A KEY event on China's political calendar, the annual sessions of China’s national legislature and top political advisory body, known as the “two sessions” took place in Beijing this month. The “two sessions” are a window from which the international society observes the country’s policy and an important platform for China to show its responsibility to the world.
On 7th March 2021, a press conference was held on the margins of the Fourth Session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, during which State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi answered questions from Chinese and foreign media about China's foreign policy and external relations. In 100 minutes, State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi summarized the achievements of China's diplomacy in 2020, stated China’s positions and proposals on various issues, answered 27 questions raised by reporters on anti-epidemic cooperation, the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, major power relations, regional hot spots, Hong Kong and Xinjiang affairs, etc. The answers manifest China’s resolve to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests, show its responsibility as a builder of world peace, a contributor to global prosperity and a defender of international order, and display the distinctive features of China's diplomacy.
I. Adhere to the principal purpose of maintaining world peace and promoting common development to advance the building of a community with a shared future for humankind
At present, the world is encountering changes unseen in a century. The Covid-19 pandemic that has been raging the world since last year is speeding up the profound changes in the international power structure, and humankind is once again at a crossroads.
Wang Yi pointed out that after a year of difficulties, the people of the world have understood the meaning of a community with a shared future for mankind more deeply than ever. To pursue peaceful development and win-win cooperation and promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind is a provision in the Constitution of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and China’s Constitution. It is also the goal of China's diplomacy. China will promote a new type of international relations, advocate peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom as the common values of humanity.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the legitimate seat of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations. Wang Yi reiterated China’s solemn commitment to defending multilateralism. China will also set an example of equity and justice, by jointly upholding multilateralism, the authority of the UN, international law and basic norms governing international relations, and global strategic stability. China stands ready to work with other countries to tackle global challenges, boost international efforts on pandemic response, economic recovery and climate change, and add more stability to international relations.
II. Adhere to the path of peaceful development based on mutual respect and win-win cooperation
In 2021, China will grandly celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China and embark on a new journey toward fully building a modern socialist country. China is fostering a new development paradigm now. In 2021, China will continue to build a new type of international relations, deepen international and regional cooperation, continuously improve the level of opening-up and cooperation, and promote high-quality joint building of the Belt and Road.
Wang Yi pointed out that 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 promote further opening-up to connect the Chinese market with the international market and better coordinate import and export. This promises broader cooperation prospects for all countries.
Wang Yi emphasized that 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 China pursues a new development paradigm, China will explore better pathways for Belt and Road cooperation and offer greater opportunities to Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) partners.
Regarding Sino-US relations, which are of general concern to the world, Wang Yi said that as two countries with different social systems, China and the United States naturally have differences and disagreements. China is open-minded to explore and deepen cooperation with the United States. The two heads of state had an in-depth exchange of views on the bilateral relations and pointed the way forward for bringing the relationship back on track. China is ready to work with the United States to follow through on the outcomes of this important phone call and set the bilateral ties on a new path of healthy and steady growth.
III. Adhere to the core national interests as the bottom line and safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests
Disregarding China's core interests, national dignity, and development rights, some international forces condone or even support the "Taiwan independence" forces, by using such inferior means as slander and smearing, make indiscreet remarks on China’s internal affairs, such as issues relating to Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet, which seriously infringes on China's sovereignty. In response to this interference, based on the facts, Wang Yi clarified China’s firm stances, and showed China’s resolve to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests.
Wang Yi pointed out that non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs is an explicit principle in the Charter of the United Nations and a basic norm governing international relations. 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, dispel 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.
Wang Yi emphasized that 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. The two sides of the Taiwan Strait must be and will surely be reunified.
Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, Hong Kong's shift from chaos to stability fully serves the interests of all parties. 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.
The claim that there is genocide in Xinjiang couldn't be more preposterous. It is just a rumor fabricated with ulterior motives. Wang Yi pointed out that 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. Some Western politicians refuse to acknowledge the progress in Xinjiang. This only shows that 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.
IV. Adhere to the principles guiding China's Africa policy, including sincerity, real results, amity and good faith, and build a stronger China-Africa community with a shared future
2021 is the last year to implement the outcome of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). The FOCAC meeting scheduled to be held in Senegal in the second half of this year will be a new starting point for Africa-China cooperation.
Wang Yi pointed out that 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, 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 shining 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.
Wang Yi said that China will take the new FOCAC meeting as an opportunity to 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 hot spot issues and maintain peace and stability on the continent.
The writer Ms Wang Ke is Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania.