From September 9 to 10, 2011, Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying, at invitation, attended the Bled Strategic Forum at the lakefront of Bled, Slovenia. As a guest speaker, she addressed the main panel "The Power of the Future" and the breakout session on the China-EU relations and participated in the discussions. More than 400 delegates of the governments, business communities and academic circles of Europe, especially South-East European countries and other parts of the world attended the forum. A dozen of Chinese scholars and businessmen were invited to the forum.
Bled Strategic Forum
Explaining her views about the world today, Fu said that "historical trends are irreversible" and China takes peace and development as the "trend" of the world today. As early as at the beginning of the 1980s, the Chinese people under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping analyzed the international situation and realized the world had come to the era of peace and development. One of the main reasons of China's success over more than 30 years is that we seized the trend and followed the trend. China lately released the whitepaper China's Peace and Development which further confirms we will hold the trend unswervingly.
Talking about whether the international power is shifting from the West to the East, Fu noted that the international power is in fact showing the trend of diffusion. As capital, technologies and market spread from developed countries to a wider range of areas, the three-billion or even more population in developing countries are stepping on the track of rapid urbanization and playing an increasingly important role in the international community. The international system should make necessary adjustments accordingly.
For example, the current international governance system which was established after World War Two needs to be reformed in order to adapt to more participation of developing countries. The world market should be opened wider and industrialized countries should take a more welcome attitude towards the investment from emerging economies. We need to further emancipate our mind. In particular, westerners should abandon the old thinking and prejudices which are the legacy of the Cold War and embrace with a more open mind the political and cultural diversities in the multi-polar era. During his visit to France last year, President Hu proposed that the 21st century be a century of peace, development and cooperation. Countries should join hands and forge ahead as partners to build a promising 21st century.
Addressing the meeting
On the issue of the rising status of the Internet and non-state actors in the political life and the challenge to the traditional governance model of governments, Fu said that the development of new technologies including the Internet has enabled the non-state actors, such as the micro blog users and non-governmental organizations to participate more in the policy making and implementation monitoring process. That is a positive change and creates a new and more direct channel for the government to listen to the public. Of course, it also raises higher requirements for the decision-making and governance of governments, especially requirement for timeliness.
Governments must catch up with the times, stay in close touch with the people, listen to their voice and solve problems when they occur. At the same time, we must pay attention to balancing the short-term requirements with long-term interests. Blindly following the so-called "public opinion" and making empty promises are irresponsible to the people.
China is lucky enough to catch the rapid development of the Internet in the middle of industrialization, which makes it easier for the government to listen to the people, to continue to reform and improve and to enhance the capacity of running the state. China is clearly aware of the difficulties we face going forward. General Secretary Hu Jintao in his speech addressed to the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party of China pointed out the four major risks of lost vitality, insufficient capacity, isolation from the mass and corruption. China has the strength of examining itself with a critical view. The history of more than 30 years of reform and opening up is the process of continuing reform, solving problems and moving forward. Of course, new problems keep popping up and we should continue to handle problems and challenges with the attitude of "walking on thin ice".
Being asked whether China and the EU are partners or competitors, Fu said that the relations between China and the EU stand at a critical pass. China always views the EU as a strategic partner. In the economic sector, the bilateral trade volume has grown from billions of US dollars when the two sides just established diplomatic relations to US$500 billion today. The EU has become China's largest trade partner and source of technologies and at the same time European countries have gained huge benefits from China's development. China's 12th Five-Year Plan and the Europe 2020 strategy have great synergies of promoting inclusive growth and sustainable development. The bilateral mutually beneficial cooperation enjoys great potential. In the political field, China and the EU have no fundamental conflict of interest. Both are committed to peace and development, advocate multilateralism and share wide interest in promoting world economic recovery, coping with climate change, maintaining energy security and eradicating poverty.
But to develop relations with China, there have always been two opposite forces in Europe. One is the appeal of strengthening cooperation and the other is the repulsive force of suspicion. For instance, many Europeans recognize the notable achievements of economic and social development of China but don't recognize China's success of political system and policy; value China as an important trade partner but so far refuse to recognize China's full market economy status. Some of the "technical standards" they propose cannot be fully achieved even by some members of the EU, but China does not want to join the EU. They welcome China's buying of and investment in Euro bonds but exclaimed China wants to "buy" Europe; they hope to strengthen international cooperation with China but maintain arms embargo against China.
These contradictory behaviors are just like a driver who shifts to the third gear but does not release the handbrake and have impacted the image of Europe in China and the efforts of both sides to develop relations. They not only hurt China but also jeopardize Europe's interest. The pressing task of China-EU relations at present is to build mutual trust. Europe should be determined to walk out of the shadow of Cold War and view China as a true equal partner.
Receiving interview of Slovenia national TV station
As to how China views the difficulties faced by Europe, Fu said that some European countries are in trouble at present and China has been closely watching the development of the debt crisis. On the one hand, China has confidence in Europe and in Euro and still takes Europe as a major investment market. On the other hand, China is observing the root causes of the sovereign debt crisis. Why have so many countries which have mature political system made the mistake of excessive borrowing? How are they going to promote the correct policies of restructuring?
With regard to whether China is responsible for the imbalance of the world economy, Fu said that countries which have problems should first of all look for causes from inside rather than complaining about others, should work together rather than blaming each other. China does not pursue excessive trade surplus. In the 12th Five-Year Plan it is made clear to stimulate domestic consumption, boost domestic demand and attach equal importance to import and export. The limitation of high-tech export to China by the West affects export to China to some extent and is not conducive to trade balance. During the 12th Five-Year Plan period foreign direct investment is expected to grow to US$100 billion per annum. European countries are hoped to take a more positive attitude towards the investment of Chinese enterprises.
Fu also introduced China's positive progress in the fields of intellectual property rights and human rights development and received interviews of the Slovenian news agency and national TV station on China-Slovenia relations, China-EU relations, China's development and other issues.