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News Bulletin
(No.2, 2021)
2021/03/08

On 7 March 2021, at a press conference on the margins of the Fourth Session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People, H.E. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi answered questions from Chinese and foreign media about China's foreign policy and external relations. Here are some of the highlights:

1. China-Africa Relations: China-Africa cooperation stands as a model of South-South cooperation and a fine example of international cooperation with Africa

Wang Yi: China and Africa enjoy a profound friendship forged during the struggle for national independence and liberation. We are comrades-in-arms as well as brothers and sisters. This bond of friendship is growing ever stronger as time goes by. China and Africa are perpetual good friends and good partners with a shared future.

We celebrated the 20th anniversary of FOCAC last year. Over the past two decades, we have formulated and implemented ten cooperation plans and eight major initiatives to promote China-Africa cooperation. Our two-way trade has increased 20 times, and China's direct investment in Africa has grown 100 times. There are now 150 pairs of sister cities between China and Africa. China-Africa cooperation stands as a model of South-South cooperation, and a fine example of international cooperation with Africa.

To help African countries fight the pandemic and bring the economy back on track is a top priority for China-Africa cooperation at the current stage. Last year, President Xi Jinping initiated and hosted the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19, and announced a host of new support measures. We have provided close to 120 batches of emergency supplies to Africa and sent medical expert teams to 15 African countries. We have started to provide COVID vaccines to 35 African countries and the African Union Commission. The construction of the Africa CDC Headquarters, a project for which we are glad to provide assistance, has started, and cooperation between 30 pairs of Chinese and African hospitals is well underway.

The FOCAC meeting to be held this year in Senegal will serve as another opportunity for advancing China-Africa cooperation. We will support Africa's efforts to defeat the virus and strengthen public health governance; to accelerate industrialization and build up capacity for self-generated development; to speed up African integration and embrace the trend of economic globalization; and to find political solutions to hotspot issues and maintain peace and stability on the continent. We will work with Africa to pursue high-quality Belt and Road cooperation and build an even stronger community with a shared future to drive Africa's development and revitalization.

2. Hong Kong Issue: Ensuring "patriots administering Hong Kong" is constitutional, lawful and justified

Wang Yi: First I want to make it clear: the move to improve Hong Kong's electoral system and ensure "patriots administering Hong Kong" is necessitated by the need to advance the One Country, Two Systems cause and maintain long-term stability in Hong Kong. It is a constitutional power and responsibility of the NPC, and is totally constitutional, lawful and justified.

Loyalty to the motherland is a basic political ethic of all public office holders and aspirants anywhere in the world. Hong Kong is no exception. Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, a part of the People's Republic. How can we expect someone who does not love his motherland to truly love Hong Kong? Loving Hong Kong and loving the motherland are consistent requirements.

Under the colonial rule, there was no democracy to speak of in Hong Kong. Over the past 24 years since Hong Kong's return, no one has cared more about Hong Kong's democracy and continued prosperity and stability than the Central Government of China. Hong Kong's shift from chaos to stability fully serves the interests of all parties. It will provide stronger safeguards for protecting the rights and interests of Hong Kong residents and the lawful interests of foreign investors. We have the resolve to continue to implement One Country, Two Systems under which the people of Hong Kong administer Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy. We also have the confidence to usher in a brighter future for Hong Kong.

3. Xinjiang Issue: Certain Western countries' depiction of Xinjiang is just a rumor fabricated with ulterior motives, and a lie through and through

Wang Yi: Speaking of genocide, many people would have in their minds the native Americans of the 16th century, African slaves of the 19th century, the Jewish people of the 20th century, and the aboriginal Australians who are still struggling even today.

The claim that there is genocide in Xinjiang couldn't be more preposterous. It is just a rumor fabricated with ulterior motives, and a lie through and through. Over the past four decades and more, the Uyghur population in Xinjiang has more than doubled from 5.55 million to over 12 million. In 60-plus years, Xinjiang's economy has grown by more than 200 times, and the average life expectancy has increased from 30 to 72 years. Many foreign friends who have been to Xinjiang have spoken up, stressing that the Xinjiang in their own eyes is totally different from what certain Western media have depicted. A French author Maxime Vivas wrote a book entitled Uyghurs: To Put an End to Fake News. Based on his two trips to the autonomous region, Vivas tells a real Xinjiang that enjoys prosperity and stability. He expressly pointed out in his book that those who have never been to Xinjiang are the ones fabricating fake news and piling up lies about Xinjiang.

Some Western politicians chose to believe in the lies made up by a few, instead of listening to the voice of 25 million Xinjiang residents of various ethnic groups. They chose to dance with the few anti-China elements in their clumsy dramas, instead of acknowledging the progress in Xinjiang. This only shows that they do not care about the truth. They are only interested in political maneuvering, and creating the so-called Xinjiang issue to undermine security and stability in Xinjiang and hold back China's development.

4. Taiwan Issue: Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory

Wang Yi: I want to make three points on the Taiwan question.

First, there is but one China in the world. Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory. This is a historical and legal fact, and a common understanding of the international community.

Second, the two sides of the Taiwan Strait must be and will surely be reunified. This is the trend of history and the collective will of the entire Chinese nation. It will not and cannot be changed. The Chinese government's resolve to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity is rock-firm. We have the capability to thwart separatist attempts for "Taiwan independence" in whatever form.

Third, the one-China principle is the political foundation of the China-US relationship, a red line that should not be crossed. On the Taiwan question, there is no room for compromise or concession from the Chinese government. We hope the new US administration will appreciate the great sensitivity of the Taiwan question, and will abide by the one-China principle and the three Sino-US joint communiqu├ęs. We would hope to see a clear departure from the previous administration's dangerous practice of "crossing the line" and "playing with fire", and we hope that the Taiwan question will be handled prudently and properly.

5. COVID-19 Vaccine: Making vaccines truly benefit the people

Wang Yi: Vaccines are a powerful weapon against the virus and bring hope for saving lives. They should serve the entire world and benefit all humanity.

China is a firm believer in making COVID vaccines a public good. China was among the first to pledge that its vaccines, when available, will be made a global public good, and China has worked in real earnest to improve vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries.

China is a committed front-runner in promoting international vaccine cooperation. We have carried out vaccine R&D and production cooperation with a dozen or so countries, attracting more than 100,000 volunteers of over 100 nationalities. Altogether, 17 Chinese vaccines have entered clinical trials. More than 60 countries have authorized the use of Chinese vaccines. The safety and effectiveness of Chinese vaccines are earning recognition across the world. China is prepared to discuss with other countries the feasibility and protocols for mutual recognition of vaccination.

China is a steadfast advocate for equitable vaccine distribution. We have joined COVAX, under which China has undertaken to provide an initial 10 million doses for emergency use in developing countries. So far, China has donated or is donating COVID vaccines to 69 developing countries in urgent need, and is exporting vaccines to 43 countries. Responding to a UN appeal, we have donated vaccines to peacekeepers from various countries. We are also ready to work with the International Olympic Committee to provide vaccines to Olympians. It is our hope that Chinese vaccines will inject more confidence and hope into the global fight against the virus.

A number of vaccines are now available around the world. It is up to each country to decide which one to choose. Whether it is a Chinese vaccine or not, it is a good vaccine so long as it is safe and effective. China opposes "vaccine nationalism". We reject any "vaccine divide" or any attempt to politicize vaccine cooperation. We hope that all capable countries will do what they can to provide vaccines to countries in need, especially developing countries, so that people all over the world will have access to affordable vaccines, vaccines that truly benefit the people.

6. UN Reform: China's vote in the UN always belongs to the developing world

Wang Yi: Fifty years ago, the 26th session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to restore the lawful seat of the People's Republic of China in the UN. The audience broke into rapturous and long applause. Many from brotherly countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America cheered and hugged each other in celebration. Representatives from 57 countries took the podium to extend congratulations. That was indeed a historic moment. With a major country of one-fourth of the world's population rejoining the family of nations, the organization finally achieved universality in a real sense. From that day on, the People's Republic of China has contributed its share to world peace and development as a trustworthy and reliable participant in this noble cause.

Over the past half century, China has firmly safeguarded the UN-centered international system, and the international order underpinned by international law. China has joined almost all international intergovernmental organizations and acceded to over 500 international conventions. Today, China is the second largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget, and has sent more peacekeepers to UN missions than any other permanent member of the Security Council. China champions equity and justice, and stands for equality among all countries regardless of their size. China's vote in the UN always belongs to the developing world.

Given the profound evolution of the international situation, the international community is expecting the UN to keep pace with the times and improve itself through reform. In our view, no matter how the situation may evolve and how the reform may proceed, the following principles must be preserved:

First, upholding the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. The Charter sets out basic norms for interactions among states and for settling international disputes. Acts in violation of the Charter bring damage to world peace and stability.

Second, preserving the central role of the UN in the international system. As the most universal, representative and authoritative international organization in the world today, the UN's role should only be strengthened, not weakened. All countries must be willing to defend the authority of the UN.

Third, keeping to the basic rule of equal-footed consultation at the UN. The UN is not a club for big or rich countries. All countries enjoy sovereign equality, and no country is in a position to dictate international affairs. We should increase the representation and voice of developing countries in the UN to better reflect the shared aspiration of the overwhelming majority of countries.

Standing at a new historic starting point, we in China will earnestly act upon the major initiatives and measures announced by President Xi Jinping, take a more active part in UN activities, and work toward the UN's vision for a world in which nations beat swords into ploughshares and enjoy lasting peace without the scourge of war.

7. Multilateralism: Working together to light up humanity's way forward with the torch of multilateralism

Wang Yi: President Xi Jinping delivered two important speeches four years apart. Both are major declarations made at crucial junctures in the evolving international situation. And both carry a global significance and far-reaching impact.

Four years ago, in response to the debate over whether to continue globalization, President Xi stepped forward to send a strong message in support of economic globalization. Four years later, in response to the uncertainties of the future of multilateralism, President Xi shed light on the issue by putting forward China's proposal for upholding multilateralism and building a community with a shared future for mankind. The two important speeches have pointed the way forward for our times and cleared doubts for many in the world. Both are widely commended by the international community.

Multilateralism has remained a firm commitment of China, a commitment that has never wavered despite changing times or circumstances. The way to address the various challenges in our world is for countries to uphold true multilateralism. China believes that true multilateralism means observing the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, upholding the UN-centered international system and promoting democracy in international relations. It means openness and inclusiveness instead of closeness and exclusion; equal-footed consultation instead of supremacy over others. Multilateralism is a banner, not a pretext; a conviction, not a rhetoric. Building small circles in the name of multilateralism is in fact "group politics". Multilateralism with one's own interests taking precedence is still unilateral thinking. "Selective multilateralism" is not the right choice. China hopes that all members of the international community will work together to light up humanity's way forward with the torch of multilateralism.

8. Belt and Road Initiative: Turning Belt and Road cooperation into a journey toward common development and prosperity for all

Wang Yi: Since last year, the pandemic has affected the world in many respects. Yet despite the headwinds, Belt and Road cooperation has not paused, but forged ahead with new outcomes, strong resilience and great vitality.

We have honored the principle of joint discussion. A number of meetings including the High-level Video Conference on Belt and Road International Cooperation as well as over 30 sectoral events were held, galvanizing greater support for high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.

We have acted on the principle of joint construction. Thanks to our dual commitment to COVID response and economic reopening, not a single key BRI project was suspended during the pandemic. Projects such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the Jakarta-Bandung high speed railway, the China-Laos railway, and the Budapest-Belgrade railway are making good progress, contributing significantly to stabilizing the local economy and improving the lives of the local people.

We have prioritized the principle of joint benefit-sharing. In 2020, the China-Europe Railway Express set a new record in both freight services and cargo volume; the volume of goods ferried through the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor doubled from the previous year. All these contributed to the stability and smooth functioning of international industrial and supply chains.

The pandemic may have disrupted personnel flow, but it has not stopped BRI partners from supporting and investing in this joint endeavor. Together, we are building a Health Silk Road. Our cooperation on pandemic response has turned the Belt and Road into a corridor for life-saving supplies. We are building a digital Silk Road, a corridor of smooth information flow that will keep BRI partners digitally connected. We are also building a green Silk Road, under which we have intensified cooperation on green energy, green infrastructure and green finance. Our goal is to make the BRI a robust engine for low-carbon transformation and green recovery in the post-COVID world.

COVID-19 has changed the world in profound ways, but the need for Belt and Road cooperation has not subsided, and China's commitment to cooperation has not changed. As we pursue a new development paradigm, we will explore better pathways for Belt and Road cooperation and offer greater opportunities to BRI partners. We are ready to work with all stakeholders to advance high-quality Belt and Road cooperation with renewed commitment and greater resilience. Together, we can turn Belt and Road cooperation into a journey toward common development and prosperity for all.

9. China's New Development Paradigm: Welcoming all countries to get on board and move toward a future of shared prosperity

Wang Yi: The purpose of fostering a new development paradigm is to adapt to the new development stage in China. We hope the strategy will enhance China's capacity for self-sustained development and achieve high-quality development in the country, and at the same time, promote further opening-up to connect the Chinese market with the international market and better coordinate import and export. This promises more development opportunities, greater market space and broader cooperation prospects for all countries.

With a more pro-business environment and opening-up at a higher level, China will work with all countries to accelerate the building of an open world economy. To use a train analogy, China in the new development stage is like an express train with greater driving force and load capacity accelerating toward a new goal. We welcome all countries to get on board and move toward a future of shared prosperity.

10. China-US relations: Difference in system should not be the ground for antagonism or confrontation and China is ready to work with US to bringing the relationship back on track

Wang Yi: Non-interference in each other's internal affairs is an explicit principle in the Charter of the United Nations and a basic norm governing international relations. It must be faithfully observed by all countries, including China and the United States. The Chinese people are in the best position to tell whether China is doing a good job. The Chinese people can best decide what is the right thing for China to do. In the meantime, we are willing to communicate with all sides on the basis of respect for sovereignty to enhance mutual trust, remove misunderstanding, and share relevant facts. But we will not accept groundless accusations or defamation, and we will not allow our core interests to be breached. For quite some time, the United States has been willfully interfering in other countries' internal affairs in the name of democracy and human rights. This has created lots of trouble in the world and, in some cases, turbulence and conflict. It is important that the United States recognize this as soon as possible. Otherwise, the world will remain far from being a tranquil place.

As two countries with different social systems, China and the United States naturally have differences and disagreements. What matters most is to manage them effectively through candid communication to prevent strategic miscalculation and avoid conflict and confrontation. China and the United States are the world's two largest economies. As our interests converge, the two countries may also see a competitive element in our relations. This is normal. What matters is that the two sides should advocate healthy competition on a fair and just basis for the purpose of self-improvement and mutual enhancement, rather than finger-pointing or zero-sum competition. More importantly, in the interest of the two countries and the whole world, cooperation should be the main goal for both China and the United States. The list of areas where the two countries can and should cooperate is very clear, including COVID response, economic recovery, climate change and many others. We are open-minded to explore and deepen cooperation with the United States. We hope that the United States will move in the same direction and remove all its unreasonable restrictions on bilateral cooperation as early as possible, not create new obstacles.

On the Chinese New Year's eve last month, President Xi Jinping had a phone call with President Joe Biden. The two heads of state had an in-depth exchange of views on China-US relations and pointed the way forward for bringing the relationship back on track. We are ready to work with the United States to follow through on the outcomes of this important phone call, and set China-US relations on a new path of healthy and steady growth.

The full text of H.E. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi Meets the Press can be accessed at:

https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/wjb_663304/wjbz_663308/2461_663310/t1859138.shtml

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