Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (FM Yang) recently accepted an inclusive interview with People’s Daily on the international situation and China’s diplomacy in 2011. The full text of the interview reads as follows:
Journalist: What new and important developments has the international situation undergone in 2011?
FM Yang: The international situation has undergone complex and profound changes in 2011. The international situation remained peaceful and stable in general, however big, difficult and urgent events with far-reaching implications kept emerging. The turmoil side of the international situation stood out in a prominent way. International relations and international order went through accelerated adjustments and changes.
The international balance of power was moving toward a relatively balanced direction in an accelerated manner. The competition in overall national strength became increasingly fierce. Emerging markets and developing countries continued to maintain the rising momentum as a whole. The institutionalized cooperation among emerging countries represented by BRICS mechanism continued to deepen and they are becoming important forces affecting the development of international situation. The Group of Twenty became an important platform for global economic governance. Certain progress was made with the reform of international financial institutions and financial regulatory reform.
The profound impact of the international financial crisis emerged in a visible way. The recovery of world economy was weak and the risk increased. Sovereign debt crisis intensified in some countries and growth rates in major economies declined. Emerging markets were facing various challenges such as shrinking external demands and rising internal inflation. The global protectionism in various forms increased significantly. The world economic governance system needed reform and improvement.
The unrest continued in the West Asia-North Africa (WANA) region. In terms of the regional balance of power, some rose and the others fell. The relations between countries experienced new splits and realignments. The regional situation entered an instable period of turbulence and change. The Palestine and Israel issue, the Iran nuclear issue, the Afghanistan issue and other hotspot issues kept emerging, which exerted new impacts on regional and international situation. Energy resources, network security, natural disasters and other non-traditional security issues became more prominent. There was a growing feature that the security issues happened more in an unexpected manner and the conductivity and interaction between security issues became more eminent.
The status of the Asia-Pacific region in the international situation further increased. The parties increased their input in the Asia-Pacific region. The relations between countries in the region were facing profound adjustment. Asia-Pacific is the world’s most dynamic region with the greatest potentials. Although there were some disputes between some countries in the region over territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, seeking peace, stability, development, and cooperation remained the mainstream of the regional situation.
Journalist: What has been done this year in terms of China’s diplomacy to mitigate external risks and serve domestic development and stability?
FM Yang: In the new century and at this new stage, the status and role of diplomatic work in the overall work of the party and the country became more important. China’s diplomacy must be a better servant to the improvement of the overall situation of reform, development and stability, the safeguarding of national sovereignty, security and development interests, and the maintenance of a stable period of important strategic opportunities. Facing the complicated international situation, we, under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, took serving a good start of the 12th Five-Year Plan as the main theme of our diplomatic work throughout the year. We comprehensively promoted the overall layout of our diplomatic work and properly tackled various international chaotic situations. We actively led the changes of the international system and strived to create a favorable international environment for the development of a moderately prosperous society. Various departments and regions made concerted efforts to tackle the impact of the international financial crisis and the sovereign debt crisis of some countries. We strengthened macroeconomic policy coordination with other countries and worked together with the international community to support related countries to overcome the economic and financial difficulties. We actively participated in and led the reform of the international economic and financial systems. We opposed all kinds of protectionism and properly handled related economic and trade frictions. In support of the implementation of “bringing in” and “going out” strategy, we played an important role in helping big projects such as energy, resources, infrastructure projects in Europe, Asia, Middle East, Latin America and other regions to achieve new progress. While seeking self-development, we further promoted the open-up strategy of mutual benefits and collective wins. We actively supported the expansion of imports to provide huge market space and employment opportunities for other countries.
We strictly guarded against infiltration and sabotage activities conducted by all kinds of anti-China hostile forces and provided our strongest support for the maintenance of domestic social and political stability. We firmly opposed the attempts of some countries using the Taiwan and Tibet issues to interfere in China’s internal affairs and effectively safeguarded our national sovereignty and security.
Journalist: Could you tell us about the development of bilateral relationship between China and related countries?
FM Yang: Over the past year, President Hu Jintao, Chairman Wu Bangguo, Premier Wen Jiabao, Chairman Jia Qinglin and other party and state leaders attended many important diplomatic activities. Through productive summit diplomacy and high-level exchanges, we comprehensively promoted the friendly cooperative relations with related countries.
Our relations with major powers grew steadily. President Hu paid a successful visit to the United States. China and the U.S. reached important consensus on building a cooperative partnership featuring mutual respect, mutual benefit and collective win. We actively implemented the consensus reached by the two heads of state and promoted bilateral exchanges and cooperation in various fields. We urged the United States to properly handle the differences in bilateral economic and trade in a cooperative manner and through equal consultations and maintained the general stability of China-U.S. relations. We resolutely opposed the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and other misbehaviors. China and Russia maintained frequent high-level exchanges. The two sides decided to upgrade the bilateral relationship to the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership based on equality, mutual trust, mutual support, common prosperity and generational friendship and developed plans guiding the development of bilateral relations in the next 10 years. China-EU relations developed steadily. The bilateral pragmatic cooperation and cultural exchanges reached a new level. We supported the earthquake relief and post-disaster reconstruction in Japan. New progress was made with China-Japan relations.
We insisted on the foreign policy of building an amicable relationship and partnership with neighbors and strived to safeguard the overall stability and development of surrounding regions. Despite of the adverse effects of the international financial crisis, we strived to expand mutually beneficial cooperation with neighboring countries and have become the largest trading partner of most neighboring countries and the largest export market for more and more countries. Our common interests with neighboring countries continued to increase. We steadily advanced the regional cooperation process such as 10+1, 10+3, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, APEC, and the East Asia Summit and promoted common development of countries in the region. We reached agreement with ASEAN countries on the implementation of the follow-up guidelines of the “Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea” and established China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund.
We strongly consolidated and promoted the traditional friendship with developing countries. China’s leaders visited Asia, Africa, and Latin America, enhanced mutual political trust with relevant countries, and promoted cooperation and exchanges with developing countries in various fields. The new type of China-Africa strategic partnership was further strengthened. Our economic and trade cooperation with Latin America was deepened. We successfully held the Third BRICS Leaders Meeting in Sanya. The coordination and cooperation between BRICS countries was further strengthened.
We carried out multilateral diplomacy in an in-depth manner. Our leaders made use of major international multilateral occasions to elaborate on our domestic and foreign policies, worked in coordination and cooperation with all parties to respond to global challenges, and actively led the reform of the economic governance system of the world. We continued to promote peace talks concerning the nuclear issues on the Korean peninsula and in Iran and other hotspot issues and played a constructive role in maintaining the stability of regional situation.
Journalist: What has been done in maintaining our overseas interests?
FM Yang: We encountered an increasing number of challenges in maintaining our overseas interests this year. We earnestly practiced the concept of diplomacy for the people. We handled over twenty thousand cases of consular protection and effectively maintained the safety and legitimate interests of our overseas citizens and legal persons. Under the unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, various departments worked close together and successfully completed the withdrawal of our citizens from West Asia and North Africa. We withdrew 35,860 people from Libya alone. It is the largest evacuation operation organized even since the founding of New China. It fully demonstrated China’s institutional advantages in concentrating power to do big things. We were widely involved in the fight against terrorism, piracy, cybercrime, transnational crime and other international cooperation. We worked with other countries to address non-traditional security threats. We further strengthened the work of preventive consular protection, strived to establish a sound mechanism for overseas consular protection, and strengthened related capacity building.
Journalist: What are the new measures adopted in public and cultural diplomacy this year?
FM Yang: Under the new situation, public and cultural diplomacy is an important direction for China’s diplomacy. We thoroughly implemented the spirit of the Sixth Plenary Session of the 17th CPC Central Committee, actively engaged in public and cultural diplomacy, and vigorously boosted cultural exchanges between China and foreign countries. Taking advantage of the 90th anniversary of the founding of CPC, the 100th anniversary of 1911 Revolution, the release of the White Paper on China’s Peaceful Development and other major activities, we explained to the world China’s determination and sincerity in pursuing peaceful development and showed the bright prospects for China’s development. We created the micro blog account Waijiao Xiaolingtong (which literally means foreign affairs information), “Foreign Service Station” Radio, Lanting Forum, and other public diplomacy brands. We increased the frequency of regular press conference from twice a week to five times a week. We made full use of various media to introduce our domestic and foreign policies and development concepts to the audience at home and abroad. At the same time, we gave full play to the role of our embassies and consulates in external communication. Our senior diplomats abroad made speeches and accepted interviews up to 2700 times this year and they played a positive role in enhancing trust. We successfully carried out the “Year of China”, the “Cultural Day”, “Experience China” and other large-scale cultural exchange activities and enhanced the international influence of Chinese culture.
Journalist: Could you look ahead at next year’s diplomatic work?
FM Yang: We will celebrate the 18th National Congress of the party in 2012 and the 12th Five-Year Plan will enter the implementation stage. The rise and fall of international forces, the changes and adjustments in the international system, and the adaptation and interaction of international relations will continue to develop at a deeper level. The world economic situation will remain very grave and complex. The follow-up and extension effects of major issues concerning the international situation will continue to appear. Many predictable and unpredictable unstable and uncertain factors will still exist. China’s international status and role will be more valued by all parties, but the risks and challenges we are facing are also on the rise. In general, China is still at an important period of strategic opportunities. We should, under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Hu Jintao as general secretary, further enhance opportunity awareness, sense of crisis and risk awareness. We should firmly seize opportunities, properly respond to challenges, and bring our diplomatic work to a new level.
We need to enhance mutual trust and expand cooperation with major powers, properly handle differences with them and promote the stable development of bilateral relations. We need to continue to develop amicable relations with neighboring countries, enhance the level of cooperation with them and consolidate strategic backing from them. We will maintain close high-level exchanges with developing countries and make full use of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the Forum on China-Arab Cooperation and other mechanisms to bring our solidarity and cooperation with developing countries to a higher level. We will take summit diplomacy as an opportunity and play the role of a big responsible nation on the stage of multilateral diplomacy. We will continue to participate in international cooperation to address the financial crisis and promote the financial, monetary, trade and investment cooperation with related countries. We will carry out public and cultural diplomacy through multiple channels, in multiple forms, and at multiple levels and further enhance our affinity and moral appeal. We will unswervingly take the road of peaceful development and adhere to open-up strategy of mutual benefits and collective wins. We need to safeguard world peace, promote common development and create a more favorable external environment for the successful convening of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and the comprehensive implementation of the 12th “Five-Year Plan”.