Wang Yi Showcased Chinese Foreign Policy For New World Order
Chinese Foreign Minister and State Counsellor, Wang Yi, held a two-hour-long press conference for the Third Session of the 13th National People’s Congress on Sunday and answered questions from Chinese and foreign media about China’s foreign policy and external relations.
The press conference was crucial as it showcased China’s plans for new world order, its priorities in foreign relations and the role it hopes to play in the future. The COVID-19 pandemic was at the heart of the conference as expected. But it actually set a timestamp for the history where China will be found announcing its superpower status.
Humanity’s War with the Pandemic and Globalization
China continues its attempts to change the general narrative which blames them for the pandemic and its far-reaching consequences. With most countries accusing China of not releasing the initial outbreak in a timely fashion and being the epicentre for the virus. China again has stressed that they have been a victim as well and that it is prudent to tackle the pandemic as a global community.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi chose to reiterate what President Xi Jinping has said before on global platforms that COVID-19 is a “common enemy of mankind” and that it is a virus that discriminates against no one. “…it has never been made so clear to us that all nations live in the same global village and that humanity is, in fact, a community with a shared future,” he said. He also stated that the most effective weapons against the virus are “solidarity and cooperation”.
To combat the spread of ‘disinformation’ and China’s stigmatization, the minister said that “China is open to joint efforts by the international science community to identify the source of the virus. Importantly, it must be a professional, impartial and constructive process.” He stressed that it should be led by WHO, be free from ‘political interference’, and it not hamper the work of saving lives.
On the question of globalization, the foreign minister emphasised that it should “be more inclusive and beneficial to all” and that any country which “attempts to reject globalization and fall back on protectionism will have no future.” He further discussed the necessity for multilateralism and the role it plays in bringing the world together.
Global governance was also mentioned as its various weaknesses were elaborated. He called upon the UN to play the central role and its specialised agencies such as WHO to be able to play their essential roles without hindrances. The minister went into great detail about the significance of WHO as he said: “To support WHO is to support saving lives.” He also recounted the reforms he believes are necessary for the agency such as mechanisms to ensure removal of political interference.
In relation to the COVID-19 assistance, the minister stated, “Nothing we do is out of the geopolitical calculation, or in pursuit of economic gains, or with any political strings attached,” which helped portray them as the benevolent saviour which can be seen as an attempt to remove the terrible stain the pandemic has left on China’s reputation.
Questions regarding China-US relations pervaded throughout the press conference. It highlighted the significance of the US-China bilateral relationship going to plays in the new world order.
Mr Wang Yi described, how in the face of current pandemic, China and the US have provided mutual support and assistance to each other. He illustrated, “Take face masks for example. More than 12 billion masks have been exported to the US, which roughly means 40 masks for every American.”.
On the other hand, the foreign minister expressed his regret that “a ‘political virus’ is also spreading in the US and jumping at any opportunity to attack and slander China. He added, “Some politicians ignore the basic facts and make up countless lies and conspiracy theories concerning China.”
Chinese analysts claim that this is the first time a top diplomat of China has responded to senior US officials and politicians’ provocative words and acts.
The Foreign Minister called upon the US “to stop wasting precious time and stop costing people’s lives.” Instead, they should learn from each other, advance multilateral cooperation against the virus and coordinate to mitigate its impact on economies.
It is essential to note that while the minister calls for the US to build a relationship based on “coordination, cooperation and stability”, he also emphasised that China will continue to exercise its right to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity alongside their right to development and the place they have earned in the world. The minister seemed to want to make it clear that in no situation will China be dissuaded from pursuing their national goals. However, he refuted any possibility of the two nations ever engaging in a ‘new cold war’.
In a question regarding the lawsuits filed in the US that ask for compensation from China, the minister made it clear that the lawsuits are frivolous and have no basis in law or international precedence. “If anybody thought they could use some ludicrous lawsuits to undermine China’s sovereignty and dignity or deprive the Chinese people of their hard-won gains, they’d be daydreaming and bring disgrace to themselves,” he said.
And when asked about the “wolf warrior” diplomacy that China has been utilizing with the US, the minister answered that all China is doing is defending their national honour and are refuting groundless slander with facts.
In addition, he called upon the US to continue communication and dialogue with DPRK as it is as a “key stepping stone to settling issues on the Korean Peninsula.” He added that DPRK has taken a few positive steps in the last few years toward de-escalation and denuclearization but these were not reciprocated by the US. He asked the US to reconsider the draft resolution China and Russia had introduced at UNSC for the political settlement and to not squander such an opportunity.
The Foreign Minister described the close relationship President Jinping and President Putin have developed since the start of COVID-19. The nations have engaged in mutual assistance, impressive trade, and have defended each other against attacks from other countries. He announced China’s intentions to maintain and accelerate cooperation in various fields, in addition to enhancing their strategic coordination.
He said, “We will enhance cooperation and coordination in the UN, SCO, BRICS and G20 to prepare ourselves for a new round of the once-in-a-century change shaping today’s world.”
“Together, China and Russia have forged an impregnable fortress against the ‘political virus’ and demonstrated the strength of China-Russia strategic coordination,” a statement added by the minister which seemed to personally address the US by referring to the “political virus”.
National Security Legislation in Hong Kong and Taiwan
Mr Wang Yi maintained throughout the conference that Hong Kong and Taiwan are China’s internal affairs and they will allow no external interference.
He clarified that Article 23 of the Basic Law which authorises Hong Kong SAR to enact laws of it own, “does not prevent the Central Government from developing a legal system and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security in light of the actual situation and needs.”
This comes in the light of a strong statement made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who called the new law “a death knell” to city’s freedom.
In case of Taiwan, the minister reminded all present that “one-China principle is an international consensus and the political foundation of China’s diplomatic relations with other countries” and that they “oppose any external support and encouragement to those elements who take advantage of COVID-19 to seek Taiwan independence.” He asked the US side to “ditch its illusions and political calculations” and “not to make any attempt to challenge China’s red line or misjudge 1.4 billion people’s strong resolve to defend national unification.”
However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taiwan, has issued a press release declaring that Taiwan is a recognized democratic country. It also stressed that only the people of Taiwan have the right to decide their future and that only Taiwan’s elected government has the right to represent the Taiwanese. They further stated that China has no right to make such “irresponsible remarks.”
Chinese diplomatic relations
China is currently engaging in “cloud diplomacy” in the form of phone calls, correspondence and video conferences. Throughout the press conference, China underlined the various positive relations in shares around the world.
China-EU relations, the minister stated, are “defined by cooperation and demonstrate great potential” and stressed that the two should ensure they remain “comprehensive strategic partners and not become systemic rivals.”
Similarly, the relations between China, Japan and Republic of Korea were described very positively. Mr Wang Yi emphasised the need for regional economic cooperation and efficient trilateral free trade negotiations while working toward signing the RCEP agreement within the year to strengthen regional economic linkages. China is also “prepared to open “fast tracks” for the movement of people and “green corridors” for the flow of goods with the ROK and other countries “ to revitalise regional economic activities.
In regard to Africa, the Chinese minister expressed the strong friendship they share. He reiterated all the assistance they have sent to the African continent and outlined areas China is currently with them on to increase development and the debt service suspension initiative China is going to implement soon to ease Africa’s debt burden. China’s constant efforts in Africa can be seen as their attempts to be branded as the leader and developer of the Global South.
The Chinese flagship project, BRI, was talked about at length and how COVID-19 has strengthened it and opened up new possibilities. The Foreign Minister said, “Many of its infrastructure and livelihood projects have played a vital role in COVID-19 response. For example, energy projects along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor have kept running and provided one-third of the country’s electricity.” He informed of the steady progress of ongoing projects and the benefits partner countries are receiving as well.
The Foreign Minister acknowledged the importance of Afghanistan and the significant impact it can have on regional peace and stability. He informed that China welcomed the power-sharing deal between President Ghani and Dr Abdullah to form a unity government. He called upon factions to cease hostilities and to establish a proper framework for dialogue. He also requested the US to withdraw “foreign troops in an appropriate and orderly manner.” In addition, the necessity of combating the regrouping of terrorist forces was highlighted as well as the need to secure external support from neighbouring countries such as Pakistan. The minister emphasised that the process should be Afghan-led, should prioritise peace and should be broadly representative and inclusive. The minister concluded that “China will continue to play an active and constructive role in promoting intra-Afghan talks, restoring peace and stability and advancing economic recovery in Afghanistan, and facilitating its participation in regional cooperation.” This may be indicative of the strong threat that China perceives US withdrawal to be as it will leave a power vacuum most likely to be filled with a terror outfit, Taliban, and the instability it will lead to.
ASEAN and the South China Sea
“Thanks to joint efforts, China-ASEAN cooperation continued to grow despite COVID-19,” Mr Wang Yi said. He added, “… our trade in goods grew 6.1 percent to exceed $140 billion, making ASEAN China’s biggest trading partner.”
He stressed that China views ASEAN as “a high priority in its neighbourhood diplomacy and support ASEAN centrality in East Asian cooperation” He further elaborated, “seek stronger complementarity between the Belt and Road Initiative and ASEAN development plans and expand cooperation in emerging sectors such as smart cities, artificial intelligence and e-commerce”
The foreign minister dismisses any claims that China is using COVID-19 to expand its presence in the South China Sea. He claimed that the ships and planes in the South China Sea are carrying critical supplies and it is just one of the instances of mutual assistance and cooperation between China and ASEAN. Instead, he accused non-regional countries are sending military aircraft and vessels to showcase their strength and sow discord between China and ASEAN countries.
As evident from the Foreign Minister’s press conference, China is aspiring to come out on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic as stronger and more resourceful than before. It is envisioning a revised world order with them and Russia against US hegemony, in spite of their claims that they do not wish for a hegemonic status. Throughout the speech, China reclaimed the moral high ground as the minister recounted of all the instances that the US has provoked them and let down the global community. In addition, it boasted of the various bilateral relations it has strengthened, countless assistance it has given and the befits it has provided its partners under BRI.
China’s main concern seemed to be recovering its economy as the minister extensively talked about building economic regional cooperation and condemning all those who are swaying toward protectionism rather than opening their economy.
Mr Wang Yi emphasised the importance of national sovereignty and territorial integrity, indicating that their intentions for Hong Kong and Taiwan will remain unchanged and that they will not let anyone interfere in their internal matters.
In addition, the Chinese foreign policy was reiterated as seeking peace and harmony repeatedly. The role of military and such was downplayed as in the instance of the South China Sea.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team