|Keynote Speech by H.E. Liu Yantao Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of Cyprus At the Workshop on the Two Sessions: China’s Modernization · View of Democracy · View of Civilization|
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good Morning! Welcome to this Workshop on the Two Sessions: China’s Modernization·View of Democracy·View of Civilization.
On 13 March, we witnessed the successful conclusion of the Two Sessions, which are the Annual Session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Annual Session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). For the Chinese people, the Two Sessions is a vital meeting in spring.
It reviewed and adopted the work reports of the government, the NPC Standing Committee, the CPPCC Standing Committee, the Supreme People’s Court, and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate. It also reviewed and adopted the plan of State Council institutional reform, and elected the new leadership of the country.
President Xi Jinping was once again unanimously elected President of China and Chairman of the Central Military Commission. This fully reflects the shared will and aspirations of the whole Party, whole military, and all the Chinese people.
In the past five years, China’s economic growth has entered a new stage, with its GDP growing at 5.2% annually on average. Last year, China’s GDP rose to 121 trillion yuan, with the yearly increment equivalent to the annual GDP of a medium-sized economy. Import and export of goods grew by 7.7%, exceeding 40 trillion yuan. The real use of foreign investment grew by 8%, making China one of the most popular destinations of FDI. Innovation has become one of the most important drivers of development. China’s ranking in the global innovation index is now Number 11. We have also secured bumper harvest for 19 years in a row, with annual grain output remaining steady at over 650 million metric tons for eight years in a row. This year, China’s economic growth target is set at around 5%. This will inject valuable certainty into the volatile world economy, and bring robust energy into global economic recovery.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In October last year, the 20th CPC National Congress was successfully held. It drew up the blueprint for building a modern socialist country in all respects, and promoting national rejuvenation through a Chinese path to modernization. This year’s Two Sessions is the first of its kind after the 20th CPC National Congress. It has turned the latter’s strategic decisions into the State will through statutory procedures. It has presented a roadmap for advancing Chinese modernization for the current stage. For the 1.4 billion Chinese people, speeding up Chinese modernization has become a shared commitment.
To understand today’s China, it is important to understand the Chinese modernization. Over the years, modernization has become the common aspirations for people around the world. But different countries have different paths to modernization. There is no single fixed model, nor is there any modernization standard that applies to all countries. Even in Western countries, there are different modernization models, such as the American model, the British model, the Nordic model and the German model.
Importantly, the Chinese modernization is consistent with the normal pattern of the international community. Meanwhile, it is rooted in our domestic conditions and carries our own characteristics. Our modernization features a huge population, common prosperity for all, material and cultural-ethical advancement, harmony between humanity and nature, and peaceful development. The Chinese modernization has created a new form of human advancement, and presented at least five important inspirations for countries around the world, including developing countries.
First, the Chinese modernization is people-centered. The modernization path of a country needs to be decided by its people, practiced by its people, and bring benefits to its people. The Chinese modernization takes our 1.4 billion population into a modern society and toward common prosperity. So far, China has put an end to absolute poverty by lifting nearly 100 million rural people out of poverty. This is a historic feat. In the past decade, China has built the world’s biggest education, social security and public health systems. The Chinese people’s income has grown basically in step with economic growth. On such a solid basis, the Chinese people are jointly advancing modernization and sharing its outcomes.
Second, the Chinese modernization is independent. It is up to the people to decide whether their country’s modernization path fits or not. No country should impose its will or model on others. There is no once-size-fits-all solution. For more than 100 years, the CPC has led the Chinese people to build China into a strong modernized country, and to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. For our country and our nation, we have mainly relied on ourselves to pursue development, and taken our destiny firmly in our own hands. We have set development policies in light of our own conditions. And we have explored a modernization path with Chinese features.
Third, the Chinese modernization is innovative. We have constantly pursued innovation and breakthroughs in theories and practice. Only with this, can we inject continued strong impetus to modernization. To achieve the target of building a modern socialist country in all respects, we have adopted the Five-Sphere Integrated Plan, that is to promote coordinated progress in the economic, political, cultural, social and environmental fields. We have also adopted the Four-Pronged Comprehensive Strategy, that is to deepen reform across the board, fully advance law-based governance, strengthen Party discipline in an all-round way, and finish the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
In addition, we have followed a new development philosophy featuring innovative, coordinated, green, and open development for all. We have fostered a new pattern of development that is focused on the domestic economy and features positive interplay between domestic and international economic flows. We have quickened steps to achieve greater self-reliance and strength in science and technology, and worked hard to achieve high-quality development.
Fourth, the Chinese modernization is open. China cannot develop without the world and the world needs China for its prosperity. In pursuing modernization, all countries need to uphold unity, cooperation and common development, and take a path of joint contribution, shared benefits, and win-win cooperation. In advancing the Chinese modernization, we have shared opportunities and created the future together with other countries. We have been committed to making the pie of humanity’s modernization bigger. From 2013 to 2021, China on average contributed 38.6% to world GDP growth, exceeding the combined volume of G7 countries, which is 25.7%. In 2022, China’s foreign trade hit a record high. China has remained the world’s biggest trader in goods for six years in a row. China is a major trading partner for over 140 countries and regions. Going forward, China will open itself even wider to the outside world by promoting institutional opening-up of rules, regulations, standards and management.
Fifth, the Chinese modernization is peaceful. We have never resorted to war, colonization or plunder. Instead, we have all along promoted peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit. Since the founding of New China in 1949, we have never provoked a war or taken an inch of other’s land. Instead, we have all along upheld the UN-centered international system and the international order underpinned by international law. We have safeguarded true multilateralism. We are the second largest contributor to the UN regular budget and the peacekeeping budget. In this way, we are a veritable peace-maker. Our development strengthens the forces for peace in the world. No matter what stage of development it reaches, China will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion.
A review of world modern history shows that modernization always comes together with democracy. Modernization provides the material and cultural basis for democracy. And democracy directly affects the direction and degree of modernization. These two aspects are mutually reinforcing. The Chinese modernization also carries important features of democracy. In our institutional design, the NPC and the CPPCC are both significant carriers of the Chinese democracy. From the Two Sessions, we can understand why the Chinese democracy has worked well.
First, the Chinese democracy puts people first throughout its process. Democracy is not for decoration or for show. It must address people’s needs. Deputies of people’s congress in China, from the national level to the primary level, come from the people and are rooted in the people. After being elected, these deputies do not leave their posts. They always stay in touch with the people. Such an institutional design means that the deputies are not professional politicians or represent any special interests. They can truly and directly understand people’s aspirations and present people’s views and suggestions through the body of State power.
Second, the Chinese democracy features whole-process democratic participation. At the end of June 2022, elections for deputies to people’s congress at the county and township levels had been completed, covering over one billion voters. It is the biggest democratic election in the world. The deputies are highly representative. All regions, industries, sectors and ethnic groups have their deputies. During the Two Sessions this year, the deputies made 271 proposals and over 8,000 suggestions. Our people’s views on various matters, from the government policy to their everyday lives, have all been channeled to the decision-makers of our country through the deputies.
Third, the Chinese democracy takes the form of whole-process democratic consultation. The essence of the Chinese democracy is extensive and friendly consultation on public affairs. The CPPCC is a specialized consultation body. It has over 2,100 members from 34 sectors. Through it, people from various political parties, social groups, ethnic groups and sectors are effectively organized to discuss state affairs and provide suggestions. Consultations are carried out both before and after decision-making, as well as during the implementation of the decision. All of China’s legislative decisions are made through democratic deliberation, well-conceived decision-making, and democratic consultation. This stands in sharp contrast with some country, where people are only awakened for vote and then put to dormancy after vote.
Fourth, the Chinese democracy is underpinned by whole-process democratic oversight. Without oversight, there is no democracy. The Chinese democracy enables people to effectively exercise their power and express their will, and at the same time, protects people’s right of supervision, and ensures that State policies can accurately represent people’s interests. Oversight by the people’s congress is an important part of democratic oversight. China’s administrative body, supervision body, court and procuratorate are all produced by, accountable to, and under the oversight of people’s congress. This gives testimony to the constitutional principle that all powers of the State belong to the people.
It needs to be stressed that democracy is the common value of humanity. The democratic models of different countries are all vital to the political advancement of humanity. In pursuing democratic development, one country naturally needs to learn from others. But more importantly, it needs to take account of their own conditions and culture. No country is in a position to lecture others on democracy or point fingers at others’ democratic models. No country may impose democracy on others. If one country ignores the serious challenges to democracy at home, but focuses on hyping up a false narrative of democracy versus authoritarianism, then this country can hardly be called a “lighthouse of democracy”. What this country has done is just to create bloc confrontation across the world under the excuse of democracy.
An old Chinese saying goes, “one who knows himself well is a wise person.” But there is some country that tends to ignore its own problems while always pointing fingers at others. This is simply aimed at distracting attention and shifting troubles. Let’s look at what is happening in a country, which is called “a binational state” by its own media.
In this country, fighting between the two parties has intensified, and politics has become increasingly polarized in many aspects, such as voter base, ideology and identity.
In this country, money politics is prevalent. One mid-term election cost over 16.7 billion US dollars, surpassing the record of 14 billion US dollars in 2018, and more than the GDP of over 70 countries in 2021.
In this country, freedom of expression is an empty slogan. Any speech that does not meet government or capital interests would be strictly limited. Local media survey shows that its people’s sense of satisfaction in its democracy has dropped significantly. The current approval rate of its president is 42%.
In contrast, according to a poll by Harvard Kennedy School, the Chinese people’s satisfaction rate of the government has remained ready at over 90% for 10 years. A poll of Washington Post in May 2021 shows that over 98% of Chinese people trust the government. According to a recent poll of Ipsos on global happiness index, China ranks Number 1 among 32 countries.
A country where its people trust the government and feel happy are called undemocratic, while another country with rife infighting and troubles calls itself a “lighthouse of democracy”. If this is not a farce, then what it is?
This so-called “lighthouse of democracy” talks about democracy all the time, not because it is confident in its democracy, but because it is obsessed with hegemonism. What it has done only aggravates division and confrontation of the international community, without doing any good to peace and progress of humanity.
In today’s world, different countries and regions have their distinct path of modernization and model of democracy, which are rooted in their diverse and long civilizations. The civilizations created by humanity are all splendid. They have driven the modernization of their own countries. They transcend time and borders, and have jointly contributed to the modernization of humanity.
In order to promote inter-civilization exchanges and progress of humanity, President Xi Jinping put forward the Global Civilization Initiative (GCI) at the CPC in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-level Meeting on March 15.
The main proposals of GCI are as follows:
First, we advocate the respect for the diversity of civilizations. Countries need to uphold the principles of equality, mutual learning, dialogue and inclusiveness among civilizations, and let cultural exchanges transcend estrangement, mutual learning transcend clashes, and coexistence transcend feelings of superiority.
Second, we advocate the common values of humanity. Peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom are the common aspirations of all peoples. Countries need to keep an open mind in appreciating the perceptions of values by different civilizations, and refrain from imposing their own values or models on others and from stoking ideological confrontation.
Third, we advocate the importance of inheritance and innovation of civilizations. Countries need to fully harness the relevance of their histories and cultures to the present times, and push for creative transformation and innovative development of their fine traditional cultures.
Fourth, we advocate robust international people-to-people exchanges and cooperation. Countries need to explore the building of a global network for inter-civilization dialogue and cooperation, enrich the contents of exchanges and expand avenues of cooperation to promote mutual understanding and friendship among people of all countries and jointly advance the progress of human civilizations.
Amid global challenges, we humanity have a shared future. The GCI is China’s another major global initiative following the Global Development Initiative (GDI) and the Global Security Initiative (GSI). The GCI has given further answers to the question of the times: what is happening to the world, and what to do about it? It is another important public good provided by China to the world.
Over 2,000 years ago, the Chinese civilization and the ancient Greek civilization were both shining on the Eurasian continent, making contributions of fundamental importance to the progress of human civilization.
Today, facing the deficits of peace, development, security and governance in the world, China is ready to work with Cyprus and other countries to be a builder of world peace, contributor to global development, defender of international order, and promoter of the progress of human civilizations.
Going forward, in promoting the Chinese modernization as a new form of human advancement, we are ready to enhance mutual learning with other countries, and jointly enrich the civilizations of humanity. It is also hoped that Cyprus will work with China to promote the GCI, further strengthen mutual learning between our cultures, and jointly contribute to human peace and development, and the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.