China's views and wisdom necessary in today's diverse world, says senior Chinese official

Madam Yan Junqi, vice-chair of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress, giving a lecture at NTU@one-north on Dec 19, 2017.
Madam Yan Junqi, vice-chair of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress, giving a lecture at NTU@one-north on Dec 19, 2017.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Today's world must be a diverse one with different cultures coexisting, and in such a world, Chinese views and wisdom are necessary if the world is to understand China, said a senior Chinese official on Tuesday (Dec 19).

"No civilisation or culture should seek to replace, or consider itself, to be superior to another, and that is the exact message we want to convey to you today," said Madam Yan Junqi, vice-chair of the Standing Committee of China's legislative body - the National People's Congress.

Madam Yan, who stressed that China believes in a peaceful rise, made these remarks at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) Distinguished Public Lecture, held at NTU@one-north.

She was responding to a question from Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute research fellow Dr Termsak Chalermpalanupap, who had asked her what was the world's most serious misunderstanding of China .

Madam Yan said while some countries hold the view that China would encroach on their interest as it rises, or look down on small nations, the China of today "firmly believes" in a path of peaceful development.

She added that throughout history, other countries had risen to power in different ways, such as colonialism or waging war, and China had long been a developing country and subject to such "suffering" at the hands of these powers.

This is why China believes in a peaceful rise, and aims "to build a community with a shared future for mankind", she said, reiterating a goal outlined by President Xi Jinping at the Communist Party of China's 19th Party Congress in October.

"As we know prejudice comes from misunderstanding... and prejudice gives rise to fear. If we have fear towards each other, we cannot cooperate well with each other," she added.

  • Natural for US to put American interests first, says Chinese official

  • It is natural for the United States to put American interests first, and its decision to single out China as a strategic rival is not as negative as it seems, one Chinese official said on Tuesday (Dec 19).

    Mr Zhu Rui, secretary-general of the Chinese Association for International Understanding, was commenting on the new US national security strategy unveiled on Monday.

    In that plan, the US singles out China and Russia as two revisionist powers seeking to change the global status quo.

    “It is quite natural for the US to put America first and also come up with American plans for globalisation given the many challenges facing the world,” said Mr Zhu, speaking at a S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) lecture on China and the world, held at NTU@one-north.

    He stressed that it was important to look at the issue from different perspectives.

    For instance, on the issue of China being the US’ strategic rival, Mr Zhu said if the countries were seen as providers of public goods to the world, competition in such a market is necessary as it would “help improve the quality of these public goods”.

    “If there is a monopoly by one country, then we can see that the public goods provided in the market will be of low quality,” he said.

Madam Yan is also head of the China Association for Promoting Democracy, one of the eight legally-recognised political parties apart from the ruling Communist Party of China, and president of the Chinese Association for International Understanding.

During the question-and-answer session, which was moderated by RSIS executive deputy chairman Ong Keng Yong, Madam Yan fielded questions on various topics including China's politics and development, and how the Chinese government is seeking to alleviate poverty.

The same topics were addressed in her lecture where she outlined China's goals after the recent party congress, ranging from how the country is putting environmental protection as a priority, as well as China's aim to build a "moderately prosperous society" by 2020.

Speaking to an audience of about 300 people, Madam Yan also paid tribute to Singapore's relationship with China. She pointed out that the Republic is "an important channel for China to develop its relationship with the world", and also for the West to understand China.

China is willing to have a "deeper relationship" with Singapore so that they can jointly contribute to the world and the region's peace and stability, she added.