An Interview with
State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China
“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.”
Question: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asserted in a recent speech that the policy of engagement with China, pursued by successive US administrations since President Nixon’s, has not produced its goal and, thus, has failed. What is your comment?
Answer: The assertion that US policy of engagement with China has failed is just a rehash of the Cold War mentality. It turns a blind eye to all that has been achieved in China-US relations over the past decades, shows ignorance of the historical process and lack of respect for the Chinese and American peoples. This is a political virus.
Over four decades ago, leaders of China and the United States made the handshake across the vast Pacific Ocean. During President Nixon’s visit to China in 1972, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai said that China and the US needed to be clear about our differences and find common ground so as to reach a new starting point in bilateral ties. The Shanghai Communiqué issued by the two countries encapsulated their consensus to respect each other and seek common ground while setting aside differences.
What has happened since then demonstrates that this monumental choice made by the two sides was the right one. Over the past 40 years or so, bilateral ties have become one of the most deeply interwoven relationships in the world with broadest cooperation areas and most extensive common interests.
China and the US now account for over one-third of global economic output and over 50% of global growth. Bilateral trade volume has increased by over 250 times since the early days of diplomatic ties, and takes up one-fifth of the global total. Two-way investment has jumped from almost zero to nearly US$240 billion.
Forty years on, while China and the US are quite different in their socio-political systems and many other aspects, such differences have not affected the peaceful coexistence and cooperation between the two countries, and they should not affect their bilateral ties in the future. It is neither necessary nor possible for the two sides to change each other. Instead, we should respect the choice independently made by the people of the other side. China’s major achievements in the past decades show that ‘Socialism with Chinese Characteristics’ fits China and enjoys the most extensive and firm support of the Chinese people.
China will continue to pursue development and progress to meet the desire of its people and make new, even greater contributions to mankind. Anyone who attempts to derail this process can only end in failure.
Question: Some people in the United States claim that the US has rebuilt China but it has been taken advantage of. Do you think this is the case?
Answer: Sino-US cooperation has never been a case of one party giving favour to, or taking advantage of, the other; both countries have benefited much from this cooperation. Mutually beneficial cooperation has turned our both countries into a community with shared interests. China has achieved rapid growth in part thanks to its opening-up to and cooperation with the rest of the world, including the US. China’s continued growth has also created sustained demand and an enormous market for the US and other countries.
If China-US cooperation is unfair and not reciprocal, how could it have continued for several decades? Actually, globalization and free trade have delivered development dividends, but they have also created tensions for countries and affected their economic structures and distribution of interests. In the globalized world today, the interests of countries are closely intertwined. The development of China and of the US is not a zero sum game, and we should not reject each other. What we should do is to draw on each other’s strength to achieve common development.
As Covid-19 takes its toll on the global economy, China and the US, the world’s two largest economies, should work for mutual benefit on an equal footing, stop attempts at decoupling and advance the relationship through cooperation, and live up to their responsibility for the world.
Question: The United States has recently made a number of moves that undermine people-to-people and cultural exchanges with China. Many analysts are concerned that this is a resurgence of McCarthyism. Do you think the two countries will fall into a new Cold War?
Answer: China-US relations are facing the gravest challenge since their establishment, and their exchanges and cooperation in many areas are being seriously disrupted. The root cause is that some Sinophobic American politicians are using their power to smear China with fabrications to impede normal ties with China. What they want is to revive McCarthyism in an attempt to undermine US relations with China, stoke hostility between the two peoples, and erode trust between the two countries. Ultimately, they want to drag China and the US into a renewed conflict and confrontation and plunge the world into chaos and division again.
China, however, will not allow these people to get their way. We reject any attempt to create a so-called “new Cold War,” because it contravenes the fundamental interests of the Chinese and American peoples and the global trend toward development and progress. The Cold War, which inflicted great sufferings to the world, should not be allowed to repeat itself. Anyone who tries to start a new Cold War in the 21st century will be on the wrong side of history and will only be remembered as the one who has upended international cooperation.
They should also keep in mind that today’s China is not the former Soviet Union. We have no intention of becoming another United States either. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China will stay committed to peaceful development and to pursuing an opening-up strategy of mutual benefit. China will continue to promote global peace and development and uphold the international order.
Question: We have noted that the Trump administration shuns dialogue with China, terming it futile. Secretary Pompeo even recently called for taking a “distrust and verify” approach toward China. What is your view on such moves?
Answer: In international relations today, dialogue is the right way for settling issues and building trust. Favouring dialogue over confrontation is not only China’s position; it is also the consensus of the overwhelming majority of countries. China and the US are two major countries with different social systems, histories and cultures, and each has its own interests and concerns. This is natural. But what is important is that no one should unilaterally shut the door for dialogue at any time. Difference, misjudgment or confrontation should not be allowed to dominate Sino-US relations.
China is ready to enter into candid, effective consultation with the United States and make cool-headed and sensible response to their impulsive moves and anxieties. We are ready to restart the dialogue mechanisms with the US at any level, in any area and at any time. All issues can be put on the table for discussion. We have proposed that the two countries draw up three lists respectively on cooperation, dialogue and issues that need proper management, and draw up a road map for future interactions. Our message is quite clear: We urge the US to stop acting with arrogance and prejudice, but enter into constructive dialogue with us on an equal footing. We hope that it will work with us to ease current tensions and put the relations back onto the right track of no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. This serves the shared interests of the two peoples and meets the expectation of the international community.
Question: Recently, Hong Kong has become a prominent issue in China-US relations. The US believes that by enacting the national security legislation, China has given up One Country, Two Systems. Do you expect the US to make more trouble on the Hong Kong issue?
Answer: Hong Kong is part of China’s territory and its affairs fall within the domain of China’s internal affairs. Non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs is a basic norm governing international relations, and no country will allow others to flagrantly sabotage its sovereignty or territorial integrity. At the recent session of the UN Human Rights Council, over 70 countries expressed support of China’s just stance and condemned the attempts to use the Hong Kong issue to interfere in China’s internal affairs. This speaks volumes for the common and just position of the international community.
National security legislation underpins the very survival of any country, and it is a common legal practice of all countries. The legislation on safeguarding national security in Hong Kong has plugged the long-standing legal loopholes in Hong Kong. It will ensure both the long-term implementation of the policy of One Country, Two Systems on the basis of rule of law and durable security and stability of Hong Kong.
Question: The US is going after Huawei in every possible way, and has declared to build a coalition of “clean countries” to counter China. Many see this as a reflection of US anxiety and fear. What is your take on this?
Answer: Without any solid evidence, the US has launched a global campaign against a private Chinese company. This is a textbook example of bullying. Everyone can see easily and clearly that the US goal is to keep its monopoly in science and technology but deny other countries the legitimate right to development. It doesn’t even bother to disguise its bullying. This not only violates the international rules of fair trade, but also hurts the free global market environment.
I’d like to stress again that Huawei and many other Chinese companies, unilaterally sanctioned by the US, are innocent. Their technologies and products are safe to use, and they have never done any harm to any country. In stark contrast, the US is behind such scandals as PRISM and ECHELON. It conducts wire-tapping and mass surveillance around the globe, and these wrongful acts are already an open secret. The US is not qualified to build a coalition of “clean countries” because it itself is dirty all over.
The new science and technology revolution, driven by information technology, is picking up speed. China will continue to work with all countries to maintain a fair, just, open and non-discriminatory business environment, promote international exchanges and cooperation in science and technology, and ensure that safe, reliable and quality information technology will boost global economic recovery and help improve people’s lives around the world. We hope that the US will give up its obsession with its narrow self-interest, and return to the right track of openness and cooperation.
Question: 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?
Answer: 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.