On 8 March 2015, the Third Session of the Twelfth National People's Congress held a press conference at the Press Center of the Two Sessions. Foreign Minister Wang Yi was invited to answer questions from Chinese and foreign media about China's foreign policy and external relations.
Wang Yi: Friends from the press, good morning. Today is the International Women's Day. At the outset, I would like to extend sincere greetings to the female journalists and all Chinese women who show understanding of and support for China's diplomacy.
On this day a year ago, the MH370 flight went missing. A year has passed, and the plane has not been located, but the search effort will continue. Today must be a tough day for the next of kin of those on board MH370. Our hearts are with you. Malaysia Airlines has started its compensation work. We will provide all needed service to every next of kin and help you uphold your legitimate and lawful rights and interests. With these words, I would like to open the floor to questions.
People's Daily: Mr. Minister, you once said that 2014 was a year of harvest and all-round progress in China's diplomacy. Could you elaborate on that? And what can we expect from China's diplomacy in 2015? What are the keywords we need to watch?
Wang Yi: Indeed, 2014 was a year of harvest for China's diplomacy. It was also a year of forging ahead and breaking new ground.
Under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee headed by General Secretary Xi Jinping, we successfully hosted the CICA Summit in Shanghai and the APEC meeting in Beijing, and left a deep imprint of our own. We took an active part in the resolution of global hot-spot issues, and played China's role in international and regional affairs. We made energetic efforts to expand external cooperation, and our initiative to establish a Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road won support from a lot of countries.
It is particularly worth mentioning that focusing on building a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation, we are taking a new path of external relations characterized by partnership rather than alliance. By the end of last year, we had established different forms of partnerships with over 70 countries and a number of regional organizations, and basically established a global network of partnerships. One can say that China's circle of friends and partners has widened and will continue to expand.
In 2015, we will continue to forge ahead and expand all-round diplomacy. While steadfastly safeguarding our national interests, we will work to expand the common interests we have with other countries in the world.
The keywords for China's diplomacy in 2015 will be "one focus" and "two main themes".
Our key focus in 2015 will be making all-round progress in the "Belt and Road" initiative. We will further enhance policy communication with other countries, expand the convergence of our shared interests, and explore effective avenues of win-win cooperation. The emphasis will be on promoting infrastructural connectivity, and building overland economic corridors and pillars of maritime cooperation. We will also promote people-to-people and cultural exchanges and cooperation, and speed up relevant FTA negotiations. We are confident that the "Belt and Road" initiative will win even more support and deliver even more "early harvests", so as to catalyze the revitalization of the Eurasian continent as a whole.
In 2015, we will do a lot under the two themes of peace and development. We will work with the international community to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the world's anti-Fascist war, draw lessons from history, look to the future, and make China a staunch force for peace. The 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations will be a good opportunity for us to take an active part in the UN's development summit and international cooperation on climate change. We will play a constructive role in helping to secure a post-2015 development agenda and a new international regime for addressing climate change that are in the interests of developing countries.
Beijing News: In recent years, more and more Chinese citizens have made outbound visits, and we see a good example of that during the just passed Chinese New Year. What will the Chinese Foreign Ministry do to facilitate the outbound visits of Chinese citizens and protect their legitimate rights and interests overseas?
Wang Yi: Last year, for the first time, Chinese citizens made over 100 million visits abroad, making them the largest floating population in the world. There are also more than 20,000 Chinese enterprises which have established a presence abroad, and millions of our compatriots are living and working in different parts of the world. The task and responsibility of protecting their rights is heavier than ever. We are always concerned with the safety and wellbeing of every one of our compatriots, and we will do everything in our power to protect and assist them.
Last year, the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Global Emergency Call Center for Consular Protection set up the 12308 hotline. The hotline is a 24/7, all-time-zone channel of communication between overseas Chinese nationals and their loved ones back in China. Now no matter which part of the world you are in, if you run into trouble, you can dial this number and get prompt assistance from the Foreign Ministry and our diplomatic and consular missions abroad. In the half year since the launch of the hotline, we have received over 30,000 phone calls. Many of our compatriots say that this hotline is very reassuring for them, because they can feel that the motherland is always by their side. We hope more of our compatriots can know about this hotline and make good use of it. When in trouble, please call 12308.
In 2014, we also made important progress in visa facilitation. We signed visa exemption or simplification agreements with 24 countries, equal to the total of the previous four years. And nowadays, Chinese citizens can visit more than 50 countries and territories without a visa or by obtaining a visa upon arrival. You may remember the reciprocal visa arrangement which China and the United States announced last year. It means that if a Chinese or American person has a visa, then for up to five or even 10 years, he or she can travel easily between the two shores of the Pacific Ocean with just a passport and an air ticket. And let me tell you that China and Canada have just reached agreement on issuing visas to each other's citizens with a validity period of up to 10 years. This agreement will go into effect tomorrow.
The effort to protect and assist Chinese nationals overseas is always a work in progress; it is never a mission accomplished. Wherever there is Chinese footprint, consular service must step up and cover that place. We will continue to work hard to improve the value of Chinese passports, so that our compatriots can more directly feel the dignity of being a Chinese and find it easier to travel abroad. We hope more and more of our compatriots can go abroad any time they wish and they can have smooth, safe and worry-free travels.
Lianhe Zaobao: Some people have compared China's "Belt and Road" initiative to the Marshall Plan and say that China is tightening its economic bond with neighboring countries to pursue geopolitical, military and security interests. What is your comment?
Wang Yi: China's "Belt and Road" initiative is both much older and much younger than the Marshall Plan. Comparing one to the other would be like comparing apples and oranges.
The "Belt and Road" initiative is older because it embodies the spirit of the ancient Silk Road, which has a history of over 2,000 years and was used by the peoples of many countries for friendly exchange and commerce. We must renew that spirit and bring it up to date.
The "Belt and Road" initiative is younger because it is born in the era of globalization. It is a product of inclusive cooperation, not a tool of geopolitics, and must not be viewed with the outdated Cold War mentality.
In pursuing this initiative, we will act according to the principle of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. We will carry out equal-footed consultation and respect the independent choice of other countries. We will be sensitive to the comfort level of other parties, ensure transparency and openness, align the initiative with the development strategies of other participants, and create synergy with the existing regional cooperation mechanisms. The vision of this initiative is common development and the goal is win-win progress through cooperation. If I may use a musical metaphor, it is not China's solo, but a symphony performed by all relevant countries.
Russia Today News Agency: Against the background of Western sanctions on Russia and the sharp depreciation of the ruble, how will China carry out cooperation with Russia, especially in the energy and financial sectors? And what will China and Russia do to further strengthen their coordination and cooperation in international affairs?
Wang Yi: The China-Russia relationship is not dictated by international vicissitudes and does not target any third party. Thanks to the strong strategic trust the two sides have established, our relationship has become more mature and stable. As comprehensive strategic partners of coordination, China and Russia have a good tradition of supporting each other. And the friendship between our two peoples provides a strong foundation for strengthening strategic cooperation between the two sides.
Practical cooperation between China and Russia is based on mutual need, seeks win-win results, and has enormous internal impetus and room for expansion. This year, our practical cooperation is expected to deliver a series of new results. For example, we will work hard to lift two-way trade to US$100 billion. We will sign an agreement to work on the Silk Road Economic Belt and begin relevant cooperation. We will start full construction of the eastern route of the natural gas pipeline and sign an agreement on the western route of the pipeline. We will accelerate the joint development and research of long-distance, wide-body passenger jets. We will start strategic cooperation on the development of Russia's Far Eastern region. And we will strengthen our cooperation on high-speed railways. At the same time, we will continue to intensify our cooperation in the financial, oil and gas, and nuclear-power sectors.
China and Russia are both permanent members of the UN Security Council. We will continue to carry out strategic coordination and cooperation to maintain international peace and security. This year, both countries will hold a series of activities to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the world's anti-Fascist war. We will support each other and jointly uphold international peace and the outcome of the Second World War.
Xinhua News Agency: This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. It is an important historical moment for the international community to reflect on the past and look to the future. Some people say that China wants to challenge and even overturn the current international order, and replace it with a new one dominated by China itself. What is your comment?
Wang Yi: I want to make it very clear that China has always been a constructive force in building the international order. If we can compare the international order and system built around the United Nations to a big boat, then 70 years ago China was intimately involved in designing and building that boat, and China was the first country to put its signature on the Charter of the United Nations. Today we are in this boat together with more than 190 other countries. So of course, we don't want to upset that boat. Rather, we want to work with the other passengers to ensure that this boat will sail forward steadily and in the right direction.
Seventy years have passed. The international situation and landscape has changed dramatically. Naturally, the international order needs to be updated. China supports the reform of the international order and system. Such reform is not about overturning the current system or starting all over again; rather, it is about seeking new ideas to improve it. The general direction is to promote democracy in international relations and the rule of law in global governance. In particular, it is very important to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries, which are in the majority, so that we can make the world a more equal, harmonious and safe place.
NBC: Last month, State Councilor Yang Jiechi and National Security Advisor Susan Rice declared that both sides have agreed to strengthen coordination on regional and global challenges. With President Xi Jinping visiting the United States later this year, in your view, how can this strengthened coordination for the new type of great-power relationship help resolve the US-China disputes over, for example, cyber-security or the maritime conflicts in the Asia-Pacific region?
Wang Yi: President Xi Jinping will pay a state visit to the United States this fall at the invitation of his US counterpart. We expect that following their Yingtai meeting last year, the two presidents will have another productive discussion and inject new momentum into our efforts to build a new model of major-country relations between China and the United States.
The undertaking to build a new model of relations is a pioneering effort. It will not be smooth sailing. But it is a logical development, because it accords with the common interests of both sides and the trend of our times. There is a Chinese saying, "Sincerity can work wonders." As long as the two sides show sincerity, buttress the bottom line of "no conflict and no confrontation", cement the foundation of "mutual respect", then we can explore the immense possibility of "win-win cooperation" between China and the United States.
China and the United States are two large countries. It's impossible for there not to be any disagreements between us, and these disagreements will not disappear the moment we commit to build a new model of major-country relations. But we shouldn't magnify the problems through a microscope. Rather, we should use the telescope to look ahead to the future and make sure we will move forward in the right direction.
At the Beijing APEC meeting, President Xi Jinping called for shaping the future through Asia-Pacific partnership. Many countries responded enthusiastically to his initiative. China and the United States interact most frequently in the Asia-Pacific and our interests intersect the most in this region. In our view, the building of a new model of major-country relations should begin with the Asia-Pacific region. If both sides can work to establish and deepen strategic trust and have positive interactions, then we can surely jointly contribute to peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
As for the issue of cyber-security, since both China and the United States are major users of the Internet, we have common interests in upholding it. We hope cyberspace will become a new frontier of our cooperation rather than a new source of friction.
China Daily: In recent months, major terrorist attacks have frequently hit many parts of the world, from Sydney to Paris, from western Asia to western Africa. What is China's position on fighting terrorism and carrying out international counter-terrorism cooperation?
Wang Yi: Terrorism is a common scourge to mankind, and fighting it is a common responsibility of every country. China has always been an active participant in international counter-terrorism cooperation. At the same time, we believe that to uproot terrorism, we must remove its breeding ground. To deny any haven to the specter of terrorism, we have to promote economic and social development, appropriately handle regional conflicts, and advocate equal-footed dialogue between different civilizations, religions and ethnic groups.
China has also suffered at the hands of terrorism. The "Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement" is a clear and present threat to our security. We would like to work with other countries in the spirit of mutual respect and equal-footed cooperation to jointly address the new threats and new challenges brought by terrorism.
Yonhap News Agency: The top leader of the DPRK has decided to attend the activities to be held in Russia in May to mark the victory of the Great Patriotic War, but he has not yet made a visit to China. Will the leaders of the DPRK and China have a meeting this year? And is it possible that the Six-Party Talks can still be resumed?
Wang Yi: China and the DPRK are friendly neighbors. Chinese people emphasize good faith and value friendship. We cherish our traditional friendship with the DPRK and we seek the normal development of our relations. The China-DPRK relationship has a strong foundation. It should not and will not be affected by temporary events. As to when our leaders will meet, it will have to suit the schedule of both sides.
The situation on the Korean Peninsula is basically stable, and China has played a constructive role in bringing that about. It is in the common interests of all relevant parties to maintain peace and stability on the Peninsula and achieve the denuclearization of the Peninsula. At the moment, the situation there has entered a delicate period. We call on the relevant countries to exercise calm and restraint, and say and do things that will have a positive effect, so as to continue to foster the atmosphere and conditions for resuming the Six-Party Talks.
China Radio International: The negotiation of a comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue has been twice extended and the June deadline is not far away. Can you talk about the prospect of the negotiation? What kind of role has China played in the negotiation? And what steps is China going to take to push forward the negotiation?
Wang Yi: The comprehensive settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue can help to strengthen the international system against nuclear proliferation, promote peace and tranquility in the Middle East, and provide useful experience for resolving major difficult issues through negotiation. We believe the parties should keep at it and finish the negotiation. The possible ramifications of the Iranian nuclear negotiation will go far beyond the negotiation itself. It's not surprising that there might be some ups and downs on the way. At the moment, although there is still some uncertainty about the prospect of the negotiation, we can already see light at the end of the tunnel. In our view, the negotiation has reached a critical point. The relevant parties, especially the main protagonists, should make a political decision as soon as possible.
China is an important party to the negotiation, and we have made a positive contribution to resolving the difficult issues and sticking points in the negotiation. We are prepared to work with other relevant parties to finish the marathon negotiation on the Iranian nuclear issue at an early date.
NHK: China has announced that it will hold a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Does China have a plan to invite the Japanese Prime Minister to come to China so that the leaders of the two countries can jointly discuss the future of the bilateral relationship? Many people in Japan believe that maybe China is using the history issue as a tool to denigrate Japan's contribution to international peace over many years and tarnish Japan's international reputation. If China really has the broad mind of a large country, then shouldn't it readjust its policy towards Japan?
Wang Yi: This year marks the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese people's war of resistance against Japanese aggression. As the main Eastern theater in the world's anti-Fascist war, China will hold a series of commemorative activities, including a military parade. This is consistent with the practice of other countries, and is perfectly normal and natural. Our goal is to remember history, commemorate the martyrs, cherish peace and look to the future. We will extend invitations to the leaders of all relevant countries and international organizations. We welcome the participation of anyone who is sincere about coming.
You mentioned the history issue. This issue has been haunting the China-Japan relationship, and we cannot but ask why this has been the case. I remember the words of an elder Chinese diplomat. He said that the more the victimizer is conscious of his guilt, the easier the victimized can recover from the suffering. Actually this is common sense in interpersonal relations and the correct attitude towards history. Those in power in Japan should first ask themselves what they have done on this score. Of course, the people of the world will reach their own conclusion. Seventy years ago, Japan lost the war; seventy years afterwards, Japan must not lose its conscience. Will it continue to carry the baggage of history, or will it make a clean break with past aggression? Ultimately, the choice is Japan's.
Phoenix Satellite TV: I want to ask about China's active involvement in settling international hot-spot issues in 2014. Last year, China called for a special consultation in support of the IGAD-led peace process in South Sudan, and hosted the Ministerial Conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan. And Mr. Minister, you have travelled personally to Iran to mediate the nuclear issue. Does all of these mean that China will take a more active part in helping to resolve international hot-spot issues?
Wang Yi: Last year, we took an active part in the mediation of a series of hot-spot issues and shouldered our share of international responsibility. In the meantime, we have been searching for a uniquely Chinese approach to settling hot-spot issues, and we pay a lot of attention to drawing wisdom and inspiration from China's traditional culture.
Maybe there is a thing or two that we can learn from the profound traditional Chinese medicine. When approaching a hot-spot issue, first, we need to take the pulse. We need to adopt an objective and impartial attitude, understand where the issue has come from, and establish the basic facts. We shouldn't just listen to one side of the story and we shouldn't write out the wrong prescription.
Second, we need to adopt a multi-pronged approach. Rather than willfully resorting to the use of force or sanctions, we should seek a political settlement and try to put forward a comprehensive and balanced package solution that addresses the concerns of all involved.
Third, we need to address both the symptom and the root cause. It is important to know what the heart of the problem is and then suit the remedy to the problem. And we should remove the breeding ground so that there will not be a relapse ever again.
In short, we will continue to follow a non-interventionist approach and respect the sovereign equality of countries. In that context, we will continue to put forward Chinese solution and play China's role in helping to appropriately resolve all kinds of hot-spot and protracted issues.
Nigerian Television: China has a culture of planning ahead and implementing these plans, and this has contributed greatly to how the country has become what it is today. Now that China has presented the 2015 year plan for work in the country, I would like to believe that China also has concrete plans for Africa. I see the deployment of an envoy to the Africa Union in Addis Ababa as a good sign. What concrete plans does China have for Africa, particularly in promoting win-win partnership between those countries?
Wang Yi: It's true that China likes to make plans before we do things, but we are also good at responding to emergencies. For example, when western Africa was suddenly hit by the Ebola epidemic last year, the Chinese government and people felt for them. We were the first to deliver aid, and altogether we provided four tranches of emergency aid with a total value of 750 million RMB yuan. We also deployed nearly 1,000 medical workers to the affected areas. The Chinese medical workers know the risk of infection, yet for the sake of the health of the African people, they are still battling in the affected countries. We want to pay tribute to them and give them the thumbs-up.
Just two days ago, the last Ebola patient in Liberia was released from a Chinese-run medical treatment center. What wonderful news and what a relief!
Speaking of China-Africa cooperation, during his visit to Africa last year, Premier Li Keqiang put forward the idea of working together to build six projects and three key networks. His call received strong support from many African countries. Recently we set up our permanent mission to the African Union, and the first head of the mission has already hit the ground running. This fully shows China's support for China-Africa cooperation and Africa's integration process. Later this year, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation will hold its sixth ministerial conference. While consolidating all areas of traditional cooperation, we will focus on the urgent needs of Africa and do more in the following three areas: first, industrial cooperation to boost Africa's industrialization process; second, health cooperation to build up Africa's capacity for dealing with infectious diseases; and third, security cooperation to help Africa maintain peace and stability.
China and Africa have always been a community of shared destiny. We are prepared to work with our African brothers and sisters to turn our traditional friendship into results of win-win cooperation and turn Africa's development potential into comprehensive national strength.
Global Times: The situation in northern Myanmar has been tense in recent weeks. Many residents have crossed the border into China. Does this put pressure on the security of China's southwestern border? There are some Chinese citizens caught up in the conflict. What will China do to ensure their safety?
Wang Yi: China and Myanmar have a common border of over 2,000 kilometers. Our two countries are friendly neighbors sharing not just common mountains and rivers, but also weal and woe. In recent weeks, there has been some instability in northern Myanmar. When problems arise in our neighbor's house, of course we follow the situation very closely. China's position is very clear: what happens there is Myanmar's internal affair, and we hope it can be resolved peacefully. At the same time, stability must be maintained in the China-Myanmar border region as well as in northern Myanmar, because this serves the common interests of our two countries and two peoples.
China will continue to have communication and cooperation with the Myanmar side to jointly ensure tranquility in the border area and the safety of people from both countries.
Press Trust of India: The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit China in the course of a few months. How does China view his visit, and what kind of significance does it attach to this? And also, the two countries are scheduled to have the next round of border talks. Is there a breakthrough expected for us to resolve the boundary issue?
Wang Yi: Last September, President Xi Jinping paid a historic visit to India. The picture of the two leaders working the spinning wheel in Gujarat, the home state of the Prime Minister, has spread far and wide in China. The Chinese people believe in reciprocating the courtesy of others. So I'm sure when Prime Minister Modi visits China later this year, he will be warmly welcomed by the Chinese government and people.
Mr. Deng Xiaoping once said that unless China and India are developed, there will be no Asian century. China is prepared to work with India to implement the important agreement reached by our leaders. The Chinese "dragon" and the Indian "elephant" should join each other in a duet to work for the early revitalization of two oriental civilizations, the common prosperity of two emerging markets and the amicable coexistence of two large neighbors.
As for the China-India boundary question, it is a legacy of history. We have worked on it for many years and made some progress in the boundary negotiation. The dispute has been contained. At the moment, the boundary negotiation is in the process of building up small positive developments. It is like climbing a mountain. The going is tough and that is only because we are on the way up. This is all the more reason that we should do more to strengthen China-India cooperation, so that we can enable and facilitate the settlement of the boundary question.
China News Service: According to media reports, China is reclaiming land around its islands and reefs in the South China Sea. Does this signal a change in China's policy towards the South China Sea and even the neighborhood?
Wang Yi: China is carrying out necessary construction on its own islands and reefs. The construction does not target or affect anyone. We are not like some countries, who engage in illegal construction in another person's house. And we do not accept criticism from others when we are merely building facilities in our own yard. We have every right to do things that are lawful and justified.
This said, China will continue to uphold freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. We will continue to peacefully resolve the disputes through direct dialogue and consultation. And we will continue to play a constructive role in maintaining regional peace and stability. China's policy towards the neighborhood is guided by the principle of sincerity, amity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness. It aims to bring harmony, stability and prosperity to the neighborhood. This policy has not and will not change.
KAZ NTV: Last year, China carried out an overseas operation to go after corruption suspects and bring back their criminal assets. In 2015, will China continue to pursue international cooperation to counter corruption?
Wang Yi: In 2014, we carried out a campaign code-named "Operation Fox Hunt" to bring back fugitives and uphold the sanctity of laws and social justice. Also last year, we wrapped up 11 extradition treaties and treaties on judicial mutual assistance in criminal matters, bringing the total number of such treaties we have concluded to 91. This means that we now have such treaties with countries on every continent. Of course, we would like to conclude more such treaties and agreements with more countries. You may remember that at last year's Beijing APEC meeting, we secured the adoption of a Declaration on Fighting Corruption and the establishment of the APEC Network of Anti-Corruption Authorities and Law-Enforcement Agencies. This will make our law-enforcement cooperation with relevant countries more smooth and effective. I would like to take this opportunity to appreciate the support given to us by many countries.
Anti-corruption is a never-ending struggle, and we will never relent in our effort to bring back fugitives and recover their criminal assets. The Chinese Foreign Ministry will strengthen communication and coordination with other countries and cast a wider and tighter net of international anti-corruption cooperation, so that even the most cunning fox will have nowhere to escape or hide.
CCTV: At last year's Central Foreign Affairs Work Conference, General Secretary Xi Jinping stated that China will pursue major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. Mr. Minister, can you spell that out for us, and talk about its most salient feature?
Wang Yi: The concept of major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics is a very rich one. It includes many things, for example adhering to the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the socialist system, following the independent foreign policy of peace, sticking to the path of peaceful development, insisting on the equality of all countries large and small, and striking a right balance between upholding principles and pursuing shared benefits. These ideas originate from the fine tradition of the Chinese nation and reflect the essential property of the socialist system. For our current purposes, let me say that the hallmark of major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics is win-win cooperation.
Last year, President Xi Jinping called for building a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation. His call echoes the trend of the times and represents an important innovation in the theory of international relations. In a globalized world, the interests of countries are increasingly intertwined. Countries may have different cultures, faiths or systems, but at the very least, we can all accept the idea of win-win cooperation. By building a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation, we want to replace the old practice of "going it alone" and reject the old mentality of "the winner takes all".
In short, in contrast to other major countries in history, China has already found a new path of peaceful development for itself. Now we would like to work with other countries to find a new path of win-win cooperation for the world. Under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee, Chinese diplomats will forge ahead and perform our duty to the country and our responsibility to the world.
The press conference lasted 95 minutes and was attended by over 500 Chinese and foreign journalists.