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from issue no. 12 - 2009

Thirty years after the “Opening-up reform” of Deng Xiaoping

We seek truth in facts

A meeting with Wang Chen, Minister of Information of the People’s Republic of China

Interview with Wang Chen by Giovanni Cubeddu

Giulio Andreotti, Minister Wang Chen and Cesare Romiti, president of the Italy-China Foundation, on the occasion of the Conference on the development of Tibet, Rome, 22-23 October 2009

Giulio Andreotti, Minister Wang Chen and Cesare Romiti, president of the Italy-China Foundation, on the occasion of the Conference on the development of Tibet, Rome, 22-23 October 2009

Mister Minister, do you think one can communicate adequately to the West a political message – such as that of China – conceived in the East?
WANG CHEN: The subject is very interesting. Although there is an ongoing process of globalization in the communications field, the differences between Eastern and Western cultures, both in the historical context and in social structure, continue to exist, so it is really necessary to strengthen mutual relations.
We are not in favor of the spread of ideology. So we do not promote in the West our vision and our political principles. Our job is to present abroad the present state of Chinese socio-economic development, our history and our culture, and explain Chinese phenomena that interest foreign countries.
How will your country stand at the end of the eleventh five-year development plan?
WANG CHEN: It’s a very important issue, both for our government and for our people. The whole world witnessed the celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of the Republic of China – with the military parade and the great popular demonstrations of joy together with our leaders – in which the Chinese people showed great pride in its successes. During this long period, from the poor and weak country which we were, through continuous efforts we have reached significant milestones, such as the development of our economic strength, accompanied by the tangible improvement in living standards of the people, the level of civilization and of international status.
On the latter point, today China is the leading country in terms of foreign exchange reserves, second for import and export, third for gross domestic product. Maybe the world is stunned, and does not understand what has produced the rapid rebirth and prosperity of an ancient and backward nation.
From my point of view, the reason is that the people, through emancipation of thought and the search for truth in facts, has succeeded in finding a road of socialist modernization which matches the Chinese situation: what we call “socialism in the Chinese fashion”.
It can be said that without economic reform and the “Opening-up Reform” implemented by Deng Xiaoping thirty years ago, we would not have seen the progress and development of China today. The experience of these sixty years has taught us that now and in the long term we must continue to consider it fundamental to build the economy, to continue the policy of reform and openness, encourage economic, political, cultural and social growth, to protect the environment.
At the moment there are good prospects for the completion of the eleventh five-year plan. I believe that we won’t have problems in realizing all the programs in time, although in accomplishing them we have suffered from the severe global financial crisis: it has had negative influence on the sphere of exports and our domestic consumption, and more. To solve these problems, as all the world has seen, our government has put in place appropriate macro-economic measures, increasing domestic consumption and investment in infrastructure. Thanks to these effective moves banks and companies have not failed, the unemployment rate is under control and the general economic situation is pretty good. Our job is now to consolidate the results. And I think that is within our reach.
We must concentrate all our energies and resources on delivering development. In that spirit, without hesitation and without laziness, we can overcome the obstacles we find in our path and overcome challenges.
To summarize briefly, after the eleventh five-year plan we shall become the second largest country in terms of gross domestic product, but what matters is that the social structure will be improved, as will the living standard of our people.
SHANGHAI. Behind the poster there is a building site for the construction of Universal Expo 2010 [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

SHANGHAI. Behind the poster there is a building site for the construction of Universal Expo 2010 [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

Is strategic bipolarity between China and the United States an accepted fact? Will it bring more stability to the world?
WANG CHEN: The concept of “G2” arose initially among Western and American scholars – who believe that China has become the second power after the United States – and it was immediately widely circulated by the mass media. But I must say frankly that we do not agree with the view because it does not reflect the present international situation, nor Chinese principles and the diplomatic policy. We always insist on a peaceful diplomatic policy, independent and autonomous.
We are in favor of multilateralism and the democratization of international relations, we are opposed to any kind of oligarchy and political monopoly in international affairs. One or two countries or a restricted political group would never manage to resolve the world’s problems on their own. Multipolarity and multilateralism are the directions for the international model that the world must follow.
Therefore we support the effort to achieve a homogeneous agreement and plurality at the same time. We don’t look at different structure and social ideology, we don’t force our values and our ideology on others, we don’t intend to ally ourselves with any country and any group: those are our essential diplomatic principles. We always favor equal treatment without distinction of size or degree of wealth among countries, we are committed to promoting an international economic and political order in the direction of justice and rationality. The substance of this new international order is based on equality, on respect, on mutual interest and benefits. The ultimate goal is the realization of a harmonious world, in constant peace and prosperity.
Furthermore, our commitment on the path to the development of peace comes from both the current situation of China and our traditional culture. It is essential to build a peaceful international environment in which China can develop, and precisely through the country’s development we want to facilitate and promote world peace. Building a relationship of mutual trust will enable us and the West to grow and at the same time promote world welfare. Reality has shown that China’s development is inseparable from that of the world, and vice versa. Therefore, China and all the Western countries, on the basis of mutual understanding and trust, must strengthen cooperation and promote interests and relations of mutual benefit in order to develop a shared progress.
Mister Minister, let me propose you a list: communism, Confucianism, capitalism, economic and social development, greater freedom of the people and the individual. I would like you to tell us how these factors bind together in China today, and how they will forge the China of tomorrow.
WANG CHEN: Really one would have to write a book to answer... But I can explain briefly. We support the diversity of civilizations and cultures. Human history shows that civilization becomes richer and more developed through exchange and integration between different nations. So it’s hard to imagine how our planet would be with one single culture or single civilization. The plurality of cultures and civilizations not only existed in the past, but exists now and will exist in the future.
The factors you mentioned – Confucianism, capitalism, development of the people, maximization of individual liberty – in my opinion are concepts created by different countries in different periods of human history, and may be considered as gifts. Their chief characteristic is the diversity in the methods used to achieve them. There is no unified method: these concepts were not developed in virtue of a subjective mentality. And so it is that human civilization and culture, along with trade and integration, have fostered the diverse and colorful world of today.
BEIJING. The opening ceremony of the National Peoples’ Congress, March 2009 [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

BEIJING. The opening ceremony of the National Peoples’ Congress, March 2009 [© Associated Press/LaPresse]

And tomorrow, what will be the path for “socialism in the Chinese fashion”...?
WANG CHEN: Everyone knows that the objective of the Chinese Communist Party is Communism. The ideal society is Communist, of which socialist society is only a primitive and initial phase. An important issue to be addressed is the mode whereby socialism is enriched and develops on our road to modernization and “Opening-up Reform”. First we need to know in depth the fundamental situation of China, which is in an initial stage of socialism, and we must be aware that building a modern socialist country, rich, democratic, harmonious, in a developing nation with more than one billion people, is an unprecedented, complex and arduous task. Secondly, we must always insist on reform and innovation. Over the past thirty years we have achieved great success in applying the policy of reform and opening-up and in the construction of a modern society. On the one hand we must exploit these great successes, on the other we must absorb all the achievements of human society, from wherever in the world they come. As a Chinese proverb says: “The sea is great because it can accommodate and contain a hundred rivers”. Socialism therefore is just like the sea: it can absorb all the good and useful social achievements. To go from theory to practice, it is necessary to make a fairly long historical journey, and that is why we have promoted the policy line of the “initial phase” of a hundred years, always insisting on reform and innovation, and thereby maintaining the vitality of “socialism in the Chinese fashion”.
In conclusion, what episode in your political career do you consider most significant, and what personal good wish would you like to hear?
WANG CHEN: I repeat: without the “Opening-up Reform” we would not have seen the development and prosperity of China today. Not only has the destiny of the Chinese nation changed, but it has had an influence on the activity and creativity of all individual Chinese. I was one of them. I couldn’t really be said to have had a political career, I am only a worker in the field of information and the press. I love this job because it has given me the opportunity to help my country with my commitment. And all the colleagues with whom I work in the information sector are proud to make a practical contribution to our nation, and I think there are hundreds of thousands of people like me in China... As for a wish, I’d make it for my country: may China continue down this path of reform, openness and innovation, always wide open to new ideas. In this way the nation will become stronger and more prosperous and democratic, more open, more advanced and harmonious.
Whereas the best wish for myself is to continue to work and make my contribution to the construction of China’s tomorrow. It would be the greatest happiness for me, and the most beautiful memory of my life.

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