Speech by the High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, China (13/07/2016)
Thank you very much, Professor. It really is an honour for me to be here. If I can share with you a personal note: I also envy all of you a little bit because actually academic work has always been my passion. Having said that, it is indeed true that this is the first occasion I have had to present the Global Strategy after the presentation to the European Council – so to the European Union Heads of State and Government – at the end of June. I thought together with my team, that it was an excellent occasion for me to present the point of view of the European Union on its own role in the world, and being here today on the occasion of the EU-China Summit that we just concluded in a very successful way, was a perfect occasion to share with you some thoughts and also exchange some ideas of what we can do together in the word. So I thank you very much for this opportunity that I value immensely.
This is a very intense and complex moment both for our European Union and for our world. And in a moment like this, I really appreciate this exchange of views with an audience like this one, like yours. I know you want to hear about our Global Strategy, and if you will allow me also I would share a few thoughts on the new EU Strategy on EU-China relations. In a moment I will explain the rationale of both documents, but this is also an opportunity for me to listen to you, to your expectations about Europe’s role in the world and our relationship with China, on our partnership and on our cooperation.
I realise that very often our friends and partners around the world see the value of our Union much better than we Europeans do. So it is very important for me to try and look at Europe from the outside, through your eyes. I see very clearly that it is in our mutual interest to work through a united European interlocutor. I see very clearly that when we discuss about trade or security, or cooperation, or intelligence – just to mention a few areas in which we cooperate or where we have an interest to cooperate – even our biggest Member States might not be so interesting for a country of 1.3 billion people. But together, with our European Union, we are in the world’s G3 together with China and the US; we are your first trading partner; and we are a global security provider, including in Asia.
This is why we need a Strategy and need it right now. After the British referendum to leave the European Union, there are many questions about the future - first of all about the UK’s future, and also about the future of our Union. But my message here to you is that we also have some certainties and some clear sense of direction, which means that we have many questions but also many answers to our questions.
First of all, we cannot afford any uncertainty in the moment that the world is living today. We do not have uncertainties in the European Union about the fundamental direction of our work. Our citizens and our global partners need Europe to be an active player in world politics. The European Union needs to engage in the world and to do it in a clear and shared sense of direction.
And this is what the Strategy I just presented to the leaders of the European Union is all about. For over one year we engaged in conversations with all our Member States, with the governments, but also with national parliaments, with international organisations, with citizens from all walks of life, with academia and with experts from all over the world – including from China. Together we have defined a shared vision for our Union’s foreign and security policy. We have also identified a number of concrete steps to turn a shared vision into a common action. For European policymakers and for our citizens, this is a way to better work together. But I believe the Strategy can also be very important in our relationship with our partners. We are telling the world: these are our priorities; this is the kind of world we would want to work for. And we are ready to engage actively and very pro-actively with all those who share the same priorities and the same goals.
Indeed, “engagement” is one of the key principles and one of the key words you will find in the documents, both in the Global Strategy and in the Strategy on our relations with China. Our world has never been so connected. Opportunities are global. Think of how important it is for European firms to invest in China and vice-versa. But threats have also become global. The attack in Bangladesh just a few weeks ago reminded us that terrorist ideologies can spread very easily across borders, even in countries that are so far away from one another. North Korea’s missile tests are a concern for the whole world, not just for its neighbours or for the region. And let me also mention here one thing that struck me a lot: Just a few days ago - as I have the responsibility of the security of our personnel around the world - we were working to evacuate our personnel in South Sudan. The news of the loss of Chinese lives there was coming in the very same hours, to remind us that we are engaged in different parts of the world together, for the same purpose, which is in that case peacekeeping in a country that has faced for such a long time war and divisions. And I would like to extend publicly my condolences to the Chinese people and authorities for their loss in South Sudan.
As we face global threats and opportunities, it is clear that we need to engage with the world. But this does not mean for us Europeans - for us or for anyone else - that alone one should carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. This is no time for global policemen and lone warriors. You will find it clearly stated in our new Strategy: cooperation and engagement are the key words that you will find. Cooperation is vital and partnership is essential. And this is particularly true for partnership among the world powers. A confrontation between global players would lead us nowhere. This is a world of win-win or lose-lose situations. And it is maybe the first time that the European Union states this so clearly in a strategic document. Only cooperation can make us stronger, the both of us. And it is our intention to invest in the strength of our partners worldwide. This is one of the key lessons of our European integration and also of our European history - and I know you know much more about European integration and European interests that many Europeans actually do - but the lessons we have learnt over our history is that it is cooperation and not confrontation - even with partners or neighbours or countries that are not necessary your friends – that is going to make you stronger and more prosperous.
This is also true for our foreign policy. This is the European way of foreign policy. Investing in partnerships, cooperation, in trying to find common ground for win-win solutions whenever it is possible, in the framework of international rules and international norms, and in full respect of international norms and rules. For us in the European Union it is vital to build cooperation on the world scene.
Now I know that there are people in the world who have concerns about a more confident and outward-looking China. I am not among those; I am not worried about China’s rise. Because I am convinced that China’s greater engagement in world affairs and regional affairs can open many opportunities on many issues of common interest, also for us Europeans. So let me focus on a couple of the priorities we have identified in our Global Strategy and what the European Union and China – together – can achieve on some of these priorities.
Let me start with Afghanistan. You might be surprised about that because it is true that the international attention and also the European attention is shifting in a way. But I was exchanging views with President Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah just a few days ago in Warsaw, in the margins of the NATO Summit: we do have a common interest in keeping the focus on support to Afghanistan in this moment.
Another thing you will find in the strategy is the intention to keep the attention high, even after the peak of crisis has shifted away. We have seen in recent years, so many crises that are actually the return of crises that have not been followed-up until the end and have been left alone before situations were settled, and this has provoked cycles of crises coming back again and again. So one of the issues on which we focus in the Strategy is to tackle crises from the very beginning - actually from the prevention of crises and conflicts - to the very end of post-conflict. Afghanistan, I believe, is a case in point and both China and Europe cannot afford to leave this country alone at this moment. The country needs institution-building, it needs security and social and economic development. It needs a renewed peace and reconciliation process, and as you know, our European Union has engaged very directly on all these issues, and we will host a major international conference on Afghanistan in October. China in our eyes, in our view, is key and is already doing a lot, both bilaterally and in relations with others, in the region and internationally in the Quadrilateral Group. I believe China will play a central role at our Brussels Conference in October, also to increase the regional work for peace and reconciliation. This is a difficult path, we know very well, that requires regional actors to play a coordinated and constructive role, as well as the Afghan leadership which needs to feel at the same time both pressure and support from its neighbours and the international community.
The second example I would like to draw your attention to is Africa: another field where the European Union and China can cooperate in a very fruitful and important way. Cooperation between our naval Operation Atalanta and the Chinese navy, off the Horn of Africa, has already been incredibly effective in the fight against piracy. China is now looking for greater engagement in peacekeeping operations in Africa and we are ready to discuss how to work together more for instance in countries like Mali and Somalia, and I had today excellent exchanges about this with the Defence Minister [General Chang Wanquan].
But we also know that everywhere in the world, and in particular in places like Africa, peace is not only about military operations and blue helmets, even if - I would like to say this especially because I see some friends from the military here - the Strategy highlights the fact that the European Union needs to strengthen its defence and military capabilities and also some degree of strategic economy. We have the means to do that, and we have the interest to do that, always in the European way, which means in a cooperative approach and with the international norms and legal frameworks that we recognise as fundamental. But the European way is always not only a military one but what we call the comprehensive approach: it is including military actions that we participate in – there are now 17 civilian and military operations and missions around the world under the EU flag. It is never purely or only a military approach; it is always combined with other elements.
This leads me to second priority we identified in the Strategy that is strengthening the resilience of states and societies in our wider region. So, focusing not only on the crisis management in all stages but also on the resilience of countries and societies around us. Resilience is about good jobs and economic growth. It is about fighting climate change and its consequences. It is about open societies and good governance. It is about managing migration and giving shelter to refugees. Resilience is about making the next crisis less likely to happen. And if you look at this carefully it is very much linked to the full implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, something for which the European Union feels a lot of ownership and responsibility, as we also worked together to achieve this important result last year.
So this is another field where European-Chinese cooperation can have a huge impact. Not only but also, I would like to stress, mostly in Africa in this moment, also because we are seeing clearly that China is becoming a leading investor in Africa and that you have an interest – just as much as we do – in making the continent more resilient, more secure, more peaceful and prosperous.
Looking beyond Africa, a new institution such as the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank can be an important engine of development and resilience. But we need to keep in mind that resilience is not simply about growth: development can only be sustainable if it doesn’t hurt the environment, and if it respects basic human rights.
And so I come to a third priority, beyond managing crises and working for resilience: it is working for a better global governance based on multilateralism and on international law. Beijing is a crucial interlocutor towards a more multilateral and cooperative world order. We see it every day, being a crucial permanent member of the UN Security Council. I saw it first-hand during the negotiations with Iran and we are close to the one-year anniversary of the Iranian deal we concluded on the 14th July last year, with a key contribution of China not only in reaching the deal during the negotiations but also on the implementation of the deal. And the lessons we learnt on that occasion and afterwards is that when all world powers cooperate towards the same goal, within a multilateral framework, within the international norms and rules, our potential is really immense. What was deemed to be impossible becomes true and implementable, because the deal was not only reached but after six months it was also implemented. So we only need to strengthen and deepen such cooperation at international level and multilateralism. To do so, it is crucial that we all respect our international commitments, implement the decisions that are taken collectively and abide by the same set of rules. This is why our European Union insists on the need to address all maritime disputes in a peaceful way and in full respect of international norms and law. A violation of global rules makes the entire international system weaker; it makes conflict more likely; and it makes the whole of us less secure.
This is why on the South China Sea the European Union underlines the fundamental importance of upholding the freedoms, rights and duties established in UNCLOS, in particular the freedoms of navigation and overflight, and why the European Union - as you probably know very well - does not take any position on sovereignty aspects related to claims on land and maritime space. The European Union does call upon the parties to fully respect decisions rendered by the relevant courts and tribunals and, in particular, we always invite our partners and friends to settle disputes in a peaceful and cooperative manner and avoid escalations that would be detrimental for the entire region.
So the EU and China can be partners and have an interest in being partners for a strengthened multilateral system. And we cannot be conservative in our approach to the international system and to international institutions. A better global governance calls for a reform of the United Nations and of the international financial institutions. The world has changed so much and it keeps changing very fast – we see it in these weeks. Our organisations, including the United Nations, must reflect such change, or their strength will inevitably be eroded. We don’t want this to happen because, like China, we believe that rather than unilateral approaches it is multilateral frameworks we need to strengthen.
In a more global and contested world, we need a strong global governance more than ever. So our European Union is ready to step up its engagement with China towards a more multilateral and cooperative global order. And I know that China regards the European Union as one of the poles of the multipolar system and of the multipolar order. I have the impression sometimes that our time of complexity pushes us even further and sometimes I doubt that we still have poles in the multipolar system. But we are those who believe in multilateralism and in a system that recognises the different roles for different actors worldwide and the need, as I said, to play by the rules, each of us having its place, its voice, its responsibility in a cooperative manner in order to face the challenges we share and also to profit from the opportunities that the world offers us in a way that is unprecedented.
I have been far too long. Let me conclude by saying that Europe and China need each other and our peoples need each other. So the question is not whether we should engage with each other and be partners, but how best to do so. We are two leading world powers; we represent two of the great civilisations of human history - even if any European would question if we represent one civilisation or culture - but for sure you will find here and in the European continent the roots of civilisations in the world. And we have a lot to learn from each other and from each other’s cultures.
I will maybe leave a few talks on the new EU-China Strategy for questions and answers if you are more interested in that and so to conclude I will just mention an old Chinese saying, that I encountered while I was preparing for this visit and which, if I am not wrong, was quoted a few years ago by President Xi. It goes like this: “Learning alone, without exchanges with others, will lead to ignorance.” Is that correct? I believe that this is maybe an old saying, but it works very, very well in our new, complex world. Only an alliance of civilisations can lead the way towards shared progress – both for Europe, for China, but also for the rest of the world. We believe that we have a common responsibility in making this happen.