”.

Amid global chaos, international and regional organizations such as the SCO and the BRICS mechanism have become the “anchors of stability”, playing the roles of builder of world peace, contributor of global development, and defender of the international order. Why do I put it like this? Let the facts and data speak.

Established in Shanghai, the SCO has developed for 17 years. Under the guidance of the “Shanghai Spirit”, the SCO member states have deepened neighborliness, mutual trust and friendly relations, consolidated regional security and stability, promoted common development, and forged a constructive partnership featuring non-alliance, non-confrontation and not targeting any third party. The enlarged SCO accounts for 20% of the global economy and 40% of its population, and has become the world’s largest comprehensive regional organization that covers the largest area and population in the world. The Qingdao Summit held in early June this year, has charted the course for SCO’s future development in a full-scope way, reaching a series of important consensus, issuing the Qingdao Declaration and signing 23 cooperation documents. All parties also issued a joint statement on trade facilitation, calling for efforts to safeguard the multilateral trading system with WTO rules as its core, construct an open world economy, hence uttered a strong voice of adhering to multilateralism and opposing protectionism.

The core of the “Shanghai Spirit” is mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diversity of civilizations and pursuit of common development. Transcending the outdated concepts such as clash of civilizations, Cold War mentality and zero-sum game, it reveals the basic principles that countries should follow in their exchanges and provides us with new visions and new approach to cope with many challenges facing the world.

The BRICS, another eye-catching international mechanism in the world today, is ten years old now. The population of the five BRICS countries accounts for 40% of the world’s total and the whole economic volume is larger than that of the SCO member states, accounting for about 23% of the world’s total and contributing more than 50% to the world’s economic growth. The BRICS cooperation mechanism has been increasingly improved, its cooperation foundation has been continuously consolidated, its cooperation area has been gradually expanded, opening a new chapter for South-South cooperation. Last year, the BRICS cooperation mechanism nailed down a “three-wheel drive” cooperation structure, consisting of economy and trade and finance, political security as well as people-to-people and cultural exchanges, demonstrating the strong vitality of the BRICS cooperation. The BRICS New Development Bank and the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement have reserved sufficient funds for member states to build infrastructure, develop production and promote cooperation, and have provided a strong support for jointly dealing with financial risks. The “BRICS Plus” cooperation approach created by last year’s BRICS Xiamen Summit has opened up new prospects for BRICS countries to join hands with other emerging markets and developing countries to realize common development.

The BRICS countries also cooperate and coordinate with each other in the United Nations, G20 and other important international platforms, to actively promote the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, advocate multilateralism, defend the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and safeguard international fairness and justice, thus contributing BIRCS wisdom and solution to addressing hot-spot issues through political settlement, and to tackling climate change and other challenges. Early this July, the Meeting of the BRICS Trade Ministers issued a separate statement to support the multilateral trading system and oppose unilateralism and protectionism, uttering a collective voice from BRICS countries. The 10th BRICS Summit will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa from 25th to 27th of this month, with the theme “BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution”. It will be a grand event where the leaders of the five countries get together to discuss development issues. The summit, we believe, will achieve positive and fruitful outcomes. It is expected that the BRICS mechanism will become more vibrant and promising in the second “Golden Decade”.

Both China and Russia are important members of the SCO and the BRICS mechanism. The two sides work together to promote the reform of the global governance system and highlight fairness and justice, thus advancing the global governance system toward in a more just and rational direction. Under the strategic leadership of Chinese and Russian leaders, China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination has realized a sustained, steady and high-level development. Both countries have constantly deepened cooperation in various fields as well as strategic coordination in international affairs. Some people in Western countries name China and Russia as revisionist countries, accusing them of not abiding by international rules and order. However, facts speak louder than words. The SCO and BRICS mechanism, under the leadership of China and Russia, represent important forces for safeguarding world peace, promoting common development and enhancing global governance. Who are the real revisionist and the disruptor of international rules and order? You know well.

Now, I would like to talk about China’s expectations for global governance. China has put forward a series of visions on global governance. We uphold innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development. We should achieve coordinated social and economic progress of various countries, resolve issues caused by unbalanced development, bridge the gap in development and promote shared prosperity. We pursue common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. We should reject the Cold War mentality and confrontation between blocs and oppose the practices of seeking absolute security of oneself at the expense of others, so as to achieve security of all. We promote open and inclusive cooperation for win-win outcomes. We should reject self-centered, short-sighted and closed-door policies. We should uphold WTO rules and support the multilateral trading system so as to build an open world economy. We champion equality, mutual learning, dialogue and inclusiveness among civilizations. It is important that we overcome cultural misunderstanding, clash and supremacy through exchanges, mutual learning and coexistence. And we follow the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration in engaging in global governance. We should reform and improve the global governance system, and work with all other countries to build a community with shared future for humanity. The above five basic concepts constitute the framework of the new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness and justice, and win-win cooperation. History has proven that it is in line with the trend of our times to adhere to multilateralism, improve global governance and build a community with a shared future for humanity. To be bent on going down unilateralism and trade protectionism is like “building a wall” between countries and dividing the oceans into several isolated small lakes. It is a retrogression at odds with the fundamental laws of the world development, and will only lead to disasters in the world.

President Trump started provocations by launching trade war against many countries. Although Canada is a close neighbor and intimate ally of the US, President Trump still slaps tariffs on the imported steel and aluminum products from Canada on the ground of national security, and threatens to impose tariffs on imported cars as well. The US prices itself out of the market in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, ignoring the feelings of its partners, and seeking winner-takes-all result. This bullying raises eyebrows. Both China and Canada responded with countermeasures on products imported from the US as well. The wrong move by the US is in blatant contravention of WTO rules, which will disrupt the global trade order, trigger global market turmoil and hinder the global economic recovery. Numerous multinational companies, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and consumers in the world will also be affected, and many industries and the public in the US also increasingly realize that they will suffer from it. China and Canada share similar attitude toward the trade war. China does not like a trade war, but is not afraid of one. The Canadian side also said that it will not escalate and will not back down. We should not sit idly by the collapse of the multilateral trade rules, systems and international order that were established after the Second World War. It is urgent to prevent such hegemonic acts from plunging the world into a larger disaster. In the 1930s, in the face of the economic crisis, some countries involved erected protectionist barriers, which led to an overall recession in the world economy. The “Great Depression” also became an important catalyst for the Second World War.

China, Russia, Canada, and European countries are participants, beneficiaries of as well as contributors to economic globalization. Despite differences in state of the nation and political systems between China and western countries such as Canada, we embrace shared interests and positions in advocating multilateralism, promoting global governance as well as maintaining free trade. We hope all countries in the world will cooperate to jointly safeguard the multilateral trading system and resist unilateralism so as to defend the common interests of development and prosperity for mankind.

Thank you!