On 8 March 2016, the Fourth Session of the Twelfth National People's Congress held a press conference. Foreign Minister Wang Yi was invited to answer questions on China's foreign policy and external relations.
Wang Yi: Friends from the media, good morning. At the outset, I wish to thank you for your care, understanding and support for China's diplomacy. I also want to extend festive greetings to all the ladies in this room, including the female journalists. Now I am ready to answer your questions.
CCTV: In September, China will host the G20 Summit for the first time. What proposals will China put forward at the Hangzhou Summit?
Wang Yi: This is the first question, and you are asking about the G20 Summit. It shows people have high expectations for China's G20 presidency. Indeed, the G20 Hangzhou Summit, the most important international conference that China will host this year, is the world's most closely watched economic summit.
In the past few years, the G20 Summit has played a critical role in containing the global financial crisis. This time, the world economy has reached another crossroads. How to emerge from long-term economic sluggishness? How to find new sources of growth? And how to coordinate national policies more effectively? The world is turning its eyes to China. President Xi Jinping has clearly articulated China's basic approach to hosting the G20 Summit. While making solid preparations on all the topics, we will try to break new ground from three angles. First, we want to discover new sources of growth through innovation. Second, we want to inject new momentum into the world economy through reform. And third, we want to open up new prospects through development.
For the first time, we will make innovative growth a key topic on the G20 agenda. We want to capitalize on the new industrial revolution and digital economy, and develop a new blueprint for the innovative growth of the world economy.
We will stress the importance of structural reform and encourage the major economies to build new consensus around this, so as to work together to put the world economy on the path to strong recovery.
And we will prioritize development issues in macro policy coordination. We will encourage G20 members to show leadership by developing action plans to implement the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, so as to catalyze inclusive and interconnected development all over the world.
I am confident that the G20 Hangzhou Summit will boost people's confidence, build consensus and point the way forward. Hangzhou will be a new launch pad for the G20, and China will be a new launch pad for the world economy.
KBS: How will China make sure that the new UN Security Council resolution on the DPRK will be implemented effectively? Where to draw the line between "livelihood" and "non-livelihood" purposes?
Wang Yi: China is a permanent member of the Security Council. We have the obligation and capability to implement all the resolutions passed by the Security Council, including Resolution 2270 concerning the DPRK.
You mentioned the term "livelihood": I think people would agree what it means. Of course, China will adopt an objective and impartial attitude during implementation and carry out necessary evaluation, determination and monitoring. I wish to point out that Resolution 2270 not just contains sanctions; it also reiterates support for the Six-Party Talks and asks the parties to refrain from taking any actions that might aggravate tensions. So in China's view, the resolution must be implemented in its entirety. Sanctions are just a necessary means. Maintaining stability is the pressing priority, and only negotiation can lead to a fundamental solution.
At the moment, there is some saber-rattling on the Korean Peninsula, and the situation is highly charged. If the tensions worsen and get out of control, it would be a disaster for all parties. As the largest neighbor of the Peninsula, China will not sit by and see a fundamental disruption to stability on the Peninsula. And we will not sit by and see unwarranted damage to China's security interests. We strongly urge the parties to act with reason and restraint, and refrain from aggravating tensions.
To eventually resolve the issues on the Peninsula, we have to adopt a multi-pronged approach and apply the right medicine. To have blind faith in sanctions and pressure would, in effect, be irresponsible to the future of the Peninsula. In terms of negotiation, China has put forward a proposal to pursue, in parallel tracks, the denuclearization of the Peninsula and the replacement of the armistice agreement with a peace treaty. Denuclearization is the firm goal of the international community, while replacing the armistice is a legitimate concern of the DPRK. The two can be negotiated in parallel, implemented in steps and resolved with reference to each other. In our judgment, this is an equitable, reasonable and workable solution. Other parties have also suggested some ideas, including flexible contacts in a three-party, four-party or even five-party format. We are open to any and all initiatives that can help bring the nuclear issue on the Peninsula back to the negotiating table.
People's Daily: How do you rate China's diplomacy in the last three years? What more can we expect from China's diplomacy going forward?
Wang Yi: Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee headed by General Secretary Xi Jinping, we have built on China's diplomatic tradition, made active efforts and broken new ground. Based on his keen grasp of the domestic and international situation, General Secretary Xi has put forward a whole series of new thinking, new ideas and new steps and pointed the way forward for China's diplomacy. Three years is a good time to take stock of what we have achieved. Simply put, we are on the path of pursuing major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics.
Our goal is to help realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation and build a community of shared destiny for all mankind. The strategic choice is to strive for peaceful development both at home and in the world. The basic principle is to seek win-win cooperation and, on that basis, build a new type of international relations. The main pathway is to establish various types of partnerships and choose partnership over alliance, dialogue over confrontation. The value we insist on is to adopt a balanced approach to friendship and interests, uphold justice in international affairs and put friendship before interests in state-to-state relations.
In his New Year message, General Secretary Xi said, "The world is so big and faces so many problems. The international community wishes to hear China's voice and see China's solutions. China cannot be absent." We will go forward, guided by General Secretary Xi's diplomatic thinking and the arrangements made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council. In the course of realizing China's development goals, we will embrace a broader horizon, a more open attitude and a more active posture. We will work with the international community and contribute our share to peace and stability of the world and to prosperity and progress of mankind.
The Reuters: Why doesn't China allow foreign journalists to visit its South China Sea islands and reefs? What is the purpose of China's construction on the islands and reefs?
Wang Yi: The Nansha Islands are China's integral territory. Every Chinese has an obligation to defend them. China has not and will not make any new territorial claims.
In building defense facilities on our own islands and reefs, China is exercising its right to self-preservation under international law. China is not the first country to have deployed weapons in the Nansha, we are not the country that has deployed the most weapons, and we are not the country that conducts the most frequent military activities. China cannot be accused of "militarization"; the label is more suited to some other countries.
In addition to building necessary defense facilities on the Nansha and more importantly, China is building civilian facilities to provide public goods to the international community. When the construction is completed and the condition is ripe, we will consider inviting foreign journalists to visit the islands and reefs.
China is the largest country bordering the South China Sea, so we hope, more than any other country, to uphold the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Thanks to the concerted efforts of China and other regional countries, it is one of the freest and safest sea lanes in the world. I want to remind some people that the freedom of navigation does not give them a license to do whatever they want. If someone wants to muddy the waters or to destabilize Asia, China will not agree to it and the overwhelming majority of countries in the region will not allow it to happen.
The fact is, China has made various efforts to promote peace and stability in the South China Sea. We have set up a China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund, which has supported over 40 cooperation projects. We are actively advancing the COC consultation: The parties have reached two Lists of Commonalities and entered into the phase of discussing crucial and complex issues. We have initiated to formulate preventive measures for managing maritime risks. And we have offered to set up the maritime emergency diplomatic hotline and the maritime joint search and rescue hotline. These initiatives speak volumes about our sincerity, but they've been obstructed by certain individual countries. Yet China has every capability and confidence to work with ASEAN countries to maintain the overall picture of peace and development in the South China Sea.
Phoenix Satellite TV: It is reported that China will soon build a logistics center in Djibouti. How will China protect its ever-growing overseas interests?
Wang Yi: You mentioned China's growing overseas interests. I think it is the key to understanding the matter.
Like any major country that is growing, China's overseas interests are expanding. At present, there are 30,000 Chinese businesses all over the world and several million Chinese are working and living in all corners of the world. Last year, China's non-financial outbound direct investment reached 118 billion dollars and the stock of China's overseas assets reached several trillion dollars. So it has become a pressing task for China's diplomacy to better protect our ever-growing overseas interests.
How to do it? Let me state on the record that China will not take the old path of expansionism followed by traditional powers, and we will not engage in any form of power politics. Rather, we want to pioneer a uniquely Chinese way to protect our overseas interests, one that is in tune with the trend of the times and welcomed by the other parties.
First, China is willing to take on more international security responsibilities. Since 2008, Chinese navy has conducted escort missions off the Somali coast. So far, we have dispatched 22 fleets to escort over 6,000 Chinese and foreign ships passing through those waters. China is the biggest contributor of peacekeeping personnel among the five permanent members of the Security Council. We are also the second largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget.
Second, responding to actual needs and the wishes of the countries in question, we are trying to build some necessary infrastructure and logistical capacities in regions with a concentration of Chinese interests. This is not just reasonable and logical, but also consistent with international practice.
And third, we want to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries, including law enforcement and security cooperation. At the same time, we will play a constructive role in the political settlement of international and regional issues, so as to create a more secure and stable environment for China's development overseas.
CNN: The ruling from the arbitration initiated by the Philippines may be against China. Is China worried and how will China respond to it?
Wang Yi: Back in 2006, the Chinese government exercised its right under Article 298 of UNCLOS and made a declaration that excludes compulsory arbitration. More than 30 other countries have made similar declarations. They are an integral part of UNCLOS and must be respected by others. So, by not accepting the arbitration case, China is acting entirely in accordance with the law. The Philippines' action, on the other hand, is unlawful, unfaithful and unreasonable. It has violated its own commitments in bilateral agreements with China, breached Article 4 of the DOC and broken with international practice that arbitration has to be mutually agreed. Its stubbornness is clearly the result of behind-the-scenes instigation and political maneuvering. This so-called arbitration has become tainted and gone astray, and China is not going to humor it.
China was the first country to discover, name, develop and administer the South China Sea islands. Our ancestors lived and worked there for generations, so we know and love the place more than anyone else. And more than anyone else, we want to uphold peace, stability and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.
Over the years, the South China Sea has seen colonial invasion and illegal occupation. Now, some people are trying to make waves, some others are showing off force. However, like the tide that comes and goes, these attempts will not make any impact.
History will prove who is a mere visitor and who is the real host.
The Global Times: Does China still see the DPRK as an ally? Should war ever break out on the Korean Peninsula, will China fight the United States and assist the DPRK like it did during the Korean War?
Wang Yi: China and the Korean Peninsula are linked by common mountains and rivers; we have gone through thick and thin together. Nowadays China and the DPRK enjoy a normal state-to-state relationship built on a deep tradition of friendship.
China both values friendship and stands on principle. We cherish our traditional bonds with the DPRK. If the country seeks development and security, we are prepared to help and provide support. But at the same time, we have an unwavering commitment to the denuclearization of the Peninsula and we will not accommodate the DPRK's pursuit of nuclear and missile programs. One should see very clearly that only denuclearization can bring peace, only dialogue can provide the way out and only cooperation can bring win-win outcomes.
Lianhe Zaobao: China initiated the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and is helping other countries build large-scale infrastructure. Is it China's goal to overhaul the international order?
Wang Yi: China has become more active in its external relations and China's international standing has been on the rise. Last year saw a notable enhancement of China's power in international institutions. We now have the third largest quota and voting power in the IMF, the Renminbi has been included in the SDR basket, and China has become a member of the EBRD. Overall, China makes the second biggest contribution to the United Nations. These facts illustrate that China is not building a rival system. On the contrary, we are seeking to play a bigger role in the existing international order and system. Of course, as China grows in strength, we need reasonable development space and gain corresponding say in international affairs. This is something quite normal.
As for the AIIB that China has proposed to establish and the BRICS Bank that China has helped to build, they are both improvements and supplements to the existing financial system. China has the confidence to find a path to great-power status different from the one followed by traditional powers. It is going to be different in that China will not play the bully. Rather, we will abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. China will not engage in zero-sum games. Rather, we will pursue win-win cooperation with all the countries of the world.
CRI: There is a growing strategic contest between China and the United States in the Asia-Pacific. The presidential election in the United States this year creates added uncertainties. How does China view the prospect of China-US relations? Are you confident in building the new model of major-country relations?
Wang Yi: China and the United States are two major countries. There is both cooperation and friction between us. This might be the normal state of affairs. This morning, I've just heard news that the United States has announced trade restrictions on a Chinese company. We don't think it's the right way to handle economic and trade disputes. This approach will only hurt others without necessarily benefiting oneself. In the face of problems, our task is to resolve them. We want to expand and deepen cooperation and, at the same time, work hard to turn friction into cooperation. In the past, the two countries had friction in the area of climate change. Yet last year, we worked together to ensure the success of the Paris Conference. In the recent period, cybersecurity was a point of friction. But we've set up a number of dialogue and cooperation mechanisms. More recently, there is growing friction concerning maritime issues. But I think when the US truly cools down, it's entirely possible for us to consider conducting maritime cooperation. The source of these frictions is that there are always some people in the United States who have strategic suspicions about China. They are worried that China will one day supersede the United States. I want to emphasize once again that China is not the United States, and China will not and cannot become another United States. We have no intention to displace anybody or dominate anybody. My advice to American friends: Perhaps you may want to spend more time learning about China's cultural tradition distilled from its 5,000-year history, and don't always judge China with the American mindset. Get this right, and you'll see the bright prospects of China-US relations.
President Xi has pointed out time and again that when China and the United States work together, we can accomplish great things that benefit our two countries and the whole world. Having gone through a lot in our relationship, we have now embarked on efforts to build a new model of major-country relations featuring no conflict or confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. This serves the shared and long-term interests of both sides, and conforms to the trend of the world. It is our hope that the change of government and leaders in the United States notwithstanding, the US side will work with China to take determined steps in the right direction.
ITAR-TASS: Does the complex international situation present challenges for the Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination?
Wang Yi: China-Russia relations are mature and stable. Our comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination is built on a solid foundation of mutual trust and mutual support. The two sides have a strong desire to strengthen win-win cooperation. The relationship can pass the test of any international development and will not be weakened by any particular incident. In 2015, President Xi and President Putin met five times and set the tone for the continued strong momentum in China-Russia relations. We are making active and orderly progress in various big projects. Construction has started on the eastern route of the natural gas pipeline. And our cooperation on industrial capacity, equipment manufacturing, agriculture, finance and so on is gathering pace.
China and Russia have significant economic complementarities and a strong desire to work with each other. Our cooperation is long-term and strategic in nature. The temporary factors will not prevent China and Russia from deepening our all-round cooperation.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the signing of the China-Russia Treaty on Good-neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation. We want to carry forward the vision of ever-lasting friendship set by the treaty, turn our strong political relations into more fruits of practical cooperation, and add new substance to the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination.
China Daily: What progress has the Belt and Road Initiative made? Some people see it as an indication of the rapid projection of Chinese power. How would you respond?
Wang Yi: Since the Belt and Road Initiative was first put forward more than two years ago, notable progress has been made. This is a good opportunity for me to share our scorecard with you.
First, more partners are signing up. To date, more than 70 countries and international organizations have expressed interest, and over 30 countries have signed agreements with us to jointly build the Belt and Road.
Second, the financial architecture is basically in place. The China-initiated AIIB is up and running, and the first group of projects financed by the Silk Road Fund have been launched.
Third, a connectivity network is taking shape. Important early harvests have been achieved in the areas of infrastructure, finance and people-to-people exchange – most notably, the building of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor. Freight train services now link China directly to Europe. Construction has begun on the Budapest-Belgrade Railway and the Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Railway. Important steps have been taken in the China-Laos Railway and China-Thailand Railway, which are both important parts of the Pan-Asia Railway Network.
And fourth, we are making all-round progress in industrial capacity cooperation. We have institutionalized such cooperation with almost 20 countries and created a new model of cooperation with Kazakhstan. A large number of key cooperation projects have been launched in various countries.
The Belt and Road Initiative is China's idea, but its opportunities belong to the world. This initiative echoes the general call of Asian and European countries for development and cooperation. It shows that China is transitioning rapidly from a participant in the international system to a provider of public goods. In building the Belt and Road, we follow the principle of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefit. It is an open initiative, not the Monroe Doctrine or some expansionism. What it unfolds before the world will be a new historical painting of shared development and prosperity on the entire Eurasian continent.
Alyoum Alsabea: Early this year, President Xi Jinping made his first visit to the Middle East against the background of rising regional tensions. Does it signal a shift in China's Middle East policy?
Wang Yi: When it comes to Middle East affairs, China has never been a mere onlooker. We have all along supported the Arab countries' quest for independence and liberation, we enjoy ever closer economic and trade ties with the region, and we are contributing actively to peace and stability in the Middle East. China does not seek any sphere of influence in the Middle East, nor do we look for any proxy. Our approach is the opposite. We adopt an objective and impartial attitude, we try to facilitate peace talks, and our position is selfless and aboveboard. This is China's unique strength. All the countries in the Middle East welcome and look to China to play a bigger role.
At the start of this year, President Xi Jinping chose the Middle East for his first overseas trip. He made a historic visit to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran, and opened a new chapter of relations between China and the Middle East. If there is any change in China's policy toward the region, it is that in the context of building the Belt and Road, we want to play a more active role and deepen win-win cooperation with countries in the Middle East. And on the basis of not interfering in other countries' internal affairs, we want to play a more active role in seeking the political settlement of burning issues in the region.
Beijing Youth Daily: More and more Chinese citizens are traveling abroad. They are exposed to growing risks in foreign countries. What measures will the Foreign Ministry take to protect overseas Chinese citizens and institutions?
Wang Yi: Last year, mainland citizens made over 120 million overseas visits, a growth rate of almost 10 percent. Over 150 countries and territories have become destinations for Chinese tourists. There are over one million Chinese working abroad and close to two million Chinese studying abroad. This shows that our country is developing rapidly and the life of our people is getting better every day. On the other hand, it also puts enormous strain on consular protection. To be honest, our resources and tools are limited, and our capacity is not yet up to the task.
Having said this, we will do everything in our power to provide consular protection, bearing in mind that diplomacy must serve the people. In the course of last year, the Foreign Ministry and our diplomatic and consular missions abroad handled over 80,000 consular cases, or 235 cases per day, one case every six minutes. The 12308 consular protection hotline received over 100,000 phone calls and helped 166 of our overseas missions handle 15,000 consular cases. We successfully rescued 55 Chinese who had been abducted abroad. We evacuated 613 Chinese from conflict-ridden Yemen and over 6,000 Chinese from quake-hit Nepal. I know people care a lot about the "value" of the Chinese passport. Last year, we reached arrangements with another 18 countries to facilitate mutual travel. The number of countries and territories that give visa-free or visa-upon-landing treatment to ordinary Chinese citizens has reached 54. Of course, this figure still falls short of people's expectations, but I can assure you that we will never relax our efforts.
Consular protection is never-ending work. The best approach is prevention beforehand rather than remedy afterwards. So we will focus more on preventive consular protection. For example, we will enhance the security awareness of our people and in countries where conditions allow, we will set up police-civilian cooperation centers and appoint local liaison officers for consular protection. We want to move the first line of consular protection to foreign countries, shorten the response time and make our work more efficient. We will try to solve problems locally so as to avoid the unnecessary cost associated with large-scale evacuation. In short, the interests of the people are paramount. Consular protection and service must go wherever our compatriots have gone. We will do our level best to put up an ever stronger umbrella for Chinese people abroad.
Mainichi Shimbun: How do you see the current state of affairs in China-Japan relations? What is the underlying problem in the relationship and how can it be improved?
Wang Yi: Japan's wrong approach to history and other issues in recent years has dealt a body blow to China-Japan relations. Thanks to the efforts of wise people on both sides, there are signs of improvement in the relationship, but I don't see any grounds for optimism. On the one hand, the Japanese government and leaders say nice things about wanting to improve relations. On the other hand, they are making trouble for China at every turn. This is a typical case of double-dealing.
China and Japan are neighbors facing each other across the sea and there is a tradition of friendship between our people. Of course, we want to see real improvement in China-Japan relations. But as a saying goes, to cure a disease, you have to address the underlying problem. As far as China-Japan relations are concerned, the underlying problem is that some politicians in Japan have the wrong perception about China. Do they view a growing China as a friend or a foe, a partner or an adversary? The Japanese side needs to give serious thought to this question and make the right choice.
Xinhua News Agency: The past year saw closer relations between Europe and China. How do you see this change?
Wang Yi: Diplomatic engagement with Europe was a highlight of China's diplomacy last year. President Xi's "super" state visit to Britain created a new wave of China-Europe cooperation. As a result, you see the simultaneous and complementary development of relations between China and various European countries.
The positive change in China-Europe relations is not a temporary phenomenon; it is a long-term and inevitable choice. China has always regarded Europe an important pole in a multi-polar world, and Europe has come to view China's development and rise in a more objective and sensible way. There was a time when China-Europe relations were beset by recurring frictions. But after the dust settled down, Europe has found that China and Europe are not headed for strategic rivalry and that there is no clash of fundamental interests between us. On the contrary, we have an increasing need for cooperation and a growing set of common interests. Of course, everything has two sides. Problems of one kind or another will arise in China-Europe relations. But I am sure the two sides will move closer to each other and our joint steps will be more steady.
Going forward, we want to make concrete efforts with Europe to advance our partnerships for peace, growth, reform and civilization. This is our shared commitment in the 21st century and the due contribution that China and Europe can make to the development and progress of mankind.
The Cambodia Daily: The first Lancang-Mekong River Cooperation Leaders' Meeting will take place in late March. How will China support ASEAN's development?
Wang Yi: This year is, if you will, the "silver wedding" anniversary of dialogue relations between China and ASEAN. For a quarter century, our relationship has stood all kinds of tests and our cooperation has borne rich fruits. Now the relationship has reached a new starting point. We will further follow President Xi's guideline of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness for dealing with our neighbors, and work hard to build an ever closer China-ASEAN community of common destiny.
We see ASEAN as a preferred partner in Belt and Road cooperation. We want to ensure the success of the China-Laos Railway, the China-Thailand Railway and the Jakarta-Bangdung High-speed Railway that China and Indonesia are building together. These are important building blocks of the Pan-Asian Railway Network. When they are completed, the people of China and ASEAN countries will find it easier to visit each other.
ASEAN is our preferred partner in FTA cooperation. We want to ensure the success of the upgraded version of the China-ASEAN FTA, so as to bring more benefits to businesses and people on both sides. And we want to actively advance the RCEP negotiation and try to wrap it up before the end of the year.
ASEAN is our preferred partner in regional cooperation. At the end of this month, Premier Li Keqiang will invite the leaders of all countries along the Lancang-Mekong River, namely Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand, to gather in Hainan Province for the first Lancang-Mekong River Cooperation Leaders' Meeting. The Lancang and Mekong connect all six countries. We drink from the same river, and our destinies are intertwined. What makes Lancang-Mekong River cooperation different is that it is more down-to-earth and more efficient. To date, we have prepared 78 early harvest items. Lancang-Mekong River cooperation is a useful supplement to China-ASEAN cooperation. It can help boost the holistic and balanced development of ASEAN.
ASEAN is also our preferred partner in maritime cooperation. We want to make good use of the China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund, and step up cooperation on the ocean economy, marine environmental protection and maritime security. In the meantime, we want to explore the possibility of establishing a South China Sea littoral states cooperation mechanism, and work together to maintain and build our common home, the South China Sea.
China News Service: The term of the current government in Myanmar will end in late March. What is China's expectation for the incoming government? What about the prospects of Myitsone Dam and other Chinese-invested projects?
Wang Yi: China-Myanmar friendship is rooted in the heart of people on both sides; it is strong and dynamic. It will not be weakened by the changes in Myanmar's domestic situation. We have every confidence about the future of China-Myanmar relations.
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD under her leadership have had longstanding friendly contacts with China; our mutual understanding and trust have been growing. So we also have every confidence about Myanmar's future.
China and Myanmar are neighbors and we will remain so forever. We would like to help Myanmar achieve better and faster development. The Myitsone Dam is a commercial project that has cleared all the approval procedures. There are some difficulties in the cooperation. These are "growing pains" which the two sides will continue to manage in an active and appropriate way. So of course, we also have every confidence about the future of win-win cooperation between China and Myanmar.
Zambia Daily Mail: The world economy is sluggish. China's growth is slowing down and its demand for commodities is dropping. Will this affect China-Africa economic cooperation and China's development aid to Africa?
Wang Yi: China's diplomatic relations with African countries go back 60 years. In the meantime, the world has changed, and so have China and Africa. But what remains unchanged is the deep bond of friendship, mutual trust and mutual support between China and Africa.
At the end of last year, President Xi announced 10 cooperation plans for China and Africa. The most salient feature of these plans is that we want to transition from a trade pattern that has so far been dominated by resource products to more investment and industrial cooperation. By encouraging more Chinese businesses to invest in Africa, we want to help the continent accelerate its industrialization and boost its capacity for development. So these plans couldn't have come at a better time. They are designed precisely to help Africa deal with the new challenges from the global economy. When China makes a promise, it always delivers. Just three months after the China-Africa summit, we have gotten into touch with over 20 African countries to follow up on the outcomes of the summit. A number of early harvest items will materialize soon, and the China-Africa Fund for Industrial Cooperation is already up and running.
For many years there are all kinds of comments about China-Africa cooperation, but the African people know the best. At last year's summit, many African leaders stated publicly that China has never colonized Africa. Rather, China has helped Africa to emerge from poverty and realize development, and China has brought new life to Africa. They also said that Africa has been searching for a truly reliable partner with common interests. Eventually, they have found such a partner in China. These statements struck a chord with many in the audience; the African leaders spoke the mind of the African people.
Question from a Diplo-Chat follower: China's diplomacy is very busy. What are you busy with? Does what you do have an impact on the lives of ordinary people?
Wang Yi: I'm glad to have the opportunity to answer a question from the netizens. Let me first thank all the netizens for their understanding and support for China's diplomacy.
The netizen is right in noting that China's diplomacy has been pretty busy in the last few years. In my view, it's worthwhile and fruitful.
Our hard work is worthwhile, because more and more problems in the world cannot be resolved without Chinese participation. In the last three years, President Xi has made 20 overseas visits and he has flown enough miles to circle the globe 10 times. Everywhere he traveled, he created a strong "Chinese whirlwind". Today, China has an ever higher international standing. Wherever Chinese people go, they can hold their head high.
Our hard work has also been fruitful, because China's diplomacy is not only "high-flying" but also "down-to-earth". As you can see, our leaders, including our President and our Premier, have often acted as "presenters" and "salesmen" of Chinese equipment and technology on foreign trips. Even when they are abroad, what they think about is China's development and the wellbeing of the Chinese people.
Let me give you just one example. Four days after President Xi visited Iran in January, the first freight train ran on the Yiwu-Tehran railway. The railway provided a cost-effective channel of transportation for over 70,000 businesses in Yiwu, creating more business opportunities and better profits for them. There are many more such stories. If you're interested, you can follow the Diplo-Chat Weibo account.
Recently the Foreign Ministry created a new platform to showcase and promote the development and opening of Chinese provinces. In the Blue Hall of the Foreign Ministry, we organized a promotional event and invited foreign diplomatic envoys and businesses to have face-to-face discussions with the representatives of Chinese provinces. Last week, the first event focusing on Ningxia was a great success. In the future, we plan to hold such an event once every few months. We welcome the active participation of Chinese provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities.
In short, China's diplomacy will only get busier. We'll provide ever stronger services and support for China's development, and Chinese people can expect more benefits from China's diplomacy.
The press conference lasted two hours and was attended by more than 500 Chinese and foreign journalists.