On 7 March 2022, a press conference was held via video link on the margins of the Fifth Session of the 13th National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People, during which State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi answered questions from Chinese and foreign media about China’s foreign policy and external relations.
Wang Yi: Friends from the media, good afternoon. I am very pleased to meet you again. For the world, the year ahead continues to be full of challenges. The world has not completely defeated COVID-19, and yet it is now facing the Ukraine crisis. An international situation already rife with uncertainties is becoming more complex and fluid. At such a critical moment, countries need solidarity, not division; dialogue, not confrontation. As a responsible major country, China will continue to hold high the banner of multilateralism. We will work with all peace-loving and development-seeking countries to strengthen solidarity and cooperation, jointly meet challenges, and continue to promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. We will strive together for a brighter and better future for the world. With these words, I’m ready to take your questions.
China Central Television: The Beijing Olympic Winter Games has been a great success, which was not easy under the current international circumstances. Some foreigners say that China has more confidence and strength than it staged the Olympic Games in 2008. What is your view?
Wang Yi: With the joint efforts of China and the international community, the Beijing Olympic Winter Games has achieved a full success. We have presented to the world a streamlined, safe and splendid Games, and a more confident, self-reliant, open and inclusive China. Around 170 official representatives from close to 70 countries and international organizations were at the Opening Ceremony, supporting China with concrete actions. Here, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to friends from all countries that have participated in and supported Beijing 2022.
Beijing 2022 is not only a success for China, but also a success for the world. It represents not just the triumph of sport but, more importantly, the triumph of solidarity. The Games was held amid the spread of Omicron and rising tensions over regional hot-spots. It also faced politically-motivated attempts of disruption and sabotage by a handful of countries. Under such circumstances, it was inspiring to see that the overwhelming majority of countries and people chose to unite under the Olympic spirit, bringing hope to people beset by the pandemic and confidence to a world overshadowed by instability.
As we speak, athletes from around the world are giving their best performance on the winter Paralympic field of play. I am confident that the light of unity and cooperation created by the Olympic and Paralympic Games will shine through mist and rain, and illuminate the path for humanity to jointly forge ahead into the future.
Reuters: Russia’s military action in Ukraine has expanded to non-military targets. Will China do more to help resolve the conflict?
Wang Yi: On the Ukraine issue, China has adopted an objective and impartial attitude. We independently assess the situation and make our position clear on the basis of the merits of the issue.
As a Chinese proverb puts it, it takes more than one cold day to freeze three feet of ice. The situation in Ukraine has become what it is today for a variety of complex reasons. What is needed to solve complex issues is a cool head and a rational mind, not adding fuel to the fire which only intensifies the situation. China believes that to resolve the current crisis, we must uphold the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations (UN) and respect and protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries. We must adhere to the principle of indivisible security and accommodate the legitimate security concerns of the parties involved. We must settle disputes by peaceful means through dialogue and negotiation. And we must keep in mind the long-term peace and stability of the region and put in place a balanced, effective and sustainable European security architecture.
As things stand, the international community must make continuous efforts on two priorities.
One priority is to facilitate dialogue for peace. China has made some efforts in this regard and had close communications with the relevant parties. On the second day of the conflict, President Xi Jinping spoke to President Vladimir Putin on the phone and expressed China’s desire to see Russia and Ukraine hold peace talks as early as possible. President Putin responded positively, and Russia and Ukraine have since had two rounds of talks. We hope that the upcoming third round will make further progress. China believes that the more tense the situation, the more important that the talks continue. The wider the disagreement, the greater the need to sit down and have negotiation. China is prepared to continue playing a constructive role to facilitate dialogue for peace and work alongside the international community when needed to carry out necessary mediation.
The other priority is to prevent a massive humanitarian crisis. To this end, China wishes to propose a six-point initiative:
First, make sure that humanitarian operations abide by the principles of neutrality and impartiality, and avoid politicizing humanitarian issues;
Second, give full attention to the displaced persons in and from Ukraine, and provide them with proper shelter;
Third, ensure the protection of civilians, and prevent secondary humanitarian disasters in Ukraine;
Fourth, provide for safe and smooth humanitarian aid activities, including providing rapid, safe and unimpeded humanitarian access;
Fifth, provide for the safety of foreign nationals in Ukraine, allow them safe departure and help them return to their home countries; and
Sixth, support the UN’s coordinating role in channeling humanitarian aid and the work of the UN Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine.
China will continue its efforts to stem the humanitarian crisis. The Red Cross Society of China will provide Ukraine with a tranche of emergency humanitarian supplies as soon as possible.
Phoenix Television: The international community is concerned about the growing risk of division and confrontation and the potential for a new Cold War. What is your view?
Wang Yi: The world is indeed far from being tranquil. Profound changes unseen in a century are unfolding before our eyes. Some major country, trying to hold on to its hegemony, has resurrected Cold War mentality and stoked bloc confrontation. This has fueled instability and division, and added trouble to a world already facing so many challenges.
What should be done? China firmly believes that the right way forward lies in greater solidarity and cooperation under the banner of multilateralism and joint efforts to build a community with a shared future for mankind. As President Xi Jinping observes, “Amidst the raging torrents of a global crisis, countries are not riding separately in some 190 small boats, but rather all in a giant ship on which our shared destiny hinges. Small boats may not survive a storm, but a giant ship is strong enough to brave a storm.”
First and foremost, we must preserve peace. Peace is the premise and foundation for development of all kinds. Countries need to follow the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, reject the notion of exclusive or absolute security, and stay committed to ceasing conflicts through negotiation, resolving disputes through dialogue, and increasing mutual trust through cooperation, to jointly build a world of enduring peace.
Second, we must enhance solidarity. Diversity is what makes our world an exciting place. Differences should not become a cause for confrontation. Countries should champion true multilateralism, advocate the common values of humanity, oppose hegemony and power politics, and oppose bloc politics. We must safeguard the UN-centered international system and uphold the basic norms of international relations based on the purposes of the UN Charter, as we work to make the global governance system more fair and equitable.
Third, we must uphold openness. Economic globalization is the trend of the times and, like it or not, it is here to stay and not to be stopped by geopolitical competition. We must say no to all forms of protectionism and isolationism, and firmly uphold a free, fair and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system. We should tear down small yards with high fences and build open markets instead.
Fourth, we must strengthen cooperation. Faced with challenges of a global nature, no country can stay aloof or unaffected. We must pull together in these trying times, enhance communication and coordination on COVID-19, terrorism, climate change, cybersecurity and other global issues, build maximum consensus, and pursue convergence of interests wherever possible.
In a world of instability and transformation, China always serves as an anchor for stability and a force for good, and always stands on the right side of history. We will continue to keep a global perspective, honor our responsibilities, and hold high the banner of peace, development and win-win cooperation, to promote the building of a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind. China will work with all progressive forces in the world for development and together for a shared future.
International Media Group Rossiya Segodnya: The West is ratcheting up sanctions on Russia. How will this affect Russia-China relations?
Wang Yi: China and Russia are both permanent members of the UN Security Council, and each other’s most important close neighbors and strategic partners. Our relationship is one of the most crucial bilateral relations in the world. Our cooperation not only advances the interests of both peoples, but also contributes to peace, stability and development in the world.
Last year, the two sides commemorated the 20th anniversary of the China-Russia Treaty of Good-Neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation. Given the increasingly complex international strategic landscape, our shared commitment to ever-lasting friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation, as enshrined in the Treaty, is highly relevant and important not only to both sides but also to countries across the world.
I wish to stress that the China-Russia relationship is valued for its independence. It is based on non-alliance, non-confrontation and non-targeting of any third party. It is free from interference or discord sown by third parties. This is both what historical experience has taught us and an innovation in international relations. Not long ago, the two sides issued a joint statement on international relations entering a new era and global sustainable development. It sends an unequivocal message to the world that China and Russia jointly oppose attempts to revive the Cold War mindset or provoke ideology-based confrontation, and stand for greater democracy in international relations as well as the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.
The China-Russia relationship is grounded in a clear logic of history and driven by strong internal dynamics, and the friendship between the Chinese and Russian peoples is rock-solid. There is a bright prospect for cooperation between the two sides. No matter how precarious and challenging the international situation may be, China and Russia will maintain strategic focus and steadily advance our comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era.
Xinhua News Agency: China has been evacuating many of its nationals from Ukraine. Can you share with us more information on this?
Wang Yi: With tensions escalating in Ukraine, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the State Council are highly concerned about the safety of every Chinese national in Ukraine. General Secretary Xi Jinping has taken a personal interest, repeatedly asked about the situation and demanded all-out efforts to ensure the safety of Chinese nationals. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has activated its consular emergency response mechanism, both maintaining diplomatic communications with Ukraine, Russia and countries in the neighborhood, and issuing safety alerts and reminders for Chinese compatriots in Ukraine.
In the immediate wake of the dramatic developments on the ground, we acted promptly to help Chinese nationals in Ukraine to take shelter and provided timely assistance to those in need. Meanwhile, we are seizing the window of opportunity to organize emergency evacuation of Chinese nationals. My colleagues at the Chinese Embassy in Ukraine and the Consulate General in Odessa are taking great personal risks to arrange for the safe passage of Chinese nationals. Chinese embassies in the neighboring countries of Ukraine are working around the clock and leaving no stone unturned to provide shelter for and facilitate the departure of our compatriots. Relevant government departments and various Chinese localities have also been coordinating closely to send multiple charter flights expeditiously to bring our compatriots home from various European cities.
As we worked on the safety and evacuation of Chinese nationals, the government and various sectors of society in Ukraine showed goodwill and provided facilitation. Countries including Russia, Moldova, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Belarus also provided invaluable support. What they have done is an expression of great friendship toward the Chinese people. On behalf of the Chinese side, I would like to say a hearty thank-you to the governments and peoples of those countries.
During the evacuation, the Chinese community in Ukraine and neighboring countries, including Chinese students and firms, mobilized every resource at their disposal and worked closely with each other. This once again shows the Chinese virtue of solidarity in the face of challenges. I wish to give them my warm and sincere regards.
As we speak, there are still some Chinese nationals in Ukraine due to the local situation or for personal reasons. Our thoughts are with them. We are in close touch with them and are prepared to provide all possible assistance in response to their needs.
The world is not yet a tranquil place. As an online comment reads, we don’t live in a peaceful world, but we are lucky to have a motherland that seeks and enjoys peace. Serving the people is the abiding commitment of the Chinese diplomatic service. With everything we do, we will continue to show every one of our compatriots overseas that we stand with you at all times, wherever you may be, and your motherland will always have your back.
NBC: It has become a bipartisan consensus in the United States to intensify competition with China across the board. Aren’t you worried that the bilateral relations could only worsen in the months and years ahead?
Wang Yi: Since the start of last year, President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden have had a virtual meeting and two phone conversations. Meanwhile, the two sides have had dialogue and interactions at other levels. US leaders and senior officials have stated that the US has no intention to seek a new Cold War or change China’s system, that the revitalization of US alliances is not anti-China, that the US does not support “Taiwan independence”, and that it is not looking for conflict or confrontation with China. Regrettably, however, these statements are just verbal assurances and have yet to be put into practice. The reality we have seen is this: the US is going to great lengths to engage in intense, zero-sum competition with China, it keeps provoking China on issues concerning our core interests, and it is taking a string of actions to piece together small blocs to suppress China. These actions undermine the overall China-US relations and disrupt and erode international peace and stability. This is not how a responsible power should act or how a credible country does things. China is an independent sovereign country. We have every right to do what is necessary to firmly defend our legitimate interests.
In China’s view, major-country competition should not be the order of the day and zero-sum game is not the right choice. In a globalized and interdependent world, how China and the US find the right way forward and manage to get along is both a new question for humanity and a formulation that must be worked out by China and the US together.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Shanghai Communiqué. Looking back, China and the US, in a spirit of seeking common ground while reserving differences, were able to replace confrontation with cooperation, advance the interests of our two peoples and make the world a more peaceful and prosperous place. Looking ahead, the two sides need to re-embrace the conviction that helped us break the ice 50 years ago and set out on a new journey. We must replace the “competitive-collaborative-adversarial” trichotomy with the three principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation, return the China policy of the US to the right track guided by reason and pragmatism, and to put China-US relations back on the right path of healthy and stable development.
Agencia EFE: Does China believe that its ever closer relations with Russia and the conflict in Ukraine may affect its relations with Europe and the European Union (EU)?
Wang Yi: China and Europe are two major forces for world peace, two big markets for common development and two great civilizations for human progress. The China-Europe relationship is not targeted at any third party, nor is it subjugated to or controlled by any third party. Dialogue and cooperation between the two sides on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit will add more stabilizing factors to an unstable world.
China and Europe had fruitful cooperation in 2021. Let me give you two examples. China-EU trade exceeded US$800 billion last year for the first time, underscoring the high complementarity of the economic and trade ties. The China-Europe Railway Express ran more than 15,000 cargo trips, up by 29 percent year on year, and played an active role in promoting international cooperation against COVID-19, ensuring the stability of industrial and supply chains, and facilitating global economic recovery.
That said, some forces are unhappy to see the steady growth of China-Europe relations. They fabricate the narrative of “China threat”, play up competition with China, clamor for seeing China as a “systemic rival”, and even impose sanctions and provoke confrontation with China. Both China and Europe must be on high alert against these developments. China-Europe cooperation, going through decades of ups and downs, is deeply rooted in solid public support, extensive common interests and similar strategic needs. Such cooperation enjoys great resilience and potential. It cannot be reversed by any force.
China views its relations with Europe from a strategic, long-term perspective. China’s policy toward Europe is firm and consistent. It will not be affected by any turn of events. We will continue to support the independence of Europe and a united and prosperous EU. In the meantime, we hope that Europe will develop a more independent and objective perception of China, adopt a more pragmatic and rational China policy, and work with China to oppose a new Cold War and uphold and act on true multilateralism.
Going forward, the two side need to work together for the success of the China-EU Summit and other important events on the political agenda. We will seek greater strategic synergy, expand practical cooperation, advance multilateral coordination, deepen people-to-people exchange, and properly manage differences, so as to jointly deliver more concrete benefits to the world.
China Radio International: Some say that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) seems to have lost some momentum due to COVID-19 and other factors. What is your view?
Wang Yi: Despite the impact of the pandemic and other factors, Belt and Road cooperation has maintained a sound momentum. Over the past year:
The physical connectivity of infrastructure made solid progress. Major projects such as the China-Laos railway and the new Haifa port in Israel were completed. The construction and operation of projects in relation to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the Piraeus port, the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail and the Budapest-Belgrade railway advanced steadily. The China-Europe Railway Express reached new records in the number of freight services and the amount of cargo transportation, providing a strong boost to economic recovery in relevant countries.
The institutional connectivity of rules and standards yielded fruitful results. Since the start of last year, 10 more countries have signed Belt and Road cooperation documents with China, extending the BRI family to 180 members. A successful Asia and Pacific High-level Conference on Belt and Road Cooperation was held, and the initiatives for Belt and Road partnership on vaccine cooperation and green development have both received wide support.
The people-to-people connectivity featuring mutual help and assistance continued to deepen. We have given strong support to other countries in their fight against COVID-19, and are working on joint vaccine production with 20 developing country partners, most of which are BRI partner countries. A large number of “small yet smart” assistance programs have been steadily carried out to help people in partner countries improve income and livelihood.
What I have shared with you can aptly show that Belt and Road cooperation is moving forward with more partners, stronger foundation and brighter prospects. It is sure to bring new development opportunities to the post-COVID world.
Going forward, we will do as President Xi Jinping said at last year’s third symposium on the BRI and work with the international community to continue advancing high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. We will aim for higher-level cooperation, better cost-effectiveness, higher-quality supply and stronger development resilience, to make the BRI a “belt of development” to the benefit of the world and a “road to happiness” for people of all countries.
Lianhe Zaobao: What is China’s take on the US concepts of the Indo-Pacific region and the Quad and their implication for the region?
Wang Yi: The US Indo-Pacific strategy is becoming a by-word for “bloc politics”. The US professes a desire to advance regional cooperation, but in reality it is stoking geopolitical rivalry. It talks a lot about returning to multilateralism, but in reality it is forming exclusive clubs. It claims to uphold international rules, but in reality it is setting and imposing rules that suit itself and its acolytes. From strengthening the Five Eyes to peddling the Quad, from piecing together AUKUS to tightening bilateral military alliances, the US is staging a “five-four-three-two” formation in the Asia-Pacific. This is by no means some kind of blessing for the region, but a sinister move to disrupt regional peace and stability.
The real goal of the US Indo-Pacific strategy is to establish an Indo-Pacific version of NATO. It seeks to maintain the US-led system of hegemony, undermine the ASEAN-centered regional cooperation architecture, and compromise the overall and long-term interests of countries in the region. The perverse actions run counter to the common aspiration of the region for peace, development, cooperation and win-win outcomes. They are doomed to fail.
The Asia-Pacific is a promising land for cooperation and development, not a chessboard for geopolitical contest. With its root struck deep in the Asia-Pacific, China is committed to the region’s stability and prosperity. We welcome all initiatives that meet regional realities and the needs of relevant parties, and resolutely oppose all acts that lead to confrontation and rival camps in the region. China wants all parties to join us in doing the right thing and staying on the right course. Together, we will reject attempts to create small, divisive circles in the Indo-Pacific and, instead, foster a broad, inclusive platform for Asia-Pacific cooperation leading to an Asia-Pacific community with a shared future.
People’s Daily: Can you share with us the latest progress in the implementation of the Global Development Initiative (GDI)?
Wang Yi: COVID-19 has had a serious impact on the global development process. Developing countries, in particular, are taking the brunt. It is against this backdrop that President Xi Jinping proposed the GDI at the UN, calling on all countries to focus on development, pool their efforts and meet challenges together.
The centerpiece of the GDI is to put people front and center. Its primary goal is to facilitate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Highly responsive to the needs of various parties, the GDI has soon been warmly received and supported by the UN and nearly 100 countries. In January, representatives from over 100 countries and more than 20 international organizations attended the launch of the Group of Friends of the GDI at the UN headquarters in New York, building greater international consensus on implementing the GDI.
China believes that good development is sustainable and true development is development for all. China will work with all parties in four areas to implement the GDI step by step:
First, forging synergy in priority areas. We will focus on the most pressing concerns of developing countries and advance practical cooperation in such areas as poverty reduction, food security, economic recovery, employment training, education, health and green development, so that all 17 Sustainable Development Goals will be met by 2030 as scheduled.
Second, responding to the needs of all countries. We will follow the spirit of open and inclusive partnership and the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. We welcome the participation of all parties in flexible ways in light of their needs and strengths.
Third, partnering with cooperation mechanisms. We will work with all interested international and regional organizations and especially the UN system to seek complementarity with the development processes of small island developing states, landlocked developing countries, and least developed countries. This way, we could give play to the respective strengths of various parties and forge a global synergy.
Fourth, reaching out to partners of all sectors. We value the role of the private sector, NGOs, experts, think tanks and the media in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. We welcome the recommendation and participation of all parties.
In short, the GDI is another major initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping after the BRI. It is another clarion call to mobilize global development cooperation, and another endorsement of putting people front and center as a core concept of human rights. The GDI has drawn up a road map for narrowing the North-South gap and addressing development imbalance, and given a boost to the 2030 Agenda. China will work with all countries to pursue and follow through on the GDI, ensuring that no country or individual is left behind and no aspiration is overlooked, and to jointly build a global community of development.
Channel News Asia: China and ASEAN marked 30 years of dialogue relations in 2021. How does China plan to deepen its relationship with ASEAN?
Wang Yi: Thirty years ago, China and ASEAN established dialogue relations, leading the way for cooperation in the region. Thirty years on, China and ASEAN have entered into a comprehensive strategic partnership, setting a prime example of good-neighborliness and friendship. Over the past three decades, China and ASEAN have embraced the trend of the times, enjoyed geographic proximity and shared cultural affinity, found a broad path of good-neighborliness and win-win cooperation, and established a model of most vibrant and promising regional cooperation.
The China-ASEAN relations have no limits and are sure to grow even closer. Going forward, China will work with ASEAN countries to keep in mind our original aspiration of maintaining stability and tranquility, fulfill our shared mission of common development, and uphold the principle of mutual understanding, accommodation, help and support between good neighbors. China-ASEAN relations will speed ahead like trains on the China-Laos railway. The two sides will make new progress in building a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future and bring greater benefits to the people of both sides.
China and ASEAN must be forerunners in international cooperation against COVID-19. We will deepen cooperation on joint production of vaccines and research and development of key drugs to build an unbreakable “health shield”. We will also ensure the smooth operation of the “fast track” and “green lane” for the movement of people and goods to keep all people in the region safe and sound.
China and ASEAN must be pacesetters in regional cooperation. We will move toward comprehensive and effective implementation of RCEP and launch a new round of upgrade of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area as soon as possible. We will expand cooperation in new areas including blue, green and digital economies and on the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor to set new benchmarks for regional cooperation.
China and ASEAN must be defenders of stability in the Asia-Pacific. Peace, stability and prosperity are the common aspiration of regional countries. The Asia-Pacific should not be a chessboard for major-power rivalry. ASEAN countries are not chess pieces in a geopolitical contest, but are important chess players who will help promote regional development and prosperity. China will continue to view ASEAN as a high priority in its external relations. We will firmly uphold the ASEAN-centered regional cooperation architecture and the status of Southeast Asia as a nuclear-weapon-free zone, safeguard regional peace and stability, support the ASEAN way in the mediation of regional hot-spots, and oppose any attempt to revive opposing blocs or stoke division and confrontation in the region.
Kyodo News: This year marks the 50th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan relations. How does China see its relations with Japan in the new era?
Wang Yi: As this year marks the 50th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan relations, it provides an important opportunity for the two sides to review history and shape the future together. Five decades ago, the older generation of leaders in both countries, in a bid for peace and friendship between our two countries, demonstrated enormous political courage and made the major decision to normalize China-Japan relations. Over the past five decades, our expanding exchanges and cooperation have delivered important benefits to our two peoples. Last year, our leaders reached important common understanding on building a China-Japan relationship fit for the new era, charting the future course for our bilateral relations.
On the other hand, we are aware of the remaining discord and challenges in the relationship. In particular, there are always some people in Japan who are reluctant to see the rapid development of China and stable China-Japan relations. Here, let me offer three pieces of advice to the Japanese side:
First, cherish the original aspiration and keep the bilateral relations on the right track. It is important to truly abide by the principles and spirit of the four China-Japan political documents, implement such important common understandings as the two countries should “be partners, not threats”, and “support each other’s peaceful development”. These are crucial for the bilateral relations to develop in the direction of peace and friendship.
Second, honor commitments and uphold the political foundation of bilateral relations. Major sensitive issues such as history and Taiwan are foundational to mutual trust between our two countries. If the foundation is shaken, whatever above it cannot stand. We hope that Japan will honor the series of solemn commitments it has made on these issues to avoid serious disruption to our bilateral relations in the future.
Third, embrace the trend of the times and jointly create brighter prospects for bilateral relations. The world is becoming a multi-polar one, where unilateralism and hegemonism will be replaced by greater democracy in international relations. Cold War alliances and geopolitical confrontation have long lost people’s support. This is the inevitable trend of history. We hope that Japan will go along this trend instead of against it, decline to pull chestnuts out of the fire for others, and avoid pitting itself against its neighbors. This is the way for Japan to truly see history as a mirror and look ahead to the future, and contribute its share to regional peace, stability and development.
China News Service: Over the past year, the MFA has done a great deal to provide help to Chinese nationals abroad. What measures will the MFA take this year to serve the people?
Wang Yi: The past year has been tough for the many Chinese nationals abroad. The COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters, political turbulence and armed conflicts posed constant threats to the safety of Chinese nationals abroad and, for that matter, caused great concern to the people in the motherland. If Chinese nationals abroad cannot come home for the time being, we bring the warmth of home to them. In the course of last year, the MFA and China’s diplomatic and consular missions abroad did their level best to carry out a Spring Sprout program around the world to vaccinate millions of Chinese nationals living and working in 180 countries. With the 12308 hotline open 24/7, we handled more than 500,000 calls for help and over 60,000 cases of consular protection and assistance, and rescued several dozen Chinese from their abductors, all part of an all-out effort to protect the life, safety and legitimate rights and interests of our compatriots abroad. On the eve of China’s National Day last year, our unremitting efforts finally paid off and Ms. Meng Wanzhou, who had spent over 1,000 days in illegal detention, was safely back to home. Her remark that “if conviction has a color, it must be red — the color of China” struck a deep chord with her 1.4 billion fellow Chinese.
Serving the people and addressing their concerns is a bounden duty of China’s diplomatic service. Going forward, we will continue to put people first and act as a ready provider of good service to the people and a defender of the interests of our compatriots overseas. This year, we will focus our efforts on the following three areas:
First, we will develop a platform for smart consular services, and provide more services that can be easily accessed through mobile devices, to improve digital, 24/7 consular services.
Second, we will build a system for the protection of Chinese nationals and interests overseas, enhance alert of safety risks and offer security and self-protection guidance for Chinese businesses, to provide more effective and timely safety and security support to our fellow Chinese abroad.
Third, we will roll out a plan to facilitate safe, unimpeded travel by upgrading “fast lanes” for cross-border travel and health certificates for international travelers, so as to facilitate safe, healthy and convenient international travel.
Yonhap News Agency: What proposals does China have for reviving the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue? This year is the 30th anniversary year of China-ROK diplomatic relations. How does China see the future of China-ROK relations?
Wang Yi: As an old Chinese saying goes, “We must tend to the root cause when curing a disease or remedying a mistake.” The root cause for the issues on the Korean Peninsula is that the external security threats facing the DPRK have remained unresolved and its legitimate security concerns unaddressed for too long.
To resolve the issues on the Korean Peninsula, the parties concerned must meet each other halfway. Since 2018, the DPRK has taken a set of steps to get dialogue going, but these steps have not been duly reciprocated. This is not consistent with the “action for action” principle agreed by all parties. As a result, the already severe trust deficit between the DPRK and the US has further exacerbated. And the various dialogue proposals have become empty slogans.
We have taken note of the recent US statement that it harbors no hostile intent toward the DPRK and is ready to address the issues through diplomacy. This should be welcomed. How the situation will evolve, however, will still largely depend on what the US will do: whether it will take the actions needed to settle the issues on the Peninsula or continue to use them as a geostrategic leverage.
Once again we call on the US to take concrete measures to address the legitimate security concerns of the DPRK and build basic mutual trust. The parties need to follow the dual-track approach and the principle of phased and synchronized actions to advance the political settlement of the issues. China will continue to play a constructive role and do what is necessary to facilitate the endeavor.
China and the ROK are friendly neighbors sharing a deep historical bond. The Chinese people often say, “A close neighbor can be more helpful than a distant relative.” This is echoed by a similar proverb in the ROK, while a house could be bought with three coppers, a good neighbor is worth 1,000 pieces of gold. This year marks the 30th anniversary of China-ROK diplomatic relations. Over the past three decades, China-ROK relations have withstood the changing circumstances and achieved all-round and rapid development. Past events have proven that China and the ROK are not adversaries, but partners with converging interests, a lot to offer each other and much untapped cooperation potential. China will work with the ROK and take the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties as an opportunity to carry forward our tradition of friendship, deepen mutually beneficial cooperation, and achieve greater development together.
Khabar 24 News Channel: This year marks the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and the five Central Asian countries. What will China do to meet the goals set at the virtual summit held early this year to commemorate the anniversary?
Wang Yi: This year has seen a string of major, joyous occasions in China’s relations with Central Asia. In January, President Xi Jinping had a virtual summit with the presidents of the five Central Asian countries to commemorate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations. That was followed by the visits of the five presidents to Beijing for a “rendezvous with the Winter Olympics”.
China always believes that a growing, prosperous, stable and dynamic Central Asia is in the common interest of China and other countries in the region. We will continue to follow the principles of mutual respect, good-neighborly friendship, solidarity in trying times and mutual benefit, as it works with Central Asian countries to forge a strategic partnership featuring rich substance, fruitful results and enduring friendship, and build a China-Central Asia community with a shared future.
China’s relations with the five Central Asian countries, now at a golden age of 30, enjoy a bright prospect of vibrant growth. China will work with the five countries to follow up on the outcomes of the 30th anniversary commemorative summit, substantiate and strengthen the “China plus five Central Asian countries” cooperation mechanism, expand and deepen cooperation in such areas as COVID-19 response, industrial capacity, energy, agriculture, people-to-people exchange, digital economy and green development, and firmly support each other on issues concerning core interests, so as to build an even closer China-Central Asia community with a shared future and usher in yet another three decades of great achievements for China-Central Asia relations.
Global Times: Having hosted a “Summit for Democracy” last year that was widely deemed unsuccessful, the US plans to hold another one this year. How will China respond?
Wang Yi: Last year, the US held a summit in the name of promoting democracy. Yet the so-called “Summit for Democracy” excluded nearly half of all countries on the planet, blatantly drew an ideological line between countries and created division in the world. The act violated the spirit of democracy. To hold another such summit would receive even less support around the world.
China practices whole-process people’s democracy. It is broad-based, genuine and effective democracy which enjoys the wholehearted endorsement and support of the Chinese people. This January, the world’s largest public relations consultancy firm Edelman released a survey. In 2021, trust among Chinese citizens in their government was a record 91 percent, again topping the world and reaching the highest level in a decade. Polls conducted by Harvard University for many years also produced similar results. The world recognizes China’s democracy and we have full confidence in our path.
Human civilization, if compared to a garden, should be a diverse place in which democracy in different countries blooms like a hundred flowers. Setting a standard for democracy after the US system is undemocratic. Meddling in other countries’ internal affairs in the name of democracy would only hurt the people in those countries. Putting one’s own system on a pedestal is not just against the spirit of democracy, but also spells disaster for democracy.
We look forward to exchanges and mutual learning with other countries on the basis of equality. Let us promote the true spirit of democracy, strip pseudo-democracy of its various types of charade, and make international relations more democratic so as to inject forward momentum to human progress.
Bloomberg: What similarities are there between the current situation in Ukraine and the question of Taiwan? How likely would you say conflict in the Taiwan Strait is at the moment?
Wang Yi: Let me first make it clear that the Taiwan question and the Ukraine issue are different in nature and are not comparable at all. Most fundamentally, Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory, and the Taiwan question is entirely China’s internal affair. The Ukraine issue arose from contention between two countries, namely Russia and Ukraine. Some people, while being vocal about the principle of sovereignty on the Ukraine issue, have kept undermining China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity on the Taiwan question. This is a blatant act of double standards.
Tension exists in the Taiwan Strait. Its root cause is that the DPP authorities refuse to recognize the one-China principle and attempt to change the status quo that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one and the same China. The DPP authorities have sought to create “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan” to misrepresent Taiwan’s history and sever Taiwan’s roots. This, in the end, will only ruin Taiwan’s future. Some forces in the US, in a bid to hold back China’s rejuvenation, have condoned and abetted the growth of separatist forces for “Taiwan independence” and tried to challenge and hollow out the one-China principle. This gravely violates the basic norms of international relations and puts the peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait in serious jeopardy. This would not only push Taiwan into a precarious situation, but also bring unbearable consequences for the US side.
I must stress that the two sides across the Taiwan Strait share the same historical and cultural roots and belong to one and the same China. Taiwan’s future and hope lies in the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations and reunification with the mainland, not in counting on the empty promises of external forces. Seeking foreign support to gain independence is a dead end. The scheme to use Taiwan to contain China is doomed to fail. Taiwan will eventually return to the embrace of the motherland.
China Global Television Network: This year, China is in the chair of BRICS, and APEC and G20 will also be meeting in Asia this year. What role does China expect emerging markets and developing countries (EMDCs) to play in global governance?
Wang Yi: BRICS countries are a fine example of EMDCs seeking strength from unity and a crucial force for advancing global governance. After five years, the baton of the BRICS chairmanship is once again passed to China. We will hold a summit and more than 160 events. We will work with other BRICS countries under the theme of “forming a high-quality partnership to jointly create a new era of global development” to deepen BRICS cooperation across the board, make BRICS shine brighter, burnish BRICS credentials for South-South cooperation, and inspire hope and confidence for a joint effort by all countries to beat the pandemic and promote global recovery.
We will guide the reform of the global governance system with the principle of equity and justice and put forth BRICS proposals for improving global governance in the post-COVID era. We will prioritize vaccine cooperation and expand public health collaboration to cement BRICS defenses against the COVID-19 pandemic. We will fully advance cooperation in such areas as economy, trade, finance, innovation, digital economy, green development and poverty reduction to create a BRICS fast track for global development. And we will deepen BRICS-plus cooperation, strengthen strategic coordination among EMDCs and make BRICS contributions to building a global partnership for development.
In the course of this year, China, Thailand and Indonesia will host the BRICS Summit, APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting and G20 Summit respectively. Asia’s time has come in global governance. In the race of global governance, we look forward to seeing EMDCs turning from “followers” to “forerunners” and even “pacesetters”. Together, we can play a more active role, speak with a bigger voice, help make the international order more just and equitable, and promote more open, inclusive, balanced and win-win globalization for all.
Press Trust of India: The India-China relations continue to remain at rock bottom. How does China see the prospect of bilateral ties this year?
Wang Yi: China-India relations have encountered some setbacks in recent years, which do not serve the fundamental interests of the two countries and the two peoples. As regards the boundary question left over from history, China has all along advocated managing differences through equal-footed consultation, actively seeking a fair and equitable settlement, and meanwhile not letting it affect or interfere with the bigger picture of bilateral cooperation.
As we have seen, some forces have always sought to stoke tension between China and India and division between regions. Their attempts have put more and more thoughtful people in reflection and on alert. More people have come to realize that for China and India, both major countries with a population of over a billion, only by staying independent can we firmly grasp our own destiny and realize our goals of development and rejuvenation.
China and India have a combined population of over 2.8 billion and account for one third of humanity. When our two countries achieve stability and prosperity and live in peace and harmony, global peace and prosperity will have a solid foundation. As an Indian proverb goes, “Help your brother’s boat across, and your own will reach the shore.” We hope that India will work with China to uphold the strategic consensus that our two countries “pose no threat but offer development opportunities to each other” and continue to build mutual trust, avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation, so that we will be partners for mutual success instead of adversaries of mutual attrition. We must make sure that our relationship moves forward on the right track, bring more benefits to our peoples and make greater contribution to the region and the world.
China-Arab TV: What will China do to help calm the hot-spots in the Middle East and engage constructively with the region?
Wang Yi: Security and development have long been two major challenges for countries in the Middle East. As a strategic partner of countries in this region, China follows an approach of “double support”: to firmly support Middle Eastern countries in solving regional security issues through unity and coordination, and to firmly support people in the region in independently exploring their own development paths.
Over the past year and more, China has put forward a five-point initiative on achieving security and stability in the Middle East, a four-point proposal for the political settlement of the Syrian issue, and a three-point vision for the implementation of the two-state solution between Palestine and Israel, to promote the settlement of hot-spot issues and realize regional and common security through dialogue. China and countries in the Middle East have also stood together in the face of COVID-19 and engaged in joint vaccine production and drug research and development. The accelerated development of a free trade area between China and Gulf countries and the launch of a China-Iran comprehensive cooperation plan have added impetus to development in the region.
China has always played a constructive role in the Middle East. We never intend to make geopolitical gains, still less to fill a so-called “power vacuum”. Over the past decades, the repeated interference from non-regional major countries in Middle Eastern affairs has hurt the region and its people time and again. This must not continue in the 21st century. The power to protect security and development in the Middle East must be returned fully to the people in this region. Support must be given to Middle Eastern countries as they promote peace through unity, pursue stability through self-reliance, and achieve development through cooperation, to bring enduring peace and prosperity to the region.
Shenzhen Satellite TV: China is deepening relations with South Pacific island countries. How do you see the future of China’s ties with the Pacific islands?
Wang Yi: China’s foreign policy is characterized by a commitment to equality of all countries regardless of their size. This is why the small island countries in the South Pacific have always received special attention and support from China.
We will continue to treat South Pacific countries as equals and with mutual respect and trust, and support them in following development paths that suit their national conditions.
We will continue to meet challenges together with South Pacific countries through mutual assistance. China has acted promptly to deliver emergency assistance to Tonga after the volcanic eruption, support the Solomon Islands in maintaining stability and stopping violence, and provide vaccines and medical equipment to South Pacific countries hit by COVID-19, demonstrating the spirit of a community with a shared future featuring solidarity in testing times.
We will continue to conduct mutual learning and win-win cooperation with South Pacific countries. The two sides have carried out high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, and China continues to offer economic and technical assistance with no political strings attached. The China-Pacific Island Countries Reserve of Emergency Supplies has been put to use, and a climate action cooperation center and a poverty reduction and development cooperation center will soon be completed.
China has been a good friend that South Pacific countries can trust. The two sides could work together to set a new example of mutual support, solidarity and cooperation between countries of different sizes and with different systems.
The Straits Times: On the South China Sea, do you feel that China and ASEAN countries can overcome differences and reach a Code of Conduct (COC)? And do you feel that the COC should be legally binding?
Wang Yi: This year marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). Over the past two decades, China and ASEAN countries have jointly implemented the DOC, and have ensured the overall stability in the South China Sea. Of course, for lasting peace and security to take hold in the South China Sea, it is necessary to develop regional rules that are more substantive and more effective. Therefore, the parties made it clear in the DOC that adopting a “code of conduct” in the South China Sea shall be the eventual objective.
Since China and ASEAN countries launched consultations on the COC, much has been achieved. Due to the pandemic, the consultation process has been somewhat affected. Nevertheless, China has full confidence in the prospect of finalizing the COC. Our confidence comes from the fact that advancing COC consultations serves the shared interests of China and ASEAN countries and is a crucial step to ensure that the South China Sea becomes a sea of peace and cooperation. The COC will not only be in line with international law including UNCLOS, but also provide a more effective safeguard for the lawful rights and interests of countries outside the region. As the consultations enter a crucial stage, I believe it is important to pay attention to and handle well two things.
First, we need to put our differences in perspective. Divergent views might appear in any consultation or negotiation. As long as all parties keep in mind that we share the same goal, no differences cannot be bridged and no consensus is beyond reach.
Second, we need to firmly thwart disturbances. Some countries outside the region are not happy to see the conclusion of the COC or tranquility in the South China Sea, because that would deny them the ground to meddle in the South China Sea for selfish gains. ASEAN countries need to stay clear-eyed about this and jointly resist disturbances and sabotage attempts from outside. I am confident that no countercurrents created by outside forces could make waves in the South China Sea, and no external disturbance could stand in the way of regional cooperation.
Associated Press of Pakistan: Currently Afghanistan is facing a serious humanitarian crisis and threat of terrorism. What does China think all parties should do to help Afghanistan weather this crisis?
Wang Yi: The US walked away irresponsibly from Afghanistan, leaving the Afghan people in a serious humanitarian crisis and creating enormous security challenges to regional stability. Afghanistan is in a critical transition from chaos to order. All parties must uphold the “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned” principle and support the Afghan people in exploring a development path suited to the national circumstances. The immediate priorities are to race against time to speed up the provision of humanitarian aid, and to immediately lift the freeze on Afghanistan’s assets in the US and various unilateral sanctions to unconditionally return assets that belong to the Afghan people, so as to avoid “secondary damage” to the Afghan people and help them get through the cold winter and embrace the coming of spring.
China has promptly lent a helping hand to Afghanistan and will continue to provide additional assistance based on the Afghan people’s needs. We are preparing for holding the third Foreign Ministers’ Meeting among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan, so as to harness and contribute our strengths as neighbors for the durable stability and security of Afghanistan.
China National Radio: This has been the 32nd year for the Chinese foreign minister to make Africa his first overseas destination at the start of the year. What will China do to implement the outcomes of the Eighth FOCAC Ministerial Meeting? What do you say to those who accuse China of setting “debt traps” in Africa?
Wang Yi: Each year, the Chinese foreign minister would start his overseas visits with a trip to Africa. This reflects China’s firm support for Africa’s development and rejuvenation. Over the years, China has built over 10,000 kilometers of railways, up to 100,000 kilometers of highways, nearly 100 ports, and innumerable hospitals and schools in Africa. These are not “debt traps”, but monuments of cooperation.
Last year was a big year for China-Africa cooperation. At the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, President Xi Jinping announced nine programs for cooperation with Africa and called for building a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era, adding new impetus to the growth of China-Africa relations.
This year, we start implementing the deliverables of the ministerial conference. China honors its commitment to cooperation with Africa, and never makes empty promises. We will champion the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation, and work with African countries on the following three priorities:
First, we will vigorously advance anti-COVID cooperation with Africa. We will fully deliver on President Xi Jinping’s pledge of providing one billion doses of vaccines to Africa and help Africa enhance capacity for localized vaccine production as Africa works toward the goal of vaccinating 60 percent of its population by the end of 2022.
Second, we will further upgrade China-Africa practical cooperation. We will accelerate high-quality Belt and Road cooperation and work for early harvests under the nine programs. We will synergize the GDI with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and take concrete actions to support the economic recovery and sustainable development of Africa.
Third, we will act on the Outlook on Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa. China has appointed a special envoy for the Horn of Africa, and is prepared to engage in extensive communication with countries in the region and play a constructive role for the peace and development of the Horn of Africa and the African continent as a whole.
Prensa Latina: How do you assess the current state of relations between China and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)? Some countries like the US accuse China of seeking geopolitical influence through its cooperation with the region. How do you respond to that accusation?
Wang Yi: Latin America and the Caribbean is a region of promise and vitality. It is not the backyard of anyone. What the people in the region need is fairness, justice and mutually beneficial cooperation, not power politics, hegemony or bullying.
China and LAC countries are members of the developing world. The shared aspiration for independence, development and revitalization connects the Chinese dream closely with the LAC dream. Since COVID-19 hit, China has engaged in active cooperation with LAC countries and provided nearly 400 million doses of vaccines and some 40 million units of supplies to the region. Last year, trade between the two sides surpassed US$400 billion for the first time. At the third Ministers’ Meeting of the China-CELAC Forum, the two sides reached extensive consensus on deepening China-LAC strategic mutual trust and practical cooperation in priority areas in the next three years.
As a Latin American proverb goes, a real friend is someone who is able to touch your heart from the other side of the world. China will continue to deepen friendship, expand cooperation and work together with LAC friends for a China-LAC community with a shared future.
ANTARA News Agency: How do you see the future of China-Indonesia bilateral relationship? This year, Indonesia holds the presidency of the G20. How will China support Indonesia in carrying out the work of its presidency?
Wang Yi: China and Indonesia are both major developing countries and emerging economies. The two countries have extensive common interests and significant development potential. In recent years, under the strategic guidance of the two presidents, the China-Indonesia relationship has set an example of mutually beneficial cooperation between countries in the region and a model of strength through unity between developing countries.
In the fight against COVID-19, China was among the first to send assistance to Indonesia and work with Indonesia on vaccine and drug development. So far, China has provided 290 million doses of vaccines to Indonesia, more than any other country. China’s BRI and Indonesia’s Regional Comprehensive Economic Corridor have formed deep synergy. Trade between the two countries grew nearly 60 percent year-on-year in 2021. The two sides have successfully launched a high-level dialogue cooperation mechanism and formed a new pattern of “four-wheel drive” cooperation covering political, economic, cultural and maritime aspects.
Going forward, China will deepen cooperation with Indonesia on a complete vaccine production chain to help create a vaccine production hub and jointly build for the region a health shield against COVID-19. China will work for the early completion and operation of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway to further boost Indonesia’s post-COVID development and the mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries.
This year, Indonesia will host the G20 summit. China is ready to provide active support and facilitation. Under the theme of “Recover Together, Recover Stronger”, we will advance cooperation in such fields as innovation, digitalization, green development and health, and uphold the interests of EMDCs, so that the G20 could make greater contribution to world economic recovery and better global governance.
China Daily: A question for you on behalf of netizens around the world. The CPC will hold its 20th National Congress this year. What will China do to help the world know more about it?
Wang Yi: The Constitution of China stipulates the CPC’s status as China’s governing party, and makes clear that the CPC’s leadership is the defining feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the greatest strength of the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Telling the stories of the CPC well and presenting, defending and promoting the good name of the CPC is an essential task and key responsibility that China’s diplomatic service must undertake.
Last year, we marked the centenary of the CPC with a number of outreach initiatives, including launching the “100 CPC Stories in 100 Days” series, inviting foreign diplomats based in China and journalists from international mainstream media to revolutionary sites in Yan’an and Jiaxing, and organizing over 4,000 celebration events at our diplomatic and consular missions abroad. These initiatives and events were warmly received by friends around the world.
We are fully aware that the CPC has gained more attention and recognition from the international community. More and more friends around the world admire the great achievements of the Chinese people under the leadership of the CPC. More and more countries hope to learn about the “secrets” of the CPC’s success. Last month, during his trip to China for the opening of the Beijing Olympic Winter Games, President Alberto Fernández of Argentina made a point of visiting the Museum of the Communist Party of China to pay tribute to what the Chinese people have done and achieved in their development and progress. We can tell that people all over the world are viewing the CPC through brighter lens, from broader perspectives and are acquiring a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of the CPC.
As General Secretary Xi Jinping has noted, “To understand the China of today, one must understand the CPC.” This year, as the CPC will hold its 20th National Congress, we will continue to present its stories well so that more international friends may truly understand the CPC.
The press conference lasted 100 minutes.