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Question and Answer Session With Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi At Munich Security Conference

2010-02-05 22:36

Munich, 5 February 2010

Moderator: The Foreign Minister has agreed to take a couple of questions. Maybe we can start with Francois [ph.] from Paris.

Question: Thank you, Minister, for a broad-ranging and extremely thoughtful speech. The question I would like to ask you is an issue you hardly touched upon. And that is American-Chinese relations relating to Taiwan. China has taken measures in response to the U.S. announcement of arms sales to Taiwan, which go further than similar measures taken by Beijing when previous arms sales were made by the United States to Taiwan. The fact that you are going further than you did in the past, is it the consequence of China feeling stronger or is this the consequence of the recent arms sales to Taiwan being considered bigger and worse than previous U.S. arms sales to Taiwan?

Yang: Is China feeling stronger? Yes, China is growing from strength to strength. Does China feel weak in terms of social and economic development in China? Yes.

I perspire a little, not because I am nervous – I have been through this thing God knows how many times – but because the central heating here is very good. In China, south of the Yangtze River, many of my countrymen still have no central heating. Just to give you an idea, many parts of Europe are at roughly the same latitude as southern China. So I would not be outrageous in saying that if you would like to talk about climate change with me, you'd better shut off all your central heating so that we are on an equal footing. I hope there can be more mutual understanding when we talk about climate change.

About the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, let me say that back in the early 1980s, China and the United States issued the August 17th Communiqué. In it, the United States made the commitment that its arms sales to Taiwan will not exceed, either in qualitative or in quantitative terms, the level of those supplied in recent years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and China, and that it intends to reduce gradually its sales of arms to Taiwan, leading, over a period of time, to a final resolution. Now look at what is happening: 6.4 billion dollar sales of sophisticated weaponry to a part of a country whom the U.S. side calls a partner! This is obviously a violation of the code of conduct of relations between countries and a violation of the three joint communiqués issued between China and the United States. The Chinese people and government have every reason to feel indignant about this thing. We approached the US side, made representations very seriously on many occasions, yet the United States still went ahead with the sale. Of course the Chinese government and people will have to react. It is within its sovereign right to do what is necessary.

I think the gist of your question is whether a country is feeling stronger or not. All countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, should be equals. You have to put yourself in the shoes of other people and before you make any decision, consider whether you like this done to yourself.

I hope our friends and people in Europe can understand that what China has done is very reasonable and what any dignified people would do. China strongly urges the United States to abide by the August 17th Communiqué and stop arms sales to Taiwan, which is actually having more progress together with us in the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations – and the United States said it supports the peaceful development of relations across the Straits. We urge the U.S. side to do things which will contribute to this good developmental trend, not the other way around.

Moderator: Thank you, Minister. I think we can only take one or two more questions. The next one on my list is John Rose [ph.] from the East-West Institute in New York.

Question: Minister, could we talk for a moment about cyber-space? I know it is seen as a confrontational issue, but an awful lot of governments and businesses are concerned about the common threats that we all face to the digital economy coming from increased cyber-crime. Could you give us your perspectives on cyber-security?

Yang: These days I actually listen to or watch Chinese news programs far more than some Western media. As the Foreign Minister of China, every morning I have to have solid news before I go to my office. I have to use every minute very, very carefully and I found that I have more solid news from China's radio and TV programs. This way, when I go to office I feel quite confident that I have most of the news – if not all – in the world. This is not saying that I am not watching news on Western media. I do and I will continue to do that. What I want to tell you is that the average man and woman in China have access to extensive – I would say more extensive – coverage of news in every corner of the world than I am afraid some Western media. This is a fact. They have all the major sources of information at their fingertips like me, the Foreign Minister. And every year, tens of millions of Chinese go abroad for business, for travel, for tourism and so on and so forth; every year tens of millions of foreigners come to China. Actually at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower, you can hear lots of Chinese spoken there. So the Chinese people are well informed. They go abroad, they see the things around them and they compare what they've seen abroad with things at home. Of course, we still have a lot to learn from other countries, including developed countries. On the other hand, they feel quite proud of what China has achieved. We have, in 30 years, lifted almost the total population of the United States out of poverty. That is what China has done, and we have given lots of aid to our friends abroad. I think for the developing countries, the most important thing is to build up the basic infrastructure. China will do its best to help. We hope the developed countries will do so as well.

I don't know how come this Google thing has cropped up. Yes, we support free exchange of information. Yes, we support freedom of speech. On the other hand, every company which comes to China or goes to another country has to recognize that there are different social systems in the world. People have to respect a country's historical background and cultural traditions. And the Chinese government, as any other government, has to do regulatory work according to law and according to what is in the best interest of China. I hope that foreign companies, while they try to do business or expand their business in China, will continue to respect public interests in China and the cultural traditions of China. Yes, we are totally against hacking attacks. China is a victim of this kind of attacks, and China will cooperate with the international community. That's what I want to say on this Google thing. I would also say we welcome international companies coming into China. This has been our consistent policy for the past 30 years or so. The people who come into China basically don't regret it and those companies who choose the wise path will never regret doing so.

Moderator: Thank you very much. We will take one more question. Jim Hodlen [ph.].

Question: Mr. Minister, thank you for your remarks. I did want to follow up a little bit on Francois's question, which you partially answered by saying China is feeling stronger. It is not only arms sales to Taiwan that has recently elicited strong reactions from China. There are credible reports that China is also vigorously resisting new sanctions on Iran. As you well know, there is also the Copenhagen summit where China put together a four-country bloc that President Obama had to engage with. This was also seen as assertive. As I talk to European, American and Indian diplomats and politicians, they do see a new, stronger China. Don't you fear that this new assertiveness is going to produce conflicts more than harmony?

Yang: Let me first talk about the Copenhagen conference. China made its position very clear beforehand. And India, Brazil and South Africa all made their positions very clear beforehand. We all stressed that we would contribute to the efforts against climate change while maintaining sustainable development in our own countries. I would like to point out that China also exchanged views with many other countries, developing and developed ones alike. And there is also the G77 plus China mechanism. So it's not just the BASIC countries who see things more or less on the same wavelength, there are many other countries who have complimented China's efforts. Of course, this conference still leaves something to be desired. That's why we need to make concerted efforts to make the next conference in Mexico a bigger success. On the other hand, the conference has achieved something, because it has reaffirmed the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol as the main framework for dealing with climate change, and it has recognized we have to continue to work in a two-track way according to the Bali Roadmap. This is because, in terms of long-term goals, technical support and funding to the developing countries, voluntary actions of controlling greenhouse gas emissions from the developing countries, these are all achievements of the Copenhagen conference. I think we have to continue along this track to make sure that the Mexico conference will deliver even more. China is ready to continue to make its contribution.

Let me say that on the question of relations with the United States, we will continue to exchange views with the U.S. side, because we do believe that a stable and healthy and developing relationship between China and the United States is in the best interest of our two countries and in the best interest of the world.

Now, Iran. Iran was actually not part of my agenda when I started this tour about 10 days ago, but it has emerged in many of my discussions. Let me say again that China is fully supportive of maintaining the international nuclear nonproliferation regime. On the other hand, we believe that Iran, on the basis of the IAEA rules, has the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. And we believe this issue should best be resolved through diplomatic means so as to maintain peace and stability in the Gulf region and in the Middle East. We believe that Iran has not totally shut the door on the IAEA proposal on nuclear fuel supply to the Tehran research reactor, and we believe that it is very important to have another round of P5+1 dialogue with Iran. We hope that on the basis of the proposal put forward by the P5+1 and the package deal proposed by the Iranian side, somehow a mutually acceptable formula can emerge. China's view is very clear. That is, in order not to complicate the situation, it is better for us now to concentrate on consultation and dialogue so as to achieve a satisfactory solution.

Let me say that many, many countries see China as a force for peace and stability and development. We have one-fifth of mankind. We are not saying that because we are one-fifth of mankind, our views should be taken good care of, but at least we deserve a chance to express our views on how things in the world should be run. What we are trying to do, like other countries, is to improve the international mechanisms to make sure that both developing and developed countries will benefit from our cooperation in the future. We are offering our views and we have the modesty to listen to others. It has always been the tradition of China. But I think we also deserve a hearing of one kind or another. I say this in a very humble way. When we talk about equality and freedom of speech, we are talking about such attributes to decent society not only on an individual basis, but also on the basis of countries and democratization of international relations. One country or a few countries definitely cannot decide the future of the world. China is not talking about blocs. China is talking about common interests. That should be the language we speak in the future.

Moderator: Thank you, Mr. Minister.

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