Following is an exclusive interview between People's Daily correspondents Guo Yongyi and Li Xuejiang and Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan. Tang briefed on this year's international situation, China's diplomatic work and the outstanding achievements, the nation's stand and the role it has played on major issues in the world and etc.
CORRESPONDENT: First of all, we would like to request Foreign Minister Tang to make a general appraisal of this year's international situation.
TANG JIAXUAN: The international situation in the past year once again proves that peace and development remain the theme of the times. The trend of world multi-polarization and economic globalization are developing amid twists and turns. Wanting peace, not war; cooperation, not confrontation; democratization in international relations, not hegemony and unilateralism-these are the political aspirations of the overwhelming majority of countries. The progressive cause of humankind is faced with new opportunities and favorable conditions. At the same time, uncertain factors affecting peace and development are also on the increase, humanity still faces many severe challenges. Specifically, the international situation this year has the following characteristics:
Firstly, the factors of traditional security threat and non-traditional security threat are interwoven, the harm of terrorism is on the rise. International anti-terrorism cooperation has seen remarkable results, but the activities of terrorist forces still run wild. The importance and urgency of the anti-terrorism struggle are prominent, its protracted nature and complexity have been further manifested, and will definitely produce profound influence on international politics, economics, security and other aspects.
Secondly, relations among big countries tend to become relaxed, dialogs, coordination and cooperation are on the increase. Increase in large countries' common interests in their anti-terrorism struggle has promoted the improvement and development in their mutual relations, this is conducive to world peace and stability. However, contradictions and differences among large countries remain. Cooperation and competition are the basic characteristics of the relationships among large countries at present and for a period of time to come.
Thirdly, local conflicts and turmoil have occurred from time to time. The peace process in the Middle East has come to a standstill, the Indian-Pakistani situation was dangerously explosive for a while, the Iraq issue is at the crucial moment of war and peace, and the world is not tranquil.
Fourthly, the world economy is in the period of a new round of structural adjustment, but sees no vigorous increase. Developing countries are facing increased difficulties. But from the long-term point of view, the progress of science and technology is changing with each passing day, various kinds of regional cooperation is in the ascendant, the prospect of the world economy is bright.
CORRESPONDENT: Just now you said that relations among large countries tend to become relaxed, please say something about the relations between China and other major countries over the past year.
TANG: We have persisted in expanding common interests with various large countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, and properly solved differences.
Sino-US relations have experienced important improvement and development. The two countries have maintained close top-level contacts and strategic dialogs. A series of important consensus have been reached between President Jiang Zemin during his visit to the United States and President George W. Bush on developing Sino-US constructive cooperative relations, President Bush clearly indicated for the first time that he opposed Taiwan independence. The enhancement of mutual understanding and trust between heads of state of the two countries is of important significance to propelling the further development of ties between China and the United States. Vice-President Hu Jintao's America visit was also crowned with important successes. Economic-trade cooperation between China and the United States has been expanded rapidly. The two countries have actively developed anti-terrorist cooperation on a two-way, mutually beneficial basis. At the same time, in dealing with the US move of violating the three Sino-US joint communiues on the Taiwan issue, the Chinese side has waged struggles in a reasoned, advantageous and restrained way, thus safeguarding our national interests.
Sino-Russian strategic cooperative partnership has further deepened. There have been frequent exchanges of visit by top leaders of the two countries, bilateral mutually beneficial cooperation has kept strengthening, cooperation in international affairs is even more effective. The "Sino-Russian Good Neighborly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation has been actively carried out in the two countries. Leaders of the two sides unanimously agreed to continuously push Sino-Russian relations forward by inheriting the successful experiences gained in developing bilateral ties over the past decade.
The political, economic, trade and cultural exchange and cooperation between China and European Union (EU) have undergone all-round development. Consensus between China and EU on major international and regional issues has increased and coordination strengthened, which has become the prominent feature in current Sino-EU relationship.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of normalization of the diplomatic relations between China and Japan, both sides held rich and colorful celebration activities, the complete success of the mutual-visit activities by 5,000 Chinese people to Japan and 13,000 Japanese people to China has set off a new upsurge in contacts between the people of the two countries. Sino-Japanese cooperation in the economic, trade and other fields has experienced fresh progress. On historical problems, we insist on "taking history as the mirror and looking forward to the future", thus maintaining the political foundation of Sino-Japanese relations.
CORRESPONDENT: public opinion has noticed that this year has witnessed China's very active diplomatic activities in its neighboring countries and its outstanding achievements in this regard. Foreign Minister Tang, please give an account of the situation in this aspect.
TANG: The principle guiding China's diplomatic activities in surrounding areas is to persist in "being friendly and good partner with neighbors". Over the past year, with the maintenance of stability in surrounding areas and promotion of regional cooperation as the main line, China has pushed its neighborly and friendly relations with surrounding countries to a new stage. China has actively expedited construction of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Ukraine have signed the six-nation organizational Charter, anti-terrorism organizational agreement and other important documents, while strengthening security cooperation, they have gradually propelled economic cooperation and have expanded the regional and international influence of the SCO, making the organization become an important force for safeguarding regional stability and promoting common development.
We have vigorously promoted East-Asian regional cooperation, expedited the new breakthrough made in the "10+1" and "10+3" mechanisms. Economically, China has signed with the ASEAN a framework agreement on all-round coopeation, started up the process of establishing a free trade zone with the ASEAN, which becomes a "milestone" in East-Asian regional cooperation; and politically, signed the Declaration on the Actions of Various Sides Related to the South China Sea", thus further stabilizing the situation in the South China Sea; in security, they have published the "Joint Declaration on Cooperation in the Field of Non-Traditional Security, thus widening the area of cooperation and starting up anti-terrorism cooperation. China has announced implementation of the "Asian-Debt Reduction Plan", which is welcomed by the surrounding countries. In the first three quarters of this year, China's imports from the ASEAN, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) increased 27 percent, 20.5 percent and 13.6 percent respectively, China's impetus to regional economies has been enhanced. Surrounding countries' worries and misgivings about China's development have decreased, and confidence increased, they have mostly identified the "theory of opportunity offered by China".
CORRESPONDENT: Counter-terrorism is the focus of concern of the international community this year, at the same time, some international and regional hot-spot issues have surfaced. Please tell us about China's stand and the role it has played on these issues.
TANG: As a permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations, China has all along been upholding justice and has played the role as a large, responsible country, it actively supports and participates in international anti-terrorism cooperation, advocating that it is necessary to have a clearly-defined objective in fighting against terrorism, address the symptoms and root cause of the problem, reject the practice of double standards, and oppose associating anti-terrorism with a specific nation or religion, this stand has received favorable comments from the international community.
With regard to the hot-spot issue, China's stand is: taking harmony as very precious, solving disputes peacefully through negotiations on an equal footing; giving full play to the important role of the United Nations and its Security Council in safeguarding international peace and security; establishing a new security concept featuring mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation, enhancing mutual trust through dialogs and seeking common security through cooperation. Proceeding from stabilizing the international and regional situation, we insist on seeking political solution to the Iraq question within the framework of the United Nations. During the period of China's rotating presidency, the Security Council unanimously passed the Resolution 1441, thus safeguarding the authority of the United Nations. We have actively participated in the peace process of the Middle East and sent special envoys to the region, receiving universal welcome from countries in the region and the international community.
We have given definite support to the peace process of Afghanistan, actively participated in the post-war reconstruction of the country and taken the lead in honoring our aid commitment. During the period of the military confrontation between India and Pakistan, we did every aspect of work, tried to make peace and promote negotiation between the two sides, thus playing an active role in easing the tense situation in South Asia.
CORRESPONDENT: Stressing the issue of development has consistently been the striking feature of China's diplomacy. How do you approach the problem of development against the background where profound changes have taken place in the current international situation?
TANG: Development has always been the urgent demand of various countries around the world, particularly the vast number of developing countries. In the sphere of development, poverty, debt, the shortage of capital and other old problems have not been resolved fundamentally, the "gulf of digit", the deteriorating environment and other new problems have kept emerging, the North-South gap has been further widened. A major question confronting the international community in the 21st century is how to push economic globalization to develop in the direction favorable to the realization of common prosperity, so that various countries, particularly the developing nations, can gain real benefits and realize global sustainable development.
Over the past year, China has actively participated in a series of important international conferences with development as the theme, including the world summit conference on sustainable development and international conference on fund-raising for development, stating the need to pay attention to the problem of development from the high plane of strategy and to expediting the establishment of a new fair and reasonable international economic order, thus receiving the positive appraisal from the international community. China actively explores new areas and new channels for carrying out cooperation with other developing countries on the basis of equality and mutual benefit, achieving remarkable results. It can be said that China has made important contribution in promoting the solution of the problem of development.
CORRESPONDENT: Finally, I would like to ask you, foreign minister, to summarize this year's diplomatic work and say something about the future prospect of China's diplomacy.
TANG: Under the leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Jiang Zemin at the core and with the support of the people of the whole country, this year China has, in its diplomatic work, correctly coped with the change in the international situation, made the best use of the situation to guide our actions in making active progress, thus creating a fairly favorable external environment and enhancing China's international influence and standing.
As we look into the future international situation, we find that for a fairly long period of time, the situation is generally in our favor, China faces a period of important strategic opportunity. Our diplomatic work should unswervingly be subordinated to and serve China's strategic goal of building a well-off society in an all-round manner, thereby creating a more favorable international environment and a better surrounding environment.
Guided by the spirit of the 16th CPC National Congress, we should persist in our independent foreign policy of peace and, in accordance with the important thought of "three represents", keep pace with the times, make exploration and innovation, device new work measures and open up a new phase in our diplomatic work. We should firmly grasp and make full use of opportunities. We should maintain the awareness of hardships and be prepared against danger in times of peace. We should clearly understand the pressing situation in which if one does not move forward, one will fall behind. Internationally, we should hold high the banner of peace, development and cooperation and establish an image of fairness, democracy and progress. We should carry out large-country diplomatic work with Chinese characteristics, get on well together with various other countries around the world, develop mutually beneficial cooperation and expand common interests. We should constantly spur the establishment of a new fair and reasonable international political and economic order.
I think China's strategic goal is linked together with the human cause of peace and development, China's interests are linked together with those of the majority of countries, and China's development is associated with regional rejuvenation. I believe that under the leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Hu Jintao as the general secretary, China's diplomacy at the new stage of the new century will certainly be able to make new important contribution to the defense of world peace and promotion of common development.