Building on 70 Years of Achievements and Pursuing Progress in the New Era
– State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s Exclusive Year-end Interview with People’s Daily
Q1. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of New China. What is your view of the international situation and China’s diplomacy in 2019?
Wang Yi: The year 2019 is significant in the course of China’s development. The CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as its core led the whole Party and people across the country to solemnly celebrate the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. A more united, stable and prosperous China is proudly embarking on a new journey toward brighter development prospects. Standing in stark contrast to the effective governance of China is the disorder in many parts of the world. In 2019, quite a number of countries have seen political and social turmoil. Instability and uncertainty are on the rise in the international situation. A tug of war between unilateralism and multilateralism is unfolding across the world, and it will determine the future and destiny of humanity.
In 2019, China, weathering rain and storm, has forged ahead on the diplomatic front. Under the wise leadership of General Secretary Xi Jinping and the CPC Central Committee, we have pressed ahead, overcome challenges and achieved new, important advances.
In the face of external interference and provocation, we have stood firm, resisted them head on and never backed down. We have effectively defended our country’s sovereignty, security and development rights and interests, and resolutely upheld the dignity of the country, nation and people.
In the face of volatility in the international situation, we have stayed committed to multilateralism and championed equity and justice. We have steadily developed relations with other major countries, and vigorously advanced mutually beneficial cooperation with neighboring and developing countries. We have spearheaded global governance and actively mediated various regional issues.
In the face of the sluggish world economy, we have continued to adhere to the principle of mutually beneficial cooperation, and successfully held the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. At the second China International Import Expo, which attracted more participants than the first one, we announced new, major measures of opening-up. In this way, we have made new contributions to building an open world economy.
On the complex international stage, China has become a true pillar of world peace and stability and a key engine for global development and prosperity.
Q2. This year has seen close exchanges between Chinese and Russian leaders. What is your comment on the current China-Russia relations?
Wang Yi: This year marks the 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and Russia. The relationship has broken new ground in a number of areas:
First, there has been a new characterization of our bilateral relations. President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin, with their vision and political resolve, have upgraded the China-Russia relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era. This elevation has brought political trust between the two sides to an unprecedented level.
Second, practical cooperation has made new breakthroughs. Smooth progress has been made in creating synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union. Steady advances have been made in major bilateral projects in energy, aviation, space and connectivity. The east-route natural gas pipeline has gone into operation. Bilateral trade has exceeded the mark of US$100 billion.
Third, friendly exchanges have made new progress. The China-Russia year of sub-national cooperation and exchanges has been brought to a successful conclusion. The number of friendship states/provinces and cities has reached 146 pairs. The Chinese language has been included in Russia’s unified state exam. Friendship between our peoples has been further strengthened.
Fourth, strategic coordination has reached a new level. China and Russia have shown firm mutual support on issues concerning each other’s core interests, and worked together to resist attempts by external forces to keep us down. The two sides signed a joint statement on strengthening global strategic stability. We have enhanced back-to-back coordination in international affairs, and stood shoulder to shoulder in opposing power politics and bullying practices.
In the world today, the China-Russia relationship is the closest, strongest, most mature and most stable one between two major countries. It sets a high standard and a prime example for harmonious co-existence and win-win cooperation between countries. The China-Russia relationship has not reached its full potential; we can do still better. There is no limit to our cooperation; we must always strive to expand it. I am confident that under the guidance of our Presidents, China-Russia relations will continue to make history and scale new heights. They will bring more benefits to our two countries and peoples and play a vital role in international peace and stability.
Q3. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States. How do you see the challenges for the relationship?
Wang Yi: The 40th anniversary of China-US diplomatic relations should have made this year an important opportunity for joint commemoration and new progress. Regrettably however, the US has taken a string of actions to obstruct and repress China in trade, science and technology, and has been meddling in a series of issues concerning China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and smearing China. The US actions not only undermined the mutual trust that the two sides built over four decades, but also swayed stability and development of the whole world. I would like to stress again that China will resolutely safeguard its core interests and legitimate rights to development. No one and no force can stop the historic march of the 1.4 billion Chinese people toward modernization. This said, regarding the problems and disagreements in bilateral interactions, China is always ready to have consultations with the US on the basis of mutual respect. The fact that China and the US recently reached agreement on a phase one trade deal shows that, when both sides demonstrate good faith, work in concert and communicate as equals, we can always find a solution to whatever issue that may come our way.
The China-US relationship has been through rain and shine and moved ahead amidst ups and downs in the past four decades. The most important thing that this period has taught us is that both countries stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation. As President Xi Jinping has stressed repeatedly, cooperation is the only correct choice for the two countries. It is our hope that the US side will return to a fact-based and correct perception of China and a sensible and pragmatic policy toward China. We urge the US to work with us to put the relationship back on the track of sound development and realize the goal of no conflict or confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. Considering both the long-term interests of the Chinese and American peoples and the international responsibilities we shoulder as major countries, both sides need to and must find a way of peaceful co-existence between the world’s largest developing and developed countries. Together, we must embark on a path of mutual benefit and win-win results that serves China, the US and the whole world.
Q4. What is your assessment of China’s relationship with Europe? And your expectations for next year?
Wang Yi: The year 2019 has been a year of harvest for China-Europe relations. President Xi Jinping’s successful overseas visits in 2019 started with Europe, and concluded with Europe as well. The leaders of Germany, France and Italy all made visits to China. The China-EU Summit and the China-CEEC Summit were both very successful. These intensive high-level interactions speak volumes about how both China and Europe value their relationship, and lend strong impetus to the deepening of cooperation between the two sides. China and the EU concluded negotiations for an agreement on geographical indications as scheduled. We are speeding up negotiations for a China-EU investment agreement. We are making progress in the Belt and Road cooperation. The membership of China-CEEC cooperation was enlarged for the first time. China and European countries reached consensus on strengthening global governance and many other major issues. Following the official inauguration of the new EU leadership earlier this month, President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have had phone calls respectively with President Charles Michel and President Ursula von der Leyen. These interactions between Chinese and EU leaders have built consensus and set the course for the further development of China-EU relations.
As the world’s two major civilizations and major forces, China and Europe stand together for a multi-polar world and greater democracy in international relations. We stand together for multilateralism and the basic norms of international relations. And we stand together for free trade and an open world economy. Our cooperation far outweighs our competition, and we agree much more than we disagree. We are partners, not rivals. We are friends, not enemies. Next year will mark the 45th anniversary of China-EU diplomatic relations. China is prepared to strengthen high-level exchanges with Europe to jointly take China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership to a new level. Working together, China and Europe can provide more stability to an otherwise uncertain world.
Q5. How will China bring about new progress in the Belt and Road cooperation?
Wang Yi: The second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was the most important diplomatic event hosted by China in 2019. Chaired by President Xi Jinping, it was a tremendous success. It was attended by 40 national leaders and heads of international organizations and more than 6,000 representatives of 150 countries and 92 international organizations. With 283 outcomes, the second Forum marked the start of a new journey in Belt and Road cooperation – one of high-quality development.
Thanks to the continuous efforts of all parties, we have refined the blueprint of Belt and Road cooperation, put forward more effective guidelines and identified clearer paths for implementation. This new vision is best captured by our commitment to the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefit; to open, green and clean cooperation; and to a high-standard, people-centered and sustainable approach. Next year, we will host the second United Nations Global Sustainable Transport Conference. It is an excellent opportunity for forging a global partnership for connectivity, for making new breakthroughs in the major connectivity initiatives of China-Europe Railway Express and the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, and for supporting the multilateral mechanisms and forums under the Belt and Road Initiative in playing their full roles. I am confident that with our collective efforts, we will draw more exciting and beautiful sketches in pursuing high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.
Q6. Unilateralism is dealing a serious blow to the international order. From your perspective, how should the international community tackle this challenge?
Wang Yi: Confronted with unilateralism, the international community has no choice but to join hands and firmly resist this perverse trend. If we give a free pass to unilateralism and the supremacy of unchecked national interests, the international order and system on which we live and thrive may collapse. That would be an unacceptable outcome for all of us, particularly small- and medium-sized countries.
As a responsible member of the international community, China has been a strong champion of multilateralism. Wherever he traveled in 2019, President Xi Jinping made China’s voice heard. It is a voice of justice that rejects unilateralism, hegemonism and power politics in favor of multilateralism, the authority of the UN and the norms of international relations. President Xi has pointed out that our commitment to multilateralism requires us to safeguard peace and development for all, to uphold international fairness and equity and promote win-win results, and to reform the international governance system and build a community with a shared future for mankind. The goal, principle and direction he has set capture the essence of multilateralism of our times. They are being recognized and endorsed by more and more countries.
As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the UN next year, China is ready to work with the rest of the world to uphold the shining torch of multilateralism, and drive away the darkness of unilateralism, and clear up the sky for world peace, stability and development for all.
Q7. What’s your comment on the interference of some western countries in China’s internal affairs? How has diplomacy played its role?
Wang Yi: The great renewal of the Chinese nation is a natural trend in human history. That said, there are unprecedented difficulties and challenges that come with it. The closer we get to this goal, the more likely that we will encounter disturbances or even disruptions. Strategically, we have the full resolve, confidence and patience. Moreover, we are gaining more resources, capability, confidence and conviction to overcome whatever hardships that come our way. To quote a Chinese poem that describes the bamboo growing in rocks, “It is strong and firm though struck and beaten without rest; careless of the wind from north or south, east or west.” Any attempt to interfere in China’s internal affairs or hold back China’s development will be crushed by the wheels of history.
On Hong Kong, we firmly support the SAR government in ending the violence and chaos, restoring order, and exercising law-based governance. Time will prove that “one country, two systems” not only works and works well in Hong Kong, but also has the support of the people there.
On Taiwan, this year saw China establishing diplomatic relations with the Solomon Islands and resuming diplomatic ties with Kiribati. As the number of countries having diplomatic ties with China has increased to 180, the one-China consensus is more widely established in the international community than ever before.
On Xinjiang, we have effectively ensured the safety and well-being of the over 24 million fellow countrymen of different ethic groups there, giving no chance to terrorism and radical ideologies. Our de-radicalization efforts have responded well to the call of the UN and are becoming an important part of the global fight against terrorism.
To quote another poem that depicts the resolve of our forefathers to defend the ancient Great Wall, “Were the winged general of Dragon city here; the tartar steeds would not dare to cross the frontier.” It falls on China’s diplomatic service and everyone working on the diplomatic front to safeguard the sovereignty and security of the country, which brooks no violation whatsoever, and advance China’s legitimate development rights and interests. It is such an important responsibility that allows not even the slightest error. Under the unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee, we will continue to build up an invincible Great Wall of defense for our national interests.