Remarks by H.E. Yang Jiechi Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China At the London Conference on Afghanistan
London, 28 January 2010
Afghanistan's reconstruction process has gone through twists and turns, yet its future holds great promise. The successful elections held by the Afghan people have opened a new chapter in the history of Afghanistan. We are encouraged by the priorities set out by President Karzai in his inaugural speech for the next five years. We believe that the international community should give continued attention to Afghanistan and offer greater support and assistance to that country. It is of particular importance to help Afghanistan strengthen its sovereignty, ownership and development capacity, thus laying the groundwork for a full transition to governance of Afghanistan by the Afghan people. Regarding the next stage of Afghan reconstruction, China wishes to make the following four proposals:
First, ensure security. The volatile security situation is a prominent challenge to Afghan reconstruction. We are heartened by the resolve of the Afghan government to take up the responsibility for safeguarding the security of the country and its people. The international community should help create enabling conditions toward this end. Since the various challenges facing Afghanistan are interconnected, it is advisable to adopt an integrated approach in improving the security situation, including accelerating the building of Afghanistan's military and police forces, promoting national reconciliation and making the reconciliation process more inclusive. The transfer of security responsibility from the international community to Afghanistan should proceed in a gradual, prudent and well-planned way and the prerequisite for the transfer should be firm security and stability of the country.
Second, develop the economy. The international community should honor in good faith the commitment of economic and social development assistance, and render more support to the implementation of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy so that the Afghan people can enjoy the "peace dividend" at an early date. It is important to respect the leading role of Afghanistan in economic reconstruction and let the Afghan government and people sit in the driver seat. China supports channeling more assistance through the Afghan government and making more investment in Afghanistan's infrastructure, energy, mining, agriculture and other sectors on the basis of equal consultations with the Afghan government. We support efforts to help Afghanistan build up capacity for self-development so as to lay the foundation for its future development.
Since 2002, China has provided a total of more than RMB900 million yuan grant assistance to the Afghan government and cancelled all its mature debts. We have launched a large number of assistance projects in Afghanistan, which have made a positive impact on the livelihood of the Afghan people. We announced last year that the US$75 million concessional loans we had previously committed would all be turned to grant assistance, to be provided over a five-year period. The first tranche of funds was delivered in 2009, and the remaining US$60 million will be made available in the coming four years.
Third, improve governance. We applaud the Afghan government's commitment to fighting corruption and improving governance. We welcome, in this connection, the international community's efforts to help Afghanistan, particularly in the areas of capacity building and human resources development. The international community should fully respect the unique history, culture and religion as well as the current development stage of Afghanistan, take into consideration the realities and difficulties facing the country, listen to the views of the Afghan government and respect the wishes of the Afghan people. In short, we should let Afghanistan choose on its own a governance model most suited to its national circumstances.
China is committed to helping the Afghan government increase its governing capacity. By the end of 2009, we had provided training to over 500 Afghan government officials. The training covered a wide range of areas, including, among others, diplomacy, economy and trade, medical and health care, finance, tourism, agriculture and counternarcotics. We are ready to make even greater efforts within the realm of our capabilities in the years ahead.
Fourth, enhance cooperation. It is up to the Afghan people to shape the future of Afghanistan, but the help and support of the international community is indispensable. We should enhance coordination and cooperation to integrate, complement and reinforce each other's efforts and achieve synergy in helping Afghanistan. The neighboring countries should take advantage of their geographical proximity and play a unique role in assisting with Afghan reconstruction, and the international community should take concrete actions to support such regional cooperation. There are now quite a number of mechanisms in the world regarding the issue of Afghanistan, and we should make good use of these mechanisms. We should encourage them to enhance coordination and work together to play an active role under the leadership of the United Nations. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has done an outstanding job in performing its missions in extremely challenging circumstances. China highly commends its work.
As Afghanistan's friendly neighbor, China will continue to develop good-neighborly relations and mutually beneficial cooperation with Afghanistan on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. We will help the Afghan people embark on the path of peace, stability and development as early as possible so that they will have full confidence in the future of their country.