No need or intention to replace US: China

BEIJING: China is on a long march to modernisation and it has no need or intention to replace the United States’ international role, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Thursday.

“Some Americans allege that China will replace America’s role in the world. This conclusion is fundamentally wrong,” Wang said at a press conference on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People’s Congress.

On trade frictions between the two countries, Wang said that trade war is never the right solution, as it will harm both the initiator as well as the target country in a globalized world. “In the event of a trade war, China will make a justified and necessary response,” Wang said. “We hope China and the US will have a calm and constructive dialogue as equals, and find a win-win solution.”

Despite elements of competition, China-US ties are defined more by partnership, not rivalry, he added. Citing a latest poll, Wang said over 50 percent of the American people have a favorable view of China and the figure has been rising steadily in recent years. “I hope people will not focus just on the problems of US-China relations, but also pay attention to the positive aspects,” he said.

“The more China develops, the more it can contribute to the world,” the foreign minister said, stressing China’s commitment to peaceful development and win-win cooperation.

Wang called mutual trust ‘an issue that needs to be addressed urgently’ between China and India. “With political trust, not even the Himalayas can stop us from friendly exchanges. Without it, not even level land can bring us together,” he said.

When China and India, the two largest developing countries in the world, each with a population of more than 1 billion, become modernised, the two countries must do everything to empathize with and support each other, he said.

Chinese and Indian leaders have developed a strategic vision for the future bilateral ties, which is the Chinese ‘dragon’ and the Indian ‘elephant’ must not fight but dance with each other, he said.

Stressing that shared understanding between the two countries far outstrips difference and common interests far outweigh frictions, Wang said China is willing and ready to carry on traditional friendship.

He said he hopes the two sides will replace suspicion with trust, manage differences through dialogue and build a future through cooperation.

He said China has strong resolve and deep commitment to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea. “China’s position is firm and consistent,” he said.

China follows a responsible approach to the South China Sea issue, taking into account interests of the Chinese people, historical facts, regional peace and the international rule of law, he said.

Wang said there is a golden opportunity as China and ASEAN countries all agreed to develop a Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea to preserve its hard-won tranquility. “China and ASEAN countries are willing and able to draft regional rules on our own, rules which will meet our region’s imperatives and be adhered to by all,” he said.

However, Wang said there are also challenges in the South China Sea.

“Some outside forces are not happy with the prevailing calm, and try to stir up trouble and muddle the waters. Their frequent show of force with fully-armed aircraft and naval vessels is the most destabilizing factor in the region,” he said.

According to Wang, China will work with ASEAN countries to seize the opportunity, broaden cooperation, prevent interference, and overcome challenges in the year ahead. “Cherishing what we have achieved together, China and ASEAN countries will speed up COC consultation, explore a mechanism of cooperation among the coastal states and promote peace and cooperation in the South China Sea,” he said. President Xi Jinping, as the chief architect of China’s major-country diplomacy, has been personally involved in planning and conducting ‘brilliant’ head-of-state diplomacy, Wang Yi said.

 Published in Daily Times, March 9th 2018.