The Big Diplomatic Picture
China's diplomacy since the 18th CPC National Congress
  ·  2017-03-10  ·   Source: NO. 11 MARCH 16, 2017
Foreign Minister Wang Yi answers questions from the press on March 8 on the sidelines of this year’s two sessions (WANG XIANG)

Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (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 keywords:

The first keyword is vision. General Secretary Xi has grasped the trend of the times and the course of history and 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 we can build a new type of international relations underpinned by win-win cooperation. On that basis, countries 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 keyword is initiative. Chinese diplomats have worked creatively to secure and advance our country's and people's interests. We have established a global network of partnerships and provided enabling environments and strategic support for China's development.

We have advanced the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative and opened a new chapter of openness and win-win cooperation. Putting people at the heart of our 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 keyword is consistency. In the face of instability and conflict in many parts of the world, we have adhered to the path of peaceful development. In the face of skepticism over the international order and system, we have called for maintaining it and where necessary, improving it.

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. 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.

Reporters from Chinese and overseas media attend Foreign Minister Wang Yi's press conference on March 8 (WANG XIANG)

The Belt and Road Initiative

In about two months' time, China will host the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing. We foresee the heads of state and government of 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 of the world participating in that forum.

In addition to the leaders' roundtable, there will also be a high-level dialogue and six parallel panel discussions on connectivity of policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people.

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 first announced the initiative, the idea has caught on, and cooperation has flourished. It has become the most popular public good.

With protectionism and unilateralism on the rise, the Belt and Road Initiative is a common cause, where all 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.

China-U.S. relations

Through the intense communication and joint efforts of both sides, the China-U.S. relationship is transitioning steadily and developing in a positive direction.

In February, President Xi and President Donald Trump had a very important telephone conversation, where they reaffirmed the importance of following the one-China principle and pledged to push China-U.S. 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 excellent partners.

The importance of China-U.S. relations, one [relationship] between two major countries with global impact, is self-evident. Preserving and developing the China-U.S. relationship is in the interests of our two peoples and [meets] the expectation of the international community.

The three joint communiqués [of 1972, 1978 and 1982] have laid a solid foundation for China-U.S. 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 path, and 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 our differences. In many ways, our interests are closely intertwined. So, we should pool 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.

Recently, I sat next to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson while we were both attending the G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting. After that, we had our first face-to-face meeting. My impression is that Secretary Tillerson is a good listener and a good communicator. I hope and believe we can establish a good working relationship and work together to realize the normal development of China-U.S. relations.

Korean Peninsula nuclearization issue

Tensions are again rising on the Korean Peninsula. On the one hand, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has ignored international opposition and insisted on advancing its nuclear program and launched ballistic missiles in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. On the other hand, the U.S. and the Republic of Korea (ROK) are conducting military exercises of enormous scale and ramping up military pressure on the DPRK. The two sides are like two accelerating trains coming toward each other with neither side willing to give way. The question is, are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision? Our priority now is to flash the red light and apply brakes to both trains.

To defuse the looming crisis on the peninsula, China proposes that as a first step the DPRK may suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for the halt of the large-scale U.S.-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 a fundamental solution be found to lasting peace and stability on the peninsula. China's proposal is fully in keeping with UN Security Council Resolutions 2270 and 2321, and tries to get to the crux of the matter. To resolve the nuclear issue we have to work on both legs, which means not just implementing sanctions but also restarting talks, both of which are set out in the UN 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 of course we are indispensable to the resolution on the nuclear issue. China has a strong commitment to denuclearizing the peninsula to maintaining stability there and to resolving the issue peacefully. Indeed, China has done its level best to bring the DPRK and U.S. together and to chair the Six-Party Talks. We have also made our contribution to adopting and implementing UN Security Council resolutions. In future, to continue my earlier railway metaphor, China will continue to be a switchman—we will switch the issue back onto 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.

This year marks the 25thanniversary of diplomatic relations between China and the ROK. China treasures the outcomes that our two peoples have built together over the last 25 years. The ROK should join China in preserving the mutually beneficial relationship between the two sides.

The U.S.-ROK deployment of the very controversial THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system in the ROK is the biggest issue affecting China-ROK relations at the moment. China has expressed its strong opposition to the THAAD deployment all along. It is common knowledge that the monitoring and the early warning radius of THAAD reaches far beyond the Korean Peninsula, and undermines China's strategic security. So clearly, deploying THAAD is the wrong choice. It is not the way neighbors should behave toward each other, and it may very well make the ROK less secure. So we strongly advise some elements in the ROK not to pursue this course of action. Otherwise, they will only end up hurting themselves as well as others. China urges the ROK to cease and desist, halt the THAAD deployment, and not to stray further down the wrong path.

Western domination and emerging countries

The BRICS countries are representative of the emerging economies. Over the years the fortunes of the BRICS may have risen or fallen, and the BRICS each face their own set of challenges, but as President Xi has put it: The BRICS are like five fingers, each with its own strength. But when we come together, we form a fist that can punch. As long as we stay united, the BRICS will not lose its luster, rather, it will shine more brightly.

This year, BRICS will enter into its second decade. As rotating president this year, China will work with other BRICS countries to review experience, plan the future, ushering the second golden decade of BRICS cooperation and provide BRICS input for world peace and development.

We hope to accomplish four things this year. First in terms of political and security cooperation, we will make full use of the meeting of national security advisors, build consensus for holding a stand-alone foreign ministers' meeting, and demonstrate the strength of BRICS cooperation to the world. Second, in terms of practical cooperation, we will fully implement the strategy for BRICS economic partnership, enhance policy coordination at the macro level and the complementarity of our development strategies, announce a number of solid cooperation initiatives and add ever more substance to BRICS cooperation. Third, in terms of people-to-people exchange, we will implement the agreements of our leaders and hope to hold a BRICS cultural festival, film festival, sports meet and other activities, to expand all areas of people-to-people exchange and build stronger public support for BRICS cooperation. Fourth and very importantly, in terms of South-South cooperation, we will explore the modality of BRICS-plus by holding outreach dialogues with other major developing countries or groups of developing countries. We hope to establish a more extensive partnership, widen the BRICS circle of friends, and turn BRICS into the most important platform for South-South cooperation.

Relations between China,Russia and the U.S.

We have great confidence in China-Russia relations. We have a comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, not because it's convenient; it's a strategic decision reached by both sides on the basis of our fundamental interests. The relationship has stood the test of international vicissitudes and China-Russia relations are as strong as they have ever been and our mutual trust has reached a historic high. The relationship will not be affected or weakened by any external factor. We welcome improvements in Russia-U.S. relations, which will be an important piece of good news for the world. This year, the presidents of China and Russia will have multiple face-to-face meetings, which will take our relationship to new heights. China and Russia will improve strategic coordination on international and regional issues and together act as a stabilizer in an otherwise turbulent world.

As for the China-Russia-U.S. relationship in the new era, it should not be a seesaw game; the three countries should work with each other rather than against each other. We should pursue win-win, rather than zero-sum outcomes. We believe the three countries can develop a healthy and positive relationship so that jointly, we can fulfill our responsibilities for world peace and development.

China's role in global leadership

First, China believes in the equality of all countries, large and small. We don't believe some countries should lead other countries. Second, the UN as the world's most authoritative and credible intergovernmental organization should effectively play its role of coordinating international affairs according to the purposes and principles of its charter. Third, rather than talking about leadership, we should really be talking about responsibility. Comparatively speaking, large countries have more resources and capability, so they should shoulder more responsibilities and make a greater contribution. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China will fulfill its obligations for international peace and security. As the second largest economy in the world, China will make its due contribution to growth. As the largest developing country, China will play an even bigger role in upholding the legitimate rights and interests of our fellow developing countries.

The UN and multilateralism

President Xi's visit to Switzerland-based international organizations sent out a very clear message of China's strong support for multilateralism and China's strong commitment to the UN-centered international system.

In China's view, the current international system was built by our forefathers from the ashes of World War II. It is the result of our common effort and wisdom. It is like a well-designed building with multilateralism being its cornerstone and the UN and other international organizations being its important pillars. Over 70 years have passed, so there has been some wear and tear for sure but the building still saves us from wind and rain and it still plays an irreplaceable role in promoting world peace and development. So what we should be doing is to renovate the building rather than building another structure. On the other hand, the international system cannot stay unchanged. It must be reformed so that it can better reflect the new reality, meet countries' needs and catch up with the changing times.

China-Africa cooperation

China and Africa are a close-knit community with a shared future. Our cooperation is mutual help between two brothers. No matter how the international situation or the world economy may evolve there will be no weakening in China's support for Africa. What distinguishes China-Africa cooperation is that China always keeps its word.

Since the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation more than a year ago, the outcomes have been implemented in a swift and all-round way. Nearly half of the $60-billion funding support that China promised to Africa has been disbursed or arranged. The Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway has been completed. The Mombasa-Nairobi Railway in Kenya will soon be. Planning has started for the Pointe Noire special economic zone in the Republic of the Congo; integrated port development in Tanzania is making smooth headway and steady progress is being made in building a number of industrial parks all across Africa.

Responding to Africa's need, China-Africa cooperation is undergoing three shifts: from government-driven to market-driven, from trading goods to cooperation on production capacity, and from engineering contracts to capital investment and operations.

These three shifts will provide new momentum and opportunities for Africa's sustainable development. There is no problem whatsoever in China-Africa cooperation. The only thing is, we need to speed up work and undertake more cooperation projects. Just as China was Africa's most sincere friend during its quest for national independence and liberation, so China will be Africa's most reliable partner in speeding up industrialization and agricultural modernization and boosting its capacity for homegrown development.

China-Japan relations

The economic and cultural relationship between the two sides is in pretty good shape, but our political relations have stalled. To improve the relationship, both sides must work harder.

This year marks the 45th anniversary of normalized relations between China and Japan, but it also marks the 80th anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident [in 1937 as the start of Japan's all-out war of aggression against China]. These two anniversary dates represent two totally different paths: one leading to peace and friendship and the other to war and confrontation. Eighty years ago, Japan launched full-scale invasion of China, inflicting horrendous suffering on the people of China and other Asian countries and pushing itself into the dark abyss. Forty-five years ago, Japanese leaders drew the right lesson from history to improve relations with neighbors, thereby realizing fast development at home. However, several decades on, some people in Japan are still torn between the two paths and try to reverse the course of history. We hope all peace-loving people in Japan will make sure their country will move forward in the right direction in this important anniversary year.

As for China-Japan relations, China's position has been consistent and clear-cut. Of course we want to improve relations with Japan for the benefit of our two peoples. But first of all, Japan has to adopt the right frame of mind, be sensible, and come to terms with the fact of China's development and revitalization.

The Middle East situation

Once again, the situation in the Middle East has reached a crucial crossroads with both risk of growing instability and the hope of peace. In China's view, to nudge the regional situation in the right direction, three things are of crucial importance.

First, we need to maintain international consensus on fighting terrorism. Second, we need to adhere to the right goal of seeking a political settlement of regional issues. And third we must put the UN in the driver's seat of the Middle East peace process.

The Iranian nuclear agreement is a fine example of settling dispute by political and diplomatic means. Relevant parties should all honor their commitment, fulfill their obligation and effectively implement that agreement.

The issue of Palestine is an open wound in the Middle East. Peace may be delayed but justice shouldn't be denied. China firmly supports the two-state solution. And we will continue to do what we can to restart the peace talks.

We hope Saudi Arabia and Iran can settle their differences through equal-footed and friendly consultation. China is the mutual friend of the two countries, so if they so desire, China will play its due role.

Copyedited by Dominic James Madar

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