Foreign Minister Wang Yi Meets the Press
On 8 March 2017, the Fifth Session of the 12th National People’s Congress held a press conference, where Foreign Minister Wang Yi answered questions from domestic and foreign media on China’s foreign policy and external relations.
Wang Yi: Friends of the press, good morning. Every year, the NPC schedules my press conference for 8 March. This gives me an opportunity to extend festive greetings in person to all the female journalists in this room. Indeed, I want to wish all women happiness and good luck. I also want to say a big thank-you to all members of the press. You have made an important contribution by building a bridge between the Chinese diplomacy and the public at home and abroad. Thank you for a job well done. Now I’m ready to take your questions.
Xinhua News Agency: In May, China will host the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. Why does China want to hold the forum at this moment in time and what does China hope to achieve?
Wang Yi: In about two months’ time, we’ll hold the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing. We foresee that the heads of state and government from over 20 countries, the leaders of over 50 international organizations, over 100 ministerial-level officials and around 1,200 delegates from different countries and regions participating in the forum. In addition to the Leaders Roundtable, there will also be a High-Level Dialogue and six parallel panel discussions on the connectivity of policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people. Beijing will once again be the center of global attention; the Belt and Road Initiative will continue to be a hot topic around the world.
The Belt and Road is China’s initiative, but it belongs to the world. The idea came from China, but the benefits will flow to all countries. In the over three years since President Xi announced the initiative, the idea has caught on and cooperation has flourished. It has become the most popular public good and the international cooperation platform with the brightest prospects. The Belt and Road Initiative has been so successful because it meets the partner countries’ urgent desire for more mutually beneficial cooperation and follows the open and inclusive principle of planning together, building together and benefiting together. With protectionism and unilateralism on the rise, the Belt and Road Initiative is a common cause where the participating countries roll up their sleeves and pitch in together. The initiative will help to rebalance economic globalization and make it more inclusive and equitable. It also represents an important attempt at building a community of shared future for all humankind.
We hope the forum will accomplish three things. First, review and build consensus, enhance the complementarity of countries’ development strategies and set the goal of combining their strengths and achieving common prosperity. Second, examine key areas of cooperation and identify a number of major projects concerning physical connectivity, trade and investment, financial support and people-to-people exchange. Third, announce medium- to long-term initiatives, explore the establishment of an effective cooperation mechanism and build a closer and result-oriented network of partnerships.
NBC: President Trump is a leader quite like no other. How confident are you that compromises can be found on the most important challenges that concern both sides?
Wang Yi: Through the intense communication and joint efforts of both sides, the China-US relationship is transitioning steadily and developing in a positive direction. Last month, President Xi Jinping and President Trump had a very important telephone conversation where they reaffirmed the importance of following the one-China principle and pledged to push China-US relations to greater heights from a new starting point. The phone call has set the direction and paved the way for bilateral relations. The two sides are having fruitful communications on realizing exchanges between our Presidents and at other levels and expanding all areas of cooperation. As long as we act on the consensus reached between our Presidents, follow the principle of no conflict or confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, then there is no reason why China and the United States cannot become good partners.
The importance of the China-US relationship, one between two major countries with global impact, is self-evident. Preserving and developing the China-US relationship is in the interest of our two peoples and the expectation of the international community. The three joint communiqués have laid a solid foundation for China-US relations. Looking ahead, it’s very important that we rise above two things.
First, we need to rise above the difference of our social systems. China and the United States have chosen different systems and development paths. The Chinese people have great confidence in our own social system and development path; we welcome efforts to build a better United States. In the age of progress and plurality, there is a compelling reason for China and the United States to respect each other, learn from each other, live together peacefully and realize common development.
Second, we need to rise above the zero-sum mentality. China and the United States have a growing set of common interests. The areas where we need to work together on far outweigh what divides us. In many ways, our interests are increasingly intertwined. We should pull our efforts to enlarge our shared interests rather than building one’s success at the expense of the other, because it’s just not possible.
It’s been 38 years since China and the United States normalized diplomatic relations. The Chinese people often say, “When turning thirty, one should be able to stand firm; when reaching forty, one should no longer have any doubts.” We hope that China and the United States can truly rise above the old ideas, open up new horizons and build a more robust and mature China-US relationship as it turns forty, so that we can put the minds of our two peoples and the whole world at ease.
People’s Daily: In the last few years, China’s diplomacy has been active and dynamic. If you are to use a few words to sum up China’s diplomacy since the 18th CPC Congress, what would they be?
Wang Yi: Since the 18th Congress of the CPC, Chinese diplomats have risen to challenges and broken new ground. Under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, we have accomplished a great deal and opened a new chapter in major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. Let me try to sum it up with three key words.
The first key word is vision. Grasping the trend of the times and the course of history, General Secretary Xi Jinping has put forward a series of new ideas and new thinking. For example, he has called for building partnerships that replace confrontation with dialogue, and alliance with partnership. Then, countries can build a new type of international relations underpinned by win-win cooperation. On that basis, we can build a community of shared future for all humankind. These new ideas and thinking reject the old concepts of alliance and confrontation and rise above the old approach of zero-sum games. They have distinct Chinese characteristics and major implications for the world. They are the guide to action for Chinese diplomats in the new era and will have far-reaching implications for human development and progress.
The second key word is initiative. Chinese diplomats have worked creatively to secure and advance our country’s and people’s interests. We have established a global web of partnerships, and provided an enabling environment and strategic support for China’s development. We have advanced the Belt and Road Initiative and opened a new chapter of openness and win-win cooperation. Putting people at the heart of diplomacy, we have improved consular mechanisms and procedures and effectively safeguarded the legitimate and lawful rights and interests of Chinese citizens and businesses abroad.
The third key word is consistency. In the face of instability and conflicts in many parts of the world, we have adhered to the path of peaceful development. In the face of skepticism over the existing international order and system, we have called for maintaining it and, where necessary, improving it. In the face of a growing backlash against globalization and rising protectionism, we have championed multilateralism and openness and inclusiveness. It’s our responsibility as a major country to maintain consistency and continuity in our foreign policy, which can offset various uncertainties and demonstrate China’s confidence and firmness of purpose.
Later this year, the CPC will hold its 19th National Congress. Chinese diplomats will continue to forge ahead, guided by the diplomatic thinking of General Secretary Xi Jinping. China will continue to be an anchor of international stability, an engine of global growth, a champion of peace and development and a contributor to global governance.
Reuters: The situation on the Korean Peninsula at the moment is extremely tense. North Korea has again test missiles this week. Does China think there will be war on the Korean Peninsula? What is China’s strategy for preventing war from breaking out?
Wang Yi: Once again, tensions are rising on the Korean Peninsula. On the one hand, the DPRK has ignored international opposition and insisted on advancing its nuclear and missile programs in violation of Security Council resolutions. On the other hand, the US and the ROK are conducting military exercises of an enormous scale and putting more military pressure on the DPRK. The two sides are like two accelerating trains coming towards each other with neither side willing to give way. The question is, are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision?
Given the situation, our priority now is to flash the red light and apply brakes on both trains.
To defuse the looming crisis on the peninsula, China proposes that, as a first step, the DPRK suspend its missile and nuclear activities in exchange for a halt of the large-scale US-ROK exercises. This suspension-for-suspension can help us break out of the security dilemma and bring the parties back to the negotiating table. Then we can follow the dual-track approach of denuclearizing the peninsula on the one hand and establishing a peace mechanism on the other. Only by addressing the parties’ concerns in a synchronized and reciprocal manner, can we find a fundamental solution to lasting peace and stability on the peninsula. China’s proposal, fully in keeping with resolutions 2270 and 2321, tries to get to the crux of the matter. To resolve the nuclear issue, we have to walk on both legs, which means not just implementing sanctions, but also restarting talks, both of which are set out in the Security Council resolutions.
The nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula is mainly between the DPRK and the United States. China is a next-door neighbor with a lips-and-teeth relationship with the peninsula, so we’re indispensable to the resolution of the nuclear issue. China has a strong commitment to denuclearizing the peninsula, to maintaining stability there and to resolving the issues peacefully. Indeed, China has done its level best to bring the DPRK and the US together and to chair the Six-Party Talks. We’ve also contributed to the adoption and implementation of Security Council resolutions. Going forward, to continue my earlier railway metaphor, China will continue to be a “switch-man”. We will try to switch the issue back to the track of seeking a negotiated settlement. And I wish to emphasize that nuclear weapons will not bring security, the use of force is no solution, talks deserve another chance and peace is still within our grasp.