Press Trust of India: Last year’s India-China summit in Wuhan is widely regarded as a watershed moment between the two countries. What’s your vision for the relationship?
Wang Yi: Indeed, 2018 was a year of great significance for China-India relations. The historic meeting between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Wuhan created a new model of high-level interactions between our two countries. It not just deepened the trust and friendship between our leaders, but also set the direction for our future relations. As ancient civilizations with a combined population of 2.7 billion, major developing countries and neighbors, China and India should be each other’s partner in pursuing our respective dreams and each other’s important opportunity for growing our respective economies. Collectively, we must make our due contribution to Asia’s revitalization and prosperity. Over the past year, government departments on both sides have made considerable progress in following through on the understandings reached by our leaders. The priority now is to see that the strategic understandings of our leaders trickle down to our people and become their common view and conscious efforts. To this end, China will work with India to comprehensively strengthen sectoral cooperation and particularly people-to-people ties, so that our friendship and cooperation will surge ahead like the Yangtze and the Ganges, giving strong and sustained impetus to our relationship.
Shenzhen Satellite TV: In the past year the Foreign Ministry’s consular work was more widely known and applauded by the Chinese people. Will there be more good news in this respect in the coming year?
Wang Yi: As more and more Chinese travel abroad, people care the most about two things: safety and convenience. Recognizing this, we are putting procedures in place to give outbound Chinese citizens a greater sense of safety and a more smooth travel experience. In the past year, the MFA and its missions around the world processed over 80,000 consular cases, roughly one case every six minutes. The 12308 consular hotline handled 370,000 calls, double the number in 2017. To obtain a passport now, Chinese citizens abroad have to make only one visit to our overseas missions. Consular information and services are available from online platforms including social media accounts, smartphone app and website. The number of countries and regions granting visa-free or visa on arrival entry to Chinese tourists has reached 72, meaning it’s now much more convenient to travel with a Chinese passport.
In 2019, the MFA will take new steps to benefit the Chinese people and improve their safety and convenience abroad. First, we will upgrade the 12308 smartphone app to make it a one-stop portal complete with such new functions as making appointments and verifying documents. Second, mobile payment will be phased in by our overseas missions to make more consular services accessible at fingertips. And third, we will speed up legislative efforts to put consular protection and assistance on a sound legal footing and better protect the legitimate rights and interests of our citizens.
Lianhe Zaobao: China offered last year to conclude within three years the negotiation on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC). Will the negotiation pick up pace? How do you address the concern expressed by some people that the negotiation is not transparent enough?
Wang Yi: The South China Sea situation has stabilized and improved in recent years. This positive turn of events proves that the dual-track approach is the right way forward, namely the countries directly concerned settle their specific disputes through negotiation while China and ASEAN members work together to uphold regional stability. The COC negotiation is gathering pace under a clear roadmap. China offered the goal of concluding the negotiation by 2021. It shows China’s seriousness and commitment to this endeavor. The COC will be an upgrade of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). It will be more suited to our region’s needs and more effective in regulating the conduct of the parties. It will provide stronger safeguards for safety and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and enable China and ASEAN to build trust, manage disagreements, strengthen cooperation and maintain stability. China and ASEAN members will stay focused, shield the negotiation from interference and try to speed it up on the basis of consensus. We will be as transparent as we can and give updates on the latest progress.
The South China Sea situation concerns regional stability. The interest in COC negotiation is quite understandable. We welcome well-intentioned advice, but do not accept deliberate smears or interference. The countries in the region should grasp in our own hands the key to peace and stability in the South China Sea. The COC should be developed and honored by countries in the region. We must live up to this responsibility.
Asahi Shimbun: There has been a significant improvement in China-Japan relations, though of course there are still some challenges. People are very much hoping that President Xi will participate in the G20 Osaka Summit in June and visit Japan. What’s your view?
Wang Yi: Last year, thanks to our joint efforts, China-Japan relations got back on track and showed positive momentum toward improved and stronger ties. This fully meets the common interests of people in both countries. Our experience shows that whenever Japan adopts an objective and rational view of China’s development and honors the various political principles already reached, the relationship will steer clear of obstacles and interference and enjoy a stable and bright outlook. In the meantime, we can unleash the full potential of our cooperation and create far greater space for it.
Of course, we are still in the early stage of improving our relations. Looking ahead, we must match our actions to our words, adopt an honest attitude toward history and an objective view of reality, work actively for a better future, and take more solid and determined steps in the right direction. I’m sure as the two sides work together to cement the political foundation of our relations, deepen mutually beneficial cooperation and foster greater friendship between our people, China-Japan relations will enter a stage of stable development, where we will have more frequent exchanges in various fields and high-level interactions will come about naturally.
China News Service: Could you share with us what the MFA did in the past year to facilitate domestic development? And what ideas do you have for this year?
Wang Yi: China still being a developing country, facilitating domestic development is an important mission of China’s foreign service. In recent years, we have created three platforms for this purpose. The first is that of high-profile events, which boost the international visibility and development momentum of the host cities. The second is that of the BRI, which supports exchanges and cooperation between Chinese subnational entities and BRI partner countries. The third is that of the presentation of Chinese provinces, through which the MFA helps central and western provinces open up to the world.
This year, the MFA will do its best under the direction of the CPC Central Committee to meet the overriding goal of facilitating domestic development. We will make a good job of presenting Chinese provinces under the theme of “China in the New Era and 70 Years of Accomplishments” to help more provinces embrace the world. We will support Chinese cities in hosting flagship international events, which are excellent opportunities to bolster the cities’ development. We will build more “bridges” to encourage Chinese businesses to grow their international presence in an orderly fashion as well as protecting their legitimate interests. And we will organize lecture tours to bring foreign affairs-related knowledge to and share information with Party schools, universities and enterprises.