Remarks by H.E. Yang Jiechi Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China at the Kabul International Conference on Afghanistan
20 July 2010
President Hamid Karzai,
I am delighted to join you here in Kabul on the occasion of the international conference on Afghanistan. Our meeting today is of special significance, as it is the first such meeting held on Afghan soil. It gives full expression to the strong support of the international community for the Afghan government and people and the unwavering confidence in Afghanistan's reconstruction process. I wish the conference a full success.
Last January, we gathered in London to reaffirm our shared commitment to a stable, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan. Since then, under the leadership of the Afghan government and with the hard work of the Afghan people, Afghanistan has made encouraging progress in political reconciliation, economic reconstruction and improvement of the security situation. There are, however, still many difficulties and challenges facing this country today. The international community must give continued attention to Afghanistan and follow through on the commitments made in London and the previous international conferences on Afghanistan. We should respect Afghanistan's sovereignty and work together towards the early realization of "Afghanistan run by the Afghans". We want to see a peaceful, stable and independent Afghanistan that enjoys development and good-neighborliness. To this end, I wish to make the following four proposals:
First, ensure security and stability. This remains the essential precondition and most pressing challenge in addressing the issue of Afghanistan. The international community should remain committed to bringing enduring security and stability to Afghanistan. In doing so, we should adopt a multi-pronged approach that addresses both the symptoms and root causes of the problem. And it is most important to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. In the meantime, the parties concerned need to redouble their efforts to help Afghanistan build its capacity for ensuring security at the national level so that it can gradually take over the important responsibility of safeguarding peace and stability.
Second, achieve political reconciliation. We welcome the important consensus reached at the Peace Jirga on national reconciliation. We call on the international community to actively support the reconciliation and reintegration plan and respect the lead role of the Afghan government and people in this process. History shows that reconciliation and stability can only take hold in Afghanistan when the relevant parties reach mutual understanding through dialogue and consultation. We support the continued commitment of the Afghan government to fighting corruption and commend its resolve and effort to improve governance. We encourage the international community to provide more help to Afghanistan in capacity-building and human resources development.
Third, speed up economic reconstruction. We welcome the Prioritization and Implementation Plan for the Afghanistan National Development Strategy adopted by the Afghan government. We hope the international community will scale up support to this plan and honor in good faith the commitment made at the London conference to increase the proportion of development aid delivered through the Afghan government to 50% in the next two years. We believe the international community should attach greater importance to helping Afghanistan in its capacity-building in various areas to enhance the capabilities of the Afghan government and people in building a stable, prosperous and ever-developing Afghanistan. We call on the international community to channel more assistance to infrastructure and other projects that will bring immediate benefit to ordinary Afghans. And we urge the international community to support the Afghan government's counter-narcotics efforts and help it extend the alternative crop program nationwide at an early date.
Fourth, enhance international cooperation. Effective international cooperation and coordination is crucial to the Afghan reconstruction process. We support the United Nations in continuing to play a lead role in coordinating international assistance to Afghanistan and in taking greater steps to make the assistance more efficient and effective. Regional cooperation has long played a positive part in facilitating the reconstruction process. We believe that it is important to enhance coordination between regional and international cooperation so that they will complement and reinforce each other.
China has actively supported and engaged in Afghan reconstruction and offered assistance to Afghanistan as our ability permits. From 2002 to 2009, China provided a total of more than 900 million yuan of grant assistance and cancelled 19.5 million US dollars of Afghanistan's mature debts. We have built seven projects for Afghanistan, including the Jomhuri Hospital (Republican Hospital) and the rehabilitation of the Parwan irrigation project, provided 15 batches of assistance materials, trained 781 Afghans from various professions and received 94 Afghan students through government scholarships. These measures have been warmly welcomed by the government and people of Afghanistan, as they have contributed significantly to Afghanistan's peace and reconstruction process and the local people's well-being.
Since the London conference, China has further delivered on its commitment of assistance with concrete moves. In March, China announced that it would provide another 160 million yuan of grant assistance to Afghanistan, to be used on infrastructure, medical care, health and education programs. We will increase the scale of personnel training for Afghanistan. This year, we will train over 200 Afghan officials and technical personnel. Starting from next year, we will increase the number of government scholarships to Afghanistan from 30 every year to 50. This will make the total number of Afghan students studying in China on various scholarships to around 100. We will overcome difficulties and continue to build assistance projects in Afghanistan that benefit the local communities. The presidential multi-function center built by China has been completed, and work has started on its auxiliary projects. We will build a national technology, science and education center for Afghanistan and a teaching building and a guest house for the Kabul University. China has given Afghanistan preferential tariff treatment to support its economic development. Last March, our two countries exchanged letters on zero-tariff treatment to certain Afghan exports to China, which cover more than 4,000 items. This measure will come into effect expeditiously once the domestic review process is completed. To sum up, China attaches great importance to its assistance to Afghanistan. We will, through strengthened communication with the Afghan government, make our assistance better targeted and ensure that it goes to the most urgently needed areas in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan and China are friendly neighbors. China is committed to developing a comprehensive and cooperative partnership featuring good-neighborliness, mutual trust and ever-lasting friendship with Afghanistan on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. We will continue to work actively for Afghanistan's reconstruction and play a constructive role in helping bring peace, stability and development to Afghanistan at an early date.