On 7 March 2021, a press conference was held via video link on the margins of the Fourth Session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) 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. This year, we are again having a special press conference via video link. While COVID-19 has been effectively contained in China, many countries are still battling the coronavirus. The global fight against COVID-19 must not stop until the virus gets eliminated in each and every country. Everyone is obligated to help those in need even when there is only one case of infection left. Solidarity means strength, and perseverance means victory. There is already light at the end of the tunnel. China will continue to cooperate with other countries in solidarity and work tirelessly for humanity's final victory against this pandemic. On this note, I'm ready to take your questions.
China Central Television: How would you describe China's diplomacy over the past year? What diplomatic priorities and highlights could we expect to see this year?
Wang Yi: The year 2020 has been a most extraordinary journey for China and the whole world. Under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, China's diplomatic service readily fulfilled its responsibilities to the country, the people and the world, by rising to the unprecedented challenges and playing a role befitting China's status.
Among China's diplomatic endeavors over the last year, the most outstanding is head-of-state diplomacy. Through a creative means of "cloud diplomacy", President Xi Jinping explored cooperation opportunities with other world leaders, demonstrating the global vision of the leader of a major country and giving both direction and momentum to the international fight against COVID-19.
Over the last year, the most resolute is our determination to defend national interests. We stood firm against hegemony, highhandedness and bullying, and rejected outright interference in China's domestic affairs. China's sovereignty is not to be infringed upon, and the dignity of the Chinese nation is not to be trifled with. The legitimate rights of the Chinese people shall be upheld.
Over the last year, the most demanding is the fight against COVID-19 on the diplomatic front. We did our utmost to facilitate the domestic COVID response and stood with the rest of the world in a joint fight, carrying out the largest emergency humanitarian operations since the founding of New China and making China's contribution to the global response.
Over the last year, the most concerning is the safety of Chinese nationals abroad. In the face of COVID-19, we provided timely assistance to Chinese nationals overseas and did whatever we could to protect and help them. We have thus lived up to our responsibility and put into practice the principle of serving the people through diplomacy.
Over the last year, one biggest priority is advancing global governance in the right direction. China was unequivocal about countering the surge in unilateralism, and upheld multilateralism and norms governing international relations with concrete actions. In response to mounting protectionism, we committed ourselves to greater openness and harnessed the strengths of China's enormous market to provide more development opportunities to the world.
For China, 2021 will be a year of epoch-making significance. We will celebrate the centenary of the CPC, and start a new journey in China's diplomacy.
We will keep in mind what the Party and the nation expect of us. We will develop friendly relations with all countries, enhance mutual understanding between China and the world, and continue to foster a favorable external environment for the great renewal of the Chinese nation.
We will focus on the country's top priorities. We will preserve and extend the period of important strategic opportunity for China's development, work all-out for a good start of the 14th Five-Year Plan, facilitate the domestic and international circulations, and contribute to the new development paradigm.
We will set our eyes on the post-COVID era. We will promote international cooperation against COVID-19 and work for a global community of health for all. We will advance high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, facilitate an early recovery of the world economy, and strengthen the global response to climate change and other global challenges.
We will follow the trend of history. We will promote a new type of international relations, advocate peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom as the common values of humanity, and work with other countries for a community with a shared future for mankind.
This year is the Year of the Ox in the Chinese zodiac, and ox symbolizes perseverance and strength. In the year ahead, with head-of-state diplomacy setting the direction, China's diplomacy will create a more splendid chapter. A compassionate, committed and responsible China that stands by principles will bring more warmth and hope to the world and lend more confidence and strength to the pursuit of development for all.
TASS: China and Russia are comprehensive strategic partners of coordination. What's the impact of the pandemic on Russia-China relations?
Wang Yi: In the face of the once-in-a-century pandemic, China and Russia have stood shoulder to shoulder and worked closely to combat both the coronavirus and the "political virus". China and Russia standing together will remain a pillar of world peace and stability.
The more unstable the world is, the greater the need for carrying forward China-Russia cooperation. China and Russia should be each other's strategic support, development opportunity, and global partner. This is both an experience gained from history and an imperative under the current circumstances.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Treaty of Good-neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation between China and Russia. Our two countries have agreed to renew the Treaty and make it more relevant in the new era. This is a milestone in China-Russia relations and, more importantly, a new starting point for us. The two sides will carry forward the spirit of everlasting friendship and win-win cooperation embodied by the Treaty, keep up the momentum, generate new dynamism and further expand, broaden and deepen the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era.
We will set an example of strategic mutual trust, by firmly supporting each other in upholding core and major interests, jointly opposing "color revolution" and countering disinformation, and safeguarding national sovereignty and political security.
We will set an example of mutually beneficial cooperation, by further synergizing the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union, upgrading trade and economic investment and cooperation, and expanding collaboration in innovation, digital economy and other emerging sectors.
We will set an example of people-to-people connectivity, by preserving the longstanding friendship, promoting cultural exchanges and carrying forward the friendly ties from generation to generation.
We will also set an example of equity and justice, by jointly upholding multilateralism, the authority of the UN, international law and basic norms governing international relations, and global strategic stability.
People's Daily: You underscored the CPC leadership as the soul of China's diplomacy. As we mark the 100th anniversary of the CPC, how should we understand the significance of the CPC leadership of China's diplomacy?
Wang Yi: China's diplomacy is conducted under the CPC leadership for the benefit of our people. The CPC is the backbone of the Chinese people and the anchor of China's diplomacy.
The pursuit of happiness for the people and of great renewal of the nation is the original aspiration of the Party. It determines the responsibilities and duties of China's diplomacy. Cherishing independence and upholding equity and justice are values that our Party holds dear. They determine the basic principles that China's diplomacy must uphold. To pursue peaceful development and win-win cooperation and promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind is a provision in the Constitution of the CPC and the Constitution of the PRC. It is also the goal of China's diplomacy.
The major decisions and achievements in China's diplomacy are all attributable to the coordination and leadership of the CPC Central Committee. In particular, since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, General Secretary Xi Jinping, with his global vision, strategic commitment and a great sense of responsibility, has broken new ground in diplomatic theory and practice, and drawn the blueprint for China's diplomacy. Under his stewardship, China has all along moved on the right course of the historical trend.
The 100th anniversary is just a prelude to the CPC's long-lasting cause, and the best is still ahead of us. It has been proven that the Party's leadership is the biggest political advantage of China's diplomacy and the fundamental safeguard for continued victory in China's diplomatic endeavors. We will continue to uphold the Party's leadership of diplomatic work, fully implement Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy, steel the spine of China's diplomacy with the Party's fine traditions, seek inspirations from the Party's history and experience, and keep breaking new ground in China's distinctive major-country diplomacy.
Middle East News Agency: The next session of FOCAC will be held in Senegal this year. How will China help African countries respond to COVID-19? And what is China going to do in order to further upgrade China-Africa cooperation?
Wang Yi: China and Africa enjoy a profound friendship forged during the struggle for national independence and liberation. We are comrades-in-arms as well as brothers and sisters. This bond of friendship is growing ever stronger as time goes by. China and Africa are perpetual good friends and good partners with a shared future.
We celebrated the 20th anniversary of FOCAC last year. Over the past two decades, we have formulated and implemented ten cooperation plans and eight major initiatives to promote China-Africa cooperation. Our two-way trade has increased 20 times, and China's direct investment in Africa has grown 100 times. There are now 150 pairs of sister cities between China and Africa. China-Africa cooperation stands as a model of South-South cooperation, and a fine example of international cooperation with Africa.
To help African countries fight the pandemic and bring the economy back on track is a top priority for China-Africa cooperation at the current stage. Last year, President Xi Jinping initiated and hosted the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19, and announced a host of new support measures. We have provided close to 120 batches of emergency supplies to Africa and sent medical expert teams to 15 African countries. We have started to provide COVID vaccines to 35 African countries and the African Union Commission. The construction of the Africa CDC Headquarters, a project for which we are glad to provide assistance, has started, and cooperation between 30 pairs of Chinese and African hospitals is well underway.
The FOCAC meeting to be held this year in Senegal will serve as another opportunity for advancing China-Africa cooperation. We will support Africa's efforts to defeat the virus and strengthen public health governance; to accelerate industrialization and build up capacity for self-generated development; to speed up African integration and embrace the trend of economic globalization; and to find political solutions to hotspot issues and maintain peace and stability on the continent. We will work with Africa to pursue high-quality Belt and Road cooperation and build an even stronger community with a shared future to drive Africa's development and revitalization.
China Review News Agency: China's NPC is expected to make a decision on the electoral system in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Some foreign governments assert that this would violate One Country, Two Systems. What is China's response to the assertion?
Wang Yi: First I want to make it clear: the move to improve Hong Kong's electoral system and ensure "patriots administering Hong Kong" is necessitated by the need to advance the One Country, Two Systems cause and maintain long-term stability in Hong Kong. It is a constitutional power and responsibility of the NPC, and is totally constitutional, lawful and justified.
Loyalty to the motherland is a basic political ethic of all public office holders and aspirants anywhere in the world. Hong Kong is no exception. Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, a part of the People's Republic. How can we expect someone who does not love his motherland to truly love Hong Kong? Loving Hong Kong and loving the motherland are consistent requirements.
Under the colonial rule, there was no democracy to speak of in Hong Kong. Over the past 24 years since Hong Kong's return, no one has cared more about Hong Kong's democracy and continued prosperity and stability than the Central Government of China. Hong Kong's shift from chaos to stability fully serves the interests of all parties. It will provide stronger safeguards for protecting the rights and interests of Hong Kong residents and the lawful interests of foreign investors. We have the resolve to continue to implement One Country, Two Systems under which the people of Hong Kong administer Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy. We also have the confidence to usher in a brighter future for Hong Kong.
NBC: The new US administration has concerns, from the South China Sea and Taiwan, to Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet. To stabilize relations, do you think there is still room for China to probably consider concessions in any of these areas?
Wang Yi: Non-interference in each other's internal affairs is an explicit principle in the Charter of the United Nations and a basic norm governing international relations. It must be faithfully observed by all countries, including China and the United States. The issues you referred to are mostly China's internal affairs. The Chinese people are in the best position to tell whether China is doing a good job. The Chinese people can best decide what is the right thing for China to do. In the meantime, we are willing to communicate with all sides on the basis of respect for sovereignty to enhance mutual trust, remove misunderstanding, and share relevant facts. But we will not accept groundless accusations or defamation, and we will not allow our core interests to be breached. For quite some time, the United States has been willfully interfering in other countries' internal affairs in the name of democracy and human rights. This has created lots of trouble in the world and, in some cases, turbulence and conflict. It is important that the United States recognize this as soon as possible. Otherwise, the world will remain far from being a tranquil place.
As two countries with different social systems, China and the United States naturally have differences and disagreements. What matters most is to manage them effectively through candid communication to prevent strategic miscalculation and avoid conflict and confrontation. China and the United States are the world's two largest economies. As our interests converge, the two countries may also see a competitive element in our relations. This is normal. What matters is that the two sides should advocate healthy competition on a fair and just basis for the purpose of self-improvement and mutual enhancement, rather than finger-pointing or zero-sum competition. More importantly, in the interest of the two countries and the whole world, cooperation should be the main goal for both China and the United States. The list of areas where the two countries can and should cooperate is very clear, including COVID response, economic recovery, climate change and many others. We are open-minded to explore and deepen cooperation with the United States. We hope that the United States will move in the same direction and remove all its unreasonable restrictions on bilateral cooperation as early as possible, not create new obstacles.
On the Chinese New Year's eve last month, President Xi Jinping had a phone call with President Joe Biden. The two heads of state had an in-depth exchange of views on China-US relations and pointed the way forward for bringing the relationship back on track. We are ready to work with the United States to follow through on the outcomes of this important phone call, and set China-US relations on a new path of healthy and steady growth.
CGTN: This year marks the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the lawful seat of the People's Republic of China in the United Nations. Could you give us some comments on this topic? Many countries have high hopes for the reform of the UN. What is China's view?
Wang Yi: Fifty years ago, the 26th session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to restore the lawful seat of the People's Republic of China in the UN. The audience broke into rapturous and long applause. Many from brotherly countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America cheered and hugged each other in celebration. Representatives from 57 countries took the podium to extend congratulations. That was indeed a historic moment. With a major country of one-fourth of the world's population rejoining the family of nations, the organization finally achieved universality in a real sense. From that day on, the People's Republic of China has contributed its share to world peace and development as a trustworthy and reliable participant in this noble cause.
Over the past half century, China has firmly safeguarded the UN-centered international system, and the international order underpinned by international law. China has joined almost all international intergovernmental organizations and acceded to over 500 international conventions. Today, China is the second largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget, and has sent more peacekeepers to UN missions than any other permanent member of the Security Council. China champions equity and justice, and stands for equality among all countries regardless of their size. China's vote in the UN always belongs to the developing world.
Given the profound evolution of the international situation, the international community is expecting the UN to keep pace with the times and improve itself through reform. In our view, no matter how the situation may evolve and how the reform may proceed, the following principles must be preserved:
First, upholding the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. The Charter sets out basic norms for interactions among states and for settling international disputes. Acts in violation of the Charter bring damage to world peace and stability.
Second, preserving the central role of the UN in the international system. As the most universal, representative and authoritative international organization in the world today, the UN's role should only be strengthened, not weakened. All countries must be willing to defend the authority of the UN.
Third, keeping to the basic rule of equal-footed consultation at the UN. The UN is not a club for big or rich countries. All countries enjoy sovereign equality, and no country is in a position to dictate international affairs. We should increase the representation and voice of developing countries in the UN to better reflect the shared aspiration of the overwhelming majority of countries.
Standing at a new historic starting point, we in China will earnestly act upon the major initiatives and measures announced by President Xi Jinping, take a more active part in UN activities, and work toward the UN's vision for a world in which nations beat swords into ploughshares and enjoy lasting peace without the scourge of war.
Agence France-Presse: The Biden administration said last month that the transatlantic alliance is back. How will China approach the trilateral relationship with Europe and the United States?
Wang Yi: In the past year, President Xi Jinping had three video meetings with European leaders and kept close communication at the top level. The two sides enhanced mutual trust as they fought COVID-19 together and upgraded cooperation as they marked the 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties. The two sides signed the agreement on geographical indications, concluded negotiations of the investment agreement on schedule, and for the first time, China became the EU's largest trading partner. In the face of crises and challenges, China-Europe relations have demonstrated resilience and vitality, sending out a positive message to the world.
Past experience proves that China and Europe share extensive common interests, and win-win cooperation is the main thrust of their relationship; China and Europe are two great civilizations capable of dialogue and exchanges, and they are not systemic rivals; and when embracing cooperation with an independent spirit, China and Europe can accomplish great things. China will continue to support European integration, and support a united and strong EU playing a bigger role in international affairs.
In our view, China and Europe are two important players in this multipolar world. The relationship is equal and open, not targeting any third party or controlled by anyone else. China welcomes an EU that enjoys strengthened strategic autonomy, upholds multilateralism and commits itself to coordination and cooperation between major countries. We stand ready to work with the EU to jointly tackle global challenges, boost international efforts on pandemic response, economic recovery and climate change, and add more stability to international relations.
China Radio International: China has donated or exported COVID vaccines to many countries. Some people accuse China of engaging in the so-called "vaccine diplomacy". What's your comment?
Wang Yi: Vaccines are a powerful weapon against the virus and bring hope for saving lives. They should serve the entire world and benefit all humanity.
China is a firm believer in making COVID vaccines a public good. China was among the first to pledge that its vaccines, when available, will be made a global public good, and China has worked in real earnest to improve vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries.
China is a committed front-runner in promoting international vaccine cooperation. We have carried out vaccine R&D and production cooperation with a dozen or so countries, attracting more than 100,000 volunteers of over 100 nationalities. Altogether, 17 Chinese vaccines have entered clinical trials. More than 60 countries have authorized the use of Chinese vaccines. The safety and effectiveness of Chinese vaccines are earning recognition across the world. China is prepared to discuss with other countries the feasibility and protocols for mutual recognition of vaccination.
China is a steadfast advocate for equitable vaccine distribution. We have joined COVAX, under which China has undertaken to provide an initial 10 million doses for emergency use in developing countries. So far, China has donated or is donating COVID vaccines to 69 developing countries in urgent need, and is exporting vaccines to 43 countries. Responding to a UN appeal, we have donated vaccines to peacekeepers from various countries. We are also ready to work with the International Olympic Committee to provide vaccines to Olympians. It is our hope that Chinese vaccines will inject more confidence and hope into the global fight against the virus.
A number of vaccines are now available around the world. It is up to each country to decide which one to choose. Whether it is a Chinese vaccine or not, it is a good vaccine so long as it is safe and effective. China opposes "vaccine nationalism". We reject any "vaccine divide" or any attempt to politicize vaccine cooperation. We hope that all capable countries will do what they can to provide vaccines to countries in need, especially developing countries, so that people all over the world will have access to affordable vaccines, vaccines that truly benefit the people.
China-Arab TV: What is your assessment of Sino-Arab relations in the past year? When will a China-Arab states summit be held?
Wang Yi: Despite the impact of COVID-19, Sino-Arab relations have continued to move forward with sustained vigor and vitality.
The ninth Ministerial Conference of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum was a great success, and both sides agreed to hold a summit. Sino-Arab political relations have opened a new chapter.
The King of Saudi Arabia was the first foreign head of state to call President Xi Jinping to express support for China's COVID response. The United Arab Emirates was the first foreign country to conduct Phase III trials of a Chinese vaccine. Sino-Arab solidarity against COVID-19 has set a new example.
Trade between China and Arab states has reached US$240 billion. China remains the largest trading partner of Arab states. Key projects of Belt and Road cooperation are being resumed in an orderly way. Cooperation in high and new technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, aviation and aerospace is thriving. Sino-Arab practical cooperation has reached a new height.
As an Arab saying goes, friendship is a tree with good faith as roots and goodwill as branches. China will work with Arab states in solidarity, pursue common progress, make good preparations for a China-Arab states summit, add new dimensions to the China-Arab states strategic partnership, and strive for more achievements in building a Sino-Arab community with a shared future.
Xinhua News Agency: In 2017, President Xi Jinping made an important speech on economic globalization. Earlier this year at the World Economic Forum, President Xi delivered a special address on multilateralism. Both speeches were hailed by the international community as examples of China's leading role in upholding multilateralism and participating in global governance. What is your view on this?
Wang Yi: President Xi Jinping delivered two important speeches four years apart. Both are major declarations made at crucial junctures in the evolving international situation. And both carry a global significance and far-reaching impact.
Four years ago, in response to the debate over whether to continue globalization, President Xi stepped forward to send a strong message in support of economic globalization. Four years later, in response to the uncertainties of the future of multilateralism, President Xi shed light on the issue by putting forward China's proposal for upholding multilateralism and building a community with a shared future for mankind. The two important speeches have pointed the way forward for our times and cleared doubts for many in the world. Both are widely commended by the international community.
Multilateralism has remained a firm commitment of China, a commitment that has never wavered despite changing times or circumstances. The way to address the various challenges in our world is for countries to uphold true multilateralism. China believes that true multilateralism means observing the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, upholding the UN-centered international system and promoting democracy in international relations. It means openness and inclusiveness instead of closeness and exclusion; equal-footed consultation instead of supremacy over others. Multilateralism is a banner, not a pretext; a conviction, not a rhetoric. Building small circles in the name of multilateralism is in fact "group politics". Multilateralism with one's own interests taking precedence is still unilateral thinking. "Selective multilateralism" is not the right choice. China hopes that all members of the international community will work together to light up humanity's way forward with the torch of multilateralism.
Lianhe Zaobao: Many people think that China's continued rise will heighten its ideological and systemic competition with the West, and tensions between China and Western countries like the United States may leave the world divided. What is your take on this?
Wang Yi: The world is diverse and colorful. Progress of human civilization cannot be achieved with only one pathway, nor should there be only one model. Choice of system should be made in a tailor-made way, rather than through trimming the feet to fit in the shoes. Whether a path works for a country depends on how it fits the country's conditions. To smear or attack others for their different system or even claim superiority is in essence "hegemony of system".
The COVID-19 pandemic that has been raging the world since last year reminds us again that humankind is a community with a shared future and a common stake. Our world cannot afford to fall apart, still less return to conflicts. It's our firm belief that diversity is the integral feature of human civilization and difference in system should not be the ground for antagonism or confrontation. Exchanges and mutual learning can enhance mutual understanding and drive common progress. In Chinese culture, seeking harmony without uniformity is a philosophy of the virtuous. Western culture values respect as a quality of a gentleman. "All living things should grow in harmony without hurting one another; and all the ways should run forward without interfering with one another." China had embraced inclusiveness over 2,000 years before, and we hope that today Western countries will have the same broad-mindedness and humility. Countries should treat each other with mutual respect and inclusiveness so as to prosper respectively and together.
Shenzhen Satellite TV: This year marks the 20th anniversary of China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), a landmark event in China's integration into and opening-up to the world. How does China view this?
Wang Yi: Accession to the WTO was a milestone in China's opening-up as well as in the process of economic globalization. The past two decades have taught us four important things.
First, we must stay committed to the fundamental policy of opening-up. Twenty years after joining the WTO, China has grown into the world's second largest economy, No. 1 trader in goods and the largest destination for foreign investment. Opening-up has contributed to China's development to date. Our high-quality development in the future should also be boosted by opening-up.
Second, we must stay committed to the principle of win-win cooperation. Over the past 20 years, China has contributed an average of nearly 30 percent to global growth annually. Its overall tariff rate is down substantially from 15.3 percent to below 7.5 percent, much lower than the 10 percent pledged upon WTO accession and far lower than other major emerging economies. Imports in goods have been growing at a double-digit annual rate on average. Over one million foreign companies have presence in China. These numbers show how China's WTO membership means that both China and the world have come out as winners.
Third, we must stay committed to the right direction of economic globalization. China's WTO accession has injected strong impetus into economic globalization, and helped improve the global industrial chain and allocation of resources. Facing the new problems and challenges in globalization, the answer is not to retreat into protectionism, isolation or decoupling, but to work together to make globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial for all.
Fourth, we must stay committed to the central role of the WTO. The WTO is a cornerstone of international trade and a pillar of global growth. China firmly observes multilateral trading rules and supports the WTO in playing its due role. China stands ready to work with all parties to further improve the multilateral trading system and enhance the effectiveness and authority of the WTO.
Kyodo News: Last year, Japan-China relations developed a momentum of improvement. However, Japan is becoming more wary after China enacted its Coast Guard Law. What is your comment on this? Do you see a possibility of cooperation with Japan on the Olympics?
Wang Yi: In recent years, the leaders of China and Japan reached the important understanding that the two countries should be partners, not threats, to each other. In the joint fight against COVID-19, many touching stories between our two peoples gave true meaning to the verse that "Though we live in different lands, the same moon and sky make us one". Two-way trade and investment increased despite the pandemic. These positive developments show that a better China-Japan relationship serves the interests of both peoples as well as regional peace and stability. The hard-won gains should be cherished by both sides as they have not come easy.
For the China-Japan relationship to be more mature and stable, the two countries need to stay focused without being distracted by any single event. The Chinese Coast Guard Law you mentioned is just a routine piece of domestic legislation. It is not targeted at any specific country. And it is totally in line with international law and practice. In fact, many countries, including Japan, have enacted similar laws and regulations long before China. Settling maritime disputes through friendly consultation and without the use or threat of force is the consistent position of the Chinese government. It is also a long-established common understanding between China and its neighbors.
On any issue that arises in bilateral interactions, China and Japan can always engage in dialogue and communication to enhance understanding and build trust. I hope that Japanese society will embrace a more objective and rational perception of China so as to solidify public support for long-term steady progress in China-Japan relations.
As the two countries will host the Olympic Games this year and the next, the two sides have every reason to support each other in hosting the two grand events, and make the Olympics a platform for deepening friendship between the two peoples and an opportunity for furthering the relationship between the two countries. Let's focus our eyes on Tokyo this summer and meet in Beijing next year.
Global Times: The United States and some Western countries claim that China's actions in Xinjiang constitute what they call "genocide". This has angered the Chinese people. What's your comment on this?
Wang Yi: Speaking of genocide, many people would have in their minds the native Americans of the 16th century, African slaves of the 19th century, the Jewish people of the 20th century, and the aboriginal Australians who are still struggling even today.
The claim that there is genocide in Xinjiang couldn't be more preposterous. It is just a rumor fabricated with ulterior motives, and a lie through and through. Over the past four decades and more, the Uyghur population in Xinjiang has more than doubled from 5.55 million to over 12 million. In 60-plus years, Xinjiang's economy has grown by more than 200 times, and the average life expectancy has increased from 30 to 72 years. Many foreign friends who have been to Xinjiang have spoken up, stressing that the Xinjiang in their own eyes is totally different from what certain Western media have depicted. A French author Maxime Vivas wrote a book entitled Uyghurs: To Put an End to Fake News. Based on his two trips to the autonomous region, Vivas tells a real Xinjiang that enjoys prosperity and stability. He expressly pointed out in his book that those who have never been to Xinjiang are the ones fabricating fake news and piling up lies about Xinjiang.
Some Western politicians chose to believe in the lies made up by a few, instead of listening to the voice of 25 million Xinjiang residents of various ethnic groups. They chose to dance with the few anti-China elements in their clumsy dramas, instead of acknowledging the progress in Xinjiang. This only shows that they do not care about the truth. They are only interested in political maneuvering, and creating the so-called Xinjiang issue to undermine security and stability in Xinjiang and hold back China's development.
We welcome more people from around the world to visit Xinjiang. Seeing is believing. It is the best way to debunk rumors.
ANTARA News Agency: This year marks the 30th anniversary of the dialogue relations between China and ASEAN. What is your expectation of the China-ASEAN relationship in the future?
Wang Yi: Thirty years ago, China and ASEAN established dialogue relations, which have become a pacesetter for regional cooperation since then. Confucius once observed, "One should be able to establish himself at the age of thirty." After 30 years of cooperation through rain or shine, China and ASEAN have established a shared belief in solidarity, equality and mutual assistance. We have developed a sense of a shared future and a partnership through thick and thin. And we have embraced a shared vision to revitalize Asia and usher in a brighter future for our region.
Last year, President Xi Jinping participated in the China-ASEAN Expo for the first time, and Premier Li Keqiang attended the China-ASEAN Summit. This attests to China's commitment to working with ASEAN and China's support for ASEAN centrality. The 30th anniversary provides a new starting point, from which China is ready to work with ASEAN to build an even closer community with a shared future, and open up another 30 years of even greater cooperation.
China will scale up support to ASEAN's pandemic response. We are providing COVID-19 vaccines to ASEAN countries and helping Indonesia to become a hub of vaccine production for Southeast Asia. Going forward, we will continue to prioritize the needs of ASEAN countries.
China will deepen cooperation with ASEAN for mutual benefit. We will explore complementarity between China's new development paradigm with ASEAN's Comprehensive Recovery Framework. We may also push for an early entry into force and implementation of the RCEP, unleash the full potential of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation, and foster new highlights of cooperation in digital economy, sustainable development and others.
China will step up strategic coordination with ASEAN. Together, we will steer clear of various disturbance, speed up COC consultations, engage in practical maritime cooperation, and jointly uphold peace and stability in the region.
Phoenix Television: The Trump administration removed restrictions on US interactions with Taiwan. The possibility of a crisis involving China and the United States over Taiwan has been listed as a top-tier risk by a think tank. What is China's view on US policy toward Taiwan?
Wang Yi: I want to make three points on the Taiwan question.
First, there is but one China in the world. Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory. This is a historical and legal fact, and a common understanding of the international community.
Second, the two sides of the Taiwan Strait must be and will surely be reunified. This is the trend of history and the collective will of the entire Chinese nation. It will not and cannot be changed. The Chinese government's resolve to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity is rock-firm. We have the capability to thwart separatist attempts for "Taiwan independence" in whatever form.
Third, the one-China principle is the political foundation of the China-US relationship, a red line that should not be crossed. On the Taiwan question, there is no room for compromise or concession from the Chinese government. We hope the new US administration will appreciate the great sensitivity of the Taiwan question, and will abide by the one-China principle and the three Sino-US joint communiqués. We would hope to see a clear departure from the previous administration's dangerous practice of "crossing the line" and "playing with fire", and we hope that the Taiwan question will be handled prudently and properly.
Khabar 24 News Channel: How will COVID-19 affect the Belt and Road Initiative? What will China's priorities be in promoting Belt and Road cooperation?
Wang Yi: Since last year, the pandemic has affected the world in many respects. Yet despite the headwinds, Belt and Road cooperation has not paused, but forged ahead with new outcomes, strong resilience and great vitality.
We have honored the principle of joint discussion. A number of meetings including the High-level Video Conference on Belt and Road International Cooperation as well as over 30 sectoral events were held, galvanizing greater support for high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.
We have acted on the principle of joint construction. Thanks to our dual commitment to COVID response and economic reopening, not a single key BRI project was suspended during the pandemic. Projects such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the Jakarta-Bandung high speed railway, the China-Laos railway, and the Budapest-Belgrade railway are making good progress, contributing significantly to stabilizing the local economy and improving the lives of the local people.
We have prioritized the principle of joint benefit-sharing. In 2020, the China-Europe Railway Express set a new record in both freight services and cargo volume; the volume of goods ferried through the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor doubled from the previous year. All these contributed to the stability and smooth functioning of international industrial and supply chains.
The pandemic may have disrupted personnel flow, but it has not stopped BRI partners from supporting and investing in this joint endeavor. Together, we are building a Health Silk Road. Our cooperation on pandemic response has turned the Belt and Road into a corridor for life-saving supplies. We are building a digital Silk Road, a corridor of smooth information flow that will keep BRI partners digitally connected. We are also building a green Silk Road, under which we have intensified cooperation on green energy, green infrastructure and green finance. Our goal is to make the BRI a robust engine for low-carbon transformation and green recovery in the post-COVID world.
COVID-19 has changed the world in profound ways, but the need for Belt and Road cooperation has not subsided, and China's commitment to cooperation has not changed. As we pursue a new development paradigm, we will explore better pathways for Belt and Road cooperation and offer greater opportunities to BRI partners. We are ready to work with all stakeholders to advance high-quality Belt and Road cooperation with renewed commitment and greater resilience. Together, we can turn Belt and Road cooperation into a journey toward common development and prosperity for all.
Beijing Daily: China envisions to foster a new development paradigm. What will be its impact on the world?
Wang Yi: The purpose of fostering a new development paradigm is to adapt to the new development stage in China. We hope the strategy will enhance China's capacity for self-sustained development and achieve high-quality development in the country, and at the same time, promote further opening-up to connect the Chinese market with the international market and better coordinate import and export. This promises more development opportunities, greater market space and broader cooperation prospects for all countries.
With a more pro-business environment and opening-up at a higher level, China will work with all countries to accelerate the building of an open world economy. To use a train analogy, China in the new development stage is like an express train with greater driving force and load capacity accelerating toward a new goal. We welcome all countries to get on board and move toward a future of shared prosperity.
Press Trust of India: How do you see the prospects of peace at the borders between China and India? How will the two sides' different perspectives on the border issue shape the future trajectory of the relationship?
Wang Yi: The China-India relationship is essentially about how the world's two largest developing countries get along and pursue development and rejuvenation together.
As two ancient civilizations next door to each other and two major emerging economies each with over one billion people, China and India have broad common interests and tremendous potential for cooperation. Domestically, both countries face the historic mission of bettering people's lives and accelerating growth. Internationally, the world expects both of us to safeguard the common interests of developing countries and advance multipolarity in the world. On many important issues, our positions are the same or close due to similar national realities. Therefore, China and India are each other's friends and partners, not threats or rivals. The two sides need to help each other succeed instead of undercutting each other; we should intensify cooperation instead of harboring suspicion at each other.
The boundary dispute, an issue left from history, is not the whole story of the China-India relationship. It is important that the two sides manage the dispute properly and at the same time, expand and enhance cooperation to create enabling conditions for the settlement of the issue.
The rights and wrongs of what happened in the border area last year are clear. So are the stakes involved. What happened again proves that initiating confrontation will not solve the problem, and that returning to peaceful negotiation is the right way forward. China's position is very clear: We are committed to settling the boundary dispute through dialogue and consultation. At the same time, we are resolved to safeguard our sovereign rights and interests. It falls on both sides to solidify the existing consensus, strengthen dialogue and communication, and improve the various management mechanisms to jointly safeguard peace and tranquility in the border area.
In the year ahead, we hope India will work with China to truly deliver on the important common understanding reached by our leaders that "the two countries are not threats to each other but opportunities for each other's development". Together, we can bring greater benefits to the 2.7 billion people in China and India and make bigger contributions to the advent of an Asian Century.
China News Service: Over the past year, the Foreign Ministry has done a great deal in helping our fellow countrymen overseas to cope with COVID-19. What new measures does the Foreign Ministry plan to roll out this year?
Wang Yi: Our overseas compatriots had a tough time last year. The unexpected pandemic stopped our compatriots overseas from returning home and put their life and health in jeopardy. Here I wish to extend my heartfelt sympathies to all of them.
On the other hand, the worst situation often brings out the best of love and compassion. The Party and the government care deeply about the life and health of each and every Chinese national abroad. The Foreign Ministry and our missions all over the world rose to the occasion and swung into action. All of us in the diplomatic service worked around the clock, with many on the front line, to launch a special campaign of consular protection for Chinese nationals in every corner of the globe.
We reached out to those in COVID-affected communities, delivered health kits and Spring Festival packages to over five million Chinese in more than 100 countries, and helped arrange timely local treatment for all those unfortunately infected.
Our consular hotline 12308, running 24/7, handled about 3,000 calls on average every day, three times the amount in previous years.
We dealt with a number of emergency consular cases, including evacuating Chinese nationals stranded in conflict-stricken areas in Ethiopia and rescuing Chinese hostages hijacked by pirates. With concrete actions, we have reassured our compatriots overseas: Our mission is to serve the people and we will leave no one behind; our diplomats will not stand back until the pandemic is completely defeated.
In this connection, I have some good news to share with you.
First, We will launch a "spring sprout" program to assist and secure vaccination for our citizens with Chinese or foreign vaccines. More than 50 countries are including Chinese nationals in their vaccination schemes. Apart from this, many Chinese living abroad are inoculated with Chinese vaccines in accordance with host country laws. As the next step, we plan to set up vaccination stations in countries where conditions allow to administer Chinese vaccines for our compatriots in surrounding countries.
Second, We will roll out health certificates for international travelers. To implement President Xi Jinping's proposal of a global mechanism on the mutual recognition of health certificates, we will launch our version of electronic health certificate for international travelers. We will take care to fully protect personal privacy, and contribute to the mutual recognition of nucleic acid test results and vaccination records, thus facilitating safe and orderly flow of personnel.
Third, We will realize full digitalization of our overseas consular services. In May, we will launch a Chinese consular services app. It will save overseas Chinese travel time to our diplomatic or consular missions. They will be able to access 24/7 online services for travel documents application and consular assistance and protection all with a few clicks on their hand-held devices.
ANSA: The Biden administration brought the United States back into the Paris Agreement on climate change. China is going to host the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming this year. How will China cooperate with the United States and Europe to address climate change and maintain biodiversity?
Wang Yi: There is only one Mother Earth for humanity. Building a green and livable planet and pursuing sustainable development is a responsibility for all members of the international community. Facing the challenges of our times, protecting the environment is not a choice to make, but a call that we must answer.
China has all along made efforts to promote ecological progress and taken concrete actions on global climate governance. The philosophy proposed by President Xi Jinping that "blue waters and green mountains are indeed gold and silver mountains" is now a vision shared by all Chinese people. China made an important contribution to the adoption of the Paris Agreement, and scaled up its nationally determined contributions with the announcement last year of new targets for carbon peak and neutrality. This shows China's strong commitment to implementing its new development philosophy and building a clean and beautiful world. Going forward, China will continue to follow the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and make unrelenting efforts to tackle climate change.
This year, China will host the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) in Kunming, Yunnan Province. As the host country, China is ready to work with all parties to ensure positive outcomes of the Conference. Together, we will draw a new blueprint for global biodiversity conservation in the next decade and pledge new actions for building a shared future for all life on Earth.
While China, the United States and Europe vary in development stage and face different challenges, we share the common mission of tackling climate change. It makes sense that we step up communication and coordination, and lead by example in the international community. China welcomes US return to the Paris Agreement and expects that the United States will shoulder its responsibility and make its due contribution. We hope that renewed China-US cooperation on climate change will bring positive "climate change" to the relations between China and the United States.
CNR: Although the current US administration said it would return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), there remain sharp differences between the United States and Iran. How do you see the situation in the Middle East and the Gulf region?
Wang Yi: The Iranian nuclear issue is a sensitive issue that affects the whole situation in the Middle East and the Gulf region. In the past four years, the US side broke its promise by pulling out of the JCPOA, and imposed maximum pressure on Iran, which led to a renewed escalation of tensions in the region.
Now that the new US administration has expressed willingness to return to the JCPOA, we hope the US side will demonstrate sincerity by taking actions as quickly as possible, including removing the unjustified unilateral sanctions and the "long-arm jurisdiction" on third-party entities and individuals. Iran, on its part, also needs to resume full compliance and take up its non-proliferation responsibilities. The United States and Iran can move forward in a step-by-step and reciprocal manner.
Having said that, the JCPOA is certainly not a panacea for all problems in the Middle East and the Gulf region. For other issues concerning regional security, China has proposed the establishment of a multilateral dialogue platform in the Gulf region provided the JCPOA is preserved. Various parties can use this platform to manage differences and de-escalate tensions through consultation and jointly uphold regional peace and stability.
The Straits Times: How will China and ASEAN countries handle negotiations over the framework of the COC to ensure that the South China Sea does not become a potential flashpoint?
Wang Yi: Countries in the region and around the world can all see clearly in recent years that the factors of instability and security risks in the South China Sea come mainly from outside the region. China and ASEAN countries have reached important common understanding on maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea, and are focused on advancing COC consultations. However, the United States and some other Western countries wanted to see instability in the region. They used the concept of "freedom of navigation" to stir up the situation in the South China Sea, and exploited possible occasions to create divisions among the parties on this issue. The goal is to undermine peace in the South China Sea and disrupt regional stability.
The efforts made by China and ASEAN countries over the past few years prove that countries in the region have full confidence, ability and wisdom to properly manage their differences. Looking ahead, China and ASEAN countries need to continue to "walk with two legs" on the South China Sea issue. First, remove distractions and press ahead with COC consultations, and work toward the early conclusion of a set of regional rules that are more substantive and effective, consistent with international law and serve the needs of all parties. Second, continue with the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in order to build consensus, enhance mutual trust, advance cooperation, and maintain overall stability in the South China Sea.
The Paper: What is China's position on the situation in Myanmar?
Wang Yi: On the situation in Myanmar, China has the following three views:
First, peace and stability are the prerequisite for a country's development. I hope that the relevant parties in Myanmar will keep calm and exercise restraint, act in the fundamental interests of the people, address their differences through dialogue and consultation within the constitutional and legal framework, and continue to advance the democratic transition. The immediate priority is to prevent further bloodshed and conflict, and ease and cool down the situation as soon as possible.
Second, Myanmar is a member of the ASEAN family. China supports ASEAN in upholding the principles of non-interference in internal affairs and consensus building, and mediating in the ASEAN Way to seek common ground. On the basis of respect for Myanmar's sovereignty and the will of its people, China stands ready to engage and communicate with the relevant parties, and play a constructive role in easing the situation.
China and Myanmar are "pauk-phaw" brothers connected by the same mountains and rivers, and are a community with a shared future through thick and thin. China's friendship policy toward Myanmar is for all the people of Myanmar. Over the years, we have maintained friendly exchanges with various political parties in Myanmar, including the National League for Democracy. And developing friendship with China has also been a consensus across all sectors of Myanmar. No matter how the situation evolves, China will not waver in its commitment to advancing China-Myanmar relations, and will not change the course of promoting friendship and cooperation.
Prensa Latina: How does the future of the ties between China and Latin America and the Caribbean hold in the post-COVID-19 scenario? What specific steps will China take to help Latin American and Caribbean countries to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic?
Wang Yi: Last year marked the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Latin America and the Caribbean. The two sides have stood alongside and supported each other in COVID-19 response and economic recovery. Our cooperation best illustrates that "a bosom friend afar brings a distant land near".
Since the onset of COVID-19, President Xi Jinping has exchanged letters and phone calls with many Latin American and Caribbean leaders to guide our joint efforts to fight the coronavirus and promote economic growth. China has donated over 34 million items of much-needed medical supplies and equipment to 30 Latin American and Caribbean countries, held over 40 video conferences to share experience, and is providing vaccines to 12 countries in need in the region.
Our economic and trade cooperation continued to bear fruits in the past year. Two-way trade has exceeded US$300 billion for three years in a row. Exports from the region to China expanded despite the disruptions of COVID-19. According to the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, cooperation with China has become an important driver for economic stability and growth in the region. The pandemic has not hindered our cooperation. Instead, our peoples have grown closer and are bound by broader common interests.
The Chilean poet Pablo Naruda wrote, eternal friendship makes you believe in good things in the world and convinces you that there is a door ready for you to open. China will continue to strengthen friendship and cooperation with our Latin American and Caribbean friends. Together, we will build a community with a shared future between the two sides, and deliver greater benefits to our two peoples.
China Daily on behalf of netizens around the world: We've noticed that some foreign media, especially some in the West, tend to take a selective approach when covering China. It reminds people of the Yan'an days when US journalist Edgar Snow, with his book Red Star over China, first introduced the Communist Party of China to the world. Do you think it's possible to have another Edgar Snow in the foreign media today?
Wang Yi: Let me first take this opportunity to thank friends from the foreign media for your hard work. The media is an important bridge that helps countries communicate with and understand one another. Since COVID-19 started, many foreign journalists have stayed on their post and worked non-stop to help the world know the Chinese people's fight against the virus. Your efforts are deeply appreciated.
More than 80 years ago, foreign journalists such as Edgar Snow, Anna Louise Strong and Agnes Smedley came to Yan'an in northern Shaanxi Province, and shared what they saw and felt with the world truthfully. Snow was not a communist. Yet when looking at the CPC, he carried no ideological bias, stayed truthful and objective, and stood by justice and conscience. With admirable professionalism and moral ethics, he devoted his life to enhancing mutual understanding between the Chinese and American peoples. The Chinese people have fond memories of him even to this day.
China today needs to better understand the world, and the world needs to better understand China. However the world changes, the media should stand by their professional ethics. I hope that when reporting on China, foreign journalists will not apply any filter to their camera, beauty or gloomy. Truthful, objective and fair stories will always appeal to people and can stand the scrutiny of history. China hopes to see and welcomes more Edgar Snows of this new era among foreign journalists.
Wang Yi: Before we conclude today's press conference, I wish to bring to your attention one more thing. In one month's time, it will be one year since the lockdown was lifted in Wuhan, Hubei Province. The heroic people of Wuhan and Hubei, bearing in mind the greater good, made enormous sacrifice for a national victory over COVID-19 and contributed significantly to the global COVID-19 response. In April when spring comes, the Foreign Ministry will hold a special promotion event for Hubei. It will present a new Hubei Province that has emerged stronger from the difficulties, and build new bridges connecting it to the world. We hope to have your attention and support.
The press conference lasted one hour and forty minutes.