Remarks by Ambassador Cheng Jingye at the ACBC Webinar

Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends, good morning!

It gives me great pleasure to meet you all. Thank you Mr. Michael Clifton, Acting National CEO for your kind invitation. This is my first online attendance at an ACBC meeting. And I look forward to hosting you in the Chinese Embassy during the ACBC Canberra Networking Day of this year.

Today I'd like to share with you some of my thoughts on China's development and China-Australia relations.

The year 2021 marks the centenary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which is a major event for both China and the Chinese people.

The founding of the CPC was an epochal event in China's history. It has a profound impact on the development of the Chinese nation and the destiny of the Chinese people. Since then, China has taken on a brand new look.

Over the past century, the CPC has led the Chinese people to bring an end to the bullying of foreign powers, and become the true masters of their own lives. The Chinese people led by the CPC has developed the country from an impoverished and weakened one to the world's second largest economy.

Today, under the leadership of the CPC, China is on its way to realizing the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and embarking on a new journey toward fully building a modern socialist country.

The Chinese nation has achieved a great transformation from standing up, growing rich, to becoming stronger.

Looking back on the journey, the outstanding achievements made by China fully lie in the fact that the CPC has mastered and developed the advanced theory and chosen the right path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

The CPC has now been the world's largest ruling party with its membership growing from only about 50 when it was founded to over 91 million. The key to its success is that it has always borne in mind its founding mission to seek happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation. It has unswervingly followed a people-centered philosophy, that is, putting the people first, relying on the people, and taking the desire of the people for a better life as its goal.

The living standard of the Chinese people has greatly improved. The average life expectancy rises to more than 77 years, per capita GDP exceeds US$10,000, and the middle-income population surpasses 400 million.

China has built the largest comprehensive social security system in the world, with basic medical insurance covering 1.3 billion people and basic pension schemes covering 1 billion.

China has made historic achievement in poverty alleviation. Since reform and opening-up over 40 years ago, China has lifted more than 850 million people out of poverty, accounting for more than 70% of the global total over the same period. Last year, China secured a victory in the battle against poverty by eradicating extreme poverty, meeting the target of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule.

The CPC and Chinese government always place people's life, safety and health above anything else. Resolute in protecting people's life and health at all costs, the Chinese government has done an exemplary job in bringing COVID-19 under effective control. The country is now accelerating its vaccination pace and has administered more than 230 million doses of vaccines.

The CPC and Chinese government are striving for a better life for the Chinese people. China has adopted the 14th Five-Year Plan for national economic and social development and the long-range goals for 2035, making the promotion of common prosperity a top priority.

We are endeavoring to address imbalances and inadequacies of development and to advance rural revitalization and new-type urbanization. We are forging ahead with building a beautiful China, advancing eco-friendly transitions, and making strenuous efforts to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.

By 2035, China is expected to basically realize socialist modernization with per capita GDP reaching the level of moderately developed countries and more substantial progress in common prosperity.

Dear friends, all these notable achievements have been gained under the leadership of the CPC.

The CPC leadership, as the choice of history and the Chinese people, is supported wholeheartedly by the Chinese people. China will continue to move forward on the right path under the leadership of the CPC .

With that, I'd like to say something about China-Australia relations.

The current difficulties in the bilateral relations are not something we wish to see. I've heard various arguments and even some myths regarding the situation from the local community, and I'd like to take this opportunity to share with you my view.

Some in Australia claim that "China has changed", with a more assertive diplomacy.

Admittedly, China has changed indeed.

China is making greater contribution to the world, contributing about 30% of global economic growth for many years.

China has become the largest trading country in the world, the largest trading partner of more than 120 countries and regions and is to become the world's largest consumer market.

China is shouldering more responsibilities for world peace. China is the second largest contributor to the UN's regular budget and peacekeeping assessment. It is also the largest contributor of peacekeepers among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

China is providing more global public goods. The Belt and Road Initiative has become the largest platform for international cooperation, with over 200 co-operative agreements concluded between China and 140 countries as well as 31 international organizations.

To fight the COVID-19 pandemic, China has provided medical assistance to over 160 countries and international organizations and supplied vaccines in various ways to more than 100 countries and international organizations in urgent need.

Meanwhile, China's commitment to peaceful development remains unchanged. China's pursuit of development is neither about surpassing nor replacing anyone else. Rather, it is about self-improvement.

China's basic foreign policy remains to be safeguarding the UN-centered international systems, preserving the international order underpinned by international law, and upholding true multilateralism.

The Chinese government's determination to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests remains unchanged. It will not sit idly by whenever its interests and dignity are violated.

China has always maintained its basic national policy of opening up. We embrace each and every country willing to cooperate with China with sincerity and good faith.

In light of the above-mentioned points, it doesn't hold water to allege that China has become more assertive in its diplomacy.

When reviewing the facts in China-Australia relations over the past years, one will see that the current difficult situation in our bilateral relations is not caused by China. China has never launched any provocation.

As a matter of fact, it is the Australian side that is changing its perceptions about China.

It appears that some Australians no longer regard China as a cooperative partner.

They are keen to view relations with China from a third-party perspective rather than from Australia's own interest.

They have no interest in managing bilateral differences on the basis of mutual respect, nor are they interested in maintaining and enhancing political mutual trust.

Rather, they tend to see China more as a threat and challenge, and interpret China's policies from a mindset full of ideological bias and geopolitics.

How could China-Australia relations not suffer if China is deemed as a threat?

There is another assertion that China should be blamed for the deteriorating relations and Australia is the victim of China's so-called "diplomacy of coercion".

For the deterioration, conclusions could be easily drawn from what's done by the Australian side. The so-called "coercion" is just a cover-up in order to shift responsibilities.

Over the past few years, what we have witnessed include:

Increasing discriminatory restrictions imposed over investment from Chinese enterprises, no matter whether they are state-owned or private, from the Chinese mainland or from Hong Kong;

Unjustified suppressing of Chinese high-tech firms, not only shutting them out but also lobbying other countries to follow suit;

Various roadblocks for normal exchanges in education, academic research and other fields;

Gross interference in China's internal affairs based on disinformation and ideological bias;

Vicious attacks against China's social system and deliberately hyping up "China threat" by some politicians;

Arbitrary slander and smear on China by some media and think tanks;

Deliberate provocations against China's endeavour to combat COVID-19 and enhance international cooperation out of political motives chained to the previous US administration;

Unbridled defamation and attack against the Australian Chinese by certain media outlets, politicians and security agencies, and the ensuing racial discrimination as well as violence;

Blatant harassment of China's institutions and personnel in Australia by security agencies on groundless accusations.

And more recently, we have witnessed the unreasonable and irrational tearing up of BRI agreement between the Chinese side and the Victorian Government which benefits both sides.

It is these negative moves by the Australian side that has poisoned the atmosphere and damaged the foundation of the bilateral ties, thus leading to the current situation.

It seems that being tough on and even attacking China has become a politically correct thing to do.

What is more astonishing is that some Australians claim that such provocations and confrontation are ways to safeguard Australia's values, national interests and security.

This is completely confusing right and wrong, only to vindicate the erroneous deeds and make excuses for the harm done to both China's interests and the bilateral relations. Nothing else but this is the crux of the current difficulties in China-Australia ties.

Some claim that the problems in bilateral trade ties resulted from China's economic coercion against Australia. What a ridiculous and irrelevant argument!

Let's take a look at some figures. Firstly, China's investment in Australia has slumped in recent years, dropping from A$16.5 billion in 2016 to around A$1 billion last year. While the Australia export to China remained high, hitting A$148 billion in 2020. Secondly, Australia has launched 106 anti-dumping, anti-subsidy probes on Chinese imports, but for the Chinese part, there is only 4 such investigations on Australian products.

Therefore, if there is any coercion, it must have be done by the Australian side.

What China has done is only aimed to uphold its legitimate rights and interests, prevent bilateral ties from further plunging and move them back onto the right track.

China never asks Australia to compromise its sovereignty or national interests, but cannot accept Australia damaging China's sovereignty and national interests.

China never seeks to change your political system, but wants you to respect China's political system and the Chinese way of life.

China never asks you to change your values, but hopes you view China's development in an objective and rational manner with less ideological bias.

China never asks you to pull out of the alliance with your ally, but hopes you will not harm China's interests or sacrifice China-Australia ties for that alliance.

China does not want to interfere in your domestic legislature, but opposes Australian legislations and their implementation deliberately targeting at China or explicitly discriminating against Chinese institutions and personnel, which undermines mutual trust and hurts both sides' interests.

China has no intention of interfering with Australia's freedom of press, but hopes the media could cover China and China-Australia relations in an objective and fair way, rather than disregarding facts and misleading the public, not to mention maliciously smearing or attacking China.

As the old saying goes, whoever tied the knot is responsible for untying it. In order to reverse the negative trends of our bilateral relations, it's essential to find the right remedy. Pragmatic cooperation and political mutual-trust serve as the two wheels driving the bilateral ties forward in a stable way. One broken wheel would derail the relationship.

I'd like to point out that clinging to ideological bias as well as Cold War mentality and regarding China as a threat will lead nowhere, nor will recklessly damaging the mutual trust and obstructing normal exchange and cooperation. And teaming up in small group against China will not work either. Playing victim game will not change the nature of the problem.

Dear friends,

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of Gough Whitlam's visit to China, which paved the way for the normalization of our bilateral ties.

The differences between the two countries 50 years ago might be bigger than today. But they did no stop us from coming together. For the following decades, they neither prevented us from developing dynamic and fruitful ties.

The most important reason for this is that the two sides while acknowledging and properly handling the differences, focused on mutual respect and win-win cooperation, and fully tapped the potential of bilateral ties with foresight and sagacity.

We are at a time when the world is undergoing once-in-a-century changes. The rise of Asia and development of China has drawn worldwide attention. According to estimates, Asia's GDP accounted for 40% of the world's total in 2020 and is expected to exceed 50% in the next 10 years.

It is hoped that the Australian side will show the same political wisdom and courage as Gough did 50 years ago. Look far and see the larger picture. Manage our differences in a constructive manner. And demonstrate sincerity to create necessary environment for improving bilateral relations. China is willing to make joint efforts for that.

China has always believed that a sound and steady relationship serves the best interests of both countries and peoples.

I hope that friends from the business community, as advocates and beneficiaries of China-Australia cooperation, will continue to make contribution to the bilateral relationship.

Thank you.


Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Commonwealth of Australia
Address: 15 Coronation Drive, Yarralumla, ACT 2600
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