Yu Hongjun, Former Vice Minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and a senior researcher with the Academy of Contemporary China and World Studies
Opening a New Chapter of Mutually Beneficial Cooperation and Embarking on a Path Toward a Shared Future: the Present and Future of China-Brazil Relations
Respected President Du Zhanyuan,
Your Excellency Ambassador Qiu Xiaoqi,
Your Excellency Ambassador Marcos Bezerra Abbott Galvão,
Your Excellency Mr. Aloysio Nunes,
Dear experts and friends,
Good evening! It is my honor to be invited to the China-Brazil Forum for Exchange and Mutual Learning, themed Sharing Experience, Advancing Cooperation. The forum takes place at an important moment--shortly after the conclusion of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the wrapping up of the Brazilian presidential election. I would like to extend my sincerest wishes for the successful hosting of the forum and my congratulations to the Chinese people’s old friend Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on being elected president once again.
Modern society is a closely linked community, distributed across different geographical regions, belonging to different ethnic groups and countries, with different interests and value systems, but also closely related. In March 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the concept of a community with a shared future for humanity. Since then, promoting the building of such a community has become the highest goal of Chinese diplomacy and an important topic of widespread interest to the international community.
Civilizations vary greatly due to their different origins, characteristics, and forms. Longstanding and colorful civilizations have different effects on human progress and development. However, in the process of estrangement, mutual learning, fierce competition, and deep integration, civilizations with different characteristics and strengths have entered a higher stage. This is in line with the law of social development. In addition to the concept of a community with a shared future for humanity, President Xi has proposed a vision of civilization featuring diversity, equality, inclusiveness, and mutual learning.
He said in 2014 at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, “We need to encourage different civilizations to respect each other and live together in harmony while promoting their exchanges and mutual learning as a bridge of friendship among peoples, a driving force behind human society, and a strong bond for world peace.”
“Different countries, nations, and civilizations should carry out exchanges and mutual learning and live in harmony with each other,” Xi wrote in a signed article entitled Work Together for a Bright Future of China-Iran Relations published in an Iranian newspaper on January 21, 2016.
“There is no such thing as a superior or inferior civilization. Civilizations differ only in identity and location. The diversity of civilizations should not be a source of global conflict; rather, it should be an engine driving the advancement of human civilization,” Xi said in a speech delivered at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland, on January 18, 2017.
In the report to the 20th CPC National Congress delivered in October, Xi once again called on all countries to respect the diversity of civilizations. “Let us allow cultural exchanges to transcend estrangement, mutual learning to transcend clashes, and coexistence to transcend feelings of superiority. Let us all join forces to meet all types of global challenges,” he said.
At present, the world is undergoing the historic transition of political order restructuring, economic pattern transformation, and security framework reconstruction. Reaching a consensus on the important assertion that "diversity spurs interaction among civilizations, which in turn promotes mutual learning and their further development” helps to objectively understand the various challenges of the current era, properly handle the common problems facing all countries in the world, and constantly advance the great cause of building a community with a shared future for humanity.
Promoting the building of a community with a shared future for humanity and advocating mutual learning among civilizations are not abstract concepts but practical actions. When President Xi put forward the concept of a community with a shared future for humanity and the vision of mutual learning among civilizations, he also launched the initiative of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, also known as the Belt and Road Initiative. It is the largest-scale cooperative and mutually beneficial development initiative in human history. The joint pursuit of the Belt and Road Initiative has provided valuable opportunities for countries around the world to promote mutual learning and social integration.
In the process of promoting international cooperation through the Belt and Road Initiative, China has taken policy coordination, facility connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration, and people-to-people bonds as its central tasks and has achieved fruitful results. It has found five keys to mutual learning of civilizations in the contemporary era and opened five channels for common development for countries with different civilizations.
Among the "five keys," or "five channels," the role of "policy coordination" is particularly prominent. The essence here is that countries with different social systems and different development paths coordinate and identify with each other in development concepts, governance models, and growth models. Without active, effective, and continuous "policy coordination," infrastructure construction, unimpeded trade, and financial integration will be impossible. The process of "policy coordination" requires highly difficult, high-level, and high-quality mutual learning among civilizations. It should be carried out not only at the national level but also at the local and enterprise levels.
In promoting international cooperation through the Belt and Road Initiative, China has also carried out all-round and in-depth people-to-people exchanges in multiple fields and has combined work related to "people-to-people bonds" to form a systematic project. "Policy coordination" and "people-to-people bonds" coordinate with and support each other, which has promoted political mutual trust between countries, enhanced mutual understanding among the peoples, and consolidated the social foundation for practical cooperation.
China and Brazil are major developing countries with the world’s most dynamic and promising economies as well as a significant influence on regional and international affairs. The two emerging economies play a unique role in the restructuring of the world economic order and political landscape, the reform of the global governance system, and the progress of humanity at large.
Their shared interests, coupled with the broader picture of global development, make it imperative for China and Brazil to continue exploring the untapped potential for joint action, open up new frontiers and make their mutually beneficial ties a role model for South-South cooperation. This productive relationship is poised to meet both nations’ aspirations, drive South-South as well as cross-regional cooperation, and inject impetus into a new round of economic globalization.
As they eye a closer strategic partnership, it is of prime importance that China and Brazil continue to enhance mutual political trust. Without political trust, results-oriented cooperation is unlikely, whereas the latter can contribute to the former. China and Brazil are in different hemispheres. They have different historical traditions, cultural backgrounds, social systems, development paths, state governance systems, and social governance models. These differences, however, should not hinder their exchange and dialogue or hold back progress in collaborative programs.
During his visit to Brazil in July 2014, President Xi highly commended Brazilian people’s national spirit of being pioneering, confident, self-reliant, innovative, and responsible. He said China and Brazil regard each other as important partners. The two sides’ relations have developed constantly, serving as a model for South-South cooperation.
In 2020, the world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. On the one hand, China and Brazil continued to strengthen communication and cooperation under the multilateral mechanism, and on the other hand, they worked together to cope with the pandemic and take the strategic partnership between the two countries to a new level. Brazil has elected a new government headed by Lula, and its domestic and foreign policies will undergo major changes and adjustments. The conditions for bilateral cooperation will be more favorable, the prospects of cooperation will be broader and the results will be more fruitful.
I would like to raise the following suggestions for bilateral cooperation:
First, the two sides should continue to maintain and strengthen high-level interactions, jointly study and evaluate the opportunities and challenges generated by the global development trend and the transformation of the international situation to the development of bilateral relations, and coordinate their positions on major issues related to the core interests of both sides and the common concerns of the international community, to enhance consensus and create synergy.
Second, the two sides should attach great importance and give full play to the unique role of the China-Brazil High-Level Coordination and Cooperation Committee in consolidating and improving bilateral relations, convening working conferences promptly, and implementing the agenda for optimizing the conference mechanism.
Third, the two sides should further activate the mechanism of comprehensive strategic dialogue at the level of foreign ministers of both countries, enrich its functions and expand its influence. Based on the joint action plan and cooperation plan of the previous 10 years, the two sides should formulate a new medium- and long-term cooperation plan. At the same time, a plan for jointly spearheading China-Latin America cooperation and Asia Pacific-Latin America cooperation should be formulated.
Fourth, the two sides should explore the role of government institutions, social organizations, think tanks, and mass media in deepening political dialogue, people-to-people and cultural cooperation, especially in the exchange of governance experiences, jointly cultivate a social atmosphere of mutual respect, long-term friendship, and sincere cooperation, and consolidate the public opinion foundation of bilateral relations.
Fifth, given the importance of party politics to the respective development of the two countries, and the sound foundation of political party exchanges between the two countries, the two sides should further expand and deepen political party exchanges and cooperation, so that political party exchanges and inter-party relations become an indispensable part of bilateral relations.
Sixth, we should work together to expand trade, promote bilateral investment, enhance complementarity and explore new opportunities. The cooperation between the two countries in energy resources, biotechnology, aircraft manufacturing, and space technology should be planned in a new way to achieve deep integration.
Seventh, we should jointly promote coordination and cooperation between the two sides under multilateral mechanisms such as the United Nations, BRICS, and Group of 20, enhance the voice of emerging economies and developing countries in the global governance system and promote the establishment of a multilateral trade system in line with the new trend of the world economy.
I believe that as two major emerging economies with different historical and cultural backgrounds, governance models, and development paths, China and Brazil are constantly upgrading their strategic cooperation, something that is not only in line with the practical needs and long-term interests of both sides but comes with the progress of the times and the development trend of China-Latin America relations.
At last, I would like to wish our forum great success.