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In a press conference by the First Session of the Thirteenth National People's Congress on March 8, 2018, Foreign Minister Wang Yi answered questions on China's foreign policy and external relations.

Addressing nearly 600 Chinese and foreign journalists who attended the two-hour press conference, Wang Yi began by saying, "At the outset, I wish to extend festive greetings to all women, particularly the female journalists in this room. I also wish to thank the press, Chinese and foreign, for having shown understanding and support for China's foreign policy and external relations."

"We have traveled on a road of major-country diplomacy that reflects China's distinct vision, style and values. Producing historic accomplishments, our diplomatic efforts have been instrumental to upholding national sovereignty and interests, and to facilitating domestic reform and development," said the Chinese Minister.

He shed light on China's unprecedented progress in its foreign relations, while referring to the highlights of its diploimatic agenda for this year.

"China will work with other countries to foster a new type of international relations and to build a global community with a shared future. This is the aim of China's major-country diplomacy in the new era," Wang Yi indicated.

"The year 2018 kicks off efforts to implement the decisions of the 19th Party Congress. Guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, we in the diplomatic service will take new steps and make new strides," he added.

Outlining his country's upcoming diplomatic events, the Chinese Foreign Minister said: "The main highlights of China's diplomatic calendar will include the following four events we are going to host:

-First, the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference, which will take place in Hainan this April and focus on reform and opening-up. In this 40th anniversary year of reform and opening-up, we will review China's successful experience and sketch new possibilities for reform and opening-up in the new era.

-Second, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit, which will take place in Qingdao this June and focus on revitalizing the Shanghai Spirit. The expanded SCO will rededicate itself to the Shanghai Spirit of mutual trust and benefit, equal-footed consultation, respect for diversity of civilizations and pursuit of common development. The summit will set the SCO on a new journey of consolidation and growth.

-Third, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Summit, which will take place in Beijing this September and focus on the Belt and Road Initiative. A great opportunity for our African brothers and sisters to participate fully in the BRI, the Summit will give new impetus to the China-Africa comprehensive strategic partnership.

-Fourth, the first China International Import Expo, which will take place in Shanghai this November and focus on further market opening. China will embrace the world with open arms and enormous market potential. All will be welcome to access and benefit from the new opportunities of China's development.

China's diplomatic agenda for 2018 are unfolding even as we speak. In the new era, we will work even harder to see that China will enjoy a better environment for development and make greater contributions to human progress."

Responding to a question on the role that China has to facilitate direct talks between North Korea and the United States, and whether China believes that the US needs to withdraw its military forces in South Korea, Wang Yi said, "This is the hottest topic right now. Seizing the opportunity of the PyeongChang Olympics, the DPRK and the ROK have had a succession of interactions and achieved a rapid thaw in their relations, reversing the long-standing chill on the Korean Peninsula."

"The Korean Peninsula issue has finally taken an important step in the right direction. China fully commends and supports the efforts made by the two Koreas. To return the Peninsula to peace and stability and the nuclear issue to the track of dialogue, these initial steps must be followed up by corresponding and concerted efforts by the parties. To this end, we call on the parties, particularly the US and the DPRK, to engage in dialogue sooner rather than later. We encourage all to follow the dual-track approach of remaining committed to the goal of denuclearization and working actively to establish a peace mechanism on the Peninsula," Wang Yi asserted.

"Every effort must be made for peace, and the opportunity must be seized. It falls to all parties to bear in mind the imperative of peace and the well-being of people in the region. All must demonstrate political courage and make a political decision to expeditiously carry out all necessary and useful engagements, both bilateral and plurilateral, and to do their best to restart dialogue and negotiation for the peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue. China will continue to make unremitting efforts for this outcome," assured the Chinese Foreign Minister.

Asked about the role and impact of the diplomacy conducted by President Xi as head of state, Wang Yi said, "Head-of-state diplomacy as the highest form of state-to-state interaction plays a pivotal role and has irreplaceable strategic value. Since 2012, President Xi Jinping has been the chief architect of China's distinctive major-country diplomacy. He was personally involved in the planning and conduct of head-of-state diplomacy, which by all accounts has been brilliant."

He added: "To date, President Xi has visited 57 countries in different parts of the world and received more than 110 foreign heads of state. These important visits and meetings go a long way towards deepening the world's understanding of China, enhancing China's profile and influence, and facilitating the solution of many global problems. President Xi's leadership and charisma has earned him - and his country - many good friends among foreign leaders who represent a diverse range of cultures and social systems."

"In the year ahead, President Xi will host the four diplomatic events I mentioned earlier, and he will also attend the BRICS Summit in South Africa, the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Papua New Guinea and the G20 Summit in Argentina. We believe that President Xi's personal diplomacy will make a positive and responsible contribution to the well-being of his people, the interests of China and the welfare of the world. It will write a whole new chapter of major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics in the new era," disclosed Wang Yi.

Referring to China's policy towards the United States, the Foreign Ministyer said, "China and the US are in agreement that we share broad interests and important responsibilities for global peace, stability and prosperity. Our two countries are to carry out broad-based cooperation on the basis of mutual benefit, manage our differences on the basis of mutual respect, deepen mutual understanding and friendship between our people, and work together to address major regional and global challenges. We ought to work for the sustained, healthy and steady growth of our relations. Cooperation is the main thrust of China-US relations."

"China and America working together will benefit not just our own countries, but also the whole world. If there is any competition between us, which is natural, it has to be healthy and positive. We may have competition, but we don't have to be rivals. Instead, we should strive to be partners," he underscored.

"China is determined to stay on the path it has chosen, and China's development and revitalization is unstoppable. This is the consensus of the international community," Wang Yi added.

"As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China takes seriously its responsibility for maintaining international peace. Even in the 1950s, we made an important contribution to the peaceful settlement of the Indochina issue. Today, China is in a much better position to help resolve various regional and international issues. We are ready to play our part; indeed, the world expects no less from us," emphasized Wang Yi.

"In helping to settle various flashpoints, we follow a distinctly Chinese approach. There are things we will do and there are things we won't do. Put simply, our approach is at once peaceful, justifiable and constructive. First, we prefer a political settlement of disputes through dialogue and negotiation, and firmly reject the use of force. Second, we respect other countries' sovereignty and wish, and never meddle in their internal affairs. Indeed, we firmly reject imposing one's own view on others. Third, we do our best to be fair and objective and proceed from the merits of the matter. We firmly reject pursuing private ends. Our approach is rooted in traditional Chinese culture and our successful diplomatic practice," Wang Yi reiterated.

As for the Chinese-Russian relations, the Foreign Minister said, "We have great confidence in the future of China-Russia relations. Our confidence comes from the strong friendship and trust between our presidents, which is fundamental to the further growth of our relationship. It also comes from the deepening of our cooperation in so many fields, our firm support for each other's core interests, our close coordination on international affairs and the growing exchanges between our two societies."

"In short, the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination is as unshakable as a mountain," he assrted.

Touching on the China-ASEAN cooperation, Wang Yi deemed that "it is the most successful and dynamic in the Asian-Pacific region," adding, "In the year ahead, we will continue to give the highest priority to cooperation with ASEAN, upgrade our strategic partnership and build a more close-knit community of shared destiny."

As for relations with Africa, Wang Yi stated that "in our new endeavor to build a global community with a shared future, Africa is an indispensable partner. China welcomes our African brothers and sisters to continue their ride on China's fast train of development. The FOCAC summit scheduled for September will bring together Chinese and African leaders again, 12 years after their last gathering in Beijing. They will discuss China-Africa cooperation in the new era and focus on jointly advancing the Belt and Road Initiative and turning China and Africa into a community with a shared future."

On the China-Japan Treaty of Peace and Friendship, Wang Yi considered that "Japan has in the recent period adopted a clearer and more positive policy towards China, resulting in a precious improvement of relations. China welcomes this. If Japan does not prevaricate, flip-flop or backpedal, and instead comes to terms with China's development and welcomes it, China will be willing to act in the same spirit and work with Japan to put our relationship back on the track of healthy and steady growth."

"China and Japan see each other as partners, not threats" he added, saying, "I am hopeful that with the steady improvement of our relations, high-level visits will naturally come about, and peace and friendship will again be the dominant theme of China-Japan relations."

On the China-EU relations, Wang Yi said, "This year will mark the 15th anniversary of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership. The year started with President Macron paying a state visit to China and Sino-French relations in excellent shape. Then the visit of Prime Minister May kicked off efforts by China and the UK to upgrade their "Golden Era" of relations. We hope at the end of the year, China-EU relations will be as strong as we have started it. We hope France will make a substantial contribution to the furtherance of China-EU cooperation."

"Global governance has emerged as a new dimension of such cooperation, China and the EU have a joint responsibility to safeguard the global free trade system, and negotiation needs to be speeded up to conclude a China-EU investment agreement," Wang Yi underscored.

Source: National News Agency

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