Xinhua: Some US politicians are making fierce attacks on the Communist Party of China (CPC), attempting to pit it against the Chinese people. Forty-one years after China and the US established diplomatic relations, what do you think is the US motive in so doing?
Wang Yi: There have always been forces in the United States attempting to rebut the leadership role of the CPC and China’s path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Their purpose is notably obvious, i.e., to contain and destabilize China.
Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the CPC. Over the past century, the CPC has led the Chinese people to discard colonial rule and exploitation and realize national liberation and independence. It is the CPC that has led us in blazing the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, turning the once impoverished country into the world’s second largest economy. It is under the CPC leadership that China’s per capita GDP has grown from less than US$200 forty years ago to over US$10,000 today, and over 800 million people have been lifted out of poverty. The great endeavor of the Chinese people under the CPC leadership has been recorded in the history of modernization as an outstanding, epoch-making chapter.
Practice is the sole criterion of truth, and the people are the judges of history. Does China’s system work for the country? The Chinese people know better than anyone else. The Harvard Kennedy School’s surveys in China which extended 13 years suggest that over 93% of the Chinese people are satisfied with the central government which is led by the CPC. Many international polls in recent years also show that at least 90% of the Chinese people trust their government. The relationship between the CPC and the Chinese people is as close as between "fish and water" and between "soil and seed". Those who attempt to break this strong bond is making themselves enemies of the 1.4 billion Chinese people.
We have great confidence in our path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. In the meantime, we also respect the development paths chosen by other nations. We are not interested in rivalry of systems, or ideological confrontation with any country. Likewise, we hope that the US will respect China’s social system and the Chinese people’s choice, and give up its failed interventionism. As President Xi Jinping pointed out, we have the strong determination, resolve and national strength to overcome all challenges. We have the courage, ability and wisdom to prevail over all risks and tests. No country or individual can hold back the historic march toward the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
Xinhua: Pompeo is calling for a new alliance of democracies against China, and forcing other countries to choose between what he called "freedom" and "tyranny". But we noticed that very few nations answered the call. Do you think that the US will get what it wants?
Wang Yi: Instigation for confrontation and division was not rare in history, but was all rebuked by the people. In the 21st century, it is inconceivable that some people intend to draw an iron curtain, stoke new division, advocate identity politics and bloc rivalry, and resort to other old tricks. This is a blatant contempt of human progress and wisdom as well as a regression of history. It goes against the trend of our times and the will of most nations. Naturally it has no support of the people, and few backing in the world.
China achieved freedom from imperialism and colonialism. Freedom, democracy and rule of law are codified in China’s Constitution. They are also part of the core socialist values. In addition, we also know that freedom has boundaries. Respect for science, reason, law and order as well as international rules are the basis of freedom. In fighting COVID-19, the Chinese people follow experts’ advice to wear masks. However, some US politicians attacked this, calling it an example of "tyranny" and "no freedom" in China. At the end of the day, they have been slapped in the face by the reality.
China has valued peace and cooperation since ancient times, believing that "division leads to rivalry, which leads to chaos, which leads to poverty." China always opposes dangerous acts to divide the world along ideological lines. To this end, we advocate a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation. We pursue friendship and cooperation with all countries. And we endeavor to forge a global network of partnerships. President Xi Jinping calls for building a community with a shared future for mankind. This major initiative is aimed to rise above differences in system, abandon the zero-sum mentality, and find a common goal for all countries, nationalities and civilizations. China will work unrelentingly for this lofty vision for mankind.
Xinhua: Pompeo claims that China desires global hegemony. But everyone knows that it is the US that is willfully withdrawing from international treaties and organizations. Many worry that this will have a big impact on the future international order. What is your take?
Wang Yi: The real challenge to the current international order and system is that the United States, the strongest country in the world, places its own interests above everything else, and takes this as its code of conduct. It has gone extreme to pursue unilateralism and bullying, even at the cost of international responsibilities and multilateral rules. At the height of COVID-19, it went so far as to groundlessly attack and withdraw from the World Health Organization. The current US administration has pulled out of more international treaties than any one before it, making itself the most damaging force of the current international order.
China is always a firm defender of the international order and the international system. In the past seven decades and more since the founding of the People’s Republic, China never started a war, or occupied an inch of land of others. We have enshrined in the Constitution our commitment to peaceful development, and we are the first country in the world to make such a solemn pledge. We will continue to adhere to the path of peaceful development, and will never seek hegemony or expansionism. We will always be a staunch force for peace.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War and the founding of the United Nations. Having learned hard lessons from the past, the world has ensured the longest period of stability and prosperity in modern times. We must not allow the international system to be undermined arbitrarily, or the world divided again. China was the first to put its signature on the UN Charter. China has joined almost all international treaties and agreements, and has been faithfully fulfilling its due international responsibilities and obligations. At a time when the future of the world is at stake, China will continue to champion and pursue multilateralism, safeguard the UN-centered international system, and promote multipolarity and greater democracy in international relations.
Xinhua: The US has significantly stepped up its intervention in the South China Sea. In his recent statement, Pompeo dismissed China’s sovereign rights and interests in the South China Sea. The US has conducted "dual carrier operations" there, and kept sending military vessels and aircraft on reconnaissance missions aimed at China. Some people think that the possibility for the US to provoke frictions and conflicts in the South China Sea is increasing. Can peace and stability still be maintained in the South China Sea?
Wang Yi: The US has recently taken a number of provocative actions in the South China Sea. First, the US has breached its longstanding commitment of not taking sides, and blatantly interfered in the territorial disputes. Second, the US keeps increasing and showing off its military presence in the South China Sea. In the first half of this year alone, the US sent military aircraft there more than 2,000 times. Third, the US is seeking to drive a wedge between China and ASEAN countries, and disrupt the consultation process of the Code of Conduct. The US purpose is to destabilize the South China Sea, and hijack regional countries onto its chariot to serve US domestic politics and geopolitical agenda. All regional countries should be vigilant, and prevent this region’s hard-won peace and development from being sabotaged by the US.
The South China Sea is the shared home for the countries in the region. It should not be a wrestling ground for international politics. Thanks to years of hard work, countries in the region have found effective ways to properly address their differences, and reached an unequivocal consensus that China and ASEAN countries should work together to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea. Facts have proved that settling disputes through dialogue is the right way that best serves the interests of regional countries, and countries in the region have a shared responsibility to keep the South China Sea peaceful and stable. Under the current situation, China proposes that we remove all disturbances to restart as soon as possible the Code of Conduct consultation, and agree as early as possible on a set of rules for maintaining long-term peace and stability in the region. In the meantime, China is prepared to strengthen maritime cooperation with other littoral countries, deepen mutual security confidence, and advance joint development, so as to make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation.
Xinhua: The China-US relationship is at the most difficult time since the establishment of diplomatic ties. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the relationship between now and the US election in November? What should be the priorities for the two countries at the moment?
Wang Yi: China’s US policy is always consistent and stable. In the meantime, we are also prepared for possible bumps and storms ahead. The US move to turn China into an adversary is a fundamental, strategic miscalculation. It means that the US is funneling its strategic resources in the wrong area. We are always ready to develop a China-US relationship featuring no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation based on coordination, cooperation and stability. In the meantime, we will firmly defend our sovereignty, security and development interests, because this is a legitimate right inherent in China being an independent sovereign state. The US should honor the principle of sovereign equality enshrined in the UN Charter, learn how to get along with different systems and civilizations and adapt itself to peaceful coexistence, and accept the reality that the world is moving toward multipolarity.
Faced with the most complex situation since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1979, we need to put in place a clear-cut framework for the relationship:
First, steer clear of red lines and avoid confrontation. For China-US relations to develop soundly, the most critical thing is mutual respect. China never intends to and will never interfere in US elections or other US internal affairs. Likewise, the US must abandon its fantasy of remodeling China to US needs. It must stop its meddling in China’s internal affairs, and stop its irrational cracking down on China’s legitimate rights and interests.
Second, keep the channels open for candid dialogue. Dialogue is the prerequisite for addressing problems. Without dialogue, problems will only pile up and even get out of control. China’s door to dialogue remains open. We are willing, in the spirit of equality and open-mindedness, to talk and interact with the US, and resume dialogue mechanisms at all levels and in all fields.
Third, reject decoupling and uphold cooperation. The interests of the two countries are deeply entwined. Forced decoupling will inflict a lasting impact on bilateral relations, and endanger the security of international industrial chains and interests of all countries. With COVID-19 still raging across the world, China is prepared to have mutually beneficial cooperation with the US on epidemic control and economic recovery, learn from each other and share experience on containing COVID-19, and join together with the US the global response and multilateral cooperation in fighting COVID-19.
Fourth, abandon the zero-sum mentality and stand up to shared responsibilities. COVID-19 again makes it clear that humanity is a community with a shared future. Our world still faces many global challenges. Traditional and non-traditional security challenges are intertwined. Almost all regional and international hotspot issues require a coordinated response from China, the US and other countries. China and the US must always bear in mind the well-being of mankind, live up to their responsibilities as two major countries, coordinate and cooperate as needed in the UN and other multilateral institutions, and work together for world peace and stability.