Wang Yi lays out China's diplomatic agenda for 2018
By Shafei Moiz Hali
The annual political season in China kicked off in March with the first session of the 13th National People's Congress and the Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. At the opening session Premier Li Keqiang presented the Government Work Report which covered most of the economic achievements of the past five years and the targets for 2018. But the report didn't much highlight China's diplomatic achievements in the past five years. Ever since China entered the new era, all eyes have been on China, which makes it all the more significant to elaborate China's diplomatic agenda. That is why Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday morning held a press conference on the sidelines of the 13th National People's Congress.
Wang answered quite a number of questions from local and international media and covered the wide diplomatic spectrum of China. Wang talked about a number of issues like the Diplomatic agenda for 2018, the head of state's role in diplomacy, and the Belt and Road initiative, as well as China's relations with Russia, the US, the EU, Japan, ASEAN, India, Africa, and Latin America. He also addressed the South China Sea issue, the Korean Peninsula issue, and many others.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi answers questions on China's foreign policies and foreign relations at a press conference on the sidelines of the first session of the 13th National People's Congress in Beijing, capital of China, March 8, 2018.[Photo: Xinhua]
The FM highlighted President Xi's assertiveness, and his achievements in foreign policy. Wang Yi said, "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." This is why during the first term of President Xi he has been able to visit 57 countries and welcome 110 heads of state from across the world.
Despite China's recent standoff with India at Doklam, Wang still noted the development of trust between the two countries and he said "mutual trust" is an issue that needs to be addressed urgently" between China and India. He said "with political trust, not even the Himalayas can stop us from friendly exchanges. Without it, not even level land can bring us together." Since China and India are both fast developing nations and each has a population of over 1 billion people there is great room for the development of a middle class and enhancement of trade between the two.
Wang also touched on the topic of the South China Sea dispute and expressed happiness because of the fact that, "The situation in the South China Sea is turning better, China and ASEAN countries have reached a consensus on maintaining the hard-won tranquility through making the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea."
Relations with Japan have always been up and down, but during the past couple of months Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has expressed his intent in patching things with China. The Japanese foreign minister also visited China recently to open up lines of communication between the top leadership of China and Japan. Wang Yi said, "that this year marks the 40th anniversary of the China Japan Peace Treaty" and he expressed that "China is willing to work with Japan to restore the relationship to healthy and steady growth, as long as Japan "does not prevaricate, flip-flop or backpedal and instead accepts and welcomes China's development."
Mr. Wang also highlighted the One-China policy and revealed that many countries have broken their relations with Taiwan. He said, "There is only one China in the world. Taiwan is an inseparable part of China. This has been the consensus of the international community for decades. Adhering to the one-China principle and not having official ties with Taiwan has become a generally observed norm in international relations."
Overall, Wang Yi's press conference came at a very important juncture in time as China has entered the new era and this year's political season in China is ushering in change, thus making it important to showcase the country's foreign policy. It can be seen that no drastic measures have been taken and this phenomenon is best explained in Vladimir Zhirinovsky's words "the matter of international relations is very subtle and exquisite."
(Dr. Shafei Moiz Hali studied at George Mason University, Virginia, USA and specialized in the field of International Commerce and Policy. He did his PhD from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China specializing in Chinese foreign policy focusing on the Belt and Road Initiative and energy issues. Currently Dr. Hali is working as an Assistant Professor with the Faculty of Contemporary Studies, National Defence University (NDU) Islamabad, Pakistan.)