State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi Meets the Press
On 24 May 2020, a press conference was held via video link on the margins of the Third Session of the 13th National People’s Congress, 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’s press conference is held at a special time as countries around the world are battling COVID-19. I wish to take this opportunity to salute health workers worldwide who are doing their best to save lives and to mourn the lives tragically lost. I’d also like to say thank-you to all the governments and nations who have given understanding, care and assistance to China in its COVID-19 response. The virus cannot defeat humanity; we will eventually prevail. The darkest hour will pass. Looking ahead, we can see light and hope. With these words, I’m happy to open the floor for questions.
People’s Daily: What’s the most important thing people can learn from COVID-19?
Wang Yi: In my view, the most important thing we could learn from COVID-19 is that the life and health of people in different countries have never been so closely connected. Also, it has never been made so clear to us that all nations live in the same global village and that humanity is in fact a community with a shared future.
The virus respects no borders or races. It poses a challenge to all humans without distinction. Political manipulation will give the virus loopholes to exploit; a beggar-thy-neighbor approach will leave each of us more vulnerable; rejection of science will allow the virus to wreak greater havoc. With this in mind, President Xi Jinping has made the case to the world time and again that the virus is the common enemy of mankind, and that the only way to defeat it is to pull together with solidarity and cooperation, which are the most effective weapons against the virus.
Having claimed so many precious lives, COVID-19 serves as a stark reminder that countries must rise above differences in geography, race, history, culture and social system. We must work together for a community with a shared future and jointly preserve Planet Earth, the only home we have. One important goal in this regard is to speed up efforts to build a global community of health for all. As a responsible country, China will contribute its share to the realization of this goal.
China Global Television Network: COVID-19 and the upcoming US presidential election are straining China-US relations. How concerned are you that China’s relations with the United States could further deteriorate?
Wang Yi: The US has become the worst affected country; with every day that passes, many innocent lives are taken by the virus. I would like to express deep sympathy for what the American people are going through, and our sincere hope and best wishes that they will defeat the virus and resume normal life and work soon.
COVID-19 is a common enemy for China and the US. Mutual support and assistance are the shared preference of our two peoples. Early on in China’s response, many American organizations, companies and citizens extended a helping hand. When the US was hit by the virus, the government, local authorities and people of China reciprocated their kindness, generously donating large quantities of needed supplies. We also supported and facilitated US procurement of medical supplies in China. Take face masks for example. More than 12 billion masks have been exported to the US, which roughly means 40 masks for every American.
It is most regrettable that while the coronavirus is still out there, a “political virus” is also spreading in the US and jumping at any opportunity to attack and slander China. Some politicians ignore the basic facts and make up countless lies and conspiracy theories concerning China. A list of these lies has been compiled and debunked online. New lies will be added to the list. The longer the list, the more it says about how low the rumor-mongers are willing to go and the more stains they will leave in history.
I call on the US side to stop wasting precious time and stop costing people’s lives. China and the US need to work together on a number of urgent things. First, we may share our experience and learn from each other’s best practices to bolster our respective responses to COVID-19. Second, we must do what the world expects of us, jointly participate in and advance multilateral cooperation against COVID-19 and make active contributions to the global response. Third, while getting prepared for a long fight against COVID-19 and maintaining our ongoing response, we must start to communicate and coordinate our macro-policies to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on our economies and the world economy.
As for where we are and where we need to be in China-US relations, our position is consistent. As the largest developing country and the largest developed country, China and the US shoulder great responsibilities for global peace and development. It is imperative for us to seriously and properly handle our relations out of a strong sense of responsibility to humanity, to history and to our peoples. Both China and the US stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation: this best captures what we have learned, positive and otherwise, from the past decades. Both sides should take this lesson to heart.
China and the US have different social systems, but this is the result of the different choices made by our people, which we must respect. It’s also true that we have many disagreements, but that doesn’t preclude cooperation. When you think about the challenges facing today’s world, almost all of them require coordination between China and the US.
China remains prepared to work with the US in the spirit of no conflict or confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation and build a relationship based on coordination, cooperation and stability. At the same time, China will defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, its legitimate right to development, and its dignity and place in the world which the Chinese people have worked so hard to earn. China has no intention to change, still less replace, the US. It’s time for the US to give up its wishful thinking of changing China or stopping 1.4 billion people’s historic march toward modernization.
It has come to our attention that some political forces in the US are taking China-US relations hostage and pushing our two countries to the brink of a “new Cold War”. This dangerous attempt to turn back the wheel of history will undo the fruits of decades-long China-US cooperation, dampen America’s own development prospects, and put world stability and prosperity in jeopardy. People with wisdom and foresight on both sides must step forward to stop it.
In short, for the fundamental and long-term interests of the Chinese and American people and the well-being and future of humanity, China and the US should and must find a way of peaceful co-existence and mutually beneficial cooperation, demonstrating that this is possible between two countries with different systems and cultures.
Xinhua News Agency: The world may never be the same again after COVID-19. How does China view the post-COVID-19 world and the future of globalization?
Wang Yi: The world will certainly not be the same again; history always moves forward. Throughout world history, humanity has progressed by wrestling with one disaster after another. In China’s view, if countries make the right choice and stay on the right path, the world will triumph over the virus and embrace a brighter future.
First, globalization needs to be more inclusive and beneficial to all. Globalization represents an inevitable trend in the development of the world and a strong tide driving human progress. It has turned the global economy into an ocean, to which every river flows. It’s simply not possible to channel the water in the ocean back into isolated lakes. Likewise, attempts to reject globalization and fall back on protectionism will have no future.
Even as we continue to maximize cost efficiency through optimizing global allocation of resources, we must pay more attention to addressing the issues that have accompanied globalization, such as the widening wealth gap and regional imbalances. The solution lies in the further advancement of globalization. This requires us to steer globalization in the right direction. In early 2017, President Xi Jinping gave a speech in Davos in which he comprehensively laid out China’s views on economic globalization and called for making it more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all. Three years on, his words are more relevant and inspiring than ever.
Second, multilateralism must be safeguarded and promoted even more firmly. COVID-19 drives home once again that no country, no matter how strong it is, can insulate itself from a global challenge. When a disaster wreaks havoc, watching from an apparently safe distance and sitting idle will eventually backfire. Pointing fingers at others will only end up damaging one’s own reputation. Self-conceit and blame-shifting, instead of helping any country solve its problems, will only hurt other countries’ legitimate rights and interests. In the face of mounting global challenges, only multilateralism can bring the world together. And only solidarity can see us through the current difficulties.
Third, global governance needs to be reformed and improved where it is most lacking. COVID-19 has exposed weaknesses in national public health systems, the fragility of the global industrial and supply chains, and deficiencies in our global governance capacity and system. It calls for urgent improvement and reform of global governance. The United Nations must play a central role; WHO and other UN specialized agencies must be able to perform their mandates without hindrance. All countries must intensify macro-policy coordination where appropriate and strengthen governance capacity. And we must redouble our commitment to international law and the basic norms of international relations.
The world will never be the same again, and China will never stop moving forward. COVID-19 has been an all-round test on China’s social system and governance capacity. China has stood the test, displayed its composite national strength and shown itself to be a responsible major country. After COVID-19, our economy will emerge stronger and more resilient, our people more united and confident in socialism with Chinese characteristics, and our nation more unstoppable in its march toward rejuvenation.