Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi used his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Friday to tout China’s economic development, its commitment to globalism, and its support for the U.N. and other international bodies.
He praised Chinese Communist Party doctrine and took several veiled shots at the United States on issues such as the U.S.-China trade war.
“Seventy years ago, China put an end to a period in modern history in which the country was torn apart and trampled upon. We stood up and became the true masters of our country. Over the past seven decades, China has turned itself from a closed, backward, and poor country with a weak foundation into a country that is open and on the move,” Wang said, referencing the upcoming 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
“What China has achieved has enriched the dreams of people around the world for a better life,” he said.
“None of these achievements has fallen from the sky,” said Wang. “Rather, they owe themselves to the hard work, vision, and courage of the Chinese people. The secret behind China’s development is our adherence to the centralized, unified leadership of the Communist Party of China, to the development path suited to China’s national conditions, to the state policy of reform and opening up, and to a people-centered development philosophy.”
“Today, China has become the leading engine of global development and an anchor of stability for world peace,” he claimed.
“Guided by Xi Jinping Thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era, China will continue to strive on and forge ahead. Looking back at the road we have traversed over the past 70 years, we are full of pride. Looking ahead at the journey before us, we are full of confidence about our bright future,” he said.
Wang insisted China wants only to pursue an “independent” diplomatic path, in which it neither compels other countries to do its bidding nor allows them to interfere in its internal affairs. He vowed that Beijing will “never yield to pressure” from foreign powers.
“We have no intention to export our development model, or to lecture others, nor do we attach any political to our assistance,” he said, possibly as a rejoinder to charges China has been doing exactly that with its Belt and Road infrastructure program.
Wang made a point of describing China as “the largest developing country” and claiming solidarity with the other developing countries of the world, doubtless aware of efforts by countries like the United States and Australia to remove the “developing” designation from China’s enormous industrial economy.
“China pursues mutually beneficial cooperation. In this globalized world, countries all rise or fall together. A zero-sum mentality and beggar-thy-neighbor policy are recipes for failure. China is committed to fostering an open-world economy and upholding the WTO-centered multilateral trading regime. It is committed to making globalization more open, inclusive, balanced, and beneficial to all,” Wang said.
The Chinese foreign minister extensively praised globalism and the U.N.’s role in facilitating it, setting the stage for thinly-veiled criticism of the U.S. trade war.
“Facing the headwinds of protectionism, we should not just stand idly by,” he advised. “Erecting walls will not solve global challenges. Blaming others for one’s own problems does not work.”
“The lessons of the Great Depression should not be forgotten,” he continued. “Tariffs and provocation of trade disputes, which upset global industrial and supply chains, serve to undermine the multilateral trading regime and global economic and trade order. They may even plunge the world into recession.”
“Regarding economic trade frictions and differences, China is committed to resolving them in a calm, rational, and comprehensive manner, and is willing to demonstrate utmost patience and goodwill. Should the other side act in bad faith or show no respect for equal status or rules in negotiations, we will have to make necessary responses to safeguard our legitimate rights and interests, and to uphold international justice,” he said.
“Let me make it very clear: China is a country with a 5,000-year civilization and 1.4 billion hard-working and courageous people, and a vast land of 9.6 million square kilometers. China will not ever be cowed by threats or subdued by pressure,” Wang declared.
“It is not legitimate or justifiable for any country, standing from a position of power, to impose unilateral sanctions or exercise long-arm jurisdiction over other countries. Such practice has no basis in international law,” he said.
Wang criticized U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) as an example of such illegitimate unilateralism, although he did not call the United States out by name or mention Russia’s violations of the treaty, instead stating China’s general opposition to the deployment of land-based nuclear missiles.
One issue where Wang did name names was the Iranian nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which he said China strongly supported.
“Given the growing tensions in the Middle East and the Gulf region, China proposes the following: the Iranian nuclear issue should be speedily brought back to the JCPOA. The Gulf countries should be urged to establish a platform for dialogue and consultation, and countries from outside the region should play a positive role in maintaining security in the region,” he said.
Wang said the Palestinian issue should be “put at the top of the international agenda.”
“What we lack is not a grand design, but the courage to deliver on the commitments and the conscience to uphold justice,” he said. “There should be no more regression from the two-state solution and the ‘land for peace’ principle, which represent a bottom line of international justice.”
“For the Palestinian people to establish an independent state is their inalienable right, something that should not be used as a bargaining chip,” he said.
Wang hoped for a “united Afghanistan where all political parties and ethnic groups together determine the future of the nation,” peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, and a “political settlement” on the Korean Peninsula.
“The DPRK [North Korea] has demonstrated a readiness to promote dialogue. It is hoped that the U.S. can meet the DPRK halfway,” he said. “It is necessary for the Security Council to consider, in light of new developments on the peninsula, invoking the rollback terms of the DPRK-related resolutions in order to bolster the political settlement of the peninsula issue.”
In other words, the Chinese foreign minister was demanding sanctions relief for North Korea to reward it for its symbolic gestures, a very different posture from the U.S. position that actual denuclearization must occur before any sanctions relief will be granted.
Wang touted China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a triumph of “open, green, and clean” global development, an effort to bring security and stability through economic improvement, which he saw as the universal cure for social and political ills.
“We hope that other countries will seize the development opportunities created by the BRI to add fresh impetus to the implementation of the 2030 agenda,” he said.
Wang talked up China’s efforts to crack down on fentanyl, the deadly synthetic opioid flowing from Chinese labs that has been linked to countless deaths in the United States. He claimed the Chinese government has always had a “zero-tolerance” approach to narcotics.
“China has actively participated in global narcotics control with a keen sense of responsibility,” he said.