Question: COVID-19 hit the world with unprecedented impact. What is your assessment of the international situation and China’s diplomacy in 2020?
Wang Yi: It has been an extraordinary year for China and the world. The sudden onslaught of COVID-19 has accelerated the once-in-a-century transformation in an increasingly fluid and changing world. The devastating virus, economic recession and governance difficulties are clear challenges facing humanity. On the other hand, unilateralism, protectionism and power politics are standing in the way of international cooperation. People across the world have increasingly come to see that all countries share a common stake and need to stand together in the face of difficulties. The vision of a community with a shared future for mankind thus enjoys stronger support. More and more members of the international community now choose solidarity over division, openness over isolation and cooperation over confrontation.
Here in China, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has rallied the nation behind a common purpose, and secured major strategic gains in the fight against COVID-19. We have also scored decisive successes in the three critical battles against poverty, pollution and potential risks. The whole country is on course to fully build a moderately prosperous society. The recent Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee set a great vision for China’s development in the coming years and charted the course for national rejuvenation. The unity and perseverance of the Chinese people have impressed the world. The resilience and dynamism of China’s development have won global recognition.
In 2020, we in the foreign service have forged ahead and tackled the challenges head on. Under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core and following Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy, we have advanced China’s foreign relations by taking into account both domestic needs and the international context. Guided by President Xi’s leadership and personal engagement and focusing on forging a joint response to COVID-19, we have worked tirelessly to serve the country and contribute to the world. Fighting the coronavirus and the “political virus” at the same time, we have done our best to safeguard national interests and global stability.
We have built a strong defense against the virus at our borders. We have made utmost efforts to facilitate COVID-19 response and safe reopening of economy at home, and provide consular assistance and protection to Chinese nationals abroad. We piloted “fast tracks” and “green lanes” to speed up the flow of essential personnel and goods, and helped keep industrial and supply chains stable and open, contributing to the full establishment of a moderately prosperous society in China.
We have helped erect an international bulwark against the coronavirus. Having actively engaged in the international response to COVID-19, China launched an emergency global humanitarian campaign of a scale unseen since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, and helped build consensus on a global response to COVID-19, contributing to the building of a global community of health for all.
We have made more friends in the world. China has deepened friendship and cooperation with all countries, making active efforts to develop relations with major powers, achieving solid progress in building a community with a shared future with neighbors, protecting and advancing the shared interests of the developing world, and working for a new type of international relations.
We have shared benefits generated by China’s opening-up with the world. China has signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and concluded negotiations on a China-EU investment agreement. We have vigorously advanced high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, and highlighted public health, green development and digital transformation in advancing the Belt and Road Initiative. All these efforts have injected much needed impetus into the global recovery.
We have been firm in safeguarding our national interests. We have responded resolutely and rationally to unjustified moves by the United States. We have handled issues relating to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet with justified, strong and proportionate countermeasures and won one fierce battle after another in international organizations, vigorously safeguarding China’s sovereignty, dignity and development interests.
We have spearheaded multilateral cooperation. Unswerving in advocating multilateralism, China has supported international cooperation on climate change. We have announced our ambitious goal to peak carbon dioxide emissions and achieve carbon neutrality in the upgraded Nationally Determined Contributions. We have put forward a Global Initiative on Data Security to advance the reform of the global governance system.
In challenging times like this, one’s mettle is tested. We are confident that through concerted efforts, the people in China and across the world will prevail over the virus, end the crisis and win an ultimate victory. China, on course toward national rejuvenation, is generating global opportunities and embracing openness and cooperation. We will make greater contributions to world peace and development.
Question: The pandemic has made “cloud diplomacy” a major form of interactions between countries. Through this virtual platform, President Xi Jinping has communicated with many foreign leaders and heads of international organizations and attended multiple important international conferences. What role has “cloud diplomacy” played in China’s foreign relations in 2020?
Wang Yi: COVID-19, which caught everyone by surprise, has hit the “pause” button on face-to-face interactions between countries. But China’s diplomacy has not paused in the face of the difficulties. We have neither shied away from any challenges, nor fallen silent on any major issues.
The biggest highlight in China’s foreign relations has been the “cloud diplomacy” conducted at the head-of-state level. Summit diplomacy, which is the highest form of diplomacy, has been the compass guiding China’s external relations. In 2020, President Xi Jinping personally planned, oversaw and engaged in “cloud diplomacy”, having 87 meetings and phone calls with foreign leaders and heads of international organizations and attending 22 important bilateral or multilateral events.
Through “cloud diplomacy”, President Xi Jinping has championed solidarity in the world’s fight against COVID-19. At the height of this global battle, President Xi sent out this clear message: virus respects no borders and disease doesn’t distinguish between races; humankind is a community with a shared future; solidarity and cooperation is the most powerful weapon to defeat the virus. Advocating science-based response, he called for joint efforts to enhance global prevention and control, develop vaccines, build a strong line of defense against the virus, and oppose politicization and stigmatization. This has helped galvanize international anti-COVID-19 cooperation.
Through “cloud diplomacy”, President Xi Jinping has boosted confidence in world economic recovery. As the world economy slid toward recession, President Xi offered a series of proposals in light of China’s experience in coordinating pandemic response and economic and social development, including maintaining the smooth functioning of the world economy, leveraging the digital economy, making development more inclusive and beneficial for all, and building an open world economy. This has brought hope for the world economy to step out of the doldrums.
Through “cloud diplomacy”, President Xi Jinping has pointed the way forward for reforming the global governance system. As global governance was severely impacted, President Xi, with his keen grasp of the trend of the times, laid out China’s vision for global governance featuring extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and articulated China’s unequivocal commitment to multilateralism and to fairer and more equitable global governance.
All in all, with “cloud diplomacy”, China has demonstrated its sense of responsibility, contributed its wisdom and expanded the ways it conducts foreign relations.
Question: How has China contributed to and supported the global COVID-19 response?
Wang Yi: The coronavirus is a common enemy of humanity. To defeat it is the shared responsibility of the international community. Facing this global health crisis, China has called for global cooperation since the start and worked with other countries to fight the pandemic, giving meaning to the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind.
China’s contributions and support to the global response are best seen in the following six respects:
We raced against time and were the first country to report cases to the world. More and more research suggests that the pandemic was likely to have been caused by separate outbreaks in multiple places in the world. When hit by an unknown coronavirus, China took immediate actions to carry out epidemiological investigation, identify the pathogen and publicize key information including the genome sequencing of the virus. All this sounded alarm bells across the world.
We took the most rigorous control measures to fight the virus. Putting people and life first, we effectively controlled the virus within the shortest possible time, and steadily resumed economic and social activities in our country. We made an early contribution to building a strong global line of defense against the virus.
We conducted the largest-scale online exchanges on epidemic response with the support of science and technology. We organized over 100 video meetings with experts from other countries, opened an online knowledge center to share China’s experiences with all countries, and published eight updated versions of diagnosis and therapeutic solutions and seven updated versions of prevention and control protocols. We shared our experience with other countries without any reservation.