Durban, South Africa, 2 September 2001
First of all, please allow me to extend, on behalf of the Chinese Government, congratulations on the convocation of the World Conference Against Racism and to express our heartfelt gratitude to the South African Government and people for their ample preparations for the conference and for their kind hospitality accorded to the delegates. I am convinced that your outstanding wisdom and rich experience will guide the conference to success.
The courageous people of South Africa, through years of unremitting efforts, buried Apartheid in the 1990s once and for all, which marked a great victory of the African people in their protracted struggle against racism. At the beginning of the new century, it is of great symbolic and historic significance for us to meet, here in South Africa, a country with a glorious tradition against racism, to discuss and work out the strategy and measures against racism.
Colonialism, foreign invasion, slave trade and Apartheid are all typical manifestations of racism, which inflicted untold sufferings on the countries and people across Asia, Africa and Latin America. In Asia, innocent people were trampled underfoot by colonialists and foreign invaders. From the Pacific to the Indian Ocean and from South East Asia to Middle East, none of the cradles of ancient human civilization was spared by the wreckage and destruction. In Africa, the colonialists treaded on every inch of the land under their iron heels, and slave trade was the darkest page written in human history with the blood and tears of countless African sons and daughters. In the Americas, the discovery of the New World deprived the aboriginals of their peaceful life. Large numbers of American Indians were slaughtered and almost all the land on which the natives depended for a living was snatched away.
Light will triumph over darkness and justice over evil. Thanks to the strenuous and protracted struggle by the people of Asia, Africa and Latin America and the joint efforts of the international community, nearly a hundred countries shook off the shackles of the colonialist rule and won national emancipation and independence. The UN, since its establishment, has launched the Three Decades to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination and adopted the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and other important instruments, forcefully carrying forward the fight against racism across the globe.
At this very moment, however, we must be clearly aware that the struggle against racism remains an uphill and prolonged endeavor. As the pernicious influence of old racism lingers on, many countries are still beset with poverty, internal conflict and turmoil. Racism of new forms continues to grow and incidents of xenophobia, discrimination against immigrants, and racial violence keep cropping up. Moreover, neo-Fascism and neo-Nazism are rearing up their ugly heads in some countries. All these are manifestations of contempt against and trampling on the equality and dignity of mankind, constituting a blatant challenge to world peace and development. What is more, racial hatred and bloodshed is on the rise in the Middle East and the Palestinian people are still deprived of their legitimate rights and interests. The international community should take a clear stand on this issue. This conference, which is highly necessary, is convened at just the right time. At the onset of the new millenium, it will help mankind formulate effective measures to combat and finally root out racism. Here, I would like to take this opportunity to stress the following three points.
1. To face up to history and eliminate the root of both old and new racism. Colonialism, foreign invasion, slave trade and Apartheid used to inflict untold sufferings and humiliation on countless families. These heinous crimes are detested by the whole mankind. They should never be repeated and tragedies must be avoided. The countries that committed acts of aggression, colonization and enslavement against those Asian, African and Latin American countries in the past should look squarely at history and draw lessons from it. The international community should take effective measures to uproot the causes of old and new racism, and make the earth a tranquil and harmonious homeland for all people regardless of race, gender, language or religion, and shape a better future for them.
2. To advocate equality and mutual respect and enhance mutual understanding through dialogue. The world is diverse and colorful. Difference in race and civilization is the basic characteristic of human society and an expression of the diversity of the world. Ancient Chinese always advocated the virtue of "tolerance" and "harmony". Now mankind has entered the 21st century. On the land where we live together, society needs progress, and the people need peace. To this end, efforts should be made to abandon the mentality of racial superiority, dissolve the piled-up grievances among nations, and to bury the hatchet and turn hostility into friendship. All countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal members of the international family. They should, in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the widely recognized norms of international law, respect each other and live as good neighbors in harmony, amity and peace. People of different nations should, through dialogue, promote understanding and learn from one another and together carry forward the quintessence of human civilization.
3. To boost cooperation for the common development of all countries in the world. Economic globalization is gaining momentum. The vast number of countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America and their people have to, on the one hand, get rid of the adverse influence left over from history by racism and colonialism and on the other, take up the challenge of the ever-widening "digital divide". Against this background, the international community and the developed countries, in particular, have both the duty and obligation to help developing countries get out of their plight. The World Conference Against Racism should commit itself to greater international cooperation with a view to establishing a just and rational new international political and economic order at an early date so that all countries will be able to benefit from the process of globalization and multipolarization, thus eventually contributing to peace, development and prosperity of all mankind.
The Chinese Government has attached great importance to this conference and taken an active part in all its preparation. In order to answer the call of the UN and enhance the awareness of people from all walks of life of the issue of racism, the Chinese Government sponsored the Seminar on Internet and Spread of Racism last July in Beijing. Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan sent a letter of congratulation to the seminar, calling on the international community to pay attention to the severe damage incurred by the spread of racist rhetoric via Internet. The seminar believed that all countries, while strengthening nationwide education and enhancing their citizens' awareness against racism, should improve the related legislation so as to effectively stem the spread of racist rhetoric via Internet. We hope that the relevant bodies of the UN will, by making full use of the available resources, carry out study of the above-mentioned subjects and push forward effective international cooperation.
Our forefathers left an old maxim with us, "all men are brothers within the Four Seas". Though we hail from different parts of the world and vary in race and color, we have similar genomes, and our ideal in pursuit of equality, happiness and peace is the same. Let us, taking the opportunity of the World Conference Against Racism, discard pride and prejudice, deeply reflect on the past and present, and work out effectual measures to uproot racism, a cancer on the tissue of human society, once and for all, and work together for a beautiful world of equality, amity, harmony and prosperity.
Thank you Mme. President.