Two Different Countries, One International System
Speech by Ambassador Qin Gang at the Dialogue with the Brookings Institution Board of Trustees
2021/11/19 11:31

On November 18th, 2021, Chinese Ambasasdor to the US Qin Gang had a virtual dialogue with board members of the Brookings Institution and delivered a speech. Here is the full text: 

Madam Johnson, 

Mr. Hutchins,

President Allen,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


I wish to thank the Brookings Institution for inviting me. I’m very glad to meet with Board members.

In recent years, the world has been increasingly looking to China to see what impact China’s rapid development has on the international order. The US says that its China policy is for defending the “rules-based international order” and ensuring the implementation of “rules of the road”. But what are the rules? Who made these rules? Who are the traffic police? The US has not made itself clear on these questions. In our view, there is only one international system in the world, namely, the international system with the United Nations at its core. There is only one international order, which is the one underpinned by international law. And there is only one set of rules, namely, the basic norms governing international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. International affairs should be addressed through consultation, and genuine multilateralism must be practiced.

The lawful seat of the People’s Republic of China at the UN was restored 50 years ago. In the past five decades, China has been following rules, honoring its promises with actions and fulfilling its due responsibilities. We have acted as a promoter of world peace, a contributor to global development, a defender of the international order and a provider of public goods.                              

The Chinese people love peace. China is committed to the path of peaceful development, and we are the only country to include it in our Constitution. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, we have never started a single war or conflict, and never taken one inch of land from other countries. As a believer in peaceful settlement of disputes, we take an active part in political settlement of major regional hotspots. From the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue to the Iranian nuclear issue, if it were not China’s efforts to promote peace talks, the US could have faced a much worse scenario. China has participated in 29 UN peacekeeping missions, and we are the second largest fund contributor and a major troop contributor to UN peacekeeping missions.

As a champion of the Universal Declaration of Human rights, China has been committed to defending and promoting human rights. We regard the right to survival and development as the most basic human rights. We have lifted over 800 million people out of poverty, contributing more than 70% to the world’s poverty reduction. The Chinese people fully enjoy the civil, political and cultural rights laid down in the Constitution. China has joined or ratified 26 international instruments on human rights, including six core instruments, while the US has only joined and ratified three of them.

China works diligently to advance global development. President Xi Jinping has put forward the Global Development Initiative, and called for joint efforts to build a global community of development with a shared future, and accelerate implementation of the 2030 SDGs for more robust, greener and more balanced global development. The Belt and Road Initiative has been positively responded by 141 countries and 32 international organizations, and will get nearly 40 million people out of poverty. Since joining the WTO 20 years ago, China has become the world’s second largest economy and No. 1 trader in goods. We are also the biggest trading partner of over 130 countries and regions. In recent years, China has been contributing about 30% to global economic growth annually. As we strive to achieve common prosperity, we will bring more opportunities to the world.

In this global village, countries share their weal and woe together. President Xi called for building a community with a shared future for mankind. On the front of public health, we put people’s lives first and are working for a global community of health for all. We have provided 1.7 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to over 100 countries and international organizations, and will supply more than two billion doses by the end of this year. On the environmental front, guided by the idea of a community of life for man and Nature, we have committed to peaking our carbon emissions before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality before 2060, and we have introduced a specific timetable, roadmap and work plan to honor these commitments and achieve green and low-carbon development. We are the world’s largest solar and wind power producer and consumer, and will invest 1.5 billion RMB to establish a Kunming Biodiversity Fund. 

It has been proved that throughout the past five decades of UN membership, China has done its best to get recognized and integrated into the international system and has made unremitting contribution to the world. China is a member of nearly all universal intergovernmental organizations and a signatory to over 600 international conventions and amendments. China does not want to disrupt or overturn the existing international system. We only want to work for a more peaceful and developed world, and at the same time create a favorable environment for our peaceful development, and contribute our wisdom and solution to global issues. President Xi said, “To build a community with a shared future for mankind is not to replace one system or civilization with another. Instead, it is about countries with different social systems, ideologies, histories, cultures and levels of development coming together for shared interests, shared rights and shared responsibilities in global affairs, and creating the greatest synergy for building a better world.” China was, is and will still be a reliable member of the international system. Despite the various difficulties we have, we always try our best to do our part and do it well. No grumbling, no blame shifting, no trouble making, only doing what we can to help. In the aftermath of the September 11 incident in 2001, China joined the US in fighting terrorism. To address the 2008 global financial crisis, China strengthened policy coordination with the US side to maintain financial stability and restore growth. In 2015, China worked with the US to facilitate the passage of the Paris Agreement. During the recently concluded COP26 in Glasgow, our two countries adopted the Joint Glasgow Declaration on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s, injecting fresh impetus to global climate governance.  China is not part of the problems in the world, but part of the solutions.


The China-US relationship has been going through unprecedented difficulties these years. Some people believe that China and the US are two different “operating systems” incompatible with each other. On this, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres voiced out an international common concern: China and the US must avoid confrontation and the world cannot afford to be further divided.

Therefore, we must work together to prevent his worry from coming true. We must show vision and determination, and take real actions to blaze a bright path for our two countries and the world.

—We should remember the founding mission of the United Nations. As founding members of the UN over 70 years ago, China and the US must keep in mind the words in the UN Charter: “We, the people of the United Nations, are determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind.” Today’s international system does not come easily. From the failure of the League of Nations, to the miseries of the Second World War, and then to four decades of Cold War, hegemonism, zero-sum game and major-power competition have often reduced the world into turmoil. With the Cold War ended for 30 years, we must say a categorical no to the Cold War mentality, to drawing ideological lines and to bloc rivalry. We must follow the trend of the times, bear in mind the common aspirations of the people, and work for an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world with lasting peace, common security and shared prosperity.

—We should keep in mind our responsibilities. President Xi said in his virtual meeting with President Biden several days ago, as the world’s two largest economies and permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and the US need to increase communication and cooperation, each run their domestic affairs well and, at the same time, shoulder their share of international responsibilities, and work together to advance the noble cause of world peace and development. We need to take responsibilities of major countries and provide more public goods to the world. China and the US have unshirkable responsibilities for upholding the authority and position of the UN. We must take the lead in practicing genuine multilateralism and safeguarding a fair and reasonable international order.

—We should adhere to principles. Putting together small groups targeted at third parties is reversing the wheels of history. The world should not be divided by another “Berlin Wall”. Countries should practice the common values of mankind, namely, peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy and freedom, not just taking pride in their own values. It is most undemocratic to host a Leaders’ Summit for Democracy to throw ideological labels on others, attack those different from them, and refuse to respect and recognize other countries’ development paths. It is against the trend of globalization to abuse and overstretch the concept of national security, set up the so-called “Clean Network” and “democratic technology alliance”, and suppress foreign companies without any justifiable grounds. Such actions have also increased global economic risks. The world should not be disrupted by “decoupling” and the threat of “cutting off supplies”. 

I wish to emphasize that the One-China Principle is not only the political foundation of China-US relations, but also a universal norm of international relations and an international consensus. It is an important part of the existing international system and order. Any attempt to distort UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 and challenge the One-China Principle is to change the status quo of the Taiwan question and undermine international rules and order, and is futile.

—We should focus on cooperation. Human society faces countless challenges and problems, and there are so many areas where China and the US should and must cooperate, such as climate change, which I mentioned earlier. This is an important area where our two countries can and should cooperate. President Xi said to President Biden that the global initiatives China has proposed are all open to the US. We hope the reverse is also true. The “Belt and Road” initiative follows the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution, shared benefits. We welcome the US to find its complementarity with Build Back Better World. In the past decade, China and the US have faced two major public health crises together, but different attitudes have led to completely different results. In 2014, we jointly helped African countries fight the Ebola epidemic. But after the outbreak of COVID-19, the US chose to politicize the disease, which created obstacles for us to get through this together. Not long ago, The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman raised a thought-provoking question: would China and America help each other in the face of an invasion of space aliens threatening us all? We hope that our two countries and the whole international community will give a loud and clear YES: we will join hands and help each other.


Let me conclude by sharing with you a quote from the martial arts movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”. In the movie, someone said to a martial arts master, “It must be exciting to walk the world, to be totally free!” The master replied, “But there are rules too: amity, credibility, integrity.” Let me say that these are the rules China plays by. We hope it will also be the way of the US. If our two nations can live in peace and help other countries, wouldn't it be great for the world? Why do we have to spoil for a fight and engage in a head-to-head duel, only to end up lose-lose? I would encourage you all to think about this together with me.

Thank you!

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