A just cause should be pursued for the common good

China Plus Published: 2019-03-09 00:41:34
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Note: The following is an edited translation of a commentary from the Chinese-language "Commentaries on International Affairs."

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi met the press on Friday on the sidelines of the annual session of the country's top legislature, the National People's Congress. He answered questions on almost all of the hot button issues in the world today, from the relations between the big powers to the situation on the Korean peninsula and development in African countries.

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi answers questions during a press conference on the sidelines of the National People's Congress in Beijing on Friday, March 8, 2019. [Photo: VCG]

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi answers questions during a press conference on the sidelines of the National People's Congress in Beijing on Friday, March 8, 2019. [Photo: VCG]

China has undergone profound changes over the past 40 years of its reform and opening up. It has become the world's second-largest economy, more than 800 million of its people have been lifted out of poverty, and its development model has become a point of reference by an increasing number of developing countries.

A journalist from Ghana covering the annual meeting of China's lawmakers said that African countries identify with China's development model. And they are not alone: So far, 123 countries and 29 international organizations have signed cooperative agreements with China for the Belt and Road Initiative. Some of these have led to major achievements in infrastructure construction and the development of economic capacity. The Mombasa–Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway in Kenya is one such example. It has contributed 1.5 percentage points to local economic growth since it went into service in May 2017. And the number of countries taking part in the Belt and Road is still growing, and not just in the developing world. Italy, a member of the G7, is reportedly interested in taking part. And when the next Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation is held in Beijing next month, many more government leaders are expected to attend than last time.

The reason so many countries are interested in the Belt and Road Initiative is that they can see its value as a driver of development. As Minister Wang pointed out, it isn't a "geopolitical tool" wielded by China solely for its own advantage. Nor are countries being lured into a "debt trap" by false promises. Rather, as the minister said, the countries taking part understand that decoupling from China is decoupling from opportunity and, to some extent, decoupling from the world.

Wang Yi took the opportunity of his meeting with the press to address the assumption underlying many of the fears about the Belt and Road Initiative, and that is that China is seeking to become a new hegemonic power in the world. Fears about a rising China have become acute in recent years, and it's not a coincidence that this has happened at a time when some of the world's traditional great powers have become increasingly protectionist and isolationist. As the foreign minister made plain, China has no interest in going down the path of becoming a hegemon. It will continue to adhere to its policy of peaceful coexistence with all other countries and cooperation with the international community.

As the country has opened up to the world, it has assumed an even greater share of global responsibilities. This can be seen in the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative, the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank, and its role as the world's largest provider of United Nations peacekeepers. The underlying philosophy of China's foreign policy is that development should be fair and equitable. This is why China will continue to be an advocate of world peace and human progress.

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LU Xiankun Professor LU Xiankun is Managing Director of LEDECO Geneva and Associate Partner of IDEAS Centre Geneva. He is Emeritus Professor of China Institute for WTO Studies of the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) and Wuhan University (WHU) of China and visiting professor or senior research fellow of some other universities and think tanks in China and Europe. He also sits in management of some international business associations and companies, including as Senior Vice President of Shenzhen UEB Technology LTD., a leading e-commerce company of China. Previously, Mr. LU was senior official of Chinese Ministry of Commerce and senior diplomat posted in Europe, including in Geneva as Counsellor and Head of Division of the Permanent Mission of China to the WTO and in Brussels as Commercial Secretary of the Permanent Mission of China to the EU. Benjamin Cavender Benjamin Cavender is a Shanghai based consultant with more than 11 years of experience helping companies understand consumer behavior and develop go to market strategies for China. He is a frequent speaker on economic and consumer trends in China and is often featured on CNBC, Bloomberg, and Channel News Asia. Sara Hsu Sara Hsu is an associate professor from the State University of New York at New Paltz. She is a regular commentator on Chinese economy. Xu Qinduo Xu Qinduo is CRI's former chief correspondent to Washington DC, the United States. He works as the producer, host and commentator for TODAY, a flagship talk show on current affairs. Mr. Xu contributes regularly to English-language newspapers including Shenzhen Daily and Global Times as well as Chinese-language radio and TV services. Lin Shaowen A radio person, Mr. Lin Shaowen is strongly interested in international relations and Chinese politics. As China is quite often misunderstood in the rest of the world, he feels the need to better present the true picture of the country, the policies and meanings. So he talks a lot and is often seen debating. Then friends find a critical Lin Shaowen criticizing and criticized. George N. Tzogopoulos Dr George N. Tzogopoulos is an expert in media and politics/international relations as well as Chinese affairs. He is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre International de Européenne (CIFE) and Visiting Lecturer at the European Institute affiliated with it and is teaching international relations at the Department of Law of the Democritus University of Thrace. George is the author of two books: US Foreign Policy in the European Media: Framing the Rise and Fall of Neoconservatism (IB TAURIS) and The Greek Crisis in the Media: Stereotyping in the International Press (Ashgate) as well as the founder of chinaandgreece.com, an institutional partner of CRI Greek. David Morris David Morris is the Pacific Islands Trade and Investment Commissioner in China, a former Australian diplomat and senior political adviser. Harvey Dzodin After a distinguished career in the US government and American media Dr. Harvey Dzodin is now a Beijing-based freelance columnist for several media outlets. While living in Beijing, he has published over 200 columns with an emphasis on arts, culture and the Belt & Road initiative. He is also a sought-after speaker and advisor in China and abroad. He currently serves as Nonresident Research Fellow of the think tank Center for China and Globalization and Senior Advisor of Tsinghua University National Image Research Center specializing in city branding. Dr. Dzodin was a political appointee of President Jimmy Carter and served as lawyer to a presidential commission. Upon the nomination of the White House and the US State Department he served at the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria. He was Director and Vice President of the ABC Television in New York for more than two decades.