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China-Sudan Relations and China’s Current Foreign Policy——Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Ma Xinmin at the “China Teahouse” Salon Press Briefing

(From Chinese Embassy in Sudan)

2022-05-27 06:45

On May 26, 2022, the Chinese Embassy in Sudan hosted “China Teahouse” Salon, at which Ambassador Ma Xinmin briefed the press on China-Sudan relations and China’s current foreign policy. The full text is as follows:

Q1:The Special Envoy of the Chinese Government on the Middle East Issue Zhai Jun has recently visited Sudan. Could you talk about it?

Ambassador Ma: China and Sudan enjoy long-term friendship and partnership. Since our two countries established diplomatic relations 63 years ago, we have always given each other support on issues concerning each other’s core interests and major concerns. Our bilateral friendship is rooted in long history of exchanges and wide public support, and will not be affected by individual events.

The Special Envoy of the Chinese Government on the Middle East Issue Zhai Jun finished a successful visit to Sudan from March 21 to 23, 2022. President of Sudan’s Sovereign Council Burhan met with him and his party. Both sides had an in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations and other issues of common concern such as Sudan’s political situation.  Zhai Jun expressly said that China always takes a strategic and long-term view of bilateral relations and stands ready to work with Sudan to deepen political mutual trust and scale up cooperation on epidemic control in the larger interest of our friendship. He added that China will continue to further synergize the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with Sudan’s development strategy and take solid steps to implement the Nine Programs proposed at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), thus contributing to peace and development of Sudan.

Zhai Jun also stressed that China’s position on Sudan’s problems is consistent and clear-cut. China supports the people of Sudan in solving problems independently and has confidence in Sudan’s wisdom and ability to handle its internal affairs well. China calls on the parties concerned in Sudan to narrow differences through dialogue and achieve consensus in a way that preserves people’s interest and national stability. This will lay a solid foundation for a smooth political transition. China also calls on the international community to restore their economic support to Sudan and help it overcome difficulties in economic and social development. China will join hands with the international community to add further momentum to Sudan’s political transition. Zhai Jun also called on the leader of the National Umma Party during his visit in Sudan.

Looking ahead, I wish to reiterate that China will work with Sudan to enhance political mutual trust, deepen practical cooperation and renew traditional friendship to create a brighter future of China-Sudan strategic partnership. China is also ready to work with all other countries to push ahead Sudan’s political transition and play a constructive role in helping Sudan achieve peace, stability and development at an early date.

Q2: After the epidemic broke out, China and Sudan have made joint efforts to contain the virus. China has given constant and strong support in various ways for Sudan’s response to COVID-19. Does China have any plan for the next stage of our joint response to COVID-19?

Ambassador Ma: As an old Chinese saying goes, “The going may be tough when one walks alone, but it gets easier when people walk together.” At the height of China’s fight against COVID-19, people from various sectors in Sudan voiced their strong support to China. To reciprocate their kindness, China dispatched a 20-member medical expert team at the earliest time possible to assist Sudan with epidemic prevention and control after the virus spread to the country, making itself the first to send an expert team for that purpose. China was also the first to offer COVID-19 vaccine assistance to Sudan via bilateral channels. The 250,000 doses of vaccines plus 23 batches of medical supplies donated by China provided strong material support for Sudan’s efforts to beat the virus. Not long ago, the Protocol of the Chinese Medical Assistance Team to Sudan was renewed, and the first batch of medical equipment donated by the Chinese government under the cooperation mechanism for pairing up Chinese and Sudanese hospitals was handed over to Sudan’s Federal Ministry of Health. Later this month, a batch of anti-epidemic supplies worth of 4.55 million yuan donated by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Sudan’s Sovereign Council and Ministry of Foreign Affairs is scheduled to be handed over to the Sudanese side. Our joint efforts to look out for each other in adversity and fight the virus together enabled us to emerge from the darkest hour of the pandemic and made our traditional friendship renewed as well.

Given that the coronavirus is still raging across the world, it is imperative for both countries to overcome the challenge posed by the pandemic. In this context, China will deepen cooperation with Sudan on COVID-19 response and promote the early delivery of the latest round of vaccine aid, so as to help Sudan prevail over the pandemic at an early date. China will also collaborate with Sudan in carrying out the Medical and Health Program, one of the Nine Programs proposed at the FOCAC. To this end, China will give full play to the role of the medical assistance team to Sudan, the China-Sudan Friendship Hospitals and the mechanism of pairing up Chinese and Sudanese hospitals, to assist Sudan in improving its capabilities for medical care and public health governance. Doing so will create broader prospects for bilateral relations, bring greater benefits to the two peoples, and make our strategic partnership more relevant in the new era.

Q3: How do you see the achievements in bilateral practical cooperation over the years? What is your expectation of its future?

Ambassador Ma: In the past few years, the results-oriented cooperation between our two countries has made sustained, healthy and stable progress. China remains the largest trading partner of Sudan, and now there are over 130 Chinese companies investing and operating here. Bilateral cooperation in oil, agriculture, mining, health and infrastructure areas has advanced steadily, with new, encouraging progress in several major projects despite the headwinds from the global pandemic. Specifically, The China-aid slaughter house project made an important step in implementation, while the China-aid well drilling and water supply project was proceeding steadily. Chinese automaker Chery entered the Sudanese market with the first batch of 300 vehicles, while the first diesel locomotive manufactured by CRRC Ziyang rolled off the production line. What’s more, 30,000 jobs were created for the locals, because of the new cotton variety “Seeni 1” grew by New Epoch Agricultural Development Company headquartered in East China’s Shandong Province. More than 70,000 women and children in Sudan benefited from the maternal and child health care project implemented by the Chinese government through the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund. The minerals analytical laboratory built by the No.6 Institute of Geology and Mineral Resources Exploration of Shandong Province enables Sudan to assay minerals at much higher professional and international levels.

China-Sudan cooperation enjoys enormous potential and prospects. Going forward, China will work with Sudan to accelerate the progress of such key cooperative projects as the slaughter house project, continue to assist with Sudan’s response to COVID-19 through vaccine aid and other ways, and deepen bilateral cooperation in agricultural, energy and mining sectors. The Chinese government will continue to encourage Chinese companies to participate in the construction of Sudan’s ports, shipping and airports to fully exploit Sudan’s rich resources and geographical superiority, thus contributing to its economic recovery and improvement of people’s wellbeing.

Q4: In September last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the “Global Development Initiative” at the General Debate of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly. At the recently concluded opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2022, he put forward another “Global Security Initiative”. Could you tell us more about both initiatives?

Ambassador Ma: The global COVID-19 pandemic has yet to end, but the Ukraine crisis is posing a new threat. Global peace and development, the trend of our times, is now at stake. At a critical juncture where the future of the human race hinges on the choice we make, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the Global Development Initiative and then the Global Security Initiative. Both initiatives serve the same purpose and complement and reinforce each other.  It contributes China’s wisdom to the efforts of mankind in tackling development deficit, and offers China’s solution to addressing international security challenges. 

The Global Development Initiative provides is aimed at promoting the international community to attach great importance to the development issue, in particular, focus on the special and pressing demand of developing countries, so as to jointly implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and boost common development across the world. The Initiative emphasizes the priority of staying committed to the development and a people-centered approach, so as to pursue more robust, greener and more balanced global development, and endeavors to bridge the development divide and create more development opportunities. This will make global development more equitable, effective and inclusive, so that no country will be left behind. Since the very beginning, the initiative has been warmly received by the United Nations (UN) and more than 100 countries including Sudan. It demonstrates once again China’s commitment to firmly support and contribute to global development.

As for the Global Security Initiative, it is the latest international public good put forward by China to handle international security challenges and promote sustained and stable development worldwide. Six commitments are what the initiative is all about. That is, we need to stay committed to the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security; stay committed to respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries; stay committed to abiding by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter; stay committed to taking the legitimate security concerns of all countries seriously; stay committed to peacefully resolving differences and disputes between countries through dialogue and consultation; stay committed to maintaining security in both traditional and non-traditional domains. These commitments are interrelated and aligned, offering a new approach to eliminating the root causes of international conflicts and achieving durable stability and security in the world.

More than proposing the two major initiatives, China acts on them. We stand ready to work with Sudan and other countries and peoples that pursue peace and development to ensure that both initiatives will take root and come into fruition, so that the world will enjoy greater peace and prosperity and humanity will have a brighter future.

Q5: The Ukraine crisis is now still ongoing. What’s China’s view on this?

Ambassador Ma: As a permanent member of the UN, China has always played a responsible and constructive role and taken the side of peace, dialogue and justice. Talking about the Ukraine crisis, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward “four musts” to clarify China’s authoritative position on the Ukraine issue. Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi also proposed on behalf of China “four musts” for defusing the Ukraine crisis, as well as a five-point position on resolving the Ukraine issue and a six-point initiative on easing the humanitarian crisis. This is China’s voice and wisdom for resolving the crisis and easing the tensions. China’s propositions are objective, fair, sober, rational and comprehensive, and are gaining an increasing understanding and support from other countries. In summary, China’s perspectives and position on the Ukraine crisis are reflected by “five commitments”.

First, stay committed to the commonly recognized international law in handling the Ukraine crisis. Since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, China has stood on the merits and upheld the observance of purposes and principles of the UN Charter, including the respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, and non-interference in other countries’ domestic affairs. China rejects unilateral sanctions that have no mandate of the UN Security Council and insists that the Ukraine crisis must be handled according to international law in an objective and impartial manner.

Second, stay committed to peace talks in resolving the Ukraine crisis. China upholds the principle of settling international conflicts by peaceful means, and holds that it is of paramount importance for all to support Russia and Ukraine in keeping their talks going to bring about peaceful outcomes. On the second day of the conflict, President Xi Jinping said in his phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin that China wishes to see peace talks between Russia and Ukraine as early as possible. In his recent virtual meetings and phone calls with the leaders of Germany and France, President Xi stressed once again the importance to jointly facilitate peace talks for ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine. China will continue to work alongside the international community to play its constructive role in promoting peace talks and maintaining peace.

Third, stay committed to a unified standard in handling the Ukraine crisis and other issues. China upholds the principle of the sovereign equality of all countries, as well as the unified and equal application of international law. China holds that the wrong approach taken by some countries and media organizations to apply double standard following the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis is highly alarming. It is unacceptable double standard to sympathize with refugees in Ukraine, while treating those from countries in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America differently. It is unacceptable double standard to regard acts harming civilians in Ukraine as war crimes, while allowing harm done to civilians in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria to go unpunished. And it is unacceptable double standard to stress that sovereignty is inviolable on the Ukraine issue, while claiming that human rights precede sovereignty when it comes to issues related to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Iraq. It is certain that the Ukraine crisis needs to be resolved as quickly as possible. It is also imperative to address other long-standing issues including the Palestine problem in an impartial manner. Only in this way can long-lasting peace be achieved in the Middle East, Europe and other places across the globe.

Fourth, stay committed to the international humanitarian law in handling the Ukraine crisis. China calls on the parties concerned to abide by the international humanitarian law, including protect the safety of civilians and civilian infrastructure, reduce civilian casualties, ensure the availability and safety of evacuation and humanitarian corridors and safeguard the basic rights of women, children, the wounded and the prisoners of war. China supports any initiatives and measures conducive to easing the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and stands ready to play its part in mitigating the humanitarian crisis. After the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis, China has called on the international community at once to attach importance to the humanitarian situation in Ukraine. China has taken concrete steps to provide emergency humanitarian assistance in batches to Ukraine and other conflict-affected countries.

Last, stay committed to the framework of shared security in eliminating the root cause of the Ukraine crisis. China believes that the interests and concerns of all countries should be respected and guaranteed. Although the Cold War has ended for over three decades, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a product for bloc confrontation, has expanded with more members instead of dissolving as time passes by. It has gone through five rounds of eastward expansion in over 20 years, having 30 members now including nearly two thirds of European countries. This action by NATO has been regarded as a threat to Russia’s security. Whoever tied the knot is responsible for untying it. In the long term, Russia’s legitimate security concerns should be respected, and the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Ukraine should be safeguarded as well. The US and NATO should engage in dialogue with Russia to address the root cause of the Ukraine crisis and eliminate the security concerns of both Russia and Ukraine. This will help build a balanced, effective and sustainable European security framework.

Q6: Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi proposed on behalf of China the Outlook on Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa at the beginning of this year.  Could you tell us more about this outlook?

Ambassador Ma: China always believes that Africa belongs to the people of Africa and African issues should be determined by the people of Africa. The core of the Outlook on Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa is to support regional countries to get rid of major powers’ geopolitical competition and firmly take the path of unity and self-improvement, thus making sure the region’s future remains firmly in their own hands. Specifically, the main content of the outlook has three aspects.

First, intra-regional dialogue needs to be strengthened to overcome security challenges. China holds that regional issues should be tackled by regional countries through negotiation and consultation. As part of efforts to strengthen intra-regional dialogue, China calls on countries in the region to hold a peace conference for the Horn of Africa, whereby a political consensus about jointly safeguarding peace and safety is expected to be formed. The purpose of China’s appointment of the special envoy for the Horn of Africa is to offer necessary support in this regard.

Second, regional revitalization needs to be accelerated to overcome development challenges. China proposes strengthening the two main axes of the Mombasa-Nairobi railway and the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway, while accelerating the development along the coasts of the Red Sea and of East Africa, so as to set up a development framework of “two axes plus two coastal areas”. Doing so will enable countries in the region to improve their capability of independent development, and create fundamental conditions for achieving peace and stability and thus improving people’s wellbeing.

Third, effective ways need to be explored to overcome governance challenges. China supports regional countries in finding development paths that suit their own conditions, and is ready to enhance exchanges with them on state governance to break through governance bottlenecks. China also supports them in properly resolving ethnic, religious and regional disputes in African ways, and building a united, stable and harmonious environment in favor of the development of the Horn of Africa. China will assist regional countries in seeking effective resolutions to governance challenges.

Looking ahead, in the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation which features sincere friendship and equality, win-win for mutual benefit and common development, fairness and justice, and progress with the times and openness and inclusiveness, China will keep its active efforts up to put the Outlook on Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa into action, in a bid to give new impetus to the mission of building a China-Africa Community with a Shared Future in the New Era.

Q7: The Eighth Ministerial Conference of the FOCAC was successfully held at the end of last year. What do you think is the significance of this conference for future development of China-Africa relations?

Ambassador Ma: The Eighth Ministerial Conference of the FOCAC was held in Senegal’s Capital Dakar from November 29 to 30, 2021. As many as 53 countries and representatives from the African Union (AU) Commission attended the conference. At the opening ceremony of the ministerial conference, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech titled “Uphold the Tradition of Always Standing Together and Jointly Build a China-Africa Community with a Shared Future in the New Era”.

President Xi Jinping reviewed the historic achievements over the past 65 years since the start of diplomatic relations between China and African countries. He underscored the everlasting spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation, which features sincere friendship and equality, win-win for mutual benefit and common development, fairness and justice, and progress with the times and openness and inclusiveness. He described the spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation as the flagship of China-Africa relations and the intellectual treasure for Chinese and African people.

Facing new challenges to China-Africa relations caused by global changes and the pandemic both unseen in a century, President Xi Jinping made four proposals for building a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era. The first is to fight COVID-19 with solidarity by putting people first and bridging the immunization gap. The second is to deepen practical cooperation by sharing opportunities of development and jointly boosting economic recovery. The third is to promote green development by tackling climate changes together and saving lucid waters and lush mountains. And the fourth is to uphold equity and justice by offering each other firm support and safeguarding the shared interests. As a shared aspiration of both sides, such proposals clarify the pressing tasks, ultimate approaches and goals of building a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era, charting the future course of China-Africa relations.

Suffering from the impact of COVID-19, African countries are grappling with their economic hardship and place high hopes on China-Africa cooperation to facilitate their economic recovery. In this context, President Xi Jinping announced that China will work closely with African countries to implement Nine Programs, namely the medical and health program, the poverty reduction and agricultural development program, the trade promotion program, the investment promotion program, the digital innovation program, the green development program, the capacity building program, the cultural and people-to-people exchange program and the peace and security program. 

Additionally, the conference adopted four documents, namely the Dakar Declaration, the Dakar Action Plan (2022-2024), the China-Africa Cooperation Vision 2035 and the China-Africa Declaration on Climate Change Cooperation, setting a record in terms of the number of documents adopted in the history of FOCAC. This demonstrates China and African countries’ strong desire to meet challenges together and pursue common development, and also tells us that China-Africa cooperation has tremendous potential and broad prospects. The adoption of these four documents marks a new milestone in the history of China-Africa relations.

Since its founding 22 years ago, the FOCAC has turned into a model of South-South cooperation and a pacesetter for international cooperation with Africa. Looking ahead, with the mighty strength of the 2.7 billion Chinese and Africans including the people of Sudan, we will make concerted efforts to forge a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era.

Q8:The Chinese government decides on the dynamic zero-COVID policy according to its own circumstances. But we have learned that some people have recently questioned this policy. What is your comment on this?

Ambassador Ma: Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Chinese government has taken an approach featuring preventing imported cases from abroad and resurgence at home, and to a dynamic zero-COVID policy. We have been adapting prevention and control protocols to the evolving situation and achieved major strategic outcomes in this battle.

China's dynamic zero-COVID policy is based on its national realities. China is a country with over 267 million people above 60 years old, and more than 250 million children. China’s huge population also means that relaxing prevention and control measures will inevitably lead to the death of a large number of elderly people. China’s dynamic zero-COVID policy effectively protected vulnerable groups of people, including the elderly and the children.

The dynamic zero-COVID policy effectively protects human rights. This policy reflects the commitment of the Chinese government to a people-first and life-first philosophy, protects the health, normal life and production of the 1.4 billion Chinese people to the maximum. The COVID-19 infection rate and mortality rate in China remain the lowest in the world.

The dynamic zero-COVID policy guarantees the economic and social development. It is not aimed at realizing zero infection, but rather at bringing COVID-19 under control at the minimum social cost in the shortest time possible. The purpose is solely to protect people’s life and health to the greatest extent possible and underpin sustained, sound and steady economic and social development. This policy reduces negative impact on China’s overall economic and social development to the greatest extent. The overwhelming majority of the Chinese population in most parts of the country can enjoy normal life and production. 

It is proved that the dynamic zero-COVID policy is beneficial both for China and the rest of the world. In China, we have the foundation, the conditions and the capability to achieve dynamic zero-COVID. We have every confidence in winning this hard battle and making greater contributions to the united global response.

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