A Conversation With Wang Yi
RUBIN: Good morning. I’m Bob Rubin. And on behalf of my colleagues at the Council, welcome to today’s meeting. We are deeply honored to have as our guest State Councilor and Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China Mr. Wang Yi, who is also a friend to many of us in the United States.
State Councilor, I had the opportunity about two weeks ago to speak at the China Development Forum—I was the luncheon speaker—and I expressed a view that I think is shared by many, but certainly not all in this country, which is that it is imperative that we get our relationship back on a constructive track for a whole host of reasons; economic reasons, but also because the two largest economies in the world are probably the best way to coalesce global response to climate change, nuclear weaponry, and many other transnational issues. But as we all know, there is a lot of strain in our relationship right now, and we enormously appreciate your being with us today to explain China’s views on issues that are of great interest in our country.
In accordance with the practices at the Council, I won’t respond—recite from your resume. But our participants can all look in their materials and you have had a(n) extraordinarily distinguished career, which has led to your current leadership position.
Our program will be divided into two parts. The first part, the state councilor will speak and deliver his views on a number of issues. Then I will spend a little bit of time with the state councilor. And then we’ll open it up to all of you. If you have questions, raise your hand, identify yourself, briefly state your question so we that we can get in as many as possible. And this will be on the record.
State Councilor, the podium is yours. (Applause.)
(Note: Min. Wang’s remarks are made through an interpreter.)
WANG: Dear friends, I’m happy for today’s opportunity to meet you. I want to thank the Council on Foreign Relations, especially my old friend Richard Haass, whom I have known for several decades, for inviting me to come here to talk to you.
This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the issuance of a communique of diplomatic relations between our two countries. It is a critical year for both sides. It is important for us to objectively view the shifting dynamics in each other’s countries with a historical perspective, calibrate our relations, and keep the relationship on the right track. In the past four decades, thanks to the efforts made by leaders and people from various sectors of both sides, our cooperation has come a long way, boosted our respective development, and delivered benefits to people of both countries. The tremendous dividends of this relationship have gone far beyond the imagination of the forerunners who opened the door of China-U.S. engagement.
At the same time, we are also two countries vastly different in history, culture, social system, and level of development. The closer our engagement, the more closely entwined our interests, maybe various suspicions and even frictions may ensue. This is not surprising, and it is also no cause for panic. What’s important is how these differences should be viewed, evaluated, and handled.
Indeed, we are faced with a host of issues. I had a small-group discussion with some members of the Council before I came here, and I think we are both thinking about what is the crux of these issues. I think these issues boil down to how the United States perceives China.
Some American friends have proceeded from the Western theory of realism and, based on the laws governing the rise and fall of historical powers in the past several hundred years, believe that a strong country is about to seek hegemony. And their conclusion is that China is about to seek hegemony in the future and even challenge or displace U.S. leadership. I want to tell you very clearly that this is a serious strategic misjudgment. It is a misguided anticipation that will be extremely detrimental to U.S. interests and the future of the United States.
However, regrettably, this self-imagined suspicion is spreading, and it has also amplified the differences between our two countries, and even led to new suspicions. It has also made it more difficult for us to address the specific issues that exist.
I want to tell you very clearly that China will follow a path of development different from historical powers. It is a path with Chinese features. It means that China will not repeat the old practice of a strong country seeking hegemony. I don’t think China will become the United States, and China will not challenge the United States. Still less will China take the place of the United States.
China follows a path of peaceful development. China is a big country in the East with a five-thousand-year civilization. The Chinese believe in peace. There’s not a single bone of making external expansionism in the body of the Chinese. As early as over six hundred years ago, the Chinese navigator Zheng He led the biggest fleet in the world to the Pacific and west Indian Oceans on seven expeditions, visiting over thirty countries and regions, not taking a single inch of land. That was actually quite inconceivable for those Western powers who were busy making colonial expansion, but the Chinese did that.
Moreover, we have come into an age of globalization when peace, development, and win-win are the call of the times, and the old practice of aggression and expansion can no longer work. Hence, China will not repeat a historical path, nor is it possible for China to ever follow that path. The truth is China is determined to follow a new path.
Maybe not that many people know that the commitment to the path of peaceful development has been incorporated into the constitution of the People’s Republic of China and the charter of the Communist Party of China. That means it has become a part of national law and the party charter that we must observe. That speaks to China’s firm commitment to peace.
China follows a path of win-win through cooperation. Serving the larger interests and delivering benefits to all is something that is inherent in the Chinese tradition. We don’t believe in the law of the jungle whereby the strong prey on the weak or the winner takes all.
In thousands of years of engagement between China and its neighbors, China believes in goodwill and mutual respect, believes in giving more and taking less. China also believes in openness and inclusiveness for win-win benefits in developing both the ancient and the current Silk Roads.
Forty years ago, China launched the reform and opening up endeavor for mutual engagements and cooperation with other countries and regions. Five years ago President Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road Initiative, which has become the most popular cooperation platform in today’s world. So far over 130 countries and international organizations have signed cooperation agreements with China. The reason for its success is a sense of togetherness in undertaking this initiative.
This November China will host the first International Import Expo. That is a creative move. We want to invite people in to share China’s opportunities.
China follows a path of seeking common ground while setting aside differences. The Chinese believe that, as all living things can live in harmony without harming each other, we can and should have different ways—run forward, side by side—without interfering with each other. We believe in a diverse world where countries can live in harmony and learn from each other.
In contemporary times China once made attempts at introducing various foreign systems, but none of them worked on Chinese soil. Eventually, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, we have found a path of development that fits China’s national conditions and the trend of our time. That has achieved tremendous success. The international authoritative institutions survey shows that the Chinese people are really confident about the future of China and satisfied with their government. The rating of China ranks among the top. Well, this path is a path of socialism with Chinese features. Since this is the right path, we will stay on this path as we move forward.
The Chinese ancient philosopher Confucius believed that a gentleman should seek harmony in diversity and should not do to others what one would not like himself. We believe that also applies to state-to-state relations. We respect our differences, think from others’ perspective. We can achieve true harmony. There’s no one size that fits all in today’s world.
It is important that we enhance mutual understanding and live in peace and harmony as we develop state-to-state relations. History has shown that if one is bent on remolding the other according to one’s own standards or insists on imposing one’s system upon others, most probably that would not work, and even invite disastrous implications or consequences. I want to emphasize the China will not—did not copy foreign pattern and will not copy foreign pattern, and China will not ask others to copy China’s pattern either.
Dear friends, peaceful development, cooperation, and seeking common ground is China’s firm conviction. The last few decades have seen over 1.3 billion Chinese people getting a better life, and at the same time China is making a greater contribution to the peace and prosperity of the world and promoting shared interests and well-being of people in all countries.
In this world rife with uncertainties and instability, what role is China playing? Let me tell you the following. China has become a force for world peace. In its nearly seventy-year history of the People’s Republic, China has never provoked any war or conflict. We have peacefully settled our boundary questions with most of our land neighbors.
In the South China Sea, the Chinese islands and reefs had been illegally occupied, but China has exercised utmost restraint and undertaken in written form to settle the disputes through peaceful means. Together with ASEAN countries, we have developed regional rules to be observed by all, thus easing the once-tense situation.
And in every place of conflict and war, we can find Chinese peacekeepers. China is the top contributor of military peacekeepers among P-5 and the second-largest contributor of U.N. peacekeeping funds. And for ten years running, Chinese military ships have provided escort missions for over six thousand ships in the waters of the Gulf of Aden and Somalia.
China has become an engine for global growth. Over the years, China has contributed seventy percent of global growth, thus becoming a—(inaudible)—engine of global growth. In 1997, when Asia was ravaged by a financial crisis, despite huge pressure on its currency China has kept the value of its currency stable to support its neighbors. In 2008, during the sweeping international financial crisis, the Chinese economy bucked the trend to register strong growth, thus becoming an anchor of global growth, thus playing an irreplaceable role in the recovery that followed.
Now there are over three hundred million Chinese people in the middle income group. According to some forecasts, China is expected to become the largest market, especially in retail goods, with an annual import of $2 trillion U.S.
The Chinese economy is shifting from high-speed growth to high-quality growth. China is opening wider, bringing more development opportunities to the world.
China has also become a model in poverty alleviation. The past few decades have seen nearly eight hundred million Chinese people lifted out of poverty, or over seventy percent of the global total. This is a miracle never seen in human history. Our current goal is to lift another forty million Chinese out of poverty in three years and lift all the remaining rural population out of poverty by 2020. This will be a great feat of vast significance for global growth.
At the same time, as the biggest developing country, China is following closely how our developing partners are doing. Through experience-sharing, assistance, and personnel training, we are supporting poverty-alleviation efforts in other developing countries. So far China has sent to over 160 countries and international organizations nearly four hundred billion yuan in development aid. Through South-South Cooperation Fund, China-U.N. Peace and Development Fund, Climate Change South-South Cooperation Fund, and other mechanisms, we are helping other developing countries in implementing the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
China’s foreign assistance never comes with political strings attached. We respect the need of recipient countries and help them build capacity for independent and sustainable development. Thus, our foreign assistance has been—(inaudible)—by other developing countries.
China has become a force to rely on in the global fight against terrorism. Terrorism is an enemy of mankind. China stands firmly against terrorism in all manifestations, and it will never allow the spread of terrorism in its territory or allow any place of China to become an origin of terrorism. This is China’s largest—a big, major contribution to the global fight against terrorism.
China is an important member of the global campaign against terrorism. We are deeply involved in the U.N. and other multilateral cooperation mechanisms to help Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries in enhancing capacity-building through peaceful reconstruction, through promoting peace talks, and development assistance. We are helping them to remove breeding ground. Between China and the U.S., we have effective cooperation and information-sharing in fighting terrorism and cutting terrorist financing.
China has also become a partner in mediating hotspot issues. China has taken part in the settlement of almost all hotspot issues—in DPRK, Iran, Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan, and other issues. We are contributing our wisdom and solutions—(inaudible)—constructive role.
On the peninsula nuclear issue, we see a paradigm of successful cooperation between China and the U.S. China is committed to denuclearization, peace/stability on the peninsula, and a negotiated end to the issue. We are encouraging the U.S.-DPRK engagement and improvement of inter-Korean relationship, thus playing an important role. It is because of China’s commitment and the efforts of all parties that we see a major turnaround on the peninsula this year, and further cooperation with China will become a key in promoting and completing denuclearization.
China has become—(inaudible)—for international order. After the Second World War, countries have done some reflections, and together they founded the U.N. and international order based on multilateralism. China is a founding member of the U.N. and a permanent member on the Security Council. China is actively integrated in the existing international system. We have joined almost all major international organizations and signed over three hundred international conventions. China is playing an increasingly important role in global governance.
Although the existing international order is not one hundred percent perfect, but it is effective on the whole. So we must observe and preserve the existing order. China cannot and will not start a new order. Multilateralism, free trade, and other well-established international norms must never be undermined. To reform and improve a system is only to make it more just and equitable, and more responsive to the current circumstances.
Dear friends, for the U.S. and for other countries around the world a China that pursues peace, cooperation, and openness and opportunity or a challenge. Is a China that plays a positive and a constructive role on the global stage a partner or a rival? I believe that anyone with no bias or hidden agenda will come to a sensible conclusion.
A Chinese writer once observed in the long journey of a person’s life only a few steps are critical. Sixty-nine years ago, the then U.S. administration took a hostile policy toward China, leading to twenty-three years of estrangement and confrontation between China and the U.S. And then forty-six years ago, President Nixon opened the door to reengagement between our two countries, ushering in an era of peace and prosperity.
Now, the relationship between our two countries is a common asset. It is the result of generations of people’s efforts, so it must be preserved and valued. Just like this glass, it is easy to break it, but it will be difficult to restore a broken glass. So now we see this relationship coming once again to a crossroads. If our two sides can look at each other in a positive and accommodating light, expand and deepen cooperation, and manage our differences then we can overcome the current difficulties to start a more promising journey to a brighter future.
At this critical juncture, I will count on the people with vision in both countries to assume their responsibilities and take concrete actions to maintain healthy and stable growth of the relationship. Let us together take this relationship forward in the right direction. History will remember those who take the lead through the mist.
So this is—I want to say to you. Thank you. (Applause.)
RUBIN: State Councilor, thank you very much. Those were very useful comments, and in the spirit of your comments, which called for a constructive relationship between our two countries based on a mutual understanding of each other’s issues, let me ask you a few more specific questions, if I may.
I think it was in 2014 or thereabouts that President Xi said something to the effect that Asia is for the Asians. What did he mean by that? And a related question, I guess, is that I’ve had the impression, at least, that China felt that our alliances, in a way, were useful because they constrained or restrained, I suppose, Japan and others from developing greater military capability and also for constraining further geopolitical engagement. Is that still their view about alliances and if we didn’t have the alliances, what do you think our allies would do in the military and geopolitical area?
WANG: Well, Asia belongs to the people of—(inaudible)—similar things like—(inaudible)—
RUBIN: How do you make this louder?
WANG: —belongs to the African people. This is just actually encouragement for Asian countries to enhance—(inaudible)—common efforts to—(inaudible)—Asia. But this does not mean we cannot continue—(inaudible)—a closed continent—(inaudible)—closed. China has never been closed.
Historically, for five thousand years—(inaudible)—China’s open—(inaudible)—be strong and prosperous like in Han Dynasty and Tang Dynasty; when China was closed—(inaudible)—like the Ming and Qing Dynasties. (Inaudible)—based on the current situation, the reason why we have come such a long way in development is because we have pursued reform—(inaudible). And that policy has delivered tremendous benefits to China. (Inaudible.) Last April at the—(inaudible)—annual meeting, President Xi Jinping made it very clear publicly that China will open even wider and will never go back in its openness. To that stands as an encouragement for all Asian countries to work together in accelerating our development, keeping abreast of the times in this globalized age. So we hope that the American friends—(inaudible)—positive perspective.
As for the U.S.-Japan alliance, that is something that was born in the Cold War era. It is something between the U.S. and Japan. We have no intention to interfere. It’s something that should be left to—(inaudible)—to decide. But if we can (give ?) our perspective on this, we hope there will be much more mutual understanding—(inaudible)—rejecting the old pattern of thinking, way of thinking, because we are living in a (new ?) age of globalization. The United States is our biggest trading partner. Japan is our—(inaudible). Our interests are closely entwined.
And even on the military side, we are open to (more ?) communication and common effort in maintaining peace and security in this region. So I expect—(inaudible)—arrangements made by the United States and Japan. At the same time, we hope any arrangement made by the two countries will (actually ?) contribute—(inaudible)—for peace and security in this region like China has been playing a positive role in this region. Thank you.
RUBIN: Thank you, State Councilor.
In that context, you had mentioned the South China Sea. There’s, obviously, a difference of view with respect to the sovereignty with—where the South China Sea fits with respect to China’s sovereignty, or sovereign territory. What do you think would be an effective process for resolving our differences?
WANG: Well, on the South China Sea, I also talked about this in our brief conversation. I think the American—(inaudible)—historical background of this issue—(inaudible)—at the end of the Second World War, when our two countries were allies. The Chinese soldiers—troops actually traveled in U.S. warships to these islands and recovered the islands in the South China Sea—the Nansha Islands, the Spratlys—from the Japanese. This is something that has been stated very clearly in the Potsdam Proclamation. Hence, it is very clear that China has the sovereignty over Nansha.
But when things took a turn, that was in 1960s and ’70s, when China was going through a cultural revolution. The domestic situation was not going so well, and that was the time when some Chinese neighbors started to occupy those Chinese islands and reefs. Several countries took these islands and China’s sovereignty was undermined.
Even so, China still believes in peaceful means in seeking solutions. China signed the DOC with ASEAN countries back in 2002. I was the one putting Chinese signature on the document. The DOC said very clearly that there would be no use or threat of force, but the issues would be left to those nations directly by the parties concerned. And we will honor our word of the DOC.
And now China and ASEAN countries are working on the COC, which can be seen as a reinforcement of the DOC. It will be a stronger document, and it will further prove China’s commitment to peaceful settlement of the—of the disputes, even though China is becoming stronger.
So we hope that people will get down to the real facts surrounding the South China Sea issue and also recognize China’s sincerity in seeking a peaceful settlement.
Some people say maybe there are acts of militarization. But on those islands and reefs, there are some facilities for civil purpose like lighthouses and ports, docks for emergency assistance to provide relevant services to those distressed vessels. And there are similar different—at the same time, there are some defensive military facilities, as some other countries have done.
At the same time, I should point out that very often the United States has sent heavy weaponry—strategic weaponry into these areas, like strategic bombers over our heads, sending military vessels very close to Chinese islands and reefs, and has people on those islands feel the pressure and threat. There is a need, they feel, for them to enhance defensive facilities.
But these facilities are for pure defensive purposes, have nothing to do with militarization. I also want to tell you that China’s sovereign claims in the South China Sea have never changed. We have the same—we had the same claims when we founded New China—the People’s Republic of China—and these claims have remained the same until today. We have made no new claims.
But if you want to ask China to give them up or change these claims, that would be impossible either. Each government needs to be responsible to its people and needs to defend the sovereignty and territory integrity of the country. I hope to have your understanding on this. Thank you.
RUBIN: Thank you, State Councilor. That seems to me a good example of the kind of issue that is, on one hand, very complex, but on the other hand, calls for us to have a constructive relationship within which we can try to make progress and find a solution that works for both countries.
Recently, China, though in a very small way, participated in a Russian military exercise, and your two leaders met. Russia, as you know, is viewed in this country and I think pretty much around the world as a deeply disruptive country at the present time—assassinations in the U.K., interference in our elections, Syria, Ukraine, and so forth.
What is China’s view of Russia and what is China trying to accomplish or what is their purpose? What are they trying to accomplish for both the shorter run and the longer run by engaging with Russia?
WANG: On China-Russia relationship, you know, there was a quite tortuous course in this relationship. There was a time when the two countries fought. It’s a fact known to all, and we both have drawn lessons from the past, and we want to build a new kind of relationship featuring nonconfrontation, non-conflict, and no targeting any third country.
The reason why China wants to enhance relations with Russia is because Russia is our largest neighbor, and there is a need for normal and friendly ties between neighbors. Hence, China wants to develop such a good neighborly relationship with the Russian side, certainly. The two economies are highly complementary. We need the Russian energy like oil and natural gas, and they need Chinese processed goods, quality and inexpensive Chinese goods. And, hence, we are fostering closer economic ties.
Internationally, Russia is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. China needs to enhance cooperation with all other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, including Russia and the United States, to fulfill our special responsibility mandated by the U.N. Charter. That is maintaining global peace and security.
On international issues, China and Russia are on the same page. Our two countries, China and the U.S., are on the same page on many issues, too, like on the Korean Peninsula issue we both believe in denuclearization and fighting terrorism. China and the United States are—(audio break). So it’s only natural for China to foster and develop normal and friendly ties with all other countries, not just Russia, but also the United States. Thank you.
Oh, one more thing. You said we participated in the military drill with the Russian side. We also participated in the past in PACRIM (sic; RIMPAC)—(inaudible)—by the U.S. We wanted to continue to participate, but the United States disinvited us. Well, it’s OK. Whenever you change your mind and you welcome us, then we will consider it. (Laughter.)
We’re also doing those military exercises with other countries, like ASEAN countries. So this is all normal. Like military—mil-to-mil ties to increase mutual understanding, we think it is normal and we don’t see a need for one to read too much about this. Thank you.
RUBIN: Let me just—and maybe you have incentive to respond to this. I am curious. I mean, Russia, to many in this country, seems like a major disruptive force in global affairs. Do you have any view on that perspective?
WANG: Well, we do have a divergence of view on this. The China-Russia relationship has grown very strong. There is peace in the four-thousand-kilometer-long China-Russia boundary. We don’t see Russia as a threat to China. As for differences the United States has with the Russian side—and they’re serious differences—my suggestion is for a dialogue and consultation to take place to seek solutions. We believe that anything can be worked out through equal dialogue.
RUBIN: OK. (Laughter.)
WANG: Thank you.
RUBIN: Let me ask you this, State Councilor, and, again, this is coming from somebody who has an enormously strong view that we have to have—an imperative, actually, that we have to have a constructive relationship in both of our interests to deal with climate change, nuclear proliferation, economic well-being, and so forth.
On the other hand, a lot of things affect American attitudes. Let me give you an example. We’ve been criticized around the world, as long as I’ve been around, for the way we—for racial relationships in the United States—that is to say, how we’ve treated our people in certain respects.
So now you come to the question of Xinjiang Province or, rather, autonomous region, and the issues and the actions that have taken place in that region.
I think it would be very helpful to us—us, who care enormously about having constructive relations with China—if you could explain the actions the Chinese government has taken in the autonomous region.
WANG: First of all, I want to tell you that the affairs of Xinjiang autonomous region are China’s internal affairs. We do not interfere in other countries’ internal affairs and we hope that other countries will not interfere in China’s domestic affairs.
Xinjiang is home to a large number of Muslim people. And I’d tell you that the percentage of those who are Muslim in Xinjiang and the per capita possession of religious (certificates ?) in Xinjiang are the highest globally, or among the highest globally. I believe that shows, according to our constitution, that China is respecting the freedom of religious belief in Xinjiang.
At the same time, there were terrorist incidents in the Xinjiang, hurting innocent lives including Muslim people and people of other faith or ethnic groups. These are pure terrorist attacks. Who launched them? They were launched by people—by IS and al-Qaida elements. They took a lot of terrorist and violent videos, and showed these videos to those disgruntled people who they say were out of work, and they were deeply influenced and they were turned into terrorists and violent people, and that was a time when Xinjiang was very unsafe and insecure.
So what should the Chinese government do? It must live up to its responsibility for law and order, for protecting the safety of the people and their property. That is the bound duty of any government. Hence, over the years, in Xinjiang and in other parts of China, to protect law and order, acting in accordance with law and regulations, we are doing what we should.
In the past couple of years, we’ve seen no more terrorist attacks in Xinjiang. There are twenty million people living in Xinjiang. They support the measures taken by their government because they now feel safe and secure. They can have a good sleep at night. They are no longer living in fear of terrorism. Isn’t it a good thing? That is a good thing the government does for its people. I think it’s something that any government should do.
There are some individual people not happy with what the Chinese government is doing, still, influenced by those extremist ideas. What we see is they’re trying to—(inaudible)—fabricating some stories which have no base to affect how foreigners may perceive—(inaudible). I want to bring you to the real facts, to what is really happening in Xinjiang.
China will never allow this threat of terrorism in China. If such a large country as China that is coming under the influence of terrorism, you can well imagine how disastrous that would be for the whole world. And, as I said before, the Chinese government is deeply firm in fighting the spread of terrorism in China. That’s what we need for our domestic development. It is also China’s contribution to the global cause against terror. Thank you.
RUBIN: State Councilor, thank you, and that is very helpful on a number of issues of great interest to all of us.
Now we’ll take questions from all who are here. Yes, sir. And please state your question—say who you are, state your questions briefly, so we can get as many questions in as possible.
Q: Odeh Aburdene, the Capital Trust Group.
Mr. State Minister, what’s China’s policy on Iran in view of the tension between the Trump administration and the Iranian regime? And how do you see the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran?
WANG: China and Iran have maintained normal state-to-state relations. Iran is a major country in the Middle East region. We respect its status and influence. We hope to see stability and growth of that country playing a positive and constructive role in the region.
It is in this direction that we have been developing relations with Iran and doing our work. As you know, including the United States, with years of negotiations we worked out a JCPOA. Maybe it’s not a perfect document. We don’t see any international agreements to be perfect. But as we arrived at consensus on the JCPOA and signed it and that agreement was endorsed by the Security Council in the U.N., we believe any international agreement needs to be followed, observed. And major countries should set an example in observing international agreements. If major countries are not honoring international agreements, just imagine how things would be for smaller countries.
The biggest result of the JCPOA is to effectively curb Iran’s nuclear program development, and it ensures that 100 percent Iran’s nuclear facilities will be under the rigorous monitoring of the IAEA. I think that’s a positive thing for the region.
If we do not have a JCPOA and if Iran, like the United States, withdraws from the JCPOA, it will have no—its hands will not be tied in developing nuclear weapons. That may even invite an arms race in that region. Is that good for the people in that region? Is that good for global peace? Of course not.
So how shall we go about this issue nowadays? I believe first and foremost we need to uphold the sanctity, efficacy, and effectiveness of this international agreement. At the same time, we may have another platform. With openness and a fair mind, we can provide all stakeholders to talk about issues of interest like the missile issue and others. Iran may also be invited to this platform to present its case. Isn’t that a positive approach? We hope that we will not be the act of using domestic models and intellectual actions to undermine an international agreement that has been endorsed by the U.N. Security Council. Otherwise, its impact is not just about the Iranian nuclear issue or the JCPOA, it may impact the entire global order, making people feel doubtful if we should go ahead with any other international agreements and if there is credibility with the major countries. That’s a matter of serious nature.
As for relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, we certainly want to see improved relations between them, patching up their differences, mending fences, and they will show mutual accommodation between the two countries. I have faith that that day will come, and we will look forward to that day. Thank you.
RUBIN: It may not be tomorrow. (Laughter.)
Yes, sir. Yeah.
Q: Barnett Rubin, New York University.
The United States has very much appreciated the cooperation of China in efforts to fight terrorism and to bring peace and development to Afghanistan. But there is one point which we sometimes find difficult to understand in view of China’s strong stance against terrorism, and that is, why does China defend terrorists based in Pakistan from U.N. Security Council resolutions? What is China doing to end state-supported and -sanctioned terrorism in Pakistan? And will China-India cooperation in Afghanistan, as discussed after the Wuhan summit, extend to cooperation against terrorism based in Pakistan against India and Afghanistan?
WANG: I’m concerned if you have very close ties with India. It seems that you and your Indian friends are very much on the same page (on this issue ?).
I want to say first and foremost China is against all forms of terrorism. And secondly, we have been supporting and encouraging Pakistan in its efforts in fighting terrorism.
Years ago, at the request of the U.S., Pakistan participated in the fight against al-Qaida in Afghanistan. Pakistan actually paid a heavy price for that. Pakistan has paid a heavy price and has made a huge contribution. We believe that there should be a fair judgment of what they did.
As for the listing issue at the U.N., which organizations should be listed and which not, we will continue to be fair in—(inaudible). If all parties come to a consensus, we will support it. But it is the parties that are rightly concerned who are not coming around to the same conclusion, like India and Pakistan don’t have the same conclusions. Then what should we do? Maybe we can set aside this a little bit, and when there is a consensus we can move this forward. I think that is a reasonable approach.
Whether these people are terrorists or not there should be solid facts and proof. If there is irrefutable evidence, no one can turn its back on it. I don’t think Pakistan will do that.
As for the differences that you referred to, they are very complicated because they involve some historical background and territorial issues. So we hope that the parties directly concerned will be able to come to a consensus, and then together we will be able to push the process forward. We think that is a better way to go, and we will stay in close touch with India on this issue because we also have very good ties with the Indian side. We hope to see an early consensus, and together we can contribute to the fight against terror. I thank you.
RUBIN: Oh, back—yeah, right over there. Yep.
Q: Liz Claman from the Fox Business Network.
Welcome to New York City, sir. Thank you for being here.
It is no surprise that the U.S. government, specifically the Trump administration, would like China to drop the requirement that American businesses who want to do business in China have to have a Chinese partner, the concern of course being that the Chinese partner may, let’s say, borrow intellectual property. We’ll use a nice word there. Is China willing to drop this requirement in the spirit of, as you said at the beginning of your speech, getting U.S.-China relations back on track? Thank you.
WANG: The first thing I want to tell you is that there’s not a single piece of legislation or requirement in China asking for forced technology transfer from foreign firms to their Chinese counterparts. If you find anything like that, please bring it to our attention.
Secondly, some foreign companies are entering the Chinese market working in partnership with their Chinese counterparts. They have their own comparative advantage—American firms on the technology side, China on the market side. American firms want a share in the Chinese market and Chinese companies want to have technological cooperation with their American counterparts. In the spirit of contract, they reached an agreement, and based on that agreement there will be certain amount of technological cooperation or technology transfer from American firms to the Chinese partners to enhance their presence on the Chinese market. At the same time, the American firms, they have received the payment of royalties. And they have the royalties, they have the Chinese market presence; why are they accusing China of forcing them to transfer technology? There’s no such thing.
If you think this is unfair and a forced technology transfer, you are welcome to bring it to the court. We have a specialized IPR court. I want to tell you that when foreign firms bring such cases to Chinese forums, eight percent cases are won by foreign firms. I think that also indicates that there is greater transparency and a level playing field in China.
Many foreign investors are now entering into areas where wholly-owned foreign firms are possible. There are still a small number of sectors which are not yet fully open. That is something agreed upon by China and other countries when China joined the WTO. Even so, we are still easing market access for foreign investors. The number of areas where joint venture is required is coming down quickly, and ninety-six percent of the items involving foreign investment can just go through the simple funding process instead of applying for administrative approval. The process is open and transparent.
There has been repeated accusation of Chinese firms stealing U.S. technologies. This is simply not true. We hope that such untrue accusations will stop. Thank you.
RUBIN: State Councilor, let me ask a follow up, if I may. You had made a comment in your—or made the observation in your comments that there’s no legislation requiring the transfer of technology. But if you speak to American companies today, it is certainly their experience that in order to get access to the Chinese market in certain areas they are being required to enter into partnerships or transfer technology one way or another, and that I think is undermining business support for the American-Chinese relationship. What do you think would be a good—since there’s a different perspective, or at least you certainly express a different perspective than the experience that American companies report, what would be a good way to try to resolve these differences and reach a resolution that is satisfactory in China and also American companies think is fair to them?
WANG: Well, if you look into a case each and every firm, I think most of the American companies are also happy with their businesses in Chinese market. But they may not speak up, and a small number of companies who are not so satisfied may speak up louder. But I don’t think they represent the majority of the companies in the Chinese market, although I’m not in charge in economic affairs. But I can tell you, all these companies, Chinese authorities will be open to hearing your complaints and they’re ready to address your legitimate concerns, and all these legitimate concerns will be seriously addressed.
China has benefitted so much from opening up and we are determined to continue this opening up. We will continue to welcome foreign investment. And if that’s the case, we will certainly provide them with a better—(inaudible)—investment environment.
We are now introducing across the country the management model of—(inaudible)—Negative List. And each year we will have a revised version of the Negative List, coming shorter every year. The investment environment in China will only get better, and we hope that the American firms will continue to have confidence in the Chinese market.
RUBIN: Yes, sir. Back—yep.
Q: Yes, good morning. Michael Blake, New York State Assembly member, new term member for CFR.
Councilor, good to see you.
So many people may not realize that in The Bronx we actually have the largest West African population in the world outside of West Africa, and so we’re very interested in understanding the substantial increase in investment of China into Africa, having a better understanding as it relates to what’s working and what’s not working. I believe there’s been an additional $175 billion proposed investment from China over the next ten years. So understanding that would be very helpful. Thank you.
WANG: Both China and African countries are developing countries. We want to enhance our mutually beneficial cooperation. We believe that when there is better development of all developing countries, there will be more peace and harmony in our world. And that is also consistent with President Xi Jinping’s proposal for building a community with a shared future for humankind. So we are prepared to do what we can to help our brothers and sisters in Africa to enhance their development as part of South-South cooperation.
We have our own traditional (independent ?) relations with African countries. First is no interference in African countries’ internal affairs and developing relations. And we will not go after our selfish interests (during ?) our assistance to African countries. It has no political strings attached.
We consult with African countries instead of imposing our wish on them. We will also take into account the actual needs of the African countries themselves. Like, in the past what they needed most was poverty alleviation, and later it was infrastructure development. Nowadays, maybe going into the future, it’s industrialization. Hence, this cooperation has been moving forward as things further develop.
In a recent forum on China-Africa cooperation summit in Beijing, President Xi Jinping announced eight major actions. The first is to help African countries develop their industrial system to turn your advantages in natural resources into your advantages in pursuing development in the industrial and other fields. That is what China has been doing with African countries, which has been welcomed and supported by the African countries.
Some people say that that has created a debt trap because China is lending too much to the African countries. I want to tell you that China is still a developing country. We don’t have that much money to invest or lend. So each and every project needs to go through a rigorous feasibility study and evaluation to ensure it will be economically viable, it will deliver social benefits, it will suit the needs of the recipient countries. And through negotiations with them, we will provide needed financing support on favorable terms.
The debt problem that some African countries face is not caused by China. It has a historical background. China’s loans actually account for only a small number of their debts.
Because the issue has become more acute because of the price fluctuations in natural commodities and a certain policy adjustment on the part of the United States, and that has caused a temporary difficulty for these countries in paying off debts. So how do we respond to it? We have made it clear to African countries we are open to friendly consultations with them to find a way that works for both sides, and we will never allow it to get in the way of the African countries’ development. Thank you.
RUBIN: State Councilor, yeah, thank you very much. This is a difficult time in this country in many respects, and it’s a difficult time in the way that we’re dealing with China in the view of many of us. And as Richard said to you earlier, hopefully you can use the Council as an institution that can help China in its engagement with our country and in working toward a better relationship. So we thank you enormously for having joined us and we wish you the best. (Applause.)