State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi Meets the Press
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.