Cui Jianmin's keynote speech at China Poland Forgien Policy Forum
China’s the “Belt and Road” Initiative under the Youth Exchange Perspective
(20 June, 2016, Warsaw, Poland)
Dear Polish friends,
Though it’s my first visit to Poland, I’ve always been very interested in the Polish history and culture. Marx once praised the Polish people as “the immortal warriors of Europe”; Copernicus, Madame Curie and Chopin are world-renowned, with whose names the Chinese Primary and secondary students are very familiar as well; the “Chinese Alley” inside the Lazienki Park has a beautiful and legendary history, and in 2012 Chinese premier Wen Jiabao and Polish premier walked together on the “Chinese Alley”.
In modern and contemporary history of the world, the Polish nation has suffered from national misery the same as the Chinese nation. Poland was the most hotly contested battlefield during the WWII, being in wars from the first day to the last day. More than 40 concentration camps in Auschwitz are also regarded as the theme of the postwar literature, from which the human civilization and human thinking came and are influential to this day.
It is precisely because the two peoples share similar experiences and memories that we can better understand the value of peace and actively seek the establishment of a new world political and economical order, which can transcend ideological and geographic differences, and can replace the Cold War with economic cooperation. In such historical context, the “Belt and Road” initiative came into being, which emphasizes on seeking the base of interests of win-win cooperation and promoting cultural communication and integration. As China’s “natural friend”, Poland has played an important and exemplary role in pushing forward the participation of Central and Eastern European countries in the OBOR strategy. Poland is not only China’s largest trade partner in the Central and Eastern Europe, but also the only founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in this region. China-Poland relationship is the pillar relationship among “16+1 Cooperation”. President Xi Jinping’s visit to Poland this time will certainly open a new era to upgrade and update the China-Poland strategic partnership.
After entering the 21st century, the role of soft power in international relations has been increasingly prominent. As an important part of public diplomacy, the youth diplomacy has become the dominant discourse of international politics; has shown the characteristics of being from peripheral to central, from complementary to dominant, from bilateral to multilateral; and has played an important role in the promotion of the strategic partnership of countries along “the Belt and Road” into a deeper and wilder field of development.
Firstly, we should strengthen political mutual trust among youngsters. Exchange lays the foundation for trust. The friendly exchanges between the young serves as a foundation for the future political trust among countries. In recent years, the youth organizations in China, by making full use of the intergovernmental mechanisms for people-to-people exchanges, have increased bilateral and multilateral dialogues and negotiations on policy with youngsters in countries along the Belt and Road. What’s more, they have enhanced exchanges, especially the idea and soul exchanges with young politicians, young entrepreneurs, young scholars, young reporters, young community leaders and other young groups all around the world. Apart from that, they have promoted the establishment of the exchange and cooperation network among young leaders along the Silk Road in various ways such as building New Media’s circles and fan base under the Silk Road Initiative, paying return visits regularly, exchanging materials and interacting online. With regard to the youth exchange between China and Poland, well, the number of Chinese overseas students in Poland has shown an upward trend in recent years. Meanwhile, the exchange program between Chinese schools and schools in Poland is increasing day by day. Since the first Confucius Institute was set up in Poland in 2006, there have been five Confucius Institute and two Confucius Classrooms in Poland by 2015, which has definitely laid a solid foundation for the mutual political trust among the young of both sides.
Secondly, we should promote the economic and trade cooperation among youngsters. Economic and trade cooperation is essential for the bilateral relations of mutual benefit, therefore the youth diplomacy should focus on strengthening the practical cooperation in economic and trade area with youngsters and promoting economic integration in countries along the Belt and Road. Recently the Chinese youth organizations have pushed forward the establishment of certain platforms and mechanisms like the Silk Road Young Entrepreneurs Associations and Clubs as well as the leadership dialogues in economic realm. What’s more, they have taken advantage of some international forums like the Boao Forum for Asia and the Euro-Asia Economic Forum to support the economic and trade forums, summits and project negotiations of young leaders in various places, and encourage young entrepreneurs throughout the world to participate and synergize cooperative projects. By doing so, they aim to vitalize all kinds of mechanisms for economic cooperation under the “Belt and Road” Initiative. The young entrepreneurs in China and Poland should give full play to all kinds of international forums, platforms and mechanisms to promote the economic and trade cooperation among youngsters of both side to a new level.
Thirdly，we should enhance the cultural identity among youngsters. Cultural identity is the most powerful emotional bond for the enhancement of bilateral relations. In recent years, the youth organizations in China have conducted a series of cultural exchange activities to publicize the splendid culture of countries along the Belt and Road such as hosting art festival, book exhibition, film and tourism festivals, and organizing summer camps for the youth from those countries. Furthermore, by hosting seminars and carrying out cooperation on youth culture, the Chinese youth organizations aim to bridge the gaps between different ideologies and social systems for the young and foster their sense of a community of common destiny. In addition, the Chinese youth organizations have made efforts to enhance the cultural soft power of China in countries along the Belt and Road as they strongly support and boost Chinese youth culture creative products focusing on the Silk Road to go global. Ever since 2012 China and Poland have jointly hosted the Chinese New Year in Poland, Chinese Cultural Festival, China Ethnic Culture Week and Poland Culture Season,etc. All these activities have marked the progress for the cultural exchanges between two countries.The Chopin International Piano Competition will soon be launched in Beijing this year, which is seen as a highlight for the cultural exchanges between the youth in China and in Poland. More importantly, I believe the event will play a significant role in promoting cultural exchanges and mutual learning between two countries and enhancing mutual understanding and trust.
Of course, during the implementation of the “Belt and Road” strategy, we must be acknowledged that some countries are still worried about the rise of China, and Chinese investors are concerned about the risks of investment in the countries along the Belt and Road as well. To ease their concerns requires youngsters of both side to publicize and elaborate on the foreign policies of their own country during the foreign exchanges, and further excavate the academic and cultural connotation of youth exchanges.
“To tell the Chinese story well and to illustrate Chinese values”serve as a foundation for China’s public diplomacy, especially the youth diplomacy. In face of some irresponsible remarks made by foreign media including the “China Threat” Theory, “China Responsibility” Theory and the Theory of “China’s Assertiveness”, we are responsible for telling the foreign youngsters the reason why China has contributed to up to 50% of the world economic growth and up to 70% of world poverty reduction; we are responsible for clarifying the profound connotation of the “Belt and Road” Initiative and its great strategic significance for the peaceful development and win-win cooperation of countries along the Belt and Road. This, we believe, will eliminate concerns of both side fundamentally and push forward the cooperation in real sense.
To strengthen the academic exchanges and cooperation among the youth is an important approach to enhance the connotation of youth diplomacy. Academic exchanges is more appealing and convincing in terms of foreign exchanges by youngsters as it involves the expression of both emotional and rational opinions after academic studies and thorough thinking. As the main force of academic research, the young people will play a critical role in promoting youth academic exchanges and eliminating cognitive mistakes in the strategic integration of countries along the “Belt and Road”. The Think Tanks Forum we are holding now is an important means of strengthening academic exchanges and cooperation with a great many youngsters’ participation.
Last but not the least, as the President of the Research Center for the Youth and Humanities Studies of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, I sincerely welcome you to China for conducting academic exchanges and cooperation with CASS.
Thank you all!
(Cui Jianmin is the President of the Youth, Humanity and Social Sciences Research Center, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)