Rise to the Challenges, Serve the Nation and Embark on a New Journey for Major-Country Diplomacy with Chinese Characteristics
State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China
16 January 2021
In 2020, our world went through a pandemic and global changes, both of a scale unseen in a century. It was truly an extraordinary year for both China and the world.
Over the past year, the momentum of human progress suffered a setback and humanity faced consequential choices. COVID-19 caught us all by surprise. It threatened lives and public health across the world. People’s livelihood and well-being was hit hard by the ensuing economic recession. In an increasingly fluid and changing world, anachronistic practices of unilateralism and protectionism were on the rise, driven by resurgent power politics and Cold War mentality. At the same time, the evolution of the international landscape was speeding up. The new scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation were gathering momentum. Humankind gained a more profound appreciation of the need for embracing a shared future. At this watershed moment, the vast majority of the international community are calling for solidarity over division, openness over isolation, and cooperation over confrontation.
Over the past year, the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese nation overcame tough challenges and opened up new prospects for the future. Facing the devastating impact of COVID-19 and a complex international environment, the entire nation rallied behind a common purpose under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core. China was the first to contain the virus, to pursue international cooperation against COVID, to reopen the economy safely and to restore economic growth. The country met the historic target of ending extreme poverty on schedule and secured decisive achievements in fully establishing a moderately prosperous society. Such progress has put China on course to realize its First Centenary Goal. The Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee set out a great vision for China’s development in the next five years and beyond and launched a new journey toward fully building a modern socialist country, marking a giant step toward the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
Over the past year, China pursued major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics and made solid progress. Guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy, and with presidential diplomacy charting the course, we in the diplomatic service focused on forging a joint international response to COVID-19 and met the challenges head on. We rose to the occasion with proactive steps and fought the coronavirus and the “political virus” at the same time. We took concrete actions as a major, responsible country to advance the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. Our actions helped to create a sound international environment for national development and rejuvenation and made new, major contributions to world peace and development.
Presidential diplomacy and leadership has set the direction for China’s external relations, sending a strong message of solidarity in a challenging time. It provides a source of strength and stability in a time of enormous uncertainty. After the onset of the once-in-a-century pandemic, General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that the history of human civilization is also one of fighting diseases and disasters. Virus does not respect borders, nor does it distinguish between races. Humankind is a community with a shared future, and solidarity and cooperation is the most powerful weapon to defeat COVID-19. With global vision and responsibility as the leader of a major country, General Secretary Xi Jinping engaged in intensive diplomacy. He held 88 meetings or phone calls with world leaders and heads of international organizations and attended 23 multilateral events, including the Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit on COVID-19, the 20th Meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the 12th BRICS Summit, the 27th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting and the 73rd World Health Assembly. General Secretary Xi Jinping proposed building a global community of health for all, and called for fighting an all-out global war against COVID-19, making a collective response at the international level, supporting the role of the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international organizations, and enhancing macroeconomic policy coordination. These proposals guided China’s diplomatic outreach throughout this period, added new dimensions to China’s relations with other countries, and helped to build the broadest possible consensus on fighting COVID-19 together. They were warmly received by the international community.
We have carried out anti-COVID diplomatic actions in the spirit of compassion and humanitarianism, demonstrating a strong sense of responsibility. As a Chinese saying aptly puts it, “A just cause finds great support and compassion knows no borders.” Since the start, China has worked with WHO and the international community in an open, transparent, science-based and responsible manner. Being the first to report cases, China has since publicized key information including the genome sequencing and published guidelines for treatment and containment at the first opportunity. We have organized over 100 video meetings with experts of other countries and opened an online knowledge center for sharing experience of COVID response with all countries. We have firmly supported the lead role of WHO, and provided funding to the organization and the UN Global Humanitarian Response Plan. At a time when our country was still grappling with the virus, we launched the largest humanitarian campaign since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. We have provided assistance to over 150 countries and 10 international organizations and sent 36 expert teams to 34 countries in need. As the world’s largest manufacturer of medical supplies, we have provided countries around the world with over 220 billion masks, 2.3 billion protective suits and one billion testing kits. We have also advanced R&D collaboration on drugs and vaccines and cross-border prevention and control. These are but a few examples of China’s strong desire to promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
We have stood at the forefront of fighting for our country’s rights and interests with firm and robust diplomacy. In everything we do, we bear in mind the big picture and the fundamental interests of our country. We have taken a clear stand against misguided US moves to politicize and label the virus and pushed back against the “political virus”. We have refuted slanders and smears against China’s political system and path and defended China’s political system and the leadership of the Party. We have thwarted attempts to meddle in China’s internal affairs through issues relating to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet. We have upheld China’s sovereign independence and the basic norms governing international relations. We have taken firm and proper steps in the handling of disputes over territorial boundaries and maritime rights and interests, resolutely safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity. With justice on our side, we have exposed disinformation, scapegoating and blame-shifting and set the record straight, leaving behind an objective and truthful account of what has happened. We have taken firm counter-measures against unilateral sanctions and “long-arm jurisdiction” on the spurious grounds of “national security”, thereby protecting China’s dignity and the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and citizens.
We have deepened opening-up and cooperation, reinforcing our commitment to mutual benefit and win-win outcomes. The tides of reform are sweeping across China. Reform and opening-up is accelerating across the board, as evidenced by the implementation of the new Foreign Investment Law and the further shortening of the negative list for foreign investment to just 33 items. With these steps, China is opening its door even wider to the world. We have set out to foster a new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other. By vigorously boosting domestic demand, we are providing greater market opportunities for the world and broader space for international cooperation. China’s mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries has continued to move forward despite COVID-19, providing an important underpinning for global recovery. The Belt and Road cooperation has demonstrated great resilience and vitality. The China-Europe Railway Express has hit new records in both the number and the volume of freight services. It has been compared to a “steel camel fleet” that vigorously supported COVID response by countries along its route. At a high-level video conference on Belt and Road cooperation held recently, the participants agreed to work toward a Silk Road for Health, adding another building block to high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. The third China International Import Expo was a success. It was attended by over 3,600 companies from more than 150 countries and regions and resulted in intended deals worth US$72.62 billion. The China market is increasingly becoming a boon for the world, shared by all and accessible to all.
We have advanced relations with major countries in a holistic manner, upholding the overall framework for strategic stability. Mutual trust is essential in major-country relations. The unity and friendship between China and Russia is rock-firm and unbreakable. General Secretary Xi Jinping has had five phone calls with President Vladimir Putin, which guided the continuous growth of China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era. The two countries have steadily enhanced cooperation in COVID response and many other areas, and worked in concert to uphold the victorious outcome of World War II as well as international fairness and justice. Together, China and Russia have become pillars of stability in a fluid international landscape. Celebrating the 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties, China and the European Union (EU) have strengthened coordination and cooperation, deepened mutual trust, upheld multilateralism and tackled global challenges together. The two sides signed an agreement on geographical indications and decided to build partnerships for green and digital cooperation. Negotiations for the China-EU investment agreement were concluded on schedule. Closer cooperation in all these areas is adding new dimensions to the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership. The past year witnessed the most challenging situation in China-US relations since the establishment of diplomatic ties over four decades ago. In response to US bullying and provocations, China took justified, firm and proportionate counter-measures to resolutely defend national sovereignty, security and development interests, to firmly uphold the norms of international relations and international fairness and justice, and to vigorously safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of many countries, developing countries in particular. In the meantime, China’s policy toward the United States is stable and consistent. Determined and cool-headed, China has handled and managed its differences with the US in a constructive fashion, and made its contributions to strategic stability in the international system.
We have deepened and expanded partnerships, taking global cooperation to a higher level. Solidarity and mutual help are crucial in trying times. During 2020, we took new steps toward building a community with a shared future with our neighbors. We realized a stable transition in China-Japan relations despite a change of administration, handled China-India relations with prudence, and engaged in productive cooperation with the Republic of Korea on resuming economic interactions in the context of COVID-19. General Secretary Xi Jinping’s visit to Myanmar ushered in a new era for the bilateral ties. Building a community with a shared future has become a broad consensus in Asia-Pacific cooperation. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was signed. This major development, together with China’s announcement of favorably considering joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), are a strong boost to confidence in eventually building a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific. Premier Li Keqiang attended the leaders’ meetings for East Asian cooperation. China and ASEAN marked a historic milestone of becoming each other’s largest trading partners. China and the five Central Asian countries launched a mechanism of foreign ministerial meeting. Solidarity and cooperation between China and other developing countries showed new vibrancy. The Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19 was a success. There were productive interactions under dialogue mechanisms with Latin American and Caribbean countries and with Arab states. China supported other developing countries with needed medical and other supplies, and pushed for the accessibility and affordability of COVID vaccines in the developing world. China also took an active part in developing and implementing the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), and co-hosted with the UN a high-level video conference on poverty eradication and South-South cooperation. From fighting the coronavirus and restoring the economy to building a shared future, China worked closely with its neighbors and fellow developing countries, thus enhancing mutual solidarity and friendship through a challenging period.
We have pushed global governance forward against all odds, demonstrating the power of multilateralism. As the saying goes, one needs to stand tall and see far, through the obscuring mist. In the face of pushback and setbacks to global governance, General Secretary Xi Jinping has made China’s proposition clear at several major multilateral meetings. He elaborated on China’s firm commitment to multilateralism, to the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and to building a community with a shared future for mankind. pointing the way forward for the global governance reform. Working with the rest of the international community, China has firmly upheld the international system with the UN at its core, the international order underpinned by international law, and the multilateral trading regime with the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the cornerstone. We have supported efforts to bring more democracy to international relations and make economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial for all. China has followed the tide of history. It has taken part in international cooperation on climate change in a responsible manner, and undertaken to strive to peak CO2 emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. This is China’s contributions to global ecological preservation. In the same spirit, China has proposed a Global Initiative on Data Security aimed at fostering an international cyberspace featuring peace, security, openness and cooperation. China has stood on the side of international justice. It has firmly upheld the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear issue and put forward a constructive proposal of building a platform for multilateral dialogue for the Gulf region. China has continued to advocate the phased and synchronized approach to achieve the two goals of denuclearization and establishment of a peace mechanism on the Korean Peninsula. China has supported advancing intra-Afghan talks and mediated between Bangladesh and Myanmar in addressing their disagreements. Through these efforts, China has explored a distinctive Chinese way of resolving hotspot issues.
We have worked all out to serve the development of our country, breaking new ground in people-centered diplomacy. The people’s wish is what we should strive for. In the early days of the epidemic, we helped mobilize life-saving medical supplies from around the world to address the pressing needs back home. With infections rising globally, we worked with fellow Chinese at home and abroad to build a strong line of defense at our borders and preserve the hard-won gains in containing COVID-19 at home. As the economy gradually reopened, we took creative steps to open “fast tracks” and “green lanes” for the movement of people and goods, which has helped to keep industrial and supply chains stable and open and bolster domestic economic recovery and social development. We have stayed committed to the people-centered principle in our work, kept in mind the safety and well-being of every fellow countryman and woman abroad, and carried out consular protection missions across the world. We urged the governments of host countries to pay more attention to addressing the difficulties encountered by overseas Chinese citizens. We set up online telemedicine platforms and offered prompt support to those infected. We delivered more than 1.2 million health kits to overseas Chinese students, sent emergency medical supplies to our nationals in 100-plus countries, and arranged over 350 ad hoc flights to bring home stranded fellow countrymen. With our consular protection hotline 12308 operating 24/7, we have extended the bond of love linking overseas Chinese with their motherland to every corner of the world, and conveyed the solicitude of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council to everyone.
The year 2021 will be a year of historic importance in China’s national rejuvenation. It will be the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China and the inaugural year of China’s 14th Five-Year Plan. China will embark on a new journey toward fully building a modern socialist country and realizing its Second Centenary Goal. Guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy, we in the diplomatic service will build on our past achievements and continue to forge ahead. We will explore new opportunities and break new ground amid crises and changes, and make new contributions to realizing China’s national rejuvenation and building a community with a shared future for mankind.
We will stick to the overall direction of our diplomatic work. Adhering to the CPC leadership and socialism with Chinese characteristics is a built-in, defining feature of China’s diplomacy. We will unswervingly strengthen the Party’s centralized, unified leadership in foreign-related work and wholeheartedly serve presidential diplomacy to demonstrate the unique appeal of major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics in the new era. As we celebrate the 100th birthday of the CPC, we will better communicate to the world the CPC’s track record of governance, the Chinese people’s extraordinary journey toward the Chinese dream, and China’s commitment to peaceful development. Through better communications, we hope the world will get a more accurate understanding of the CPC’s original aspiration and mission and of socialism with Chinese characteristics. China will increase friendly interactions with the rest of the world to enhance mutual understanding and mutual trust between the Chinese and the peoples around the world.
We will do our best to serve our national development strategies. We will foster a keen awareness of the features of China’s new development stage and promote the new development philosophy. We will better integrate the domestic and international markets and resources to create a favorable external environment for fostering a new development paradigm and launching the 14th Five-Year Plan. We will support both epidemic control on an ongoing basis and economic and social development. While locking in the gains in fighting COVID-19, we will open more “fast tracks” for travel and “green lanes” for shipments of cargo, establish joint pandemic response mechanisms with more countries, and advance global vaccine cooperation. We will host a new round of events to present Chinese provinces and economically important regions that have emerged stronger from the test of COVID-19, and help build bridges with the world for the opening and development of our country and its different localities. We will develop an all-round consular network to protect the safety and legitimate rights and interests of overseas Chinese citizens and institutions.
We will keep fostering a new type of international relations. We will deepen comprehensive strategic coordination with Russia to form a bulwark for peace, security and strategic stability in the world. We will work for an upgrade in our relations with Europe by enhancing mutual trust, increasing consensus and expanding practical cooperation. A US return to a more sensible China policy should be encouraged. We hope the US will work with China to review experience and lessons and, on that basis, reopen dialogue, resume cooperation and rebuild trust. It is time for the two countries to jointly build a strategic framework for the sound and steady growth of the bilateral relations and find a path for countries of different social systems to live in peace.
We will take solid steps to advance international and regional cooperation. We will work for the early entry into force of the RCEP agreement, push forward the China-Japan-ROK free trade process, and advance the building of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Economic Development Belt. We believe these efforts will help cultivate greater awareness of an Asia-Pacific community with a shared future. We will step up the building of China-Africa, China-Arab and China-Latin America and Caribbean communities with a shared future to enhance China’s solidarity and friendship with fellow developing countries. We will contribute our share to the poverty alleviation, debt reduction and disaster mitigation of other developing countries, and support them in building capacity for self-generated development. We will keep our commitment to make COVID-19 vaccines, once available, a global public good.
We will scale up openness and cooperation. China will stay committed to fostering a new system of open economy of higher standards to fully unlock the potential of its vast market and domestic demand. China will contribute to global recovery with its own development and share more development opportunities with the world. China will stay firmly opposed to protectionism of whatever forms, and work with other countries to keep the global industrial and supply chains stable and smooth as part of an open world economy. We will advance high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, and accelerate the development of the health Silk Road, digital Silk Road and green Silk Road to benefit more countries and peoples.
We will take a proactive part in the reform of global governance. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the restoration of China’s lawful seat at the UN and the 20th anniversary of its accession to the WTO. China will continue to uphold multilateralism, follow the principles of openness and inclusiveness, carry out mutually beneficial cooperation, and move forward with the times. We will give full play to the central position and role of UN agencies in international affairs. As the host of the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity next year, China will endeavor to make the meeting a success and join other parties in exploring new strategies for global biodiversity governance and building a shared future for all life on Earth. China will enhance cooperation within the frameworks of the G20, APEC, the SCO and BRICS to address global challenges such as climate change, cybersecurity and public health. We will call for joint efforts to draw up rules on global digital governance and develop a more equitable global governance system.
We will endeavor to build a community with a shared future for mankind. Since General Secretary Xi Jinping propose the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, the initiative has been constantly enriched both at the conceptual level and in diplomatic practices. From China’s old friends to new cooperation partners, from China’s neighborhood to the wider regions of Asia, Africa and Latin America, and from bilateral relations to multilateral issues, this important vision has been expanded in both scope and depth, and gained growing understanding and support. We will continue to call on all countries to rise above differences of ideology, social systems and development stages, uphold the values of peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom shared by all countries, and work together for an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world of lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity.
Having reached the centennial milestone, we will remain true to our original aspiration and step up to our responsibilities for the great journey ahead. We in the diplomatic service will rally more closely behind the Party Central Committee with comrade Xi Jinping at its core, keep firmly in mind the need to maintain political integrity, think in big-picture terms, uphold the leadership core and keep in alignment, reaffirm confidence in the path, theory, system, and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and uphold General Secretary Xi Jinping’s core position in both the CPC Central Committee and the CPC as a whole and uphold the authority and centralized, unified leadership of the Central Committee. Bearing in mind our mission of striving for the well-being of the Chinese people and contributing to the progress of humankind, we will continue to shoulder our responsibilities for our country and for the world, open new ground in advancing major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, and make new and bigger contributions to the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.