Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying Receives Interview of German Magazine Spiegel
（Source: Chinese Embassy in Germany）
Spiegel: Ms. Fu Ying, in today's world there are few countries like China which makes the west so fascinated with and also alarms the west so much. You have launched your first aircraft carrier. Why should China arm itself to such an extent?
Fu Ying: It is exciting that China has its first aircraft carrier going to sea. It is a long-cherished wish of the Chinese people and the natural result of the growth of China's national defense, although the so-called aircraft carrier is just a framework we bought and refitted to use mainly for scientific research and training purposes and far away from being an aircraft carrier in a real sense. China still lags far behind other countries in this area.
Spiegel: Are there no other areas in which China need to spend rather than increasing the military budget?
Fu Ying: There are many areas in China taking precedence over the development of national defense. To develop the economy, improve people's livelihood and distribute wealth fairly still remain the top priorities of the country. The generation of my daughter is the first generation of Chinese who has never experienced hunger, which is a remarkable progress. Your concern about China's military force, to me, is influenced by the obsolete ideology of two camps and the confrontation mindset. You are comfortable with the aircraft carriers owned by your allies, like the US and France, but feel worried once China has one.
Spiegel: How far will China go in order to defend its interest? For example, China sometimes has quite sharp tone on the dispute over the sovereignty of the South China Sea.
Fu Ying: We have been engaged in dialogue with relevant countries all the time and signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in 2002. We also wonder why there is such a sensation now. Of course, that is just oral dispute. What is important is that the South China Sea shipping route is still peaceful and there is no war or conflict going on.
Spiegel: The Americans clearly have doubts about China's intentions. It is said that Pakistan allowed China to access the wreckage of the high-tech US helicopter which crashed during an operation. Could you confirm whether it is true?
Fu Ying: Both China and Pakistan have denied the rumor. I believe the important question here is whether China and the US are enemies. Are we going towards a war? Are we preparing to fight a war against each other? China for sure does not think that way. It is a very unfriendly gesture that the US maintains weapon embargo against China. China does not intend to threaten the US, but the west always views China within the framework of the Cold War. China often finds it hard to understand.
Spiegel: Many Germans, despite admiring China's development, treat China as a rival instead of a partner. Is this something that you could understand?
Fu Ying: I'm glad that you raise this question about which I've also done a lot of thinking. If you recognize that China has developed and many ordinary Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty, you must accept that what China has done is correct and that there exist different political systems. Western countries believe unilaterally that they have the only workable system. Maybe it does work in your countries, but western system can also have problems as shown in the financial crisis lately.
Spiegel: Even those long-term observers are not able to understand how China makes decisions. Does it surprise you that many people have doubts about China's decision-making and intentions which they feel are not transparent enough?
Fu Ying: China's political system is originated from its history and rooted in its culture. It is also undergoing reforms one of which is to strengthen the democratic decision-making. To make sure the decision is correctly made, we must listen to the people, even their criticism. No government could survive if it is no longer in touch with the people. We are able to see ourselves with a critical view.
At present, it is the western governments that have problems. We are paying close attention to what is going on in the west. We try to understand why so many governments make mistakes, why political parties make commitments they cannot fulfill, why governments spend much more than they have, whether you have stagnated since the end of the Could War and whether you have become conceited.
Spiegel: Complicated democratic systems have disadvantages compared with China. Do you feel superior?
Fu Ying: The Chinese are very modest and we do not use the word "superior" often. We respect your achievements and learn from you. You are already in the post-industrialization era. The problems you have encountered might occur in China some day. We really want to know how you solved those problems and learn from your experience.
Spiegel: The recent arrest of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is seen in Germany as a provocation. He is well-connected in Berlin and was arrested shortly after German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle visited China and attended the opening of the German enlightenment art show in Beijing. Is that intentional?
Fu Ying: That's why I say you are very conceited. You really take yourselves too seriously. Why should China link its handling of an internal affair with the visit of the foreign minister of a European country? We do not see any link there. The case you mentioned is under legal investigation. I'm not interested in that.
But I do have a question. How many Chinese artists, authors, singers and movie stars do you Germans know? Your views about China are too narrow and negative and that's why we don't like discussing human rights with you. Our understanding about human rights is based on the principles of the United Nations Charter, including guaranteeing people's political rights, right to life and right to development. But it seems to you that human rights only concern some individuals who try to subvert the state or violate laws. We have been talking about human rights since the first day China started engaged with the west. Many issues have been solved after discussions, but you keep raising new ones. Up until now, human rights have become a tool to criticize China no matter how much China has progressed or how many efforts we have made.
Spiegel: Will a powerful China be afraid of several activists because some regimes in the Arab countries are overthrown?
Fu Ying: The current situation in West Asia and North Africa has drawn worldwide attention and we are trying to understand the root cause of the revolution. But I don't think there is any direct link with China. Some western analysts just out of habit link various problems with China. If you think your society is strong enough to avoid the influence of the Arab revolution, what makes you think the Chinese society is so fragile that it will be impacted? A poll by the Pew Research Center in 2010 shows that more than 87% of the Chinese people believe the leadership of the Chinese government is correct. However, poll in the western countries seems to have different results.
Spiegel: China always reacts strongly when Western leaders meet with Dalai Lama. China suggests other countries to solve disputes through dialogue. Why hasn't China been able to reach an agreement with him?
Fu Ying: Our differences with Dalai Lama are around his political views and propositions. If you have a look at his propositions, you will find that he ultimately seeks Tibet's independence. Tibet is part of China. The door of dialogue always remains open. I'm glad to see more and more people go to Tibet and are able to better understand the improvement of people's livelihood there.
Spiegel: It is regretful that journalists are still restricted to access Tibet.
Fu Ying: There might be some mistrust about the intentions and motives of western journalists. For some journalists, they report Tibet or the entire China just like attending a wedding where they don't care the happiness, but only want to pick out something in the dark corner and write about it extensively. Some reports might be facts, but they are selective facts.
Spiegel: Dalai Lama has officially announced retirement from his office. Isn't it a good timing to seek a solution?
Fu Ying: It exactly shows that he does regard himself as the theocratic dominator in Tibet. But that age has finished. Tibet is growing and getting better and better. What matters now is whether Dalai Lama can really give up his political demands.
Spiegel: It's not just Tibet which is growing fast. China has achieved fantastic growth while the west is in deep mire of debt. Has communism ultimately defeated capitalism?
Fu Ying: China is not the former Soviet Union. During the Cold War, the west and the Soviet Union tried destroying each other and fought fiercely, which is your strategic confrontation. China has been a supporter of Germany's reunification for a long time.
Spiegel: China has held US$1.165 trillion of US bonds and US$700 billion of Euro bonds by the end of June. China is already a superpower today. What does it mean for the political balance of powers in the future?
Fu Ying: Many people claim that the power of the world today is shifting from the west to the east. We prefer to believe the power is being diffused. The existing international system was built after the World War Two and adapts to the about 1 billion of population of developed countries. This system needs to be reformed. China is only one of the emerging economies. Brazil is growing, so are India and some African countries. There will be 3 to 4 billion of population who will participate in a wider industrialization process and their interest should be taken care of through reform. Of course, this reform should be conducted gradually and realized through dialogue instead of war or conflict.
Spiegel: Will the west end up being the losing side?
Fu Ying: The west is in trouble at the moment, but Europe and the US also succeeded in overcoming many serious difficulties. Whether the western economy can rebound is critically important to China. We are highly interdependent and the loss of the west does not necessarily mean the gain of China. We are all on the same boat. We are indeed worried about the economic difficulties of the west. That's why it is good news of this week that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy made it clear to solve the problems together. I just discussed with my colleagues about the future of the EU. They basically believe that the EU will move on and get more integrated if the European countries can join hands to solve the problems. Otherwise the Euro zone might collapse.
Spiegel: What would it mean to China if the financial crisis in the west continues to sprawl?
Fu Ying: Everyone will be impacted.
Spiegel: Will China worry about its political stability if the economic crisis extends to your country?
Fu Ying: Will you worry about your own political system when the western governments are hit by the economic crisis? Then why should we worry? Of course, China's reform is still going on and we will continue to move forward.
Spiegel: The west believed that China's development was beneficial to all the participants for a long time. However, today even in such international institutions as the World Trade Organization, people feel more and more strongly that China wants to push the international economic structure in a direction that is good to itself. The long-term policy of artificially keeping the Renminbi undervalued is one example that is often cited.
Fu Ying: China doesn't intend to rule the world. If you see yourselves as the center of the world and believe you monopolize all the truths, all the right beliefs and all the right values, you will feel uncomfortable when you realize there are diversified values and cultures in the world. If you think you have won the Cold War, the Cold War has ended, been over and finished. This is a brand new world. Don't look down others any more or try to impose decisions upon others. Please talk to us as equals and learn to respect others. Let us join hands together instead of fabricating a new rival with the Cold War approach.
Spiegel: Those who receive western education find it difficult to understand many things in China, including some practices of China's diplomatic policy, such as China's relations with the North Korean and the North Sudanese leaders. What is the guiding philosophy of China in doing so?
Fu Ying: Our own hardships in history have taught us that we should neither impose on others nor support others to impose. China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and we have several hundreds of Chinese UN peacekeepers in Darfur, Sudan. It will only lead to chaos if you directly interfere in other country's internal affairs just because you don't like its leaders. Think about your own not always successful interference experiences…
Spiegel: Do you refer to the military action in Afghanistan?
Fu Ying: You could reflect on your experience.
Spiegel: Given the above-mentioned differences, how should big powers in the future cope with global challenges?
Fu Ying: We must demolish the wall of mistrust. Otherwise, we will be in trouble if we just follow our own feelings or values to solve problems. China is always an active participant in the international affairs. You can see that be it peacekeeping missions, convoy off the coast of Somalia or climate change.
Spiegel: How does it feel to be viewed as an emerging economic superpower?
Fu Ying: It is flattering.
Spiegel: Does it also make you feel under pressure?
Fu Ying: No. We don't see ourselves as a superpower. You won't see the shadow of the US or the former Soviet Union on China. What you will see is a big power with a large population and a profound culture and a wealthier and happier country which has its own objectives and is friendly to the rest of the world. Don't worry about China. There is no reason to be worried.
Spiegel: Ms. Fu Ying, thank you for your time.