Wang Yi, China International Studies, January/February 2016
As 2015, a year of great importance to both China and the world, is drawing to an end, it is time for me to review the progress made in China’s diplomacy.
The year 2015 is a crucial one in the advance of human history.
Seventy years ago, the United Nations was established following the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War. Countries around the world have held commemorations on that part of history which reshaped the future of mankind to draw lessons from history, prevent recurrence of similar tragedies and deliver a better future of peace and prosperity. Pursuing peace and development, China joined the international community in setting the sustainable development goals for 2030 and post-2020 climate change agenda, two priorities on the global agenda. China has also strengthened international cooperation to combat terrorism and address other global challenges.
The year 2015 is an important one for achieving the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
Also 70 years ago, the Chinese people fought heroically against the barbarous aggression of Japanese militarists and won China’s national liberation and independence. Led by the Communist Party of China (CPC), the Chinese people of all ethnicities have embarked on the path of building socialism with distinctive Chinese features. In 2015, under the leadership of the CPC central committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the General Secretary, we have worked hard to implement the Four Pronged Comprehensive Strategy and adopted a proposal on China’s 13th Five-Year development plan; and we are endeavoring to achieve the first centenary goal, i.e. to finish the building of a moderately prosperous society in China by 2020.
Embracing major changes in both domestic and international environment under the leadership of the CPC central leadership, we have launched major initiatives and made much progress on the international front. The year 2015 has been a year of flying colors for China’s pursuit of major-country diplomacy with distinctive Chinese features.
First, China’s international standing has been fully raised.
China pursued an active diplomatic agenda in 2015, proposing a number of initiatives and solutions with far-reaching significance in political, economic and security fields. China has grown into an indispensable force in shaping international relations and plays a constructive role in upholding world peace and promoting global development.
We successfully held commemorations on the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People’s War Against Japanese Aggression and the end of the World Anti-Fascist War, sending a strong message of upholding peace and justice to the world. Chinese President Xi Jinping and leaders and representatives of 60 countries and regional and international organizations reaffirmed their commitment to the post- WWII international systém with the UN at its core and the basic norms governing international relations based on the UN Charter. They also renewed their commitment to upholding the hard-won peace and stability of the world, and expressed firm opposition to moves aimed at reversing the trend of history. All this has boosted the pursuit of peace and justice by the human society.
We have continued our efforts to grow the world economy and provided new impetus to global financial stability and reform. Despite downward pressure at home and abroad, the Chinese economy will grow by around 7% in 2015, leading the world and contributing to 1/3 of global growth. China has thus remained an indisputable main engine driving the world economy.
We initiated the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the BRICS New Development Bank, the very first multilateral financial institutions established by developing countries, thus injecting fresh impetus to global economic and financial governance and reform. The RMB has been included into the IMF’s SDR currency basket. The inclusion marks the international status of a currency of developing countries, boosted international community’s confidence in China’s economy and will enhance the current international monetary and financial system and make it more balanced.
We have been actively involved in pursuing major goals on the global agenda and made important contribution to advancing them. When attending the summits commemorating the 70th anniversary of the UN, President Xi Jinping elaborated on China’s positions on major international issues and announced a number of major Chinese initiatives. These include the following: the establishment of a China-UN peace and development fund and a fund assistance for South-South cooperation. China’s joining of the UN Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System and the building of a peacekeeping standby force of 8,000 troops, and China’s cancellation of debts owed by the least developed countries. China successfully co-hosted with the UN the Roundtable on South-South Cooperation and the Global Leaders’ Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, which were well attended. The international community has high expectations of China as it has taken over next year’s G20 presidency.
We have acted as a responsible major power and played an important leadership role in enhancing global cooperation on climate change. After reaching the ground-breaking Joint Announcement on Climate Change with the United States last year, China submitted on schedule its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions to the secretariat of the UNFCCC. And we issued joint statements on climate change successively with the European Union, France, India and Brazil. China announced the establishment of a RMB20 billion South-South Climate Cooperation Fund. At the recently held Paris Climate Conference, President Xi set forth China’s position on climate change and global climate governance. Together with other leaders, he made important contribution to reaching a comprehensive, balanced, ambitious and binding post-2020 agreement on climate change at the conference.
We have offered China’s solutions to hot-spot issues, and played a constructive role in upholding world peace and security, from China’s close neighboring areas to distant West Asia and North Africa. China was deeply engaged in negotiations on the Iranian nuclear issue and made vigorous mediation efforts. China contributed its share to resolving the crucial issues of the redesign and modernization of Arak heavy water reactor, thus making it possible to reach a comprehensive agreement. China worked with Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to mediate domestic reconciliation in South Sudan, which was broadly welcomed by the international community.
We raised a four-step framework proposal on achieving political settlement of the Syrian issue and joined relevant international mediation in an objective and balanced way. We have dispatched over 2,700 peacekeepers to many hot-spot areas across the world to uphold local peace and stability.
Together with Pakistan, and with US participation, we have brought the Afghan government and Taliban to peace talks, thus ushering the Afghan peace process into a new stage. We made vigorous efforts to uphold peace on the Korean Peninsula and build consensus for resuming the Six- Party Talks. We sternly condemn and oppose terrorism in all forms and support both international and regional counter-terrorism cooperation. We take the position that in conducting counter-terrorism cooperation, we should be guided by basic norms governing international relations, respect a country’s sovereignty and reject double standards. We should tackle both the symptoms and root causes of terrorism, and pool strengths of all parties to remove the breeding ground of terrorism.
Second, we have advanced China’s diplomacy on all fronts.
On the basis of completing the general layout of China’s diplomatic agenda in the past two years, we have pursued this year’s diplomacy with greater intensity and deepened relations with countries on major fronts.
North America: President Xi Jinping paid a successful historic visit to the United States. Following their meetings in Sunnylands, California, and Zhongnanhai, Beijing, President Xi and President Obama had an autumn meeting in the White House. They reaffirmed the important consensus of building a new model of major-country relations and sought synergy between the development goals and national strategies of the two countries. With keen appreciation of the growing converging interests between China and the United States, they agreed to actively fulfill the two countries’ international responsibilities to the human society. The meeting produced 50 agreements and outcomes and laid out a new vision of promoting strategic cooperation in various areas. During his visit to both the West
Coast and the East Coast, to both the innovation center and the political center, and in his engagement with both ordinary Americans and public leaders, President Xi sent a strong message of forging enduring friendship and win-win cooperation to the American people, laying a solid foundation for the long-term growth of China-US relations.
Eastern Europe and Central Asia: Chinese and Russian presidents attended the commemorations of the victory of the Second World War held in each other’s country and jointly upheld international justice and conscience. The political mutual trust between the two countries was further enhanced, and China-Russia strategic partnership of coordination has maintained a high-standard performance. Steady progress has been made in cooperation on major projects in energy, aviation and space. A cooperation agreement on building a high-speed railway between Moscow and Kazan was signed, and cooperation on development in Russia’s Far East region entered a new stage. President Xi Jinping paid successful visits to Kazakhstan and Belarus and Premier Li Keqiang chaired the prime ministers’ meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. China has had top-level exchanges with almost all countries in the region.
Europe: President Xi Jinping paid a grand state visit to the United Kingdom. The two countries agreed to establish a global comprehensive strategic partnership for the 21st century, ushering in a golden age of China-UK relations and setting the pace for deepening mutual trust and cooperation between a major emerging country and a traditional power. Premier Li Keqiang paid successful visits to France and the EU and had the first meeting with the new EU leadership. The visits charted a new course for China’s cooperation with France and EU. China and Germany had their first high-level financial dialogue, and, a few days later, I will go to Germany to attend the first China-Germany strategic dialogue on diplomacy and security. The “16+1” cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European countries has registered rapid progress. The first leaders’ meeting of the two sides held in China affirmed our commitment to forging an open, inclusive and win-win partnership and identified six major areas of cooperation, which constituted a new 1+6 cooperation pattern. This year, China has had high-level exchange of visits with 21 European countries, promoted balanced cooperation with all countries across Europe and has made progress in building partnerships for peace, growth, reform and civilization with Europe.
Asia Pacific: President Xi Jinping attended the Asian-African Summit and commemorations of the 60th anniversary of the Bandung Conference, pointing the way of deepening Asia-Africa cooperation, South-South cooperation as well as North-South cooperation in a new era. Premier Li Keqiang visited the Republic of Korea and relaunched the China-Japan-ROK leaders’ meeting which had been put on hold for three years. We successfully hosted Indian Prime Minister Modi’s visit to China, strengthening mutual trust and cooperation between the two major developing countries. When a devastating earthquake hit Nepal, there was an outpouring of sympathy in China towards the people affected by the disaster, and we provided immediate relief assistance to the Nepalese people across the Himalayas. Together with Indochina countries which are China’s close neighbors, we held the first Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, officially launching this new model of sub-regional cooperation process. We have pursued the free trade strategy at a faster pace to build a free trade network with focus on China’s neighbors and covering the whole world. Free Trade Agreements with the Republic of Korea and Australia were signed and approved, negotiations on upgrading China- ASEAN FTA were completed and preparations have been stepped up on upgrading China-Singapore FTA. Major progress has been made in RCEP negotiations, and all parties agreed to complete negotiations in 2016.
Africa and Latin America: For the first time, the summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation was held in Africa. President Xi Jinping and leaders of 50 African countries as well as the Chairperson of the African Union Commission attended the summit and made a comprehensive decision to boost China-Africa cooperation in all areas. We put forward a ten-point cooperation plan, designed to enhance Africa’s capacity for self-development and meet the pressing need of the African people. This initiative, a banner in China-Africa solidarity and cooperation and a fine example in South- South cooperation, will enable China to continue to lead in international cooperation with Africa and raise China-Africa friendly ties to a new high. The first ministerial meeting of the Forum of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) was held in China, which produced new consensus on building an all-round China-CELAC cooperative partnership of equality, mutual benefit and common development and launched the all-round China-CELAC cooperation mechanism. Premier Li Keqiang visited four Latin American countries, where he sought to align the development strategies of the two sides and promoted a flagship project in production capacity cooperation, namely, a railway linking the Pacific and the Atlantic. China’s diplomacy this year started with the China-CELAC cooperation forum and concluded with the China-Africa cooperation forum, which created good momentum for China’s cooperation with other developing countries in these two vital regions.
Third, we have formed synergy between the development strategies of China and the relevant countries.
This year has seen the completion and launch of the implementation plan of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road for the 21st Century, namely, the “Belt and Road” initiative. China has worked actively to create synergy between its development strategy and those of countries along the routes in accordance with the principle of engaging in extensive consultation, making joint contribution and sharing benefits. China has signed Belt and Road cooperation agreements with more than 20 countries. With the global economy in the doldrums, the Belt and Road initiative has created new hope and new prospect for and instilled dynamism in the Eurasian and global economy.
The Belt and Road initiative has made significant progress in Eurasia, where it was launched. This year, China and Russia, as two major countries on the Eurasian continent, further coordinated their development strategies, signed the joint statement on coordinating development of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Eurasian Economic Union, set up a coordinating mechanism and decided that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will be the main platform for advancing this goal, thus greatly boosting the implementation of the Belt and Road initiative in Eurasia. Over the course of this year, China has signed cooperation agreements on pursuing the Belt and Road initiative with almost all Central Asian and Transcaucasian countries. In two days’ time, the annual meeting of the prime ministers of the SCO member states will be held in Zhengzhou, which will be a good opportunity for China to further discuss with Eurasian countries effective ways of enhancing integration and mutually beneficial cooperation.
The Belt and Road initiative has created closer linkages between the development of China and Europe. The two sides decided to synergize the Belt and Road initiative and the Investment Plan for Europe, discussed the establishment of the China-EU Joint Investment Fund and set up the Connectivity Platform. China and the UK explored the possibility of cooperation under the Belt and Road initiative and the UK’s National Infrastructure Plan and the Northern Powerhouse program. China and Germany established a mechanism of aligning “Made in China 2025” and Germany’s Industry 4.0 initiative. The Central and Eastern European countries (CEECs) are the eastern gateway of Europe. China has signed governmental MOUs on pursuing Belt and Road initiative with six CEECs, including Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Under the “16+1” cooperation framework, China and CEECs also decided to launch a cooperation initiative involving ports of the Adriatic, Baltic and Black seas, accelerate the opening of the China-Europe Land-Sea Express Line with the Budapest-Belgrade railway link as its main component, and explore a new connectivity cooperation framework.
The Belt and Road initiative has boosted the prospect of Asia’s prosperity. In Northeast Asia, China and the ROK decided to synergize four development strategies. China and Mongolia agreed to link the Silk
Road and Mongolia’s Steppe Road initiative. China, Russia and Mongolia reached important consensus on building an economic corridor linking the three countries and signed the medium-term roadmap for trilateral cooperation. In Southeast Asia, China and Indonesia agreed to speed up the alignment of their development strategies. China and Vietnam have intensified consultations on cooperation between the Belt and Road initiative and “two corridors and one ring” initiative. China and Singapore explored the possibility of jointly opening market in third countries under the Belt and Road initiative. Important progress has been made in enhancing connectivity between China and Southeast Asia. China and Indonesia agreed to jointly build the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway. Construction of the China-Laos railway and China-Thailand railway will soon begin. Work of charting the route of the China-Vietnam railway has accelerated. Thanks to these efforts, the long-expected Pan-Asian Railway network has got off ground. In South Asia, China and India have strengthened Belt and Road cooperation in infrastructure. The roadmap of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has been further refined and a number of key projects have been launched. Initial progress has been made in the work of the joint working group of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor. A major transport route connecting East Asia and South Asia will soon take shape.
International cooperation on production capacity and equipment manufacturing has become an important way to achieve win-win progress. Over the course of this year, we have signed agreements on enhancing production capacity cooperation with more than 20 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe, promoting our common development. We have created a new model of production capacity cooperation with Kazakhstan under which a cooperation package containing 45 early harvest projects worth over 20 billion US dollars was agreed upon. We set up a US$30-billion fund for production capacity cooperation with Latin America and a US$20-billion bilateral production capacity cooperation fund with Brazil. The China-Africa Fund for Production Capacity
Cooperation with an initial contribution of US$10 billion was set up. We signed the MOU with the African Union on cooperation on road, railway and aviation networks and industrialization in Africa, and discussions regarding implementation are under way. China has carried out production capacity cooperation of various forms, focusing on industrial parks in neighboring countries, cross-border economic cooperation zones and port industrial zones. China signed cooperation documents on exploring third country market with France and the ROK respectively, creating a new model of North-South and South-South cooperation.
Fourth, China’s diplomatic theory has been further enriched.
China’s fast-paced diplomatic practices have created a new vision for China’s diplomacy. At last year’s Central Conference on Work Relating to Foreign Affairs, the building of a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation was set as the goal of China’s diplomacy. This year, China put forward a new vision of building a community of shared future for mankind. In his important addresses made at the annual meeting of Boao Forum for Asia and the summits at the United Nations, President Xi Jinping elaborated on what this vision is about. The following is what President Xi envisions: Partnerships based on equality, consultation, mutual understanding and accommodation; a security architecture featuring fairness, justice, joint contribution and shared benefits; open, innovative and inclusive development that benefits all, inter-civilization exchanges that promote harmony and inclusiveness and respect differences; and an ecosystem that puts Mother Nature and green development first. Together, these five elements constitute a broad vision for building a community of shared future for mankind.
Based on a keen appreciation of the underlying global trend, this vision focuses on the future progress of mankind. This concept and the call of building a new type of international relations draw on and enrich each other, and both are about cooperation and win-win progress. Both embody China’s aspiration to make our world a better place and its tireless pursuit of this goal. The new type of international relations is about what kind of state-to-state relations China wishes to build, and the community of shared future is about what kind of world China hopes to create. The latter has profound political, economic, security, cultural and ecological dimensions. This new vision has received extensive recognition and endorsement by the international community, particularly the developing world. It has become a new hallmark of China’s diplomacy on the international stage.
The year 2016 will be the first year for implementing China’s 13th Five- Year Plan. It will also see accelerated adjustment and transformation of the international architecture from a new starting point. In conducting diplomacy, we will follow the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as General Secretary, act in accordance with the vision of major-country diplomacy with distinctive Chinese features, and assume our due international responsibilities so as to foster a more favorable external environment for China’s endeavor to finish building a society of initial prosperity in all respects and make more contribution to global peace and development.
We will redouble efforts to promote development at home. To get the implementation of the 13th Five-Year Plan off to a good start will be the central task for the whole Party and the nation next year. China’s diplomacy will be conducted to help accomplish this task. We will give priority to pursuing the Belt and Road initiative, focus on connectivity and production capacity cooperation, and achieve synergy between the development strategies of China and other countries concerned. We will strengthen discussion and coordination with countries along the Belt and Road areas and make the Belt and Road initiative deliver more early outcomes. Flagship projects will be launched by the AIIB and the Silk Road Fund in production capacity cooperation. We will work to conclude new free trade agreements and upgrade the existing ones, and on the basis of achieving win-win outcomes, expand the international market and increase external driving force for promoting economic growth at home.
We will strive to lead global growth. China is the world’s second largest economy and has made more contribution to global growth than any other country. The international community has high hopes on China and expects it to play a bigger role in the global economy. It hopes that China will work with other major economies to steer the world economy out of the doldrums. China will host the G20 summit in Hangzhou next autumn, which will be the first G20 summit hosted by China and another important global economic forum following last year’s successful APEC meetings held in Beijing. At next year’s G20 summit, leaders of major economies will meet by the side of the West Lake, and all eyes will be on China again. Guided by the principles of openness, transparency and inclusiveness, we will maintain consultation and coordination with other G20 member states to ensure a successful summit that will unlock fresh driving force for global growth, produce new solutions to global economic problems, chart a new pathway for improving economic and financial governance, and make new contribution to building an innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive world economy.
We will endeavor to uphold world peace. In the face of an intricate and volatile international landscape, we will continue efforts to build a framework of major-country relations featuring positive interaction and winwin cooperation, and we will work with Russia, the United States, European countries and major emerging countries to tackle global challenges. We will continue to get actively involved in seeking political settlement of various hotspot issues in the Middle East, Africa and China’s neighborhood area in a constructive and responsible manner, and we will fully honor our solemn pledges to UN peacekeeping missions. We will continue to take an active part in international counter-terrorism cooperation in our own way, firmly uphold the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, and enhance dialogue and cooperation with other countries on fostering a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative international cyberspace.
We will actively contribute our share to the development of our region. We will work with other countries to build a community of shared future in Asia to maintain stability and promote economic development of the region. We are committed to upholding peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, fully support the improvement of inter-Korean relations, and will work tirelessly to create conditions for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. We will host commemorative events to mark the 25th anniversary of China-ASEAN dialogue relations, implement the upgraded version of China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, take China- ASEAN friendship and cooperation to a new stage and ensure the success of the inaugural Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting. We support India in hosting the BRICS Leaders’ Meeting, and will work to create synergy between China’s development strategy and those of South Asian countries. We will stay actively involved in Afghanistan’s peace and reconstruction endeavor and support the resumption of the process of national reconciliation in Afghanistan. We will take the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia as two platforms to deepen practical cooperation with the Central Asian countries and support them in pursuing enduring peace, stability, development and prosperity.
With regard to the South China Sea, an issue that has attracted much attention this year, we will, on the basis of respecting historical facts and acting in keeping with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and other international law as well as various agreements reached by China and ASEAN countries, continue to resolutely safeguard our lawful and legitimate territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. We are firmly opposed to the moves taken by a handful of countries and non-regional forces to exacerbate disputes and create tension. At the same time, we stand ready to take the dual-track approach widely accepted by countries in the region. Specifically, we will seek proper settlement of disputes and keep differences under effective control through dialogue and consultation with countries directly involved in accordance with the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. At the same time, we will work with ASEAN countries to maintain peace, stability and freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea.
We will endeavor to fulfill our responsibilities to the well-being of our people. To serve the people remains an abiding goal of China’s diplomacy and to ensure that Chinese nationals are well treated and safe abroad is the bounden duty of China’s diplomacy. In 2015, we have reached agreements with 16 countries including France and Argentina on facilitating personnel exchanges; and we have reached agreement with Canada on issuing visa valid for up to 10 years and with the European Union on the roadmap of negotiation on a personnel exchange agreement. We safely evacuated 613 Chinese nationals from Yemen after turbulence broke out in the country and brought back 5,685 Chinese from the airport in Nepal’s capital after the country was hit by a massive earthquake. We have properly handled close to 60,000 consular protection cases involving the rights, interests and safety of Chinese nationals in various countries. Over 100,000 calls have been handled by the Foreign Ministry’s Global Emergency Call Center for Consular Protection and Services through the 12308 hotline. We have successfully rescued close to 20 Chinese nationals taken hostage overseas. Still, we are saddened that Chinese nationals were killed in violent and terrorist attacks or as hostages. With the implementation of the 13th Five- Year Plan next year, China will open up at a faster pace. The number of Chinese nationals going abroad is expected to rise steadily, and China’s overseas presence will also expand. With this in mind, we will, with a strong sense of responsibility to our people and our nation, work with all relevant government departments to intensify efforts to protect and assist Chinese nationals overseas and do all that is necessary to ensure the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese nationals and businesses abroad as well as the safety of their lives and property.
All of you present here are leading Chinese scholars and researchers on international relations, and you have contributed your share to the successful conduct of China’s diplomacy. Here, on behalf of the Foreign Ministry, I express our most sincere appreciation to you. I am sure we can count on your continued interest in and support for China’s diplomacy.
This is the speech made by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Opening Ceremony of the Symposium on International Developments and China’s Diplomacy in 2015 that was co-hosted by China Institute of International Studies and China Foundation for International Studies on December 12, 2015.