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Keynote Address to the Boao Forum for Asia entitled: “Asia Seeking Development for All: Reconstructing, Responsibility, and Cooperation”

Boao, Hainan, China, 7 April 2013

Esteemed President Xi Jinping,
Respected Heads of State and Government,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am truly humbled by the exceptional honor to address the Opening Ceremony of the 2013 Boao Forum for Asia.

At the onset of my remarks, allow me to congratulate the newly-elected leadership of the People’s Republic of China, headed by President Xi Jinping. I wish them every success in the discharge of their important national and global duties.

For over three decades, this country has relentlessly pursued a policy of reform and growing engagement with the world. Both the scale and scope of this undertaking is without precedent in the annals of human history. Never before have the hopes and prospects of so many millions changed for the better, so drastically and so fast.

The Chinese dream of national rejuvenation is turning into a reality within a global environment beset by one of the most profound periods of transformation ever to occur in peacetime.

I think we are in the midst of a momentous pivot towards a more democratized and harmonious world that puts people first with sustainable development at the fulcrum of international cooperation efforts. This calls for a grand re-organization of human affairs, where proud and independent nations that bear no ill-will towards others will further grow in stature and respect.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The developed and the developing need to come together through win-win cooperation, in order to deliver sustainable progress for all mankind. This is the fundamental ambition of the landmark document entitled “The Future We Want,” which the world leaders adopted last June in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.

It mandates the United Nations General Assembly to set an aspirational and universally applicable post-2015 agenda which defines Sustainable Development Goals, put forth options for financing them, and lays out a workable intergovernmental arrangement for monitoring their implementation.

Under such circumstances, the General Assembly can become the international community’s key source of democratic legitimacy fully respecting the singularity and sovereign equality of its members.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

China is a proud and ancient civilization the state with the longest continuous record of self-government the world has ever known. Millennia ago, this nation entered the historical consciousness not as something new but already present, without beginning or end. This is a great endowment of the Yellow Emperor: to impress upon posterity a faith in everlasting renewal, restoration, and reform.

A key to China’s endurance is found in the teachings of the wisest of its sages, Confucius, who wrote of the ingrained virtue of ‘Ren,’ or benevolence. He described it as a sincere consideration for fellow human beings, a sense of reverence and compassion based on the equal dignity of each, in a community of shared values.

As we resolve to commit to the generational task before us, let us strive, with every measure of our devotion, to cultivate ‘Ren’ in the conduct of international relations to advance the priorities of our respective peoples, while treating everyone as we ourselves would wish to be treated.

In my culture, this is called the ‘Golden Rule’; others have different names for it, yet its message permeates ethical traditions across the globe, amounting to a universal appeal of our era. May it stand as a unifying principle for the shared quest to assure peace and sustainable prosperity to all nations in our globalized and interdependent world.

Thank you very much for your attention.


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