Keynote Speech by Ambassador Sun Weidong at the Indian Foreign Service Institute

(February 12, 2020)

Dear Mr. J.S. Mukul, Dean of the Foreign Service Institute(FSI),

Members of FSI,

Indian Foreign Service officer trainees and Bhutanese diplomats,

Good morning!

First of all, I would like to express my gratitude for the solidarity and support the FSI extends to the outbreak of Covid-19 pneumonia in China. Today I would like to begin my speech by briefing on China’s anti-epidemic efforts.

Since the outbreak, epidemic prevention and control in China have entered a critical stage. The Chinese people are united together, working around the clock to fight the disease by taking strong measures to tackle the challenge.

First, the Chinese Government attaches great importance to the epidemic. President Xi Jinping has presided over two meetings of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and given multiple important instructions on many occasions. He went to inspect prevention and control work in Beijing, gave important guidance and encouraged local residents and community workers. The Central Committee of the CPC has set up a leading group to deal with the epidemic. The central and local governments have built an all-round and multi-level prevention and control system focusing on Wuhan city and Hubei province as core areas which suffer the most. Wuhan is well in the center of China. Its 11 million population and convenient transportation pose a great challenge during the Spring Festival. We have taken the most comprehensive and rigorous measures, and many of them go well beyond the requirements of the International Health Regulations which was released in 2005. Wuhan and other cities have taken measures to figure out who’s been infected and leave no patient unattended to.

Second, the whole country is supporting Wuhan and Hubei Province. Entrusted by President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang went to Wuhan to direct the epidemic prevention and control efforts, and Vice Premier Sun Chunlan is now leading a team from the central government to supervise the work in Wuhan. Besides Wuhan, we have mobilized 19 provinces to help different areas in Hubei, and give a full support to Hubei’s hard battle to contain the epidemic. By February 11, 154 medical teams with over 18,700 medical staff across China have arrived in Wuhan to help tackle this challenge.

Third, we have been making every effort to provide better treatment. We have developed effective detection reagent in a very short time, so we are able to quickly identify the infected people. Wuhan has built two make shift hospitals within about 10 days. Laboring day and night, thousands of workers and hundreds of machines constructed hospitals. Now they are put in use with 2,500 beds and advanced equipment and technology like 5G network which enables the remote diagnosis and treatment. In addition, we have set up three mobile cabin hospitals in Wuhan, which provides a total of over 4,000 beds to admit more patients for medical treatment.

Fourth, we have been strengthening international cooperation in public health. We quickly identified the virus and shared its genetic sequence with the World Health Organization(WHO) in a timely manner. So far, the number of confirmed cases reported overseas only accounts for less than 1 percent of the total number worldwide. We are not only protecting the health of our own people, but also that of people around the world. As a news report commented, China sacrifices one province to save the world. The WHO highly appreciates China’s epidemic prevention and control efforts, and they do not recommend any travel or trade restriction on China.

Fifth, we attach great importance to the life, safety and health of foreign nationals in China. The Chinese foreign ministry and relevant local governments have held briefings for diplomatic and consular missions in China on the prevention and control of the epidemic. Local authorities keep foreign nationals updated of multilingual information and consultation on the epidemic. I have watched an Indian student studying in Wuhan who posted a video clip online, saying that the supply of daily necessities at his university is guaranteed and he has confidence in the Chinese government’s strong anti-epidemic measures to overcome the difficulties.

We have done a lot work to ensure the health and safety of Indian nationals in China. We provided necessary assistance and convenience to the Indian missions in China. We assisted them in taking inspection and screening, in order to prevent those with symptoms like fever from becoming new sources of infection in India. We did it in a professional and responsible way of scientific prevention to interrupt further spread of the virus, which is also a part of global efforts to curb the epidemic.

Here I would like to share with you a true story from my colleague of Hubei Province. Upon the departure, an Indian student at Three Gorges University was unfit to leave due to abnormal body temperature. He felt very stressed and kept in touch with my colleague in Wuhan. He said he worried that the university might not allow him to go back and he might be left on the road. My colleague told him not to worry and called the university. The Indian student was accommodated at a hotel in the college, where the living conditions are better than the dormitory. The school doctor takes his temperature, and free meal is delivered to his room every day. He’s been taken good care of. That’s what we say the disease is ruthless, but the human beings are compassionate. Now all supermarkets are open, commodity prices are stable and supplies of daily necessities are sufficient in Wuhan. It is better for everyone to stay at home and there’s no need to worry or overreact.

With our tireless efforts, we have made some remarkable progress. By February 10, over 4700 patients have been cured and discharged from hospitals, significantly surpassing the number of deaths. The fatality rate of the novel coronavirus has been controlled under 2.1 percent nationwide and 0.16 percent outside Hubei Province, lower than the rate of any other epidemic such as Ebola, H1N1, SARS and MERS. China’s system enables us to mobilize all the resources for big undertakings. We have full confidence and capability to win this battle.

A couple of days ago, Prime Minister Modi wrote a letter of sympathy and condolence to President Xi to convey solidarity of Indian government and people with China at this difficult time. He also recognized the enormous effort China is undertaking to tackle the outbreak and assure the readiness to stand by China and provide the assistance to face the challenge. The Bhutanese leaders also conveyed their solidarity and support to China. We would like to express our gratitude and appreciation to our Indian and Bhutanese friends for your precious support in China’s fight against the epidemic. When facing the epidemic, what we need most is to work together to jointly overcome the difficulties. We hope that everybody should remain rational and calm instead of overreaction. It is better to judge China’s prevention and control efforts with objectivity and compassion. We need your understanding and support to ensure normal personnel exchanges and trade among countries. We are ready to continue to work with India and Bhutan to safeguard the health and safety of foreign citizens in China. At the same time, a lot of doctors and nurses are working day and night to help the sick. They are sacrificing a lot for the patients. Their efforts and devotion shall be recognized and remembered.

Dear colleagues,

We are now living in the world that is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century. In the era of globalization, countries become increasingly inter-dependent. Emerging economy like China and India are leading the way to grow the economy. We are facing the fourth Industrial Revolution. In the meantime, challenges and risks are on the rise. Unilateralism, hegemonism, anti-globalization and old fashion mentality are haunting the world. Should one opt for openness or isolation, cooperation or confrontation, win-win or zero-sum game? These are questions we are all thinking hard about. And our answer to these question is that China will stay on the path of peaceful development, build a community of a shared future for mankind, and achieve win-win sharing.

First, peaceful development is based on our cultural genes. The Chinese people is peace-loving. For more than 5000 years, the pursuit of peace and harmony has been deeply rooted in the spiritual world of the Chinese nation. A lot of profound schools of thought that ancient Chinese philosophers established raised many important ideas, such as the emphasis on kindness towards fellow human beings and the belief that people should be living in harmony with each other, and try to seek harmony without uniformity. These values and teachings still carry a profound impact on Chinese people's way of thinking and system of values. China has never had a record of colonization and expansion even when China had been among the top in national strength before the industrial revolution. It is well known that the Great Wall in China was built to defend the country instead of invading others.

Second, peaceful development is based on our experiences of vicissitudes in the past 200 years. After the beginning of modern times followed by the First Opium War in 1840s, we found ourselves left behind in terms of development. As a result of foreign invasions and backwardness thereafter, Chinese people had to lead a life of extreme destitution. China was subdued to a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society. After a hundred years of persistent and unyielding struggle, the Chinese people, sacrificing tens of millions of lives, ultimately took their destiny back into own hands. Nevertheless, the memory of foreign invasion and bullying has never been erased from the minds of the Chinese people. A great Chinese philosopher Confucius once said, do not impose on others what yourself do not desire upon yourself. We will never impose the pain we have suffered on other countries. And we won’t repeat the tragedy in history.

Third, peaceful development is based on our internal needs. Development is the top priority for everyone. This principle applies to China and the rest of the world. Over the past 70 years, we have concentrated on development and made historic achievements, making China the second largest economy in the world. But at the same time, China is still the largest developing country in the world. We have population of 1.4 billion and per capita GDP is still ranked around 70th in the world. We need to help over 15 million people every year to get jobs. Over the past 40 years, we have lifted more than 700 million people out of poverty, but there are still millions of people who need to get out of poverty. This year, China will historically eliminate absolute poverty for the first time in thousands of years and let every single Chinese citizen live a decent life. There is no doubt that it will take a long and arduous effort to make such a large population prosperous. We must concentrate on development, which requires us to have a peaceful external environment.

Fourth, peaceful development is based on our commitment to world peace and development. China’s development benefits from a peaceful international environment. We are also willing to promote world peace through our own development. China is one of the founding members of the UN and the second largest contributor to UN and UN peacekeeping operations. Over the past 70 years, China has provided over 400 billion RMB in foreign aid. Since the international financial crisis in 2008, China’s contribution to world economic growth has averaged over 30 percent annually.

China provides an opportunity for world development. Unfortunately, there are always some wrong ideas and perceptions when looking at China with a Cold War mentality. They choose to believe that when China becomes strong, China will subsequently seek to expand and dominate the world. These people's perception of China is seriously skewed. In the 21st century, when human beings share a common destiny and civilization is highly developed, we should not look at international relations through the prism of the law of jungle. This kind of stereotypical ideas, in the final analysis, stem from an obsession with maintaining a hegemonic position and the Cold War mentality. It is going against the trend of history. The Cold war ended 30 years ago, we should find out a new way to handle state-to-state relations.

China will grow stronger. This is something that is bound to happen. But a stronger country does not necessarily follow the old path of seeking hegemony, or posing a so-called threat to other countries. China has written into its Constitution the principle of adhering to the path of peaceful development and the win-win strategy of opening up. No matter which stage of development we have reached, we will never seek hegemony, expansion or sphere of influence. This is not China’s expediency, but our natural and strategic choice as well as solemn commitment.

In this era, the revitalization of a country can be achieved through international communication and cooperation on an equal, orderly, mutually beneficial basis. As history and reality have repeatedly proven, as long as countries treat each other as equals and with mutual understanding and accommodation, there is no problem that cannot be solved through negotiation and consultation. Power politics goes against the will of the people and the use of force in international relations is simply not feasible. China is confident and capable of blazing a new trail of win-win cooperation and peaceful development.

China will not develop itself at the expense of the interests of other countries, but we will never give up our legitimate rights and interests. We have always resolutely safeguarded our sovereignty, security and development interests. We firmly oppose other countries to interfere in China’s domestic affairs. Over the past decades, China has developed itself by fostering a peaceful international environment, while promoting and maintaining world peace through its own development. In the future, we will stay committed to the path of peaceful development. We also sincerely hope that all countries in the world will follow the path of peaceful development, and jointly build a community of a shared future for mankind.

Dear colleagues,

As ancient civilizations, China and India are not only two major countries in the world with over 1 billion population, but also the largest developing countries and major emerging economies. The collective rise of developing countries and emerging markets represented by the two countries has profoundly changed the global landscape. China-India relations go far beyond the bilateral scope and have great and far-reaching strategic significance.

Today, both China and India are at a critical stage of national development and rejuvenation. Our common interests far outweigh our differences. The two sides should adhere to the basic judgment that China and India pose no threat but offer development opportunities to each other. We shall deepen mutual trust, focus on cooperation and properly handle differences, so as to make China-India relations a more positive asset and energy for the development of the two countries and bring certainty and prosperity to the region and the world at large.

President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Modi have successfully held two informal summits and reached important consensus. There are huge potentials for our cooperation. China and India are facing major opportunities to bring greater benefits to the one third of world’s population. We should implement the consensus reached by the two leaders and transmit the consensus down to all levels. We should take good use of the high-level economic and trade dialogue mechanism and the “Manufacturing Partnership” to enhance economic and trade cooperation and encourage greater mutual investment. We have established China-India High Level Mechanism on Cultural and People-to-People Exchanges. This year marks the 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and India, as well as the “Year of China-India Cultural and People-to-People Exchanges”. We will hold 70 celebratory events to enhance mutual understanding and deepen friendship of our two great peoples. We should strengthen coordination and cooperation in multilateral fora such as anti-unilateralism, the reform of WTO, the environment protection. We can learn from each other in many areas. We should properly handle differences while keeping the bigger picture of the bilateral relations in mind, and not allow differences to become disputes jeopardizing bilateral relations. I believe that China and India, the two oriental civilizations, have the wisdom and capability to blaze a new trail for peaceful coexistence and common development of our two major neighbors.

Thank you.

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