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Wang Yi Holds Virtual Dialogue with the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations

2021/04/24

On the evening of April 23, 2021, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a virtual dialogue with the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Beijing.

Wang Yi said that the Presidents of the two countries had an important phone conversation on the eve of the Chinese New Year, charting the course for the relationship. The Anchorage dialogue kicked off face-to-face interactions at the high level in the context of COVID-19. But the new administration of the United States, in shaping its China policy, has not stepped out of the shadow of the previous administration, has not got over its misperception of China, and has not found the right way to engage with China.

Wang Yi shared the following five points on China-U.S. relations from a strategic perspective. First, we hope that the United States will view China's development in an objective and rational way. China is committed to a path of peaceful development, one that underlines peaceful coexistence and mutually beneficial cooperation with countries around the world. China never seeks global hegemony. China will blaze a path of peaceful rise distinct from the trajectory of traditional powers. The wisdom from China's millennia of history is that hegemony will lead to failure, and that a strong country should not seek hegemony. China pursues development and rejuvenation through its own hard work. In everything we do, we do it for a better life for the Chinese people, rather than seeking to replace or unseat any other country. When we stress "looking at each other on an equal level", we mean nothing but equality. We do not accept that any country can dictate to others from a position of strength. Respect is to be earned with hard work, be it a country or a person. Major countries in particular should uphold justice and observe norms, and lead by the power of example. The success of one side does not mean that the other side has to fail. The world is big enough to accommodate a more successful China and a more successful America. Decoupling from the world's second largest economy and turning against the 1.4 billion Chinese people will not help solve America's problems. It will cause chaos in the world.

Second, we hope that the United States will work with China to explore a new path of peaceful co-existence and mutually beneficial cooperation. The U.S. side defines China-U.S. relations as having competitive, cooperative and adversarial aspects. It blurs the distinction between the "mainstream" and "sub-stream" of the relations and reflects a lack of a clear direction and goal. China has no intention to compete with the United States. What matters to us is constant progress and self-improvement. Confrontation will only lead to a lose-lose situation. Cooperation is the only right way forward and it should be a two-way street and mutually beneficial, instead of one side upping the ante and putting its interests first. The right approach to China-U.S. relations is to step up dialogue, deepen cooperation, narrow differences and avoid confrontation. The key is whether the United States can accept the peaceful rise of a major country with a different social system, history and culture, and in a different development stage; whether it can recognize the Chinese people's right to pursue development and a better life.

Third, we hope the United States will respect and accommodate the path and system China has chosen for itself. What has happened shows that China's socialist path with its own characteristics has not just leveled up the 1.4 billion Chinese people from poverty and backwardness, it also marks another major contribution of the Chinese nation to human progress. China's socialist democracy is a whole-process, most representative democracy. It embodies the will of the people, fits the country's realities, and is endorsed by the people. It is undemocratic in itself to label China as "authoritarian" or "dictatorship" simply because China's democracy takes a different form than that of the United States. We advocate that each country can choose a development path in light of its own circumstances and its people's need, and we uphold the common values of humanity, i.e. peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom. A peaceful world should nurture diverse civilizations. A stable order should accommodate different systems. And a confident major country should be inclusive to diverse values. The most important thing that we learned from decades of China-U.S. exchanges is that our difference in social system does not prevent us from seeking common ground while shelving differences and pursuing win-win cooperation and peaceful co-existence.

Fourth, we hope that the United States will practice true multilateralism. China has helped establish, contributed to and upheld the existing international system. The previous U.S. administration willfully walked away from international organizations, commitments and responsibilities, seriously disrupting the existing international system. We welcome the Biden administration to return to multilateralism. That said, China believes that true multilateralism means openness, inclusiveness, rule of law, consultation, cooperation, and keeping pace with the times. Multilateralism should not be used to form new opposing blocs or exclusive circles. We must uphold the UN-centered international system and the international order underpinned by international law. This represents true multilateralism in practice.

Fifth, we hope that the United States will not interfere in China's internal affairs. Sovereignty and territorial integrity are a country's core interests. China has no room for compromise on such a major issue of principle. Playing the "Taiwan card" is dangerous, like playing with fire. We hope that the United States will abide by the one-China principle and the three China-U.S. joint communiqués, and not send any wrong signals to the "Taiwan independence" elements, or try to challenge, still less cross, China's policy red line. The Xinjiang-related issues are not about human rights, ethnicity or religion. They are about fighting violent terrorism, separatism and extremism. We welcome American friends to visit Xinjiang to see for themselves what it is really like there, and not fall for lies or rumors. The enactment of the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR and the decision to improve Hong Kong's electoral system both serve to improve the system of One Country, Two Systems, ensure the sound and steady implementation of One Country, Two Systems, "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong" and a high degree of autonomy, and achieve long-term security in Hong Kong. The United States should respect the Chinese government's efforts to implement One Country, Two Systems. A long-running feature of China's foreign policy is that all countries are equal regardless of their size. We do not act in a coercive way, and we firmly oppose any country doing so. But when China's national sovereignty and dignity are being coerced and undermined, we undoubtedly need to respond with reasonable and lawful actions to safeguard our legitimate rights and interests as well as international equity and justice. China never threatens other countries with the use of force, builds military alliances, exports ideology, incites troubles in other countries' doorsteps or meddles in their affairs. Neither has China ever started a trade war or wantonly gone after foreign companies. We are prepared to work with other countries against any act of coercion in the world.

Wang Yi said that China and the United States should transcend the fate of "unavoidable conflicts between an emerging major country and an established major country", transcend the differences in ideology and social system, transcend the mentalities of cold war and bloc confrontation, and explore the path of peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation between the two countries instead. He hopes the CFR will take an objective and impartial stance, and play a constructive role in bringing China-U.S. relations back to the right track.

Wang Yi also answered questions about economy and trade, Xinjiang and Hong Kong and Taiwan-related matters, China's exertion of power, China's political system and important international and regional issues, and provided deep insights into China's principled positions.

President of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haass hosted the video dialogue. Nearly 500 American participants from all walks of life attended the event virtually.

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