16 March 2006

Chinese Leader's Book Provides Fascinating Account of some Seminal Moments in Late 20th Century Chinese Foreign Policy, Says Deputy Secretary-General

NEW YORK, 15 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following are remarks by UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette at the launch of Ten Episodes in China's Diplomacy, 14 March:

It is a pleasure to join you at this celebration marking the publication of Vice Premier Qian Qichen's Ten Episodes in China's Diplomacy.

There are many who believe that this will be China's century.  It is certainly true that what China does, and how China fares, is increasingly significant to the world at large.  China's economic progress, its increasing prominence on global issues, and its dynamic engagement with the United Nations are all, rightly, attracting the world's attention.

To fully engage a growing and prosperous China, each of us in the international community must first seek to understand the world from China's vantage point.  And there is perhaps no person better placed to offer such a perspective than Mr. Qian, whom Professor Vogel's foreword aptly describes as the leading Chinese diplomat of his generation.

Mr. Qian, with characteristic modesty, claims in his introduction that this book is neither a historical record nor a theoretical work.  In fact, it manages to be a bit of both, simply by being faithful to its stated aim of giving a truthful and accurate account of events.  As a historical record, it provides a fascinating account of some of the seminal moments in late twentieth century Chinese foreign policy, from the détente with the Soviet Union to the handover of Hong Kong.  As a description of the quiet diplomacy that is so often critical in maintaining delicate relationships between States, it is deeply insightful.  And as an insider's account of how China perceives the world, it is invaluable.

By themselves, these qualities would be more than sufficient to secure the book's place as an important record of international diplomacy, and of Chinese foreign policy in particular.  Yet there is another, more personal, aspect to Mr. Qian's narrative:  his book gives us a rare glimpse into the mind of a highly effective Chinese leader at work.  In its pages we encounter a diplomat who strove at every turn to resolve disputes and further peaceful cooperation through engagement and negotiation.

Mr. Qian's clarity and grasp of world affairs made him a formidable ambassador for his country, and a respected voice in the international community.  Which is why, following Mr. Qian's retirement, the Secretary-General almost immediately asked him to join the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.

All of us at the United Nations Secretariat are grateful to Mr. Qian for his contribution to this Panel, which was assembled to evaluate the threats facing the international community, and to propose ways for nations to work collectively to address them.  The Panel's final report benefited greatly from his sound judgement and vast experience -- the very same qualities that served him, and his country, so well in the diplomatic episodes recounted in his book.

I am glad that Mr. Qian is with us today, and I shall not delay his addressing us any further.

Thank you.

* *** *