Wang Yi stresses 'substantial progress' in China-U.S. talks
Updated 14:49, 08-Mar-2019
By John Goodrich

Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi on Friday said China retains a "positive outlook" on relations with the United States despite recent tensions and stressed that "substantial progress" had been made in trade negotiations.

Speaking at a press conference on the sidelines of the second session of the 13th National People's Congress in Beijing, Wang outlined the extent of China-U.S. economic cooperation, and said those who want to "decouple" the nations' economies are engaged in "wishful thinking."

Highlights: Wang reviews China's diplomacy

"Decoupling from China would mean decoupling from opportunities, from the future, and, in a sense, from the world," he warned.

China and America stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation, Wang said, as he urged both sides to work together to accomplish "coordination, cooperation, and stability."

07:06

Wang said competition is normal in international relations but it was important to keep things in perspective and urged the U.S. to "reject its zero-sum approach." 

He added the "substantial progress" made in trade talks was a good example of China-U.S. cooperation that shows there is no problem that cannot be eventually solved in a mutually satisfactory fashion.

'Political case'

Asked about the case of Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei chief financial officer the U.S. is attempting to extradite from Canada, Wang said it was "obvious" that it was by no means a pure judicial case and there were political motivations. 

03:50

The foreign minister added that China would continue to speak up for Chinese companies, and backed Huawei's decision to sue the U.S. government over its attempts to ban the use of the technology firm's equipment. 

"China has, and will, guarantee the legitimate and lawful rights of Chinese citizens. We encourage Chinese enterprises and citizens to guarantee interests with legal weapons and refuse to be 'silent lambs'," Wang said.

'Unrealistic demands'

Wang warned against "unilateral, unrealistic demands" in talks over the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and urged patience from the international community given the longstanding nature of the dispute.

04:16

He described the Hanoi summit between Democratic People's Republic of Korea leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump as an important step towards a political resolution and a positive development.

Stressing China's commitment to the denuclearization of the peninsula, he called for a roadmap setting out incremental steps to achieve progress.

Putin to attend BRF

Wang confirmed that President Xi Jinping will give the keynote address at the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in Beijing in April. He also announced that Russian President Vladimir Putin would be among the attendees, and said Xi would visit Russia this year.

07:03

He added there will be more global leaders and more delegates than at the first BRF in 2017.

The foreign minister rejected accusations the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a political tool or debt trap, describing the initiative as an "economic pie" that benefits local populations and a great opportunity for development.

It has created enormous opportunities for all participants, he added, noting that 123 countries and 29 international organizations have signed up.

South China Sea

China welcomes well-meaning proposals, but opposes speculation and interference with ulterior motives during the negotiation of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, said Wang.

Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi at the Two Sessions media center in Beijing, March 8, 2019. /VCG Photo

Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi at the Two Sessions media center in Beijing, March 8, 2019. /VCG Photo

He said that the process of the COC negotiation is accelerating and the roadmap has been very clear.

China will maintain its determination, eliminate interference and continuously accelerate the consultation process on the basis of consensus with ASEAN countries. 

The minister also pointed out it is a common practice for no negotiations to be made public during the process. But he said they will maintain the necessary transparency and publicize the progress of the negotiations in a timely manner.

Around the world

Venezuela

Wang stressed that the "sovereignty and independence" of Latin American countries must be respected, and said China will continue to support the search for a political solution in Venezuela.

"External interference and sanctions will only aggravate tensions and bring back the law of the jungle," he added.

Africa

Wang stressed the strength of China-Africa relations, describing cooperation as a pacesetter for the rest of the world. "The sapling of cooperation has grown into a towering tree that no force can topple," he added.

05:05

He noted that African leaders have refuted the "ludicrous claim" that the BRI was creating a debt trap, or that China was acting as a neocolonial power.

Europe

Wang said China supports a united and strong European Union. He announced that President Xi will visit Europe on his first overseas trip in 2019 later this month and said the decision "speaks volumes about China's support for Europe."

Relations between China and the EU are in overall good shape, he said. Noting that Europe had always prided itself on independence, he expressed hope that the EU will "pursue a China policy that is consistent, independent and forward-leaning."

Afghanistan

Wang said a critical moment has arrived for Afghanistan: The country was at the dawn of peace, but there was also a buildup of challenges.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a press conference on China's foreign policy and relations on the sidelines of the second session of the 13th National People's Congress in Beijing, capital of China, March 8, 2019. /Xinhua Photo

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a press conference on China's foreign policy and relations on the sidelines of the second session of the 13th National People's Congress in Beijing, capital of China, March 8, 2019. /Xinhua Photo

Asked whether China would fill a space created by the removal of U.S. troops from the country, he added: "There is no vacuum in Afghanistan that needs to be filled, because the land belongs to the people of Afghanistan."

India

The 2018 meeting in Wuhan between President Xi and Indian Prime Minister Modi set a new model of high-level interactions between China and India, Wang said, adding that considerable progress had been made in talks between the countries since.

He added that China and India should be each other's partner in pursuing dreams and growing economies, and expressed hope that relations would surge ahead.

Pakistan-India

The foreign minister called for calm and restraint in India-Pakistan relations following recent tensions and urged resolution through dialogue.

03:57

He added that he hoped the sides could turn the page and focus on a long term improvement in relations.

Japan

The relationship between China and Japan returned to the right track in 2018, Wang said, adding that as long as Japan holds an honest attitude towards history and an objective view to what's going on now, the good momentum can be maintained.

He also called for more solid action towards Sino-Japanese cooperation on all fronts. Those efforts would be regarded as determined steps made for pushing China-Japan ties in the right direction.

China's diplomacy

Wang said China's ambassadors around the world would always defend the country's dignity and sovereignty, but insisted assertiveness was not part of the approach.

"Assertiveness has never been a part of the Chinese tradition, and hegemony will never be our choice even when we become stronger," he said.  

"Chinese diplomacy has reached a new starting point. We will keep to a peaceful development path, maintain the international system and shoulder international responsibilities to world peace and human progress."