Foreign Minister Wang Yi Meets the Press
On 8 March 2018, the First Session of the Thirteenth National People’s Congress held a press conference. Foreign Minister Wang Yi answered questions on China’s foreign policy and external relations.
Wang Yi: Dear members of the press, good morning. At the outset, I wish to extend festive greetings to all women, particularly the female journalists in this room. I also wish to thank the press, Chinese and foreign, for having shown understanding and support for China’s foreign policy and external relations. Everything we have accomplished, you have played a part. Thank you! Now I am ready to take your questions.
People’s Daily: Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, China has made unprecedented progress in its foreign relations, which is widely praised across the country. Following the 19th Party Congress, what will be the highlights of China’s diplomatic agenda this year?
Wang Yi: Under the outstanding leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core since the 18th Party Congress, we have traveled on a road of major-country diplomacy that reflects China’s distinct vision, style and values. Producing historic accomplishments, our diplomatic efforts have been instrumental to upholding national sovereignty and interests, and to facilitating domestic reform and development. Last October, General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized in his report to the 19th Party Congress that China will work with other countries to foster a new type of international relations and to build a global community with a shared future. This is the aim of China’s major-country diplomacy in the new era.
The year 2018 kicks off efforts to implement the decisions of the 19th Party Congress. Guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, we in the diplomatic service will take new steps and make new strides. The main highlights of China’s diplomatic calendar will include the following four events we are going to host:
First, the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference, which will take place in Hainan this April and focus on reform and opening-up. In this 40th anniversary year of reform and opening-up, we will review China’s successful experience and sketch new possibilities for reform and opening-up in the new era.
Second, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit, which will take place in Qingdao this June and focus on revitalizing the Shanghai Spirit. The expanded SCO will rededicate itself to the Shanghai Spirit of mutual trust and benefit, equal-footed consultation, respect for diversity of civilizations and pursuit of common development. The summit will set the SCO on a new journey of consolidation and growth.
Third, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Summit, which will take place in Beijing this September and focus on the Belt and Road Initiative. A great opportunity for our African brothers and sisters to participate fully in the BRI, the Summit will give new impetus to the China-Africa comprehensive strategic partnership.
Fourth, the first China International Import Expo, which will take place in Shanghai this November and focus on further market opening. China will embrace the world with open arms and enormous market potential. All will be welcome to access and benefit from the new opportunities of China’s development.
China’s diplomatic agenda for 2018 are unfolding even as we speak. In the new era, we will work even harder to see that China will enjoy a better environment for development and make greater contributions to human progress.
Reuters: What role does China have to facilitate direct talks between North Korea and the United States? Does China believe that the US needs to withdraw its military forces in South Korea?
Wang Yi: This is the hottest topic right now. Seizing the opportunity of the PyeongChang Olympics, the DPRK and the ROK have had a succession of interactions and achieved a rapid thaw in their relations, reversing the long-standing chill on the Korean Peninsula. The recent developments may seem baffling to some people, but are actually within the bounds of reason. During the Winter Games, the DPRK did not conduct any nuclear test and the US and the ROK suspended their joint exercises targeting the DPRK. This proves that China’s “suspension for suspension” proposal was the right prescription for the problem and created basic conditions for the improvement of inter-Korean relations.
The Korean Peninsula issue has finally taken an important step in the right direction. China fully commends and supports the efforts made by the two Koreas. To return the Peninsula to peace and stability and the nuclear issue to the track of dialogue, these initial steps must be followed up by corresponding and concerted efforts by the parties. To this end, we call on the parties, particularly the US and the DPRK, to engage in dialogue sooner rather than later. We encourage all to follow the dual-track approach of remaining committed to the goal of denuclearization and working actively to establish a peace mechanism on the Peninsula. The parties’ legitimate security concerns, including those of the DPRK, can be addressed in exchange for and in tandem with progress towards denuclearization. This is China’s long-standing position and also the vision set forth in the relevant Security Council resolutions.
Of course, it takes more than one cold day to freeze three feet of ice. Despite light at the end of the tunnel, the journey ahead won’t be smooth. History has reminded us time and again that whenever tensions subsided on the Peninsula, the situation would be clouded by various interferences. Now is a crucial moment for testing the sincerity of the parties. Every effort must be made for peace, and the opportunity must be seized. It falls to all parties to bear in mind the imperative of peace and the well-being of people in the region. All must demonstrate political courage and make a political decision to expeditiously carry out all necessary and useful engagements, both bilateral and plurilateral, and to do their best to restart dialogue and negotiation for the peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue. China will continue to make unremitting efforts for this outcome.
China Central Television: In the last five years, President Xi has been fully engaged in China’s foreign policy. His personal diplomacy has enhanced China’s standing and international influence like never before. How do you see the role and impact of the diplomacy conducted by President Xi as head of state?
Wang Yi: Head-of-state diplomacy as the highest form of state-to-state interaction plays a pivotal role and has irreplaceable strategic value. Since 2012, President Xi Jinping has been the chief architect of China’s distinctive major-country diplomacy. He was personally involved in the planning and conduct of head-of-state diplomacy, which by all accounts has been brilliant. To date, President Xi has visited 57 countries in different parts of the world and received more than 110 foreign heads of state. These important visits and meetings go a long way towards deepening the world’s understanding of China, enhancing China’s profile and influence, and facilitating the solution of many global problems. President Xi’s leadership and charisma has earned him – and his country – many good friends among foreign leaders who represent a diverse range of cultures and social systems.
In the year ahead, President Xi will host the four diplomatic events I mentioned earlier, and he will also attend the BRICS Summit in South Africa, the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Papua New Guinea and the G20 Summit in Argentina. We believe that President Xi’s personal diplomacy will make a positive and responsible contribution to the well-being of his people, the interests of China and the welfare of the world. It will write a whole new chapter of major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics in the new era.
Bloomberg: The US says it will use all available tools to prevent China from undermining international competition. Will China respond in kind?
Wang Yi: Let me first reiterate China’s policy towards the United States. China and the US are agreed that we share broad interests and important responsibilities for global peace, stability and prosperity. Our two countries are to carry out broad-based cooperation on the basis of mutual benefit, manage our differences on the basis of mutual respect, deepen mutual understanding and friendship between our people, and work together to address major regional and global challenges. We ought to work for the sustained, healthy and steady growth of our relations.
Cooperation is the main thrust of China-US relations. Our people enjoy close and extensive exchanges. According to the latest Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of Americans have a favorable view of China, the highest rate in nearly three decades. I hope people will pay more attention to such positive things. As the largest developing country and developed country, China and America working together will benefit not just our own countries, but also the whole world. If there is any competition between us, which is natural, it has to be healthy and positive. We may have competition, but we don’t have to be rivals. Instead, we should strive to be partners.
China is determined to stay on the path it has chosen, and China’s development and revitalization is unstoppable. This is the consensus of the international community. Some Americans allege that China will replace America’s role in the world. This strategic conclusion is fundamentally wrong. China is on the path of socialism with distinctive Chinese characteristics. Its success is underpinned by its commitment to peaceful development and win-win cooperation. China’s path is completely different from that of traditional powers and, as such, is commended and welcomed by a growing number of countries. The truth is, the more China develops, the more contribution it can make to the world. China is on a long march to modernization. It has no need or intention to displace America. China and America must respect each other, combine our strengths and pursue win-win cooperation on the basis of the three joint communiqués and our common understandings. China-US relations have gone through a lot in the past few decades, but dialogue and cooperation has always carried the day. It is the wise thing to do; there can be no alternative.
As for our trade frictions, history teaches that trade war is never the right solution. In a globalized world, it is particularly unhelpful, as it will harm the initiator as well as the target country. In the event of a trade war, China will make a justified and necessary response. The bottom line is, as the world’s largest economies, China’s and America’s interests are deeply entwined. We must bear in mind not just the interests of our own people, but also the well-being of the world. When all is said and done, we hope China and America will have a calm and constructive dialogue as equals, and find a win-win solution.
China Daily: We hear a view that China has abandoned its long-standing policy of non-interference in favor of a more interventionist approach. Are we seeing a new trend in China’s foreign policy?
Wang Yi: As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China takes seriously its responsibility for maintaining international peace. Even in the 1950s, we made an important contribution to the peaceful settlement of the Indochina issue. Today, China is in a much better position to help resolve various regional and international issues. We are ready to play our part; indeed, the world expects no less from us.
In helping to settle various flashpoints, we follow a distinctly Chinese approach. There are things we will do and there are things we won’t do. Put simply, our approach is at once peaceful, justifiable and constructive. First, we prefer a political settlement of disputes through dialogue and negotiation, and firmly reject the use of force. Second, we respect other countries’ sovereignty and wish, and never meddle in their internal affairs. Indeed, we firmly reject imposing one’s own view on others. Third, we do our best to be fair and objective and proceed from the merits of the matter. We firmly reject pursuing private ends. Our approach is rooted in traditional Chinese culture and our successful diplomatic practice. In keeping with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, it shows the right way and provides a good example for resolving conflicts and challenges in the world.
RIA Novosti: Russia’s presidential election is scheduled for 18 March. What do you think the result is going to be? How does China view the prospects of China-Russia relations?
Wang Yi: The presidential election is of vital importance to Russia and its people. We note that President Putin has overseen important strides in Russia’s development and he has strong support from his people. We trust the Russian people will again make the right choice and advance steadily towards national revitalization. The Russian people are resilient, principled and resistant to pressure. Our best wishes for Russia and the Russian people!
We have great confidence in the future of China-Russia relations. Our confidence comes from the strong friendship and trust between our presidents, which is fundamental to the further growth of our relationship. It also comes from the deepening of our cooperation in so many fields, our firm support for each other’s core interests, our close coordination on international affairs and the growing exchanges between our two societies. In short, the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination is as unshakable as a mountain. I ask you to convey this to our friends in Russia: the sky is the limit for Sino-Russian cooperation, and we must continue to make the relationship even better than it already is.
Global Times: China’s influence has been on the rise across the board. The 19th Party Congress gives Chinese people greater expectations about their future. However, some in the world are again trying to paint China as a threat. How would you counter this claim?
Wang Yi: For decades, the West has made all kinds of assessments and predictions about China. To some Westerners, China is either “collapsing” or “threatening”. As China continues to grow, the first theory has collapsed and become an international laughing stock. Meanwhile, proponents of the second theory have conjured up new versions, which find dwindling support because facts speak louder than words.
What are the facts? For years, China has been the leading engine of global growth. At more than 30 percent, China’s annual contribution is bigger than that of America, Japan and the Eurozone combined. China accounts for more than 70 percent of poverty reduction worldwide, a miracle in human history. As the largest source of peacekeeping personnel among the permanent members of the Security Council and the second largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget, China is bearing a weighty responsibility for maintaining world peace. Not to mention that in the last five years, with its Belt and Road Initiative and other major proposals, China has come to the fore in championing global governance, free trade and an open global economy.
From these solid facts, those who do not have bias or practice double standards will see in China not a threat, but plenty of opportunities. It’s time the “China threat theory” was laid to rest.
Kazinform: Since its launch five years ago, the Belt and Road Initiative has made a lot of progress. However, some Westerners seem to harbor doubts about its transparency and conformity with international rules. What is China’s response?
Wang Yi: The Belt and Road is a transparent initiative launched by China. It follows the “golden rule” of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. Belt and Road cooperation aims to be equal-footed, inclusive and beneficial to all. The planning and implementation of BRI projects have been discussed by the participants in the open. No country is dominating the process; all parties have an equal say. There is no back-room deal; everything is transparent. There is no “winner takes all”; every project delivers win-win results.
Last May, the representatives of more than 140 countries participated in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. The turnout is a clear vote of confidence from the international community. To date, more than 80 countries and international organizations have signed BRI agreements with China. A large number of BRI projects are well underway and adding needed momentum to the economic and social development of our partner countries. For example, China is building over a dozen power stations for Pakistan, the largest of which is supplying electricity to tens of millions of Pakistanis. When all of them are completed, power cuts and shortages will be a thing of the past in Pakistan. In Serbia, a Chinese enterprise bought a troubled steel mill and turned it around in less than a year, both saving more than 5,000 local jobs and helping to re-energize the city in which the steel mill is located. In Greece, a Chinese group took over the operation of its largest seaport, ramped up the container volume and put it back in the same league as Europe’s largest ports. China is also partnering with France to build a nuclear power plant in the UK, a stellar example of high-tech cooperation under the BRI.
As a global public good, the BRI of course abides by international rules. As a platform for international cooperation, it naturally follows market principles. The joint communiqué of last year’s forum committed to this and emphasized the importance of economic, social, fiscal and environmental sustainability of projects. We sincerely ask for ideas from all parties, so that we will together make a success of the Belt and Road Initiative. Our goal is not only to strengthen the physical connectivity of infrastructure, but also to improve the institutional connectivity of policies, rules and standards. BRI projects must be high-standard as well as results-oriented, high-quality as well as economically viable, beneficial to the world as well as to China.
Beijing TV: Premier Li Keqiang emphasized in his government work report that 2018 will kick off efforts to put the decisions of the 19th Party Congress into action. It is the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up, and a crucial year for securing a decisive victory in establishing a moderately prosperous society in all respects and for implementing the 13th Five-Year Plan. What will the Ministry of Foreign Affairs do in 2018 to facilitate China’s development goals?
Wang Yi: China still being a developing country, facilitating domestic development is part and parcel of major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. Keeping in mind our new mission and what is expected of us, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will implement the decisions of the central leadership and be more active in facilitating domestic development.
We will adapt to the new landscape of high-quality development to create a more favorable environment for external cooperation, including “bringing in” and “going global”, and for domestic development.
We will tackle the new challenges presented by the evolution of the principal contradiction facing Chinese society. To tell China’s stories in a more compelling way, we will both upgrade the presentation of Chinese provinces and launch a new series on the major initiatives of reform and opening-up. For example, later this year we will host an event to present the Xiongan New Area to the world. In addition, the MFA has been and will continue to be fully engaged in poverty alleviation and do its bit for winning the nationwide battle against poverty.
We will meet the new requirements and leverage our diplomatic and consular assets across the globe to facilitate the Belt and Road Initiative and protect China’s overseas interests.
All in all, in advancing major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics in the new era, we aim to be not just the pacesetter of China’s international engagement, but also a solid contributor to domestic development.