Opinion

Press Conference By H.E. Wang Yi, Foreign Minister of China at the 13th National People’s Congress (Excerpt)

Wang Yi: Friends from the media, good morning. It’s my great pleasure to host this annual press conference again on the margins of the National People’s Congress Session. As always, let me begin by extending festive greetings to all women, including those in this room. Looking back at the past year, we in China’s diplomatic service, under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, navigated the complex international currents, forged ahead with a clear sense of purpose, and made new and important strides. Today I will try to give you a full picture of China’s foreign policy and do my best to improve understanding between China and the rest of the world. Now I’d be happy to take your questions.

People’s Daily: The year 2019 marks 70 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). What are the most important achievements and experience of China’s diplomacy in these seven decades? How do they inform what you’re doing today?

Wang Yi: Indeed, 2019 marks 70 years since the founding of the PRC. Under the strong and correct leadership of the CPC, our people have forged ahead as one in the last 70 years and made great strides that have truly impressed the world. On the diplomatic front as well, we have broken new ground, overcome many difficulties and traveled an extraordinary journey. As General Secretary Xi Jinping has rightly stated, China is ever closer to the world’s center stage.

Our diplomatic accomplishments are due, first and foremost, to the leadership of the Party, which is the fundamental political guarantee for China’s diplomacy. For seven decades, the Party has advanced with the times, developed a rich body of diplomatic theories with Chinese characteristics and established a fine tradition with distinctive features. They include: independence as a cornerstone of China’s foreign policy, concern for the common good of humanity, pursuit of equity and justice, commitment to win-win outcomes, the mission of facilitating domestic development, and dedication to serving the Chinese people. At last year’s Central Conference on Work Relating to Foreign Affairs, Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy was established as our guideline, an epoch-making milestone in the development of New China’s diplomatic theories. It sets the fundamental course for our diplomacy in the new era and points the way for navigating through the complex array of issues in today’s world.

The world is experiencing profound shifts unseen in a century. Chinese diplomacy has reached a new starting point. Led by the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, we will fully implement Xi Jinping Thought on diplomacy, uphold our founding principles and keep our mission firmly in mind. We will remain committed to the path of peaceful development, work for win-win outcomes, uphold the existing international system and shoulder more international responsibilities. We will both strive to create a better environment for China’s rejuvenation and make new and greater contributions to world peace and human progress.

China Arab TV: China will host the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation this year. Can you give us an indication of how many foreign leaders are going to attend and what China hopes the forum will achieve?

Wang Yi: The much-anticipated second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) will be held in Beijing in late April. It’s the most important diplomatic event China will host this year and an international gathering that will capture the world’s attention. President Xi will give a keynote address at the opening ceremony and chair a leaders’ roundtable. There will also be a high-level meeting, thematic forums and a CEO conference.

The second BRF has three things to watch for: First, the number of foreign heads of state and government expected to attend will be much larger than that of the first BRF. Second, it will be a much bigger gathering with thousands of delegates from over 100 countries. Third, there will be more side events including 12 thematic forums focusing on practical cooperation and, for the first time, a conference organized specifically for the business community.

With the theme of “Belt and Road Cooperation: Shaping a Brighter Shared Future”, the second BRF aims to bring about high-quality cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China looks forward to a full exchange of views on future cooperation plans.

China will build consensus with the parties on high-quality development, follow the principle of consultation and cooperation for shared benefits, champion an open, transparent and inclusive approach to BRI cooperation, and strive for green and sustainable development.

China and the participating countries will seek greater complementarity between the BRI and their development strategies, agree on a line-up of key cooperation projects, promote the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and pay more attention to improving the lives of the ordinary people as we deepen our cooperation.

China will act in the spirit of win-win, focus on improving physical connectivity, build a stronger momentum for common development and forge an even closer partnership.

China will champion open and inclusive cooperation, support economic globalization, uphold multilateralism and work with all to make the world economy an open one.

As President Xi has said, the BRI originates in China, but its benefits are shared by the world. We have reason to hope and believe that the second BRF will be a great success and another milestone in BRI cooperation.

China Daily: There has been some skepticism and criticism about the BRI, which is described as a “debt trap” or “geopolitical tool”. What’s your response to these allegations?

Wang Yi: Six years since it was proposed, the BRI has become the largest platform for international cooperation and the most welcomed global public good. To date, 123 countries and 29 international organizations have signed BRI agreements with China. They have cast a vote of support and confidence in the BRI.

From the start, the BRI follows the sound principle of consultation and cooperation for shared benefits. It has created enormous opportunities for all participants. Thanks to the BRI, East Africa now has its first motorway, the Maldives has built its first inter-island bridge, Belarus is able to produce passenger vehicles, Kazakhstan is connected to the sea, Southeast Asia is constructing a high-speed railway, and the Eurasian continent is benefiting from the longest-distance freight train service. In Kenya, the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway, built with Chinese assistance and dubbed “a project of the century”, has created nearly 50,000 local jobs and boosted Kenya’s economic growth by 1.5 percentage points. In Uzbekistan, Chinese construction workers in collaboration with the locals have, in just 900 days, built a 19-kilometer railway tunnel through high mountains, cutting travel time to only 900 seconds. Plenty of facts like these are proof that the BRI is not a “debt trap” that some countries may fall into, but an “economic pie” that benefits the local population; it is no “geopolitical tool”, but a great opportunity for shared development. Signing up for the BRI has enabled countries to grow at a faster pace, improve their people’s lives and reap win-win outcomes.

Of course, all new initiatives need time to mature. We welcome constructive suggestions from our BRI partners to fully reflect the principle of consultation and cooperation for shared benefits. I’m convinced that with everyone pitching in, the BRI will reinvigorate the ancient Silk Road in the new era and be a great help to nations and countries who are joining together to build a community with a shared future for mankind.

Ghana Broadcasting Corporation: Many African countries seem to have increasingly recognized China’s development model and become more active in the BRI, much more than countries in the West. Now what are China’s ideas for further developing Sino-African relations?

Wang Yi: China and Africa have a long-standing friendship. We are good brothers whose destinies and fortunes are entwined. China’s relationship with Africa is at the best it has ever been. China-Africa cooperation continues to be a pace-setter for the rest of the world.

After decades of diligent nurturing, the sapling of China-Africa cooperation has grown into a towering tree that no force can topple. Going forward, we will fully implement the eight major initiatives announced at last year’s FOCAC Beijing Summit and continuously deepen our BRI cooperation. Seizing these two opportunities, we can build an even stronger China-Africa community with a shared future.

China-Africa cooperation is becoming more and more successful, and this brings some criticisms and smears. But there’s deep mutual trust between our two sides, our friendship is time-tested and the fruits of our cooperation can be seen across the African continent. You may have noticed that some African leaders and individuals have come out against the ludicrous claim that China is setting up a “debt trap” or acting like a “neo-colonial power”. It shows that such slanders have no audience in Africa.

China-Africa cooperation has always been open and inclusive. Africa’s development requires more input from the international community. The exemplary effect of China-Africa cooperation can be leveraged to encourage more countries to give greater attention, weight and input to Africa. When all of us combine our strength, we can contribute more to peace and development in Africa.

Xinhua News Agency: At a time when international cooperation is buffeted by protectionism and unilateralism, China is increasingly seen as a champion of multilateralism and international cooperation. What will China do to uphold multilateralism?

Wang Yi: In the last few years, unilateralism and protectionism has reared its head and returned with a vengeance. The good news is that more and more countries are stepping forward to resist and oppose this disturbing trend. There’s a growing realization that in the age of globalization, all countries share the same destiny – we rise and fall together. Therefore, instead of each going his own way, we should act as a team; instead of each minding his own business, we should help each other as passengers in the same boat. Championing multilateralism is the overwhelming consensus of the international community. China sees multilateralism as a cornerstone of the existing international order. The practice of multilateralism will, over time, make international relations more democratic and our world a more multi-polar one. China will carry the banner of building a community with a shared future for mankind, continue to stand on the right side of history and support the common interests of the majority of countries. China will work with all nations under the principle of multilateralism to resolutely uphold the international system centered on the UN and the international order underpinned by international law.

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