Only cooperation and dialogue can secure a safer world
By Qian Liyan
Note: The following is an edited translation of a commentary from the Chinese-language "Commentaries on International Affairs."
The annual Munich Security Conference has wrapped up in Germany. The fact that the advocacy of maintaining multilateralism and promoting international cooperation by China, Germany and Russia has won wide support shows that international cooperation is the mainstream desire of the times. It also shows that multilateralism is the right path for human development, and that building a community with a shared future for mankind is an irresistible trend.
Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi delivers his speech during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. [Photo: AP/Kerstin Joensson]
To that end, China's State Councilor, Yang Jiechi, put forward a four-point proposal to the session, namely, forging partnerships through mutual respect and choosing dialogue over confrontation; upholding universal security through mutual support and working toward a new vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security; fostering global development and prosperity through win-win cooperation; and improving global governance through reform and innovation.
Yang Jiechi's speech and the answers he provided in the Q&A session afterward reflect the recent integration of the concept of "shared future for mankind" into China's foreign policy on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.
It should also come as no surprise that China has developed the ability to take on more international obligations as the world's second largest economy. At the same time, China's stated positions at Munich show that China will not fall into the Thucydides Trap because the bottom line of its foreign policy is dialogue, rather than confrontation. China has little interest in challenging the existing international order through military and political means as certain emerging powers in history did to the world order back then. All China wants is to promote overall development for mankind through dialogue and cooperation based on the Five Principles, which China believes should be carried out within the UN framework.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (C, at rostrum) delivers a speech during the 55th Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Feb. 16, 2019. [Photo: IC]
China's foreign policy in the new era has been acknowledged in Munich by leaders of many countries, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She told this year's Munich Security Conference that unilateralism is a threat to the international order formed after the Second World War. She commended win-win solutions such as China’s development cooperation with African countries. By contrast, what US Vice President Mike Pence did at the meeting was to try to push the EU to follow the US footsteps on the Iranian nuclear issue. He also railed against EU-Russian energy cooperation, while consistently suggesting that the United States is the most powerful country in the world, and that its willingness to pursue its own ambitions will never waver. The participants at the conference gave warm applause to Merkel's speech, but remained almost silent after Pence spoke. The almost-deafening silence to Pence shows that the rest of the world is drawing its own line between unilateralism and multilateralism.
(Qian Liyan is a contract research fellow with the Fudan Institute of Belt and Road & Global Governance.)