The wheel of history is rolling toward the 21st century. At a time when the morning twilight of the new century is going to illumine the world, more than 160 heads of state or government are gathering at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York to discuss maters of vital importance concerning peace and seek sound strategy for common development The people of various countries all place great hopes on the present grand Millenium Summit.
The century alternation and millenium change are the beautiful moment for people to recall the past and compare it with the present, and look forward to the future. As we look at the vicissitudes of the millenium and review the changes in a century, history can provide us with rich experience and enlightenment and reinforce our confidence in opening up a new century of civilization.
In the long process of history, the period of 100 years is only a spindrift in a twinkling. In the 20th century, however, the material and spiritual wealth created by humankind far exceeds that of any previous age, bringing about tremendous economic and social development. It is regrettable that people have also experienced unprecedented suffering during this century, particularly suffering from the calamity resulted from the two world wars. However, world history has always been created and written by the people of the world, therefore, justice invariably triumphs over evil, brightness over darkness and progress over backwardness. Over the past 100 years, people of all countries around the world have waged unremitting struggles for human rights and basic freedom, winning brilliant achievements; they have eliminated the fascist demons who wreaked havoc over the vast land of Asia and Europe; they have smashed the shackles of colonialism that had lasted for several centuries; the vast number of Asian, African and Latin American countries have won national liberation and national independence; socialism has turned from ideals into historical realities in some countries and has continued its victorious advance after meeting with serious setbacks. After experiencing the Versailles-Washington System and the Yalta system, the world pattern has entered a new period of change.
Today's world is experiencing profound and hopeful changes. The international situation is tending to be relaxed as a whole. The effort to win peace, seek stability, promote cooperation and quest for development has become an irresistible historical trend. The demand of the people of all countries for treating each other on an equal footing and getting on with each other in friendship is growing stronger with each passing day. The relationship between big countries is undergoing profound readjustment, the tendency toward multi-polarization of the world is developing. Such development conforms to the objective law of the diversity of the world. The position and influence of the vast number of developing countries is growing stronger, factors in safeguarding peace are on the rise. The economic cooperation and cultural exchange among various countries around the world have never been so extensive and profound as they are today. Science and technology are achieving rapid progress, there has appeared the inkling of the knowledge economy, fledgling industries have emerged one after another, the international market has expanded from day to day, and production factors are flowing at an accelerated pace. Human civilization and progress has burst out infinite creative power and is pushing the world into the new millenium.
Nevertheless, the world is by no means tranquil. Hegemony and power politics have gained further development. The tendency to intensify military alliance and step up arms race has been aggravated, the tendency toward the use of force or threat of force in international affairs has clearly seen. The views of "new interventionism" concocted by some people, such as "human right knowing no national boundaries", "human rights standing above sovereignty", "humanitarian intervention being legal" and the "United Nations Charter being outdated" are manifestations of the continued existence of Cold War mentality; some individual sovereign countries have become the test grounds for the forcible implementation of the "new gunboat policy" packed up with "human rights", "humanity", "human nature" and "man's security".. This shows that hegemonism still attempts to dominate the world, posing serious threat to world peace and stability, a new international political order is far from taking shape.
In the world economic arena, the trend of globalization is developing at an accelerated pace. Economic globalization is like a "rapier": on the one hand, it can boost world economic development through cross-national-boundary capital flow, technological exchange and the rational allocation of production elements, bringing development opportunities for various countries. On the other hand, the developed countries, which grasp the main power to formulate international economic game regulations, are the greatest beneficiaries, whereas the majority of developing countries gain no benefits therefrom, some of them are even being driven to the "verge". Economic globalization has entailed unprecedented, intense international competition, financial and economic risks have increased, the gap between the rich and the poor has further widened, digital gulf has been deepened many times, contradiction between the North and the South has become ever-sharper. The shortage of development funds, the heavy debt burden, the deteriorating trade conditions and other problems that have long been restricting the developing countries have not been relaxed. On the contrary, their economic security and economic sovereignty are faced with enormous pressure and serious challenges. The main reason for the emergence of these major negative effects lies in the fact that the old irrational international economic order has not been changed fundamentally, and a new international economic order has not as yet been established.
It should be pointed out that getting rid of poverty has become one of the greatest challenges facing humankind in the new century. The poverty and backwardness of the developing countries are resulted from the exploitation and plunder by the old and neo-colonialists. Economic globalization has brought closer relations of interdependence among various countries around the world. Checking the negative impact of globalization, eliminating poverty, narrowing down the disparity between the North and the South not only represent the orientation of efforts by the developing countries, but also the responsibilities which the developed countries should take upon themselves. The prosperity of the North countries should not and cannot be permanently established on the poverty of the numerous South countries. The developed countries should show sincerity and join efforts with the developing nations to establish a just and reasonable new international economic order, seek global solutions to existing problems, help the developing countries to shake off poverty and restore economic growth, and keep pace with global economic development.
The new century is calling for a new international political and economic order. A global economy requires global coordination and cooperation; an informationization "global village" requires that a new international political and economic order serve as "village rules and regulations" in the new century. Along with the in-depth development trend of political multi-polarization and economic globalization, expediting the establishment of a peaceful, stable, just and reasonable new international political and economic order has become an urgent question place before the various countries around the world. This new international political and economic order should be an order which stands diametrically opposed to hegemonism and power politics, entails a fundamental change of the unjust and unreasonable international economic relations, reflects the general desire and common interests of the people of various countries, and represent the orientation of historical development and the demand for progress of the times. The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, the purpose and principle of the United Nations Charter and the norms of other universally acknowledged international relations that have withstood historical tests should be taken as the basis of a new international political and economic order. In the new international political and economic order, countries, big or small, poor or rich, strong or weak, are equal members of the international community. Their sovereignty and territorial integrity are respected and they have the right to choose social systems and roads of development suited to their own national conditions, and the right to participate in making decisions concerning world affairs; No countries or group of countries have the privilege to stand above the international community; disputes between countries and conflicts within a region should be solved gradually through dialogs, negotiations, and consultations conducted on an equal footing, the United Nations' positive role in safeguarding peace and stability can be brought into full play; all members of the international community can, with a responsible attitude and in the spirit of sharing risks, develop mutual cooperation, achieve equality and mutual benefit and seek common development in international economic activities.
Doing away with the old international political and economic order and establishing a new one instead of the former constitute a heavy task and the way to achieve this is long, it needs both the intelligence and courage of statesmen of, and the common efforts of the people of, various countries around the world. People earnestly hope that the UN Millenium Summit can become a new starting point for accelerating the establishment of a new international political and economic order and can make contributions to the writing of a new chapter in the progress of human history in the 21st century.
(People’s Daily 09/06/2000)