Editor's note: Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue answers some frequently asked questions about China's relations with its neighbors and burning issues in the region.
Q: Since the beginning of this year, the situation in Asia has drawn a lot of attention. As the Assistant Foreign Minister in charge of Asian Affairs, what is your view on the current situation in Asia?
A: In the larger context of deepening trends toward a multi-polar world and globalization, new changes have taken place in the economic and political landscape of Asia. Overall, the pursuit of peace, stability, cooperation and development is the defining feature of the situation in Asia.
In particular, mutual respect, good-neighborliness, friendship, seeking common ground while resolving differences and developing harmonious co-existence remain the most fundamental and important features of state-to-state relations in Asia. Asia as a whole has taken the lead in economic rebound. Emerging markets and developing countries such as China and India have maintained a strong momentum of growth, making important contributions to world economic recovery.
Most Asian countries still prefer a policy that adheres to a new security concept, rejects external interferences, addresses state-to-state disputes peacefully and upholds regional peace and stability. Asian countries have had deeper and more extensive people-to-people and cultural exchanges. Different civilizations and cultures have had dialogue and interactions in harmony and reinforced each other. Asian countries have maintained sound communication and coordination in regional and international affairs. Developing countries in Asia enjoy growing influence with higher international standings.
We are convinced that as long as Asian countries adhere to the development path suited to their respective national conditions, push forward regional cooperation, go along with the trend of the times featuring reform, openness and inclusiveness, and keep to the right direction and proven principles, they will surely take their destiny in their own hands and build a brighter future.
Q: Internationally, there have been some comments on China's relations with some of its Asian neighbors. Some even describe the relations as tense, and claim that some of the neighbors feel uneasy about China. What is the actual relationship between China and its neighbors?
A: China's ties with its Asian neighbors have indeed gone through historic changes, which are characterized by good-neighborliness, mutual trust and mutually beneficial cooperation. As a saying goes: facts speak louder than words.
The facts are as follows: This year, high-level exchanges between China and its Asian neighbors have remained frequent and dynamic. China has had high-level visits and exchanges with almost all Asian countries. If we count the important regional multilateral meetings attended by major Chinese leaders, such high-level exchanges number more than 60. In addition, the Chinese foreign minister has exchanged nearly 20 visits with his Asian counterparts.
This year, centering on "Friendship Year", China has held a host of commemorative activities in various forms with neighbors like India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Myanmar to celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations. The upcoming visit by National People's Congress Chairman Wu Bangguo to Indonesia will raise the bilateral strategic partnership to a new level. China-India relations have maintained the momentum of all-round rapid development. The traditional friendship, good-neighborly ties and mutually beneficial cooperation that China and its Asian neighbors have carried forward from generation to generation have stuck deeps roots in the hearts of their people.
This year, China's relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have built on past successes and broken new ground. At the just-concluded 13th China-ASEAN Summit, Premier Wen Jiabao and ASEAN leaders fully acknowledged the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity (2005-2010) and agreed that China-ASEAN relations are the most pragmatic, extensive, comprehensive, vibrant and fruitful strategic relations. They also agreed to continue to pursue peaceful development through friendly cooperation, and pay more attention to sustainable economic development, all-dimensional connectivity, social and people-to-people exchanges and integration-building in East Asia. They agreed to work together to ensure the successful implementation of the second five-year action plan (2010-2015) to bring more benefits to their peoples and make more active contribution to peace, stability, development and prosperity of Asia.
Regarding the differences or disputes between China and some of its neighbors on certain issues, China has always said that they should be managed properly and resolved through dialogue and consultation based on facts and in accordance with the basic norms governing international relations.
I should point out that in bilateral contacts as well as in regional multilateral conferences this year, Asian countries have given the same message that, with its overall national strength and influence growing fast, China has made important contributions to promoting peace and prosperity of Asia, economic growth of the world and reform of the international financial system.
They have said that Asian neighbors' new type of partnerships with China have withstood the test of time and international changes, and it is their firm and consistent policy to strengthen good-neighborly ties and cooperation with China, which is of special significance to the development of Asian countries and regional peace, stability and prosperity.
In a nutshell, China's relations with its Asian neighbors have been growing and moving forward. This is a fact that no one can alter.