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Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi's Interview to People's Daily on World Expo Diplomacy

2010/11/01

On November 1, 2010, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi gave an interview to People's Daily on diplomacy surrounding the World Expo. The following is the full transcript:

World Expo: A New Stage for Diplomacy
- Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on World Expo Diplomacy

Q: The splendid, successful and unforgettable Shanghai World Expo came to a close. Using the World Expo as a stage, China's diplomacy presented one highlight after another. At the beginning of this year, you mentioned that World Expo diplomacy was one of the priorities of the diplomatic work this year. What is your comment on the achievements of World Expo Diplomacy?

Yang: The Shanghai World Expo is another major international event as well as a grand diplomatic undertaking of an unprecedented scale hosted by China after the Beijing Olympic Games. As many as 246 countries and international organizations participated in the Expo. Nearly 100 foreign heads of state and government participated in the Expo. The Shanghai World Expo set many records in the history of Expo: It is the first Expo ever hosted by a developing country, it has the largest number of participants, the biggest scale, the highest level of attendance and the largest number of visitors. All this provided a rare opportunity to carry out all-round diplomacy.

The Shanghai World Expo was held at a critical time amidst deepening international financial crisis, rapidly evolving international landscape, rising international standing of China and growing international attention to and expectation of China. Under the leadership and guidance of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, we seized the opportunity, and put forward the brand new notion of World Expo diplomacy in keeping with the times and vigorously promoted all-round diplomacy. These efforts added new dimensions to China's diplomacy.

World Expo diplomacy expanded the channels of cooperation between China and major countries. Thanks to our commitment, the United States, Russia, European and other countries all attached great importance to the Expo. They overcame difficulties such as those caused by the financial crisis and sent their best exhibits to the Expo. Mutual understanding between China and other countries was deepened and cooperation strengthened as a result.

World Expo diplomacy enhanced the bond of friendship between China and its neighboring countries. A total of 22 neighboring countries made use of the Expo to showcase their development achievements and diverse culture, a testament to the common idea that "A harmonious world begins with amity in the neighborhood."

World Expo diplomacy strengthened the foundation for solidarity and cooperation between China and other developing countries. They showed unprecedented enthusiasm in participating in the Expo, not only because of our full support, but also because of their sincere friendship towards China.

World Expo diplomacy facilitated China's cooperation with countries across the world in areas such as economy, science and technology, environmental protection, people-to-people exchanges and culture. We actively promoted economic cooperation through stronger political ties and made possible many cooperation projects by using opportunities provided by exchanges and cooperation in various fields. In general, through all-round, multi-tiered and wide-ranging World Expo diplomacy, China has further elevated its international standing, strengthened its soft power, deepened practical cooperation and fostered a more favorable international environment.

Q: Can you share with us the highlights of World Expo diplomacy in your mind?

Yang: World Expo diplomacy is a systematic project. It has a full program of activities, rich content, distinctive features and a lot of highlights. The most outstanding ones are as follows:

Summit diplomacy yielded notable achievements. President Hu Jintao, NPC Chairman Wu Bangguo, Premier Wen Jiabao, CPPCC Chairman Jia Qinglin and other CPC and state leaders attended and addressed Expo activities such as the Opening Ceremony, the Closing Ceremony, China National Pavilion Day and the Shanghai Expo Summit Forum. During the Expo, President Hu and other Chinese leaders held intensive meetings and talks with foreign leaders. Their in-depth exchanges and dialogues on how to promote development produced extensive agreements. When President Hu Jintao heard that President of Malta who came for the Opening Ceremony accidentally fell and got hurt, he himself visited the Maltese President in the hospital and instructed that a plane be provided to fly him back home. This gesture of sincere friendship was warmly received. Summit diplomacy played an important and leading role in showcasing China's image as a responsible big country and deepening friendly cooperation. It is the most significant highlight of World Expo diplomacy.

People-to-people diplomacy was active during the Expo. Both government officials and the ordinary people were engaged in Expo Diplomacy. "Amity between people holds the key to good relations between states." Those Expo activities held in the local communities enabled foreign leaders to interact with the public. More than two million volunteers worked tirelessly in and outside of the Expo site, serving as a bridge for exchanges and communication between China and the rest of the world. Interaction between government officials and the public is the most characteristic highlight in Expo Diplomacy.

Green diplomacy was colorful. The "low-carbon practice" was an innovation in the history of the Expo and offered a rare opportunity for green diplomacy. We had in-depth discussions with visiting friends from other countries on how to cooperate to address climate change, and injected fresh impetus to enhance cooperation. Green diplomacy showcased China's policy of sustainable development and its decision to address climate change through cooperation. It is the highlight most relevant to our times in Expo Diplomacy.

Public and cultural diplomacy made great strides. The six-month- long Expo attracted great attention from the media and provided an important platform for journalists to have multi-faceted and in-depth coverage of China. Some 20,000 cultural performances and cultural relic exhibitions were staged during the Expo. There were active exchanges and mutual learning between different civilizations. We invited 100 journalists from developing countries in a joint delegation to cover China. Chinese diplomatic and consular missions overseas organized public lectures, photo exhibitions, community outreach programs, Expo parades and many other activities, which triggered a wave of "Expo fever" in many parts of the world. Public and cultural diplomacy told of a true China to the world and is the most creative highlight in Expo Diplomacy.

Q: Active participation by many developing countries has attracted a lot of attention during this Expo. What has China done to encourage more participation by developing countries?

YANG: This is what we feel proud of and happy about. China itself is also a developing country. Equality, friendship and cooperation between China and other developing countries has been the fine tradition and valuable asset in China's diplomacy. As the first developing country playing host to a registered international exposition, China had a strong commitment to ensuring greater participation of other developing countries to the Expo. We did our best to meet their needs of participation and help them succeed.

We actively supported the other developing countries in taking part in the Expo, including free participation for some countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America. We helped to set up the Africa Joint Pavilion, enabling African countries to collectively participate in the Expo for the first time in history. We also helped to put up the Pacific Joint Pavilion, making it possible for those small and poor countries that had been unable to join the World Expo for years to return to the Expo community. The Africa Joint Pavilion is one of the most popular pavilions in the Expo site and one of the first to receive more than 10 million visitors among foreign pavilions. When attending the national pavilion days, some representatives from developing countries were full of tears of joy when they saw their national flags rising and said that "China treats us as brothers and helps us succeed in real earnest." I believe these were words from the bottom of their hearts. Through the Shanghai World Expo, we further deepened friendship with friends both old and new and enhanced friendly cooperation with other developing countries across the board.

Q: Expo Diplomacy was fruitful. What successful experiences do you have to share with us?

YANG: Expo Diplomacy was highly fruitful mainly because that the central leadership had correctly identified the role and goal of the Expo from a strategic and long-term perspective. They planned for a successful Expo against the backdrop of China's national development strategy and overall diplomacy, thus giving full play to the comprehensive effect of the Expo. The dedicated foreign affairs team worked tirelessly day and night to ensure smooth progress of all the activities. We have accumulated some valuable experience in this regard:

The key to the success of Expo Diplomacy is coordination. Expo Diplomacy involves a great many departments and a multitude of matters. We established a coordination group of foreign affairs led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. All member departments cooperated closely and did their best to ensure smooth progress of all the work. The Shanghai municipal government carried out a large number of impressive foreign-related activities and made fruitful endeavors to serve the interests of China's overall diplomacy. The Chinese people at home and abroad united as one and worked according to the overall plan to ensure efficient and smooth progress. This reflects once again China's institutional advantage that enables us to mobilize resources to accomplish great undertakings.

Scientific planning is an effective approach to World Expo diplomacy. Major events including the Opening Ceremony, Closing Ceremony, China National Pavilion Day, and Summit Forum are the highlights of World Expo diplomacy and feature big scale, high level, and complex protocol arrangements. Thanks to our meticulous planning, the success of these major events was ensured by combining foreign leaders' visits with Expo events. A total of 171 foreign National Pavilion Days and 19 Honorary Days for International Organizations were observed during the Shanghai Expo. We made thoughtful arrangements to make each National Pavilion Day unique and successful.

"Seeking effectiveness from innovation" is the strong driving force for World Expo diplomacy. World Expo diplomacy is a new concept, and we tried to make innovations by adapting established practices of World Expo to China's reality. For instance, we invited foreign leaders to interact with the ordinary people, organized a joint delegation of journalists from developing countries, established a new post of Deputy Commissioner General of the Chinese Government for the Expo and appointed former ambassadors to this post, thus creating new mechanisms and means of public diplomacy and protocol arrangement.

Question: From Olympic diplomacy to World Expo diplomacy, China's diplomacy has made steady headway. What impact will these major events have on China's future relations with the world and on China's diplomatic development?

Yang: The 2008 Beijing Olympics and Expo 2010 Shanghai are major milestones in China's development. Their impact can be summarized with three "new starting points".

First, China's development is at a new starting point. These two major events demonstrated China's historic transformation from a weak and closed country to a prosperous and open one over the past century and more, helped promote China's economic and social development and friendly cooperation with other countries, and injected new impetus into China's development in the future.

Second, China's relations with the world are at a new starting point. These two major events accelerated China's integration into the world. They gave the world a full picture of China's ancient civilization, tremendous progress, and unity among people of all ethnic groups, and helped the world better understand and cooperate with China. By hosting these two events, China also demonstrated its image as a responsible country, familiarized itself with international norms, accumulated experience, and cultivated talents, thus laying an even more solid foundation for its future development.

Third, China's diplomacy is at a new starting point. By conducting Olympic diplomacy and World Expo diplomacy, China's all-dimensional diplomatic structure was further improved, friendly relations with other countries deepened, approaches to diplomacy enriched, diplomatic theory and practice with Chinese characteristics improved, and more favorable conditions for maintaining the overall stability of China's international environment created.

At the threshold of the second decade of the 21st century, the international situation is undergoing major development, major changes, and major adjustment. China is at a critical juncture of building a moderately prosperous society and deepening reform and opening-up and accelerating the transformation of economic growth pattern. China's diplomatic work is faced with rare historic opportunities as well as predictable and unpredictable risks and challenges. We will, under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee, seize opportunities, rise to challenges, strive to expand and extend the "Olympic effect" and "World Expo effect". We will strengthen friendly cooperation with the rest of the world, and work to build a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity. We will work hard to write a splendid new chapter for the smooth implementation of the 12th Five-Year Plan, the building of a moderately prosperous society, and the enhancement of world peace and development.

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