December 15 , 2020

Boris Ruge speaks at the launch of the Global Young Leaders Dialogue

On December 15, 2020, Boris Ruge, vice-chairman at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) spoke at the launch of the Global Young Leaders Dialogue (GYLD) Program. The following is an abridged transcript of the speech, which has been edited for length and clarity.


Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Boris Hugo, the vice chairman of the Munich security conference, one of the most important security events in the world. And you can see a picture of our main conference, alright behind me. And delighted to have the opportunity to address you as part of the Global Young Leaders Dialogue of the Center for China and Globalization. The Munich security conference is a partner of CCG and I’d like to thank Doctor Wang, the president of CCG for this invitation.

I have been a German diplomat since 1989. I’ve never served in China. But when I was a boy, my father spent 4 years in Beijing as a correspondent. During that time from 1973 to 1976, I visited China every summer. We travel to many parts of the country from Inner Mongolia in the North to Guangzhou in the south. I came to have great respect and affection for the Chinese people.

Today I would like to congratulate CCG on creating Global Young Leaders Dialogue program. The Munich Security Conferences had such a program since 2009. It’s been a great success. We’ve had participants from China almost every year, bringing the young generation together is an indispensable part of global dialogue.

Many of the big international issues we face today can only be resolved by key global actors coming together. This is true with regard to climate change and with regard to the ongoing pandemic. We inhabit one world, and we must work together to survive. And I mean that literally. In 2019, France and Germany created the alliance for multilateralism to defend and strengthen the rules based international order. Many countries have since joined this initiative. It’s an example of how we can cooperate to tackle global challenges.

From a German point of view, international law is the DNA of multilateralism to use a phrase coined by our foreign minister Heiko Mass, “pholding international law and human rights is something we feel very strongly about in Germany. It’s a lesson we’ve taken from the darkest chapters of our history.”

The China I knew was a boy no longer exists. It has undergone enormous, unprecedented development. Hundreds of millions of people have moved from poverty to prosperity in the space of just a few decades. China has become a leader in many areas. Today China is a global power with influence reaching far beyond the Asia Pacific region. With that power, comes great responsibility.

As a diplomat over the course of three decades, I’ve learned that empathy is an important part of our toolbox. By that I mean the ability to see things from the perspective of other actors. I don’t mean adopting the position of the other side, but rather understanding where he or she is coming from.

In early December, the EU said much the same thing. Referring to, strategic challenge presented by China’s growing international assertiveness. Many of you viewing this event may disagree with those statements, but you should be aware that in Europe, China has seen not just as a partner, but also as a competitor and a rival, as an actor challenging fundamentals of our political and economic system. This is where, once again, dialogue comes into the picture. We have disagreements. Some of them significant. But we must keep talking. And our young people, in particular must keep talking.

In that sense, let me once again congratulate CCG on today’s event and on its new Young Leaders program. I wish you the best of success. Thank you for your attention.

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