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Wang Yi Gives an Interview to the Chinese Central Media on Attending the LMC Foreign Ministers' Meeting and the G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting, Visiting Five Southeast Asian Countries, and Chairing Meetings of China-Vietnam and China-Cambodia Bilateral Mechanisms

2022-07-15 11:05

On July 14, 2022, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi gave an interview to the Chinese central media after attending the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Foreign Ministers' Meeting and the G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting, visiting five Southeast Asian countries, and chairing meetings of China-Vietnam and China-Cambodia bilateral mechanisms in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The following is the full text:

Ⅰ. Q: Currently, the world has entered a new period of turbulence and transformation, and the risks and challenges facing the region are also on the rise. Against this background, what are the main considerations and outcomes of this trip to Southeast Asia?

A: China always takes Southeast Asia as a high priority in its neighborhood diplomacy. For nearly two years, facing the drastic changes in the world and the COVID-19 pandemic, both unseen in a century, China and Southeast Asian countries have risen to the challenges and overcome the difficulties together, making the region a model of anti-pandemic cooperation, a highland of recovery and development, and an oasis for peace and tranquility. The outcomes are witnessed by all. Currently, the world has entered a new period of turbulence and transformation, and it is necessary for regional countries to strengthen strategic coordination, enhance solidarity and collaboration, gain a firm foothold in the volatile and turbulent situation, set the right course, and reinvigorate efforts to jointly maintain the hard-won stable development.

During this trip, I visited five Southeast Asian countries, attended the LMC Foreign Ministers' Meeting and the G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting, delivered a policy speech at the ASEAN Secretariat, and held regular meetings of the intergovernmental cooperation committee with the Vietnamese side and the Cambodian side in China. During the trip, which has seen more than 60 events, the Chinese side focused on the two main lines of peace and development, highlighted major bilateral and multilateral issues, consolidated bilateral relations between China and its neighboring countries, and conveyed China's voice on regional cooperation and global governance.

First, new progress has been made in building the community with a shared future with neighboring countries. China and Southeast Asian countries are linked by mountains and rivers, with integrated interests and similar ideas. Southeast Asian countries have confidence in the prospects of China's development and expect China to play the role of the "main engine" and "stabilizer" in regional recovery. They are ready to consolidate traditional friendship with China and deepen all-round cooperation. During this visit, China and the five Mekong countries unanimously agreed to build a closer Lancang-Mekong community with a shared future. China and Indonesia have clarified the general direction of jointly building a community with a shared future, and will forge an exemplary model of mutual benefit, win-win results and common development of major developing countries, as well as a vanguard of South-South cooperation. China has reached an agreement with Thailand and Malaysia, respectively, on setting the joint building of a community with a shared future as a goal and vision for the first time. China and the Philippines have reached consensus on forging good neighbors helping each other, good relatives with mutual understanding and affinity, and good partners for win-win cooperation, and agreed to rise above maritime disputes and create a new "golden age" of China-Philippines relations. The Chinese side further discussed the building of a community with a shared future with the Vietnamese side and the Cambodian side, respectively, in China. China and Cambodia have agreed to renew the five-year plan for building a community with a shared future. China's relations with its neighboring countries are being endowed with new connotations of the times.

Second, the interconnected development in the region has demonstrated new highlights. Connectivity and development are the core of the Belt and Road cooperation advocated by President Xi Jinping, and are also the common expectation of regional countries. China and the five Mekong countries agreed to build a stronger Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Economic Development Belt. China, Laos and Thailand will take the opening of the China-Laos Railway as an opportunity to smooth the flow of goods with convenient channels, promote economy and trade with better logistics, and boost the growth of industries with robust economy and trade. Efforts will be made to advance the vision of interconnected development of China, Laos and Thailand by forging a China-Laos-Thailand railway running through the north and south and connecting Europe and Asia. China and Malaysia discussed the long-term goal of linking up the middle line of the pan-Asia railway network, and planned to connect the China-Laos Railway and the China-Thailand Railway to accelerate regional integration. With the policy priorities of the new Philippine administration in mind, China and the Philippines planned to advance cooperation in the four key areas of agriculture, infrastructure, energy and culture, following through the blueprint for friendly cooperation. In addition, China, Indonesia and Malaysia will advance the high-quality development of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Corridor and the East Coast Railway. China and Malaysia have unanimously agreed to build the "Two Countries, Twin Parks" into an area of pioneering efforts for innovative development of economy and trade, and an area of demonstration for production capacity cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, foster new growth drivers such as green development and digital economy, and ensure the stability of industrial and supply chains.

Third, regional and international cooperation has shown a new atmosphere. After China successfully hosted the BRICS Summit, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand will also host multilateral mechanism meetings respectively this year. All countries in the region hope to jointly safeguard peace, strengthen solidarity and collaboration, and usher in a shining "Asian moment" for global governance.

In line with the Lancang-Mekong spirit, which puts development first, encourages equal consultation, promotes pragmatism and high efficiency, and enhances openness and inclusiveness, all parties attending the LMC Foreign Ministers' Meeting agreed to set a "golden example" for regional cooperation. This year kicks off the implementation of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and ASEAN. President Xi Jinping's proposal to build a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, beautiful and amicable home together has been broadly echoed and warmly received. The G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting adhered to the theme of "Recover Together, Recover Stronger", sending Asia's message on making concerted efforts to address the issues of energy and food security and on further improving global governance. China and Thailand agreed to push the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting to focus on the Asia-Pacific, development and the building of a Free Trade Area, so as to reinvigorate efforts in Bangkok to realize the Putrajaya Vision 2040.

II. Q: In recent years, the LMC has witnessed rapid development. Though having a late start among multiple cooperation mechanisms in the Mekong sub-region, it has caught up from behind. What is China's consideration for the future development direction of the mechanism?

A: As a cause jointly initiated and advanced by the six countries, the LMC stays committed to seeking development, benefiting people's well-being and laying stress on actions, making positive contributions to promoting regional prosperity and revitalization. Especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the six countries have jointly built "immune shields", "development engines", "bridges of friendship" and "happy homes". China has provided more than 200 million doses of vaccine to Mekong countries. In 2021, the bilateral trade volume reached 398 billion U.S. dollars, up by 23 percent on a year-on-year basis, demonstrating the robust vitality of the LMC.

At this meeting, the six foreign ministers discussed and planned six key directions for the LMC in the next stage, and reviewed and issued six outcome documents. China put forward six plans benefitting Mekong countries. The meeting also made preparations for the leaders' meeting in the second half of the year. The six foreign ministers unanimously held that in the face of the turbulent international situation, the six countries should steer the LMC on the right course, and innovate and upgrade the LMC to bring more benefits to the people of the six countries and set more examples for regional cooperation.

First, forge an area of demonstration for high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. Mekong countries, located at the junction of the "Belt" and the "Road", and China have complementary advantages in aspects such as infrastructure, industrialization and agricultural modernization. We should deliver the benefits of the opening of the China-Laos Railway at a faster pace, deepen cooperation on the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, pursue high-standard implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, jointly safeguard the security of food, energy, finance and industrial and supply chains in the region, and set a model of sub-regional cooperation.

Second, forge an area of pioneering efforts under the Global Development Initiative (GDI). The starting point of the LMC is to boost development, improve people's well-being and speed up the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. That's completely consistent with the vision of the GDI. China has put forward more than 30 measures to implement the GDI, and Mekong countries, as close neighbors, will be among the first to benefit from them. We will vigorously carry out cooperation in fields such as agriculture, water resources, public health, digital innovation, and social and cultural exchanges, so as to set a model of pursuing common development in solidarity and coordination among developing countries.

Third, forge a pilot area for the Global Security Initiative (GSI). Beset by intertwined traditional and non-traditional threats, the security situation in the Mekong sub-region is complex and severe. As foreign ministers of Mekong countries said, without a peaceful and stable regional environment, it is impossible to truly achieve development. Since its launch, the LMC has treated political and security cooperation as one of its three pillars, and the joint efforts by the six countries to implement the GSI are an integral part of the LMC. We should uphold the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, safeguard regional peace and stability, and accumulate valuable experience for implementing the GSI in regional mechanisms.

President Xi Jinping stressed, only by working together can we accomplish big and great things with a far-reaching impact. China will work with the five Mekong countries to promote the building of the aforementioned three areas and build a closer Lancang-Mekong community with a shared future.

III. Q: What role should the G20 play as the world economic recovery is facing severe challenges?

A: This is the first time that G20 foreign ministers sat under the same roof since the onset of COVID-19. The successful convening of the meeting itself is of positive significance, as it shows the willingness of all parties to strengthen dialogue and cooperation and build a sound G20 mechanism. Countries generally believe that multilateralism is the only solution to the current global challenges, and disputes should be resolved through dialogue and negotiation to jointly create a peaceful environment for development. All parties support the G20 in strengthening macroeconomic policy coordination, helping developing countries overcome current difficulties and playing a leading role in addressing challenges such as healthcare, food, energy and climate.

At the meeting, the Chinese side clearly and forcefully expounded its position on multilateralism and the G20 cooperation. We hold that we should make solidarity prevail over differences, and cooperation replace confrontation; that we should work together to maintain the stability of the global industrial and supply chains, and create an open, transparent and non-discriminatory international trade environment; and that we should heed the call of developing countries, make development a priority area for cooperation, and speed up the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Chinese side also put forward a cooperation initiative on global food security, contributing China's proposals in aspects such as strengthening international food and agriculture governance, smoothing the supply chain of agricultural products, easing the tight supply in the market, supporting cooperation on agricultural science and technology, and helping developing countries.

Currently, the world is beset by the unabated COVID-19 pandemic and the sluggish world economic recovery. As a main international economic forum shouldering major responsibilities, the G20 is indispensable and should not be undermined. This Foreign Ministers' Meeting once again proved that in important multilateral cooperation mechanisms, instigating division and blaming each other will by no means solve problems. Instead, dialogue, consultation, and overcoming difficulties together are the right path. China appreciates Indonesia's leadership and will continue to fully support and cooperate with Indonesia, this year's President of the G20.

IV. Q: The foreign ministers of China and Russia held a successful meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers' Meeting. How do you see the current China-Russia relations?

A: Under the strategic guidance of President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin, China-Russia relations have shown great resilience. As important neighboring countries and comprehensive strategic partners of coordination, we need to eliminate interference, stay focused, promote cooperation in various fields in an orderly manner, and vigorously safeguard the fundamental interests of the two countries and two peoples. As important members of multilateral mechanisms such as the United Nations, G20, BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, China and Russia need to maintain communication and coordination, enhance consensus of the international community and promote global development. We firmly believe that China-Russia relations can stand the test of any changes in the international situation and will continue to move forward in the right direction. China and Russia are committed to developing a new model of major-country relations in line with the principles of non-alliance, non-confrontation and non-targeting of any third party. By fabricating something out of thin air with ulterior motives, the United States has distorted and smeared the normal exchanges between China and Russia. We are ready to work with Russia and all international forces that are committed to peace and development to jointly act on the GSI put forward by President Xi Jinping, and promote a multi-polar world and greater democracy in international relations.

Facing the Ukraine crisis, China maintains an aboveboard, objective, fair and consistent position, and sticks to promoting peace talks. President Xi Jinping profoundly pointed out that the tragedies of two world wars and the Cold War confrontation tell us that hegemony, group politics and bloc confrontation bring no peace or security. China will continue to make its decisions and judgments independently based on the merits of each matter, support all efforts conducive to peaceful resolution of the crisis, safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of China itself and the vast developing countries, act on the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, and always stand on the side of maintaining peace and the right side of history.

V. Q: Australia, Canada and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have just gone through changes of government. How do you feel about having first direct talks with the foreign ministers of the three countries?

A: The deepest feeling of face-to-face exchanges with the three foreign ministers is that all three countries attach importance to the relations with China, that they all hope to strengthen communication, enhance mutual understanding and seek mutually beneficial cooperation, and that they all advocate abiding by internationally recognized rules such as the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.

In the past few years, China-Australia relations have encountered difficulties, the root cause of which lies in the fact that the former Australian government insisted on regarding China as a "rival" or even a threat, with a series of irresponsible and imprudent words and deeds against China. At present, China-Australia relations are facing both challenges and opportunities. China is ready to re-examine, re-calibrate, and reinvigorate bilateral ties in the spirit of mutual respect. We have noted that the Australian side reiterated that China and Australia are comprehensive strategic partners and Australia will continue to pursue the one-China principle. China hopes that the Australian side will correct its perception of China, refrain from hyping up and exaggerating differences and participating in containing China, conduct constructive exchanges on the basis of mutual respect and in a rational and pragmatic manner, and strive to bring bilateral relations back on the right track.

China-Canada relations have long been at the forefront of China's relations with developed countries. China and Canada have never been rivals, but partners, and China has never been a threat, but an opportunity. Sound and stable China-Canada relations are in the common interest of both sides. The foreign ministers' meeting was constructive and candid. The improvement and development of China-Canada relations require the joint efforts of both sides. Specifically, we should steer the development of bilateral relations on the right course, properly manage differences, uphold mutual respect, stick to independence, and seek win-win cooperation.

China and the ROK are inseparable neighbors and partners. The two countries are in a security environment where the two peoples rise and fall together, and have formed an industrial cycle of converging interests. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the ROK. Bilateral relations embrace development opportunities and also face some practical challenges. When the new ROK government was taking shape, the two heads of state had a successful phone conversation, ushering in a smooth transition and a good start in bilateral relations. It is in the common interests of both sides to well maintain and develop bilateral relations, otherwise, the two countries will both suffer. This is an important experience in the development of bilateral relations over the past 30 years. The two sides should reaffirm the original aspiration of establishing diplomatic ties, focus on mutually beneficial cooperation and remove external interference, so as to maintain the momentum for sound and steady development of bilateral relations.

VI. Q: The international community paid close attention to the meeting between the Chinese Foreign Minister and the U.S. Secretary of State in Bali. How do you make of this meeting?

A: The two sides had a long meeting in Bali, conducting comprehensive and candid communication on how to improve China-U.S. relations and properly cope with major international and regional challenges. Both sides agreed that the meeting was substantive and constructive, and accumulated conditions for future high-level interactions. We both hold that currently, China-U.S. relations are at a critical juncture, and it is necessary and helpful to maintain such regular communication.

During the meeting, the Chinese side highlighted that the United States has a serious misperception of China, which led to the obvious miscalibration of its views on China, interests and competition, and thus resulted in a China policy that deviates from the right track. The United States should not view China-U.S. relations only from the perspective of major-power competition, nor should it handle China-U.S. affairs with a zero-sum game mindset. The United States should immediately stop interfering in China's internal affairs and harming China's interests on issues related to Taiwan, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong, as well as maritime issues. China took the initiative to put forth four lists to the U.S. side, with three of them respectively demanding the U.S. side to eliminate negative factors in bilateral relations and one aimed at exploring the way to promote mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries. This attests to the fact that the Chinese side is principled and constructive. The Chinese side also put forward proposals for positive interactions between China and the United States in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as establishing rules that both sides should observe. The two sides also reached concrete consensus on advancing the China-U.S. joint working group consultation to solve respective concerns, provide facilitation for diplomatic and consular personnel to discharge their functions, and resume exchanges and consultation on people-to-people and cultural matters. Both sides agreed to cooperate in climate change, public health, and other fields.

The fundamental approach to steering China-U.S. relations out of difficulties is earnestly implementing the common understandings reached by the two heads of state. The two sides should discuss the establishment of guidelines for their behaviors in the spirit of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, avoidance of confrontation and win-win cooperation. President Biden has reiterated the five commitments on multiple occasions, and this time Secretary of State Antony Blinken has made further positive statements. The key is that the United States should live up to its words. The United States should eliminate the strategic anxiety of "threat inflation", abandon the I-win-you-lose habitual thinking, reject being kidnapped groundlessly by "political correctness", stop a series of wrong acts that undermine China-U.S. relations and regional strategic stability, work with China to effectively manage and control differences, and act on peaceful coexistence and achieve positive interactions first in the Asia-Pacific region.

VII. Q: East Asian cooperation faces new challenges. Why does China stress carrying forward "open regionalism" at this moment?

A: Open regionalism is a vision generally recognized by Asia-Pacific countries. China and ASEAN are advocates and practitioners of this vision. Last year, when addressing the Special Summit to Commemorate the 30th Anniversary of China-ASEAN Dialogue Relations, President Xi Jinping summed up four takeaways from the development of bilateral relations, one of which is "upholding inclusiveness and mutual learning, and jointly contributing to open regionalism". For a long time, China and ASEAN, together with regional countries, have upheld open regionalism, advanced regional economic integration through free trade, promoted regional and sub-regional cooperation via equal consultation, and developed networks of friends worldwide with an open mindset, pushing Asia to become a highland of development and promising land for cooperation. It's fair to say that open regionalism is the source of Asia-Pacific cooperation and development, and an important guarantee for peace and stability in the region.

Today's world is not peaceful. What some countries think about is not how to deal with the challenges hand in hand, but to pursue a relapse into the obsolete Cold War mentality and closed group politics. They are busy forging exclusive "small circles" and trumpeting various forms of "decoupling" and "severing supply chains", thus severely challenging regional peace and stability. Open or closed, cooperation or confrontation, solidarity or division, progress or retrogression - these are major issues confronting regional countries.

The Chinese side holds that we should adhere to the vision of peace, development, independence and inclusiveness, firmly uphold and act on open regionalism and by drawing experience and wisdom from Asian civilizations and practices, add new dimensions to open regionalism. First, uphold the tradition of peaceful coexistence, and resolve disputes by peaceful means. Second, uphold the goal of development and rejuvenation, and promote integrated economic development. Third, uphold the principle of independence. Our future and the future of our region should be in our own hands. Fourth, uphold the spirit of openness and inclusiveness, and oppose excluding specific countries and targeting specific parties.

Between open regionalism and closed bloc politics lies a fundamental dividing line, which embodies a historical choice bearing on the future and destiny of China and ASEAN countries. China and ASEAN countries have survived, thrived and cooperated in Asia for thousands of years, and no force can stop us from moving towards common development and revitalization. China will follow a neighborhood policy featuring amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness, and work with ASEAN and other regional countries to build a common homeland that enjoys peace, tranquility, prosperity, beautiful environment and friendship, and write a new chapter of regional cooperation and Asian revitalization!

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