Will China be a benign power? Excerpt of President Xi Jinping's speech offers some clues

China's President Xi Jinping addresses the Australian Parliament during his visit to Canberra on Nov 17, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
China's President Xi Jinping addresses the Australian Parliament during his visit to Canberra on Nov 17, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

How will China develop itself? What will China be like when it grows in strength? I believe many of you are quite interested in these questions, as are many people around the world. I know that there are different views on these two questions.

Many people applaud China's achievements and have great confidence in China, while some others have concerns about China - and there are also people who find fault with everything China does. I think these diverse views are to be expected. After all, China is a large country of over 1.3 billion people. It is like the big guy in the crowd. Others naturally wonder how the big guy will move and act, and they may be concerned that the big guy may push them around, stand in their way or even take up their place. So let me address several key issues that are of interest to you.

First, China remains unshakeable in its resolve to pursue peaceful development. We Chinese cherish peace, and the Chinese nation has always been a peace-loving one. Since ancient times the Chinese have held fast to the belief that peace is of paramount importance and that one should not do unto others what one does not want others to do unto oneself.

In modern times, China was ravaged by turmoil and war for more than a century, and development and a decent life were beyond the reach of its people. Having gone through this, the Chinese people will never subject any country or nation to the same ordeal.

China needs peace. A harmonious and a stable domestic environment and a peaceful international environment are what China needs most. Neither turbulence nor war serves the fundamental interests of the Chinese people. While China is big in size, our forefathers realised over 2,000 years ago that a warlike state, however big it may be, will eventually fall. A review of history shows that countries that attempted to pursue their development goals with the use of force invariably failed. All such empires, no matter how powerful they once were, eventually vanished. This is what history teaches us.

China is dedicated to upholding peace. There is only one trend in today's world, and that is the trend of peace and development and win-win cooperation. Both history and reality have shown that those who follow this trend will prosper while those who go against it will perish. Peace is precious and needs to be protected. We must always be on high alert against factors that may deprive us of peace. If people just want to enjoy peace but do nothing to uphold it, peace will be gone. We Chinese are committed to pursuing peaceful development, and we sincerely hope that all other countries will do the same. We should jointly counter threats that undermine peace so as to build a harmonious world of durable peace and common prosperity.

Second, China remains unshakeable in its commitment to pursuing common development. The world today is a community of common destiny. Markets, capital, resources, information and human talent have all become highly globalised. A world that is developing will promote the development of all countries, which in turn will spur global development. As we in China like to say, many people adding fuel to the bonfire will raise this flame. China stands ready to pursue common development and prosperity with all other countries. China will continue to follow a win-win strategy of opening up; it will both uphold justice and promote cooperation, develop an open economy and strengthen and expand all-around mutual beneficial cooperation with other countries. China will never develop itself at the expense of others.

China's development offers an important opportunity to the world. China is speeding up a new type of industrialisation, IT application, urbanisation and agricultural modernisation which will create many new growth areas.

With over 1.3 billion people, China is a market of immense potential. Our efforts to adjust economic structure and upgrade industries will generate enormous demands. It is estimated that in the next five years China will import more than US$10 trillion of goods, its outbound investment will exceed US$500 billion, and Chinese tourists will make over 500 million overseas visits. All this will provide a bigger market, more capital and products, and valuable cooperation opportunities for our partners in the region and the world. China remains unshakeable in its resolve to pursue a policy of promoting cooperation and development in the Asia-Pacific. China is an Asia-Pacific country. Without peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific, stability and development in China cannot be assured. The enormous progress China has made in reform and opening up in the last 30 years and more is possible both because of its own hard work and also an inclusive and open Asia-Pacific region.

China sincerely hopes to work with other countries in the region to enlarge the pie of common interest and achieve win-win progress. China remains committed to building friendly relations and partnerships with its neighbours. We follow the principle of promoting amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness. and advocate a new vision of Asian security, featuring common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. We strive to deliver more benefits to our neighbours and other countries in the Asia-Pacific through our own development.

China will work with other countries to make good use of such platforms as Apec, EAS and AIF, promote the conclusion of the ASEP negotiations as scheduled, and accelerate the building of the Silk Road economic belt and the 21st-century maritime Silk Road. This will create a virtuous cycle of development and security in the Asia-Pacific region.

Given China's high dependence on maritime routes for trade and energy imports, navigation freedom and safety is crucial to China. The Chinese government is ready to enhance dialogue and cooperation with relevant countries to jointly maintain freedom of navigation and safety of maritime routes and ensure a maritime order of peace, tranquillity and win-win cooperation. At the same time, the Chinese people will firmly uphold the core interests of China's sovereignty, security and territorial integrity.

The UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations should apply to all countries. With that, countries big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are all equal. This means not only equal rights and interests for all countries but also equality of all countries before international rules.

It is China's longstanding position to address peacefully its disputes with countries concerning territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests through dialogue and consultation. China has settled land boundary issues with 12 out of its 14 neighbours through friendly consultation and will continue to work in this direction. China sincerely hopes to work with other countries in the region to build a harmonious and prosperous Asia-Pacific.

Xi Jinping is the President of the People's Republic of China.

This is an excerpt of a speech he delivered on Nov 17 to the Australian Parliament during a state visit to Australia. The full text of his speech is available here