Speech by Ambassador Sun Weidong at the Virtual Meeting to Celebrate the 71st National Day of the People’s Republic of China
29 September 2020
Dear Mr. V Bhaskran, General Secretary of the Karnataka India-China Friendship Association (ICFA),
Dr. Inderjit Singh, Director of Dr. Kotnis Acupuncture Health and Education Center,
Dr. Jyoti Mohapatra, General Secretary of Friends of China Society,
Mr. Gopi Achari, General Secretary of the Kerala ICFA,
Dr. Mohan Reddy, General Secretary of the Hyderabad ICFA,
Dr. Das Bikash Kali, General Secretary the Pondicherry ICFA,
Good afternoon! I am very happy to join you today through online video to celebrate the 71st anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. I’ve seen a couple of old friends present here and some new faces as well. Thank you very much your participation on this auspicious occasion. I also want to thank all Indian friends for their continuous care and support for China’s development and China-India friendship.
The year of 2020 is an extraordinary year. A sudden outbreak of COVID-19 has not only profoundly impact the international landscape, but also changed our lives. China firstly had the encounter battle with the virus. President Xi Jinping personally commands the war against the epidemic and directs the outbreak response. We released the genome sequence of the novel corona virus at the earliest possible time. We informed the World Health Organization, relevant countries and regional organizations in a most timely and active fashion. Under the leadership of the CPC, China had effectively curbed the large-scale spread of COVID-19, which bought precious time and made great contribution for the global epidemic prevention and control. China will continue to work with other countries in the fight against the pandemic. President Xi also announced that COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available for use, will be made a global public good.
It took us three months to win the battle against the epidemic in Wuhan and Hubei province, so as to resume work and production. We always put people and life first. We strive for treating and saving every single patient. The Chinese people are united as one in the fight against the virus. Their unity and courage has converged into the source of strength for China to overcome difficulties and challenges. At present, we put in place the epidemic prevention and control as regular. Social activities across China have largely returned to normal, cinemas have reopened, students are back on campus, night markets and restaurants are bustling again, and many are planning to travel on the Chinese National Day holidays.
We have coordinated efforts in epidemic control and economic development. China’s GDP grew by 3.2 percent in the second quarter of this year, making China the first major economy to achieve growth since the outbreak. Under the new circumstances, we aim to foster a new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other. It’s like driven by two engines. China’s economy will grow more robust. It doesn’t mean that we will pursue development behind closed doors. China will open its door even wider to the world instead. The gradual recovery of China’s economy has increased confidence for the world and brought hope to the global economy.
In the meanwhile, we are clearly aware that although China is the second largest economy in the world, it is still a developing country. China’s per capita GDP is only one sixth that of the United States and one fourth that of the European Union. China’s Human Development Index ranks behind the 80th in the world. Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, the rural poor population has dropped from 98.99 million at the end of 2012 to 5.51 million at the end of 2019. The year 2020 will be a decisive year for China to eliminate poverty. We will historically solve the problem of absolute poverty that has existed for thousands of years, and meet the poverty reduction goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule. This is a milestone in China’s own development and a great contribution to the progress of mankind.
My Dear Friends,
Over the past 71 years, China has gone through an extraordinary journey, and achieved a remarkable transformation – it has stood up, grown rich and is becoming strong. This year, China will achieve the first Centenary Goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. We will continue to advance towards the Second Centenary Goal. Looking at the way forward, we are full of confidence.
The confidence comes from the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China. When fighting against COVID-19, over 4.6 million primary organizations of the CPC took the lead in the battle. The CPC members accounted for more than 70% of the medical workers who sacrificed their lives. We have achieved rapid economic development and long-term social stability simultaneously. These can only be achieved under the leadership of the CPC.
The confidence comes from the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics. This system has a strong capability of organization, mobilization, overall planning, coordination and implementation. It can give full play to the unique advantage of concentrating resources to accomplish large undertakings. The fight against the COVID-19 demonstrated convincingly that the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the fundamental guarantee to fend off various risks and challenges.
The confidence comes from the united efforts of the 1.4 billion Chinese people. We often say that happiness is achieved through hard work. Within just decades, China has accomplished the industrialization process that took developed countries hundreds of years to achieve. The achievement is built on the Chinese people’s hard-work and intelligence. Facing the pandemic, the Chinese people have shown a high sense of responsibility and self-discipline. What’s more encouraging is that many young people born in the 1990s or even 2000s joined the fight against the virus. They said, “You protected us during SARS in 2003. Today it is our turn to protect you”.
The Confidence comes from China’s consistent adherence to an independent foreign policy of peace. Not long ago, President Xi Jinping delivered an important speech at the General Debate of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. He pointed out, “China is the largest developing country in the world, a country that is committed to peaceful, open, cooperative and common development. We will never seek hegemony, expansion, or sphere of influence. We have no intention to fight either a Cold War or a hot war with any country. We will continue to narrow differences and resolve disputes with others through dialogue and negotiation”. Unilateralism, hegemonism, and power politics go against the will of the people, and will only come to a dead end. We should stay true to multilateralism, and firmly safeguard the international system with the UN at its core and an international order based on international law.
My Dear Friends,
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and India. Over the past 70 years, China-India relations have forged ahead against all odds. As the two largest developing countries and emerging economies, China and India together account for half of the Asian economy and one fifth of the world’s. China-India relations go far beyond the bilateral scope and have great significance to the region and the world at large.
Implementing leaders’ consensus is fundamental for the development of our relationship. China and India are partners rather than rivals, and development opportunities rather than threats to each other. This is one of the important consensus reached by President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Only by implementing the leaders’ strategic consensus, can we grasp the correct direction of China-India relations. Whenever the situation gets difficult, it is all the more important to ensure the stability of the overall relationship and preserve mutual trust.
Expanding convergence and cooperation is the key. Against the backdrop of the accelerating evolution of the international landscape, China and India have embarked on a historical mission to jointly rise and achieve national rejuvenation. At present, fighting the epidemic, reviving the economy and improving people’s livelihood are the three most urgent tasks for us. China and India share broad common interests in supporting the WHO’s fight against the pandemic, addressing climate change, ensuring energy and food security, international poverty reduction, implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and safeguarding legitimate rights and interests of developing countries. We can expand convergence of interests, learn from each other and promote cooperation.
Properly handling differences is the right way. The current situation in the border areas serves no one’s interests. We should implement the leaders’ consensus on not allowing differences to become disputes. We should follow up the five-point consensus reached by the two foreign ministers to push forward quick disengagement and de-escalation. China is committed to seeking a solution through dialogue and negotiation, and restoring peace and tranquility in the border areas at an early date.
Today our bilateral relations have once again come to a crossroads. We should stand on the right side of history, properly manage differences through dialogue and consultation, and resolve relevant issues in a peaceful manner. We should put differences in a proper place in bilateral relations. We need to remain rational and calm, and resist the talk of “confrontation” and “decoupling”, so that we will not lose our way due to any individual incident or issue.
China and India are neighbors that cannot be moved away. That is why living in harmony is the only correct choice. We look forward to working with the Indian side to ensure the stability of the overall relationship from a strategic and long-term perspective. As long as the two sides adhere to this common goal and move in the right direction, China-India relations will eventually disperse the clouds and get back on the right track.
The participants subsequently expressed views and suggestions on promoting the China-India relations and strengthening the friendly exchanges between the two countries. One of them asked about the new book written by the Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. Jaishankar. Ambassador Sun Weidong responded as follows:
I am reading the new book “The Indian Way: Strategies for an Uncertain World” written by EAM Dr. Jaishankar. In his book there’s one chapter about China-India relations. He wrote, the ability of India and China to work together could determine the Asian Century. Their ties are without doubt one of the most consequential relationships of our times. A lot will depend on how consciously and effectively both countries steer their relationship into more positive domains. When they look beyond just national interest, the two countries are indeed convergent in their effort to create a more balanced world. In 2017, when the leaders of the two countries met at Astana, they reached consensus that at a time of global uncertainty, India-China relations are a factor of stability and in their relationship, India and China must not allow differences to become disputes. This revealed that despite all their divergences, there is a strategic maturity at work between them. Dr. Jaishankar also positively commented the informal summits between the two leaders at Wuhan and Chennai. He said it could well be a sign of a different future. I think he has a lot of insight into these ideas.
Equally, the Chinese side believes that China-India relations go far beyond the bilateral scope and have great regional and global significance. A sound China-India relationship is an important and positive factor in maintaining world stability. As two great civilizations, China and India can make positive contributions to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. The informal summit between the two leaders is a milestone, providing a fundamental guidance and charting the course for the development of China-India relations. The growth of China and India is the trend of times and an important opportunity for each other. The two sides should firmly grasp the general direction of the relationship, regard each other as positive factors in the changing balance of power in the world, and manage differences in a more mature manner. China and India have consensus in these aspects on which we can move our bilateral relations in a positive and constructive direction.
As a Chinese saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Promoting China-India friendship needs to start from every little bit. It also needs the participation of more people of insight like you. Compared with 2.7 billion population in our two countries, it is far from enough to have 1 million people of exchanges every year. Only by deepening exchanges can we enhance understanding. Only by enhancing understanding can we deepen mutual trust and establish genuine friendship. This year is also the “Year of China-India Cultural and People-to-People Exchanges”. However the people-to-people exchanges have been somehow affected by the pandemic and other factors. However, the history of friendly exchanges between the two peoples lasting more than two thousand years will never be blocked by the pandemic or temporary difficulties in the bilateral relations. It will last forever.
Over the years, no matter how the bilateral relations have changed, the ICFA has always adhered to the faith of China-India friendship, spread the positive energy of friendship to the Indian society and people, and made significant contributions to enhancing mutual understanding and friendship between our two peoples. Friends from the ICFA like Mr. Bhaskran, Mr. Mohapatra, Mr. Reddy, Mr. Das and many others have done so much in this regard, for which I really appreciate and cherish. As China-India relations are facing challenges, it is all the more important for friends of our two countries who support and care about China-India friendship, to play a bigger and positive role in cementing public opinion and accumulating consensus on the bilateral relations.
As Dr. Inderjit Singh said earlier, this year marks the 110th birth anniversary of Dr. Dwarkanath Kotnis. Dr. Kotnis was an internationalist fighter. In the 1930s, two Indian doctors Dr. Kotnis and Dr. B.K.Basu, joined the Indian medical team to help China against the Japanese invasion. Dr. Kotnis sacrificed his life for this undertaking. Dr. Basu brought Chinese acupuncture to India for curing the sickness and saving lives. He also trained acupuncture doctors, including Dr. Inderjit Singh, Director of Dr. Kotnis Acupuncture Hospital. Dr. Kotnis had left us, but the torch of China-India friendship he had held high has never been extinguished. The two ends of a small acupuncture needle are connected to the hearts of the Chinese and Indian people. I hope you will carry forward the spirit of Dr. Kotnis and continue to make contribution to China-India friendship. Later this year, the Chinese Embassy will celebrate the 110th birth anniversary of Dr. Kotnis together with Dr. Kotnis Acupuncture Hospital. I would also like to celebrate in advance the establishment of Xu Fancheng Cultural Study Center. I hope it would be a platform to carry forward the friendship and exchanges of civilizations between China and India.
The future of China-India relations lies with the youth. At a time when the epidemic situation became severe, the youth of our two countries recorded videos in Chinese and Hindi respectively to cheer on each other. They have shown the friendship between the Chinese and Indian people with concrete action. We feel deep sympathy for the Indian people being affected by the pandemic. We wish India an early victory over the pandemic and resume normal track of work and life at the earliest. I hope that more young people will devote themselves to the cause of China-India friendship, so that the flame of China-India friendship will be passed on from generation to generation.
Once again, thank you for attending this video event today.