Let the Torch of Multilateralism Light up Humanity’s Way Forward
Special Address by H.E. Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
At the World Economic Forum Virtual Event of the Davos Agenda
25 January 2021
Professor Klaus Schwab,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The past year was marked by the sudden onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. Global public health faced severe threat and the world economy was mired in deep recession. Humanity encountered multiple crises rarely seen in human history.
The past year also bore witness to the enormous resolve and courage of people around the world in battling the deadly coronavirus. Guided by science, reason and a humanitarian spirit, the world has achieved initial progress in fighting COVID-19. That said, the pandemic is far from over. The recent resurgence in COVID cases reminds us that we must carry on the fight. Yet we remain convinced that winter cannot stop the arrival of spring and darkness can never shroud the light of dawn. There is no doubt that humanity will prevail over the virus and emerge even stronger from this disaster.
Ladies and Gentlemen,Friends,
History is moving forward and the world will not go back to what it was in the past. Every choice and move we make today will shape the world of the future. It is important that we properly address the four major tasks facing people of our times.
The first is to step up macroeconomic policy coordination and jointly promote strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth of the world economy. We are going through the worst recession since the end of World War II. For the first time in history, the economies of all regions have been hit hard at the same time, with global industrial and supply chains clogged and trade and investment down in the doldrums. Despite the trillions of dollars in relief packages worldwide, global recovery is rather shaky and the outlook remains uncertain. We need to focus on current priorities, and balance COVID response and economic development. Macroeconomic policy support should be stepped up to bring the world economy out of the woods as early as possible. More importantly, we need to look beyond the horizon and strengthen our will and resolve for change. We need to shift the driving forces and growth models of the global economy and improve its structure, so as to set the course for long-term, sound and steady development of the world economy.
The second is to abandon ideological prejudice and jointly follow a path of peaceful coexistence, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation. No two leaves in the world are identical, and no histories, cultures or social systems are the same. Each country is unique with its own history, culture and social system, and none is superior to the other. The best criteria are whether a country’s history, culture and social system fit its particular situation, enjoy people’s support, serve to deliver political stability, social progress and better lives, and contribute to human progress. The different histories, cultures and social systems are as old as human societies, and they are the inherent features of human civilization. There will be no human civilization without diversity, and such diversity will continue to exist for as long as we can imagine. Difference in itself is no cause for alarm. What does ring the alarm is arrogance, prejudice and hatred; it is the attempt to impose hierarchy on human civilization or to force one’s own history, culture and social system upon others. The right choice is for countries to pursue peaceful coexistence based on mutual respect and on expanding common ground while shelving differences, and to promote exchanges and mutual learning. This is the way to add impetus to the progress of human civilization.
The third is to close the divide between developed and developing countries and jointly bring about growth and prosperity for all. Today, inequality continues to grow, the North-South gap remains to be bridged, and sustainable development faces severe challenges. As countries grapple with the pandemic, their economic recoveries are following divergent trajectories, and the North-South gap risks further widening and even perpetuation. For developing countries, they are aspiring for more resources and space for development, and they are calling for stronger representation and voice in global economic governance. We should recognize that with the growth of developing countries, global prosperity and stability will be put on a more solid footing, and developed countries will stand to benefit from such growth. The international community should keep its eyes on the long run, honor its commitment, and provide necessary support to developing countries and safeguard their legitimate development interests. Equal rights, equal opportunities and equal rules should be strengthened, so that all countries will benefit from the opportunities and fruits of development.
The fourth is to come together against global challenges and jointly create a better future for humanity. In the era of economic globalization, public health emergencies like COVID-19 may very well recur, and global public health governance needs to be enhanced. The Earth is our one and only home. To scale up efforts to address climate change and promote sustainable development bears on the future of humanity. No global problem can be solved by any one country alone. There must be global action, global response and global cooperation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,Friends,
The problems facing the world are intricate and complex. The way out of them is through upholding multilateralism and building a community with a shared future for mankind.
First, we should stay committed to openness and inclusiveness instead of closeness and exclusion. Multilateralism is about having international affairs addressed through consultation and the future of the world decided by everyone working together. To build small circles or start a new Cold War, to reject, threaten or intimidate others, to willfully impose decoupling, supply disruption or sanctions, and to create isolation or estrangement will only push the world into division and even confrontation. We cannot tackle common challenges in a divided world, and confrontation will lead us to a dead end. Humanity has learned lessons the hard way, and that history is not long gone. We must not return to the path of the past.
The right approach is to act on the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind. We should uphold the common values of humanity, i.e. peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom, rise above ideological prejudice, make the mechanisms, principles and policies of our cooperation as open and inclusive as possible, and jointly safeguard world peace and stability. We should build an open world economy, uphold the multilateral trading regime, discard discriminatory and exclusionary standards, rules and systems, and take down barriers to trade, investment and technological exchanges. We should strengthen the G20 as the premier forum for global economic governance, engage in closer macroeconomic policy coordination, and keep the global industrial and supply chains stable and open. We should ensure the sound operation of the global financial system, promote structural reform and expand global aggregate demand in an effort to strive for higher quality and stronger resilience in global economic development.
Second, we should stay committed to international law and international rules instead of seeking one’s own supremacy. Ancient Chinese believed that “the law is the very foundation of governance”. International governance should be based on the rules and consensus reached among us, not on the order given by one or the few. The Charter of the United Nations is the basic and universally recognized norms governing state-to-state relations. Without international law and international rules that are formed and recognized by the global community, the world may fall back to the law of the jungle, and the consequence would be devastating for humanity.
We need to be resolute in championing the international rule of law, and steadfast in our resolve to safeguard the international system centered around the UN and the international order based on international law. Multilateral institutions, which provide the platforms for putting multilateralism into action and which are the basic architecture underpinning multilateralism, should have their authority and effectiveness safeguarded. State-to-state relations should be coordinated and regulated through proper institutions and rules. The strong should not bully the weak. Decision should not be made by simply showing off strong muscles or waving a big fist. Multilateralism should not be used as pretext for acts of unilateralism. Principles should be preserved and rules, once made, should be followed by all. “Selective multilateralism” should not be our option.
Third, we should stay committed to consultation and cooperation instead of conflict and confrontation. Differences in history, culture and social system should not be an excuse for antagonism or confrontation, but rather an incentive for cooperation. We should respect and accommodate differences, avoid meddling in other countries’ internal affairs, and resolve disagreements through consultation and dialogue. History and reality have made it clear, time and again, that the misguided approach of antagonism and confrontation, be it in the form of cold war, hot war, trade war or tech war, would eventually hurt all countries’ interests and undermine everyone’s well-being.