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Braving Waves and Sailing Forward with Resolve


Address by H.E. Wang Yi
State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs
At the Opening of Symposium on
The International Situation and China's Foreign Relations in 2019

Beijing, 13 December 2019

Members of the academia,

Good morning! It gives me great pleasure to join you again at the turn of the year.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of this symposium on the international situation and China's foreign relations. Over the past three decades, the symposium has witnessed the changes in the international landscape and the extraordinary journey of Chinese diplomacy. Thanks to your active participation and strong support, the symposium has enjoyed growing influence both at home and abroad. It has evolved into an important platform for discussions on international developments and China's diplomacy and a valuable source of insights and suggestions for China's foreign policy. For this, I wish to express my sincere thanks to all the experts and scholars present today.

For China, 2019 is a year of national celebration and of building on past achievements to forge into the future. We warmly celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Looking back on the momentous journey China has traversed in the past seven decades, we understand better than ever how New China has come a long way to what it is today. This has made us even more determined to follow the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics and more confident about achieving the two centenary goals and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

We successfully held the fourth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The Plenum made a full exposition of the core tenets, achievements, and remarkable advantages of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics and China's governance system. It put forward for the first time the overarching goal of upholding and improving the socialist system with Chinese characteristics and modernizing China's system and capacity for governance, thus laying a stronger institutional foundation for realizing national rejuvenation. A stable, secure and prosperous China is standing tall and proud in the east of the world, poised to make new contributions to the cause of peace and development of humankind.

For the world, 2019 is a year of turbulence and mounting challenges. Multilateralism and unilateralism are locked in a bitter contest, protectionism and populism have been on the rise, and the world is seeing a rampage of power politics and bullying. Big power rivalry has intensified, global governance is confronted with more difficulties, and global growth remains sluggish. From Asia to the Middle East, from Europe to Latin America, flashpoints keep flaring up, countries are plunged into turmoil, and traditional and non-traditional security threats are becoming more intertwined. All these are posing severe challenges to global governance.

That said, we must also see that peace and development remain the prevailing trend of our times. Globalization and multipolarization are moving forward despite twists and turns. And a new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation is gathering momentum. Whether countries make the right choice between cooperation and confrontation, multilateralism and unilateralism, openness and isolation will largely shape the future of human society.

In 2019, facing the complex international situation, China has forged ahead with its foreign relations under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core. We comprehensively summed up the successful experience and fine traditions of the past 70 years, and reaffirmed our original aspirations to bring happiness to the Chinese people and contribute to progress for humanity. Charting the course forward and overcoming difficulties and challenges, we achieved new advances and new outcomes in China's foreign relations in wide-ranging areas. Such progress has not only bolstered China's development but also made important contributions to world peace and progress.

Over the past year, China has vigorously developed its relations with other major countries, injecting positive energy into overall global stability.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between China and Russia. During President Xi Jinping's historic visit to Russia, the two Presidents reached important agreement on further deepening the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination, and signed a joint statement on strengthening global strategic stability. Smooth progress has been made in synergizing the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union and in implementing major strategic projects in areas of energy, aviation, space and connectivity. Early this month, the two Presidents witnessed via video link the launch of the east-route natural gas pipeline between the two countries. Under the watch of the two Presidents, the China-Russia relationship is entering a new era of mutual support, deep convergence, continuous innovation and mutual benefit, playing a more crucial role in maintaining world peace and stability.

This year also marks the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and the United States. Over the past 40 years, China and the US have become deeply inter-connected through shared economic interests, and thriving exchanges in all areas. Internationally, there is ever greater need for the two countries to jointly address global challenges. At the same time, there exist some deep-seated issues between the two sides that need to be tackled head-on. These issues have presented growing challenges to the future of China-US relations. Acting in the interest of the two peoples and as a responsible member of the international community, China has continued to pursue constructive dialogue with the US this year. We have also taken firm actions to counter US bullying and uphold the principles enshrined in the three China-US joint communiqués. At their meeting in Osaka, the two Presidents expressed a clear-cut commitment to advance China-US relations based on coordination, cooperation and stability.

This year has also witnessed close interactions between China and Europe. Europe was the destination of both President Xi Jinping's first and last overseas visit this year. Premier Li Keqiang attended the China-EU Summit and the China-CEEC Heads of Government Summit. The membership of China-CEEC cooperation was enlarged for the first time. China and the EU concluded negotiations on an agreement on geographical indications as scheduled and signed the agreements on civil aviation cooperation smoothly. Leaders of Germany, France and Italy visited China respectively. China and the EU also reached extensive consensus on major issues from strengthening global governance, upholding multilateralism to safeguarding free trade. This has sent a clear message of China and Europe enhancing strategic cooperation and jointly addressing global challenges.

Over the past year, China has comprehensively strengthened its ties with neighboring countries, bringing greater stability to the region.

President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi successfully held their second summit in Chennai. The two leaders had long and in-depth discussions on issues of strategic significance. They agreed to enhance practical cooperation across the board and promote exchanges and mutual learning between the two civilizations. The summit set the tone for the steady and sound growth of China-India relations and opened new prospects for mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries.

General Secretary Xi Jinping paid a historic visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of China-DPRK diplomatic relations. The visit has given a new boost to the traditional friendship between the two countries.

China and Japan reached a ten-point consensus on improving and growing the bilateral relations. Leaders of the two countries agreed to work for a China-Japan relationship consistent with the needs of the new era, bringing the relationship back on track for new progress.

The China-ASEAN FTA Upgrading Protocol has fully entered into force. The first reading of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea has been completed ahead of schedule, and COC consultations are making solid progress. All this has ushered China-ASEAN relations into a new stage of all-round development.

President Xi Jinping visited Central Asia and attended the SCO summit and CICA summit, taking China's relations with Central Asian countries and the development of the SCO to a new level.

China also played a pivotal role in bringing about important progress in regional cooperation in the Asia-Pacific. Not long ago, the 15 participating countries of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) concluded all the text-based negotiations, and a timeline has been drawn up for its formal signing. A regional free trade area boasting the largest population, most diverse membership and greatest potential is in the making.

Later this month, China will host the eighth China-Japan-ROK (CJK) leaders' meeting. As we mark the 20th anniversary of CJK cooperation, the meeting is set to inject new impetus into cooperation and development in East Asia.

Over the past year, China has consistently advocated win-win cooperation, energizing the building of an open world economy.

China successfully hosted the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which was attended by 40 national leaders and heads of international organizations, and nearly 6,000 representatives from 150 countries and 92 international organizations. The forum produced 283 important outcomes.

This year, China has signed documents on Belt and Road cooperation with 16 countries and international organizations, bringing the total number of such cooperation documents to 199. Flagship projects such as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, China-Laos Railway, Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway and China-Europe Railway Express have created substantial development opportunities for the participating countries, and brought the Belt and Road cooperation into a new phase of high-quality development.

The second China International Import Expo attracted an impressive gathering of 181 countries, regions and international organizations, more than 3,800 exhibitors and over 500,000 buyers from home and abroad. Business deals worth more than US$71 billion were concluded, up by 23% from last year.

In his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Expo, President Xi Jinping pointed out that economic globalization is an irreversible trend of the times. He called for the building of an open world economy featuring cooperation, innovation and mutual benefit, and announced the major opening-up initiatives China would take in five areas. His speech drew a warm response across the audience.

China has deepened South-South cooperation with fellow developing countries. The Coordinators' Meeting on the Implementation of the Follow-up Actions of the FOCAC Beijing Summit was successfully held in Beijing. More than half of the 880 plus cooperation projects and the financing support have been delivered under the framework of the eight major initiatives on China-Africa cooperation. The follow-up actions of the FOCAC Summit, which have been in full swing, have been held to high standards and produced early and encouraging results to the benefit of our peoples.

China's relations with Latin American and the Caribbean countries and Arab countries continue to make steady and solid progress, with deeper and better-structured cooperation in all fields.

Over the past year, China has firmly defended fairness and justice in the international arena, serving as a pillar for multilateralism and greater democracy in international relations.

In the face of unilateralist and hegemonic moves, China has firmly stood on the right side of history and on the side of the common interests of the overwhelming majority of countries. From the G20 Summit to the BRICS Summit, from the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations to the China-France Seminar on Global Governance, from the Boao Forum for Asia to the leaders' meetings on East Asian cooperation, China has taken a consistent and unwavering stand, namely, firmly upholding the UN-centered international system, safeguarding the international order underpinned by the international law, and promoting the multilateral trading regime centered on the WTO.

President Xi Jinping's call for extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits in global governance and for building a community with a shared future for mankind has been embraced and supported by more and more countries.

China is deeply engaged in international cooperation in such areas as climate change, combating and preventing terrorism and cyber-security. China has honored its international responsibilities and duties, and made important contributions to global efforts against global challenges. During this year's G20 Summit, China held a meeting on climate change together with France and the UN. China and France also signed the Beijing Call for Biodiversity Conservation and Climate Change.

In the election for the FAO Director-General, the Chinese candidate won by a wide margin. And for the first time, Chinese nationals have been appointed Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General and UN Resident Coordinator. All this speaks to the increasing role played by China in UN affairs.

Over the past year, China has stepped up to its responsibility as a major country, playing a constructive role in the political settlement of regional flashpoints.

On the issue of the Korean Peninsula, China has always been committed to safeguarding peace and stability of the Peninsula and resolving the issue through dialogue and consultation. China has been working to promote synchronized progress in the establishment of a permanent peace mechanism and complete denuclearization of the Peninsula. In this process, China maintains that the concerns of all parties, the DPRK's legitimate concerns over its security and development in particular, should be properly addressed.

On the question of the Middle East, China is committed to upholding the effectiveness and authority of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and resolving differences through dialogue and consultation. China has advocated the political settlement of the Palestinian and Syrian issues and other regional hotspots. China held the first Middle East Security Forum, and its proposals on Middle East security were welcomed by countries in the region. As part of its shuttle diplomacy on Afghanistan, China facilitated the intra-Afghan dialogue, the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan trilateral dialogues and the China-Russia-US consultation, and hosted the first China-Russia-US-Pakistan four-party meeting in intensified efforts to expedite peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

China called on its two neighbors, India and Pakistan, to deescalate conflict, resume dialogue and manage differences. China promoted peace talks between Myanmar and Bangladesh, and urged them to properly resolve existing issues through dialogue and consultation.

Over the past year, we have firmly defended our core national interests, contributing our due share to China's development, stability and national reunification.

We have firmly implemented the policy of "one country, two systems", and supported the Hong Kong SAR government in curbing violence and restoring order. We have fought resolutely against external forces interfering in Hong Kong and in China's internal affairs, and pushed back the dark hand instigating a "color revolution" in Hong Kong. We have given a robust response to the slanderous attacks by anti-China forces over Xingjiang. In 2019, up to 1,000 diplomats, journalists and scholars were invited to visit Xinjiang and see the situation there through their own eyes. Facing provocations by some Western countries at the UN Human Rights Council and the Third Committee of the General Assembly, China refuted and prevailed over groundless accusations with clear facts, and its just position has won overwhelming support from the international community. Last year, China established or resumed diplomatic relations with the Dominican Republic, Burkina Faso and El Salvador. This year, China established relations with the Solomon Islands, and resumed relations with Kiribati. As the number of countries having diplomatic ties with China increased to 180, the one-China consensus is more widely embraced than ever before in the international community.

Members of the academia and friends,

In 2019, the state of China-US relations has undoubtedly been the focus of attention both in China's diplomacy and in world affairs. I wish to take this opportunity to further elaborate on China's position. This relationship, which is at its fortieth year this year, has encountered complexities never seen in the past four decades.

The US has arbitrarily acted to restrict exchanges and hold China down in the fields of economy, trade, science, technology and people-to-people exchanges. It deliberately smeared China on Hong Kong, Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet and human rights, which concern China's core interests and its territorial sovereignty and national dignity. The US has also used various international occasions to discredit China's social system, development path and mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries, and slander China with trumped-up charges. Such flagrant moves are pushing the boundaries of normal international exchange. They have seriously undercut the foundation of the hard-won mutual trust between China and the US and dented the credibility of the US itself in the world. They have not only exposed the malicious motives of the anti-China forces to the Chinese people, but are also being challenged and resisted by more and more countries.

Erroneous actions are grounded in mis-perceptions. The above US moves originate from its wrong perception of China. Some insist that China will seek hegemony when it grows stronger just like traditional powers, and will ultimately challenge and unseat the United States. Some, out of ideological prejudice, find it hard to come to terms with the success of socialism with Chinese characteristics. They refuse to admit that there are alternative paths to modernization other than the Western model. Some blame China for problems in the US, trying to get China to take medicine for the illness of the US. Some even seek to advance their personal political interests by being tough on China.

While its perception of China has gone astray, the US is also showing a skewed view of the world. Instead of living up to its due international responsibilities and obligations, the most powerful country in the world has opted for unilateralism and protectionism. In a little over two years, it has withdrawn from a long list of agreements and organizations, namely, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), the Paris Agreement, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), the JCPOA, the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations Concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes, and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Such blatant acts of turning back the wheels of history and walking away from international commitments have caused many difficulties and disruptions for the international community, making the US a troublemaker in today's world.

The sound and steady development of the relations between the top two economies in the world serves the interests of the two peoples and meets the common aspirations of the world. What the past four decades have taught us, most importantly, is that both countries stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation. This valuable lesson still holds true today and will remain so in the future, notwithstanding changes in China, the US or the world. Managing differences and staying focused on cooperation will not only benefit both countries but also be a blessing for the whole world.

On the part of China, what we seek is our legitimate right to develop ourselves. We never had any intention to challenge or replace the US. What we advocate is fairness and justice in the world. We will never go down the beaten track of seeking hegemony with strength. What we pursue is common progress of humankind, never the selfish interests of China itself.

We always believe that cooperation is the best and the only viable option for China and the US. We urge the US to get cool-headed as soon as possible, and put its China view and world view in proper perspective. We urge the US to work with us for a relationship of no-conflict, no-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. Our goal is to jointly find a way of peaceful co-existence and mutual benefit between two great nations on this planet with different social systems, development paths, histories and civilizations.

Members of the academia and friends,

The year 2020 will be a key milestone in the course of China's national rejuvenation. We will complete the 13th Five Year Plan, eliminate absolute poverty, and realize a moderately prosperous society in all respects. We will achieve the first centenary goal, and on that basis, start a new journey toward the second centenary goal of building China into a great modern socialist country in an all-round way.

We know full well that the journey toward rejuvenation will be accompanied by more struggles with new historical features and will require meeting new challenges of the times. Whatever dangerous shoals or raging waves may lie ahead, China's diplomacy will brave the wind and waves and steer a steady course with a strong resolve.

We will rally even more closely around the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, and thoroughly study and implement Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy. We will strengthen awareness of the need to maintain political integrity, think in big-picture terms, follow the leadership core and keep in alignment, and strengthen confidence in the path, theory, system and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics. We will uphold General Secretary Xi Jinping's core position in both the Party Central Committee and the Party as a whole, and uphold the Party Central Committee's authority and its centralized, unified leadership. Staying true to our original aspirations, we will bravely undertake our mission to break new ground for major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics in the new era.

Next year, we will focus on the following six major tasks:

First, doing our utmost to serve the domestic development agenda. Taking into account both the domestic and international situation, we will leverage all diplomatic resources at hand to facilitate major development strategies at home, foster an enabling international and regional environment and provide more favorable conditions for the timely attainment of our first centenary goal, i.e. the realization of a moderately prosperous society in all respects. We will continue to host promotion events for Chinese provinces to provide them with broader platforms for mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries and inject more dynamism into domestic socio-economic development. We will improve the network of all-dimensional consular service and enhance the system for the protection of Chinese nationals and interests overseas to ensure the safety and legitimate rights and interests of our fellow countrymen abroad.

Second, firmly safeguarding our national interests. We will stick to our principles and see to it that our bottom lines are never violated. We will work to effectively defuse risks and challenges posed by the external environment, and build strong safeguards for China's sovereignty, security and development interests. With a steely will and more robust measures, we will resolutely defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity, steadfastly uphold our system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, guard against and forestall any attempt by external forces to meddle in China's internal affairs. On the basis of equality and mutual respect, we are ready to work out the problems and differences with the US through dialogue and consultation. But we will never accept unilateral sanctions or any acts of bullying. We urge the US side to bring its China policy back on the right track as soon as possible and truly respect China's legitimate and lawful rights and interests.

Third, continuously deepening partnerships. We will follow the strategic guidance of the two Presidents of China and Russia, and advance the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era on all fronts. We will enhance and upgrade China-Europe relations by expanding cooperation with Central and Eastern European countries into broader fields and taking China-EU relations to a higher level. We will deepen strategic trust and converging interests with all our neighbors, better put into practice our neighborhood diplomacy guideline that advocates amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness, and work for a community with a shared future with our neighboring countries. We will follow through on the outcomes of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, and use the third ministerial meeting of the China-CELAC Forum and the ninth ministerial conference of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum as an opportunity to cement our unity and friendship with fellow developing countries.

Fourth, resolutely upholding multilateralism. As the United Nations celebrates the 75th anniversary of its founding next year, we will call on all countries to reaffirm the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and support the UN's central role in international and multilateral affairs. We will galvanize greater international consensus for building a community with a shared future for mankind, and support the institution-building of platforms such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS and G20 to develop a more equitable and effective global governance system. We will speed up the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and take an active part in international climate cooperation, offering China's proposals and contributions to the resolution of global challenges.

Fifth, actively expanding international cooperation. We will earnestly implement the outcomes of the second BRF. Following the principle of consultation, contribution and benefits for all, the philosophy of open, green and clean cooperation, and a high-standard, people-centered and sustainable approach, we will work for new progress in high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. As we play host to the second UN Global Sustainable Transport Conference, we will grasp the opportunity to promote a global partnership on connectivity, and spearhead international cooperation on development. We will work for the early signing and entry into force of the RCEP, speed up negotiations on a China-Japan-ROK FTA, and build a high-standard free trade network open to the world. We will carry forward the principle of pursuing the greater good and shared interests, deepen South-South cooperation, and support fellow developing countries in building capacity for self-generated development and in exploring modernization paths tailored to their national conditions.

Sixth, vigorously modernizing the system and capacity for conducting diplomacy. We will thoroughly study and act on the decisions of the fourth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, particularly the comprehensive plan on modernizing China's system and capacity for governance. We will keep working on the theories, institutions, capacity and legal framework supporting our major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, and modernize the system and capacity for conducting China's diplomacy and foreign-related work. We are ready for more experience sharing with other countries on development and governance. We will present to the world China's "way of governance" and explain how to "decipher our system" as we tell the success story of the Party, the success story of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and the success story of a united and hard-working people.

As the world goes through profound changes and China enters a new era, the interplay of the two provides the historical backdrop for starting a new journey of our major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. More than at any other time, we need insights on guiding human progress, solutions to risks and challenges, and wisdom to pool international consensus. I encourage you to capitalize on your academic expertise and contribute more building blocks to the theoretical framework of China's foreign policy in the new era, more good ideas on resolving tough diplomatic issues, and more actions to raise China's voice in the international community. We welcome your efforts and contributions to our major-country diplomacy and the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

Thank you.

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