(This Editorial was carried in the English language Global Times the preceding evening. The English version is reproduced below, pending translation of the Chinese one.)
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech via video link at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2021 on Tuesday. President Xi pointed out, “What we need in today’s world is justice, not hegemony.” He noted, “In state-to-state relations, the principles of equality, mutual respect and mutual trust must be put front and center.” He also stressed that “Attempts to ‘erect walls’ or ‘decouple’ hurt others’ interests without benefiting oneself.” President Xi’s speech is very practical and well-directed.
The Boao Forum is the first major international conference held mainly on-site this year. Its great significance lies in providing the world with an opportunity to reflect and discuss where humanity should head.
Today, the situation in the Asia-Pacific region and in the world is almost totally different from four years ago. The US has provided the decisive variable in this change. The US has used its strength and geopolitical advantage to forcibly bring the world into division and confrontation, and whitewashed its vicious actions with the label of defending liberal democracy and safeguarding rules. All these actions proved Washington’s thirst for hegemony.
Hegemony is incompatible with freedom, democracy, fairness and justice. Washington’s hypocrisy lies in its desire to impose hegemony while claiming to be the defender of all sound political concepts of human civilization. So it has tried to rope in allies to give an alienated definition of various basic concepts based on the interests of the US and a few Western countries. Even the most identifiable concept of equality has been distorted by it.
The US openly clamored to deal with China and Russia “from a position of strength.” It claimed arrogantly that the rules should be set by the US and other Western countries, rejecting the UN Charter to play a leading role in international relations. Does such norm have anything to do with “equality”? As the saying goes, “Gods may do what cattle may not.” The US has crushed the concept of equality that had developed in the West over the centuries. The US today has taken to extreme bullying that China has been strongly criticizing since ancient times.
The world needs a political enlightenment movement to break free from the mind suffocation created by the US and to clarify the most basic international ethics. The West needs to review the Peace of Westphalia that has helped Europe out of the wars in the 17th century. They should learn how the treaties describe equality among countries regardless of their territorial size and how the countries should engage in non-interference of others’ internal affairs. The treaty was the important starting point for the Western view of international order. The US and the West should not betray themselves by letting absurd acts “from a position of strength” prevail again.
No one in the world will welcome hegemony. Justice is the common ideal of the mankind. The US has frequently pursued its interests through sanctions and even wars. Since the end of the Cold War, almost all major sanctions and wars in the world have been initiated by the US. Now, the US wants to create fundamental confrontations between major powers. If such attempts to erect walls, seek decoupling and sow hostility between different civilizations were indulged, it would be uncertain what kind of disasters the US and its major allies will push human beings into.
China doesn’t need to seek hegemony. It has achieved rapid development and changed the face of the entire country through its own efforts and mutually equal and beneficial cooperation with others. We admire equality but we are not jealous of any other country’s advantage in certain spheres. There is no such thing as “Chinese hegemony” for the US to resist. The US cannot accept China’s development. It is resisting China’s comprehensive strength getting close to that of the US brought about by China’s development. Even in history when the law of the jungle prevailed, such gangster logic was rare.
China and the US have long held ideological differences. But since the reform and opening-up, although China has been in a relatively weak position, it has never demonized the US political system, nor has it believed China and the US cannot coexist because of political divergences. In contrast, the US in recent years has greatly hyped the confrontation of systems between China and the US. It has lost the basic inclusiveness for differences and diversity between countries. The US ideology is becoming hysterical and paranoid.
The world needs to understand that we are standing at the crossroads of whether to follow the US into a century of confrontation. One way leads to peace, development, cooperation and prosperity, while the other points to zero-sum game, fierce conflicts, and even the risk of war. The international community shouldn’t allow the US to disrupt the development rhythm of the world out of its selfish geopolitical interests. Humanity should jointly grasp the future in our own hands.