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中国外交部副部长乐玉成接受美联社专访(中英文)
2021/04/19

  2021年4月16日,外交部副部长乐玉成接受美联社大中华区新闻总监森次健(Ken Teizo Moritsugu)专访,文字实录如下:

  森:非常感谢您百忙中接受美联社的专访。我们都知道,现在对中国和美中关系来说正值关键时期,我们的观众和我本人都非常期待听到您如何评价21世纪的美中关系。

  乐:很高兴接受你的采访。世界正处在百年未有之大变局,中美作为世界上两个最大的经济体,如何相处事关重大,必须要处理好这对重要的大国关系。拜登政府执政以来,中美之间出现一些积极互动。两国元首除夕通话,互致新春祝福,还长时间讨论了双边关系,为两国关系发展指明了方向。上个月安克雷奇对话虽然开场白有点出乎大家意料,但总体是建设性的、有益的。双方工作层正就落实对话共识和成果积极开展工作。这说明中美对话总比对抗好,对话可以增进相互了解和信任,为合作创造条件。如果不对话,一切无从谈起。

  美方将中国视为“最严峻的竞争者”,并以竞争、合作、对抗来定义中美关系,我们对此并不赞同。美方过于突出两国关系中的竞争和对抗因素,对合作则轻描淡写,这种做法未免太消极,缺乏进取精神。中美两个大国之间竞争难以避免,但我们主张竞争应该是你追我赶的良性竞争,而不是你死我活的恶性竞争。作为对世界负有特殊责任的两个大国,中美要全力避免对抗,尤其要避免人为制造对抗。我们还应该尽可能扩大合作,因为双方都能从合作中受益。我们常说,中美合则两利,斗则俱伤。当然,合作应该是平等的、互惠的,而不是单方面提要求、拉单子。英文中“CO”这个前缀是共同的意思,不是单方面想合作就合作,于我有利的就干,于我不利的就不干。

  森:您是否有直接对拜登政府讲的话?拜登政府执政将近100天,人们对其执政理念和风格有了更多了解。您如何评价拜登政府的对华政策,在哪些问题上中美可以开展合作?

  乐:今年是基辛格博士秘密访华50周年。50年来,中美关系取得的成就超过任何预言家的想象,给两国人民带来巨大福祉。中美交往历史给我们的重要启示,就是中美虽然社会制度不同,但完全可以和平共处、互利合作、共同进步。遗憾的是,现在美国国内有一种不良风气,就是比赛谁对华更强硬,而且把它作为“政治正确”。有些美国人不承认14亿中国人民有追求美好生活的权利,不接受中国走自己的中国特色社会主义道路。这很危险,会把中美关系带入歧途,把世界引向灾难,此风不可长!我们不能太短视,而要放眼长远,审时度势,牢牢把握和平、合作的大方向,秉持不冲突不对抗、相互尊重、合作共赢的精神,确保中美关系健康稳定发展。中美在一些具体问题上正进行合作,例如为对方常驻本国的外交人员接种新冠肺炎疫苗作出互惠安排。这两天美国总统气候问题特使克里正在中国访问,商谈合作应对气候变化问题,这些都是积极的、应予鼓励的合作。

  森:您提到了克里访问上海,我们都很想知道他们谈了些什么,因为会谈都是闭门进行的。您能否透露他们具体谈了什么内容?气候变化被视为美中可进行合作的领域,但我们也听到拜登政府有些强硬表态,希望中国在气变问题上做更多。下周美国将主办气候变化峰会,美方希望中国在气变问题上作出更多承诺,您是否能就这些问题谈谈自己的看法?

  乐:中美两国气候问题特使正在上海进行磋商,明天会发布相关消息。中美在应对气候变化方面有过密切合作。奥巴马政府时期,两国曾共同发表有关气候变化的三个联合声明和一个合作文件,为推动达成《巴黎协定》作出重要贡献。后来特朗普政府退出了协定,严重干扰国际社会应对气候变化的努力。现在拜登总统宣布美国回来了,我们表示欢迎。回来了就要留下来,并要加倍努力弥补过去“退群”造成的损失。我们期待美方在气变方面做出更大努力。中方已经收到拜登总统给习近平主席发来的与会邀请,正在积极研究。中方将在会上发出积极的信号、合作的信号、负责任的信号。因为应对气候变化不是别人要我们做,而是我们自己要做。

  在习近平主席提出的“绿水青山就是金山银山”理念引领下,中国生态文明建设取得显著成就。你们应该也看到了,中国比过去天更蓝、山更绿、水更清,老百姓更满意了。同时,我们非常重视应对气候变化的国际合作。去年9月,习近平主席宣布中国将力争于2030年前实现“碳达峰”、2060年前实现“碳中和”的自主贡献目标。这对于一个14亿人口的发展中大国来说很不容易。有些国家要求我们把时限再提前,这不现实。中国与美国、欧洲等发达国家在应对气变方面处于不同阶段,就好比中国还是小学生,美国和有关发达国家已经是中学生了,现在要求小学生和中学生同时毕业,这是拔苗助长嘛。发达国家从碳达峰到碳中和大体需要50至60年,而中国将力争30年,已经很了不起了。中国将继续秉持共同但有区别的责任原则,为全球减排行动作出更大贡献。如果你认真看看中国的“十四五”规划,就会发现其中增加的相关约束性指标突出了碳达峰导向。我们会说到做到,全力争取如期实现既定目标。

  森:您提到美方应加强努力,弥补退群造成的伤害,您有什么具体建议吗?

  乐:美国至少有一件事可以做,在应对气变方面为发展中国家提供更多资金和技术支持,帮助发展中国家实现能源转型,真正发挥示范作用,而不是一味指责、甩锅中国。

  森:下面我想转到人权问题。在这个问题上,美中之间分歧很大。我们也听到,拜登政府在涉及新疆、香港方面有很多声音,美中之间也有很多言论交锋。这个问题看起来很难处理,美中将如何弥合分歧?双方在这个问题上的分歧是否会影响到其他双边问题的进展?

  乐:中美处于不同发展阶段,两国历史文化背景不同,在人权问题上有分歧是正常的。但关键是不能把分歧点变成冲突点,更不能以人权为借口干涉他国内政。不要在人权问题上好为人师,当教师爷。人权的内涵很丰富,不同国家、不同族群有不同的人权诉求。对于叙利亚、利比亚的难民,他们对人权的诉求是要生存,要工作,有饭吃。即使在美国,不同的族群也有不同诉求。被警察“跪杀”的弗洛伊德的诉求就是要能呼吸,广大非洲裔美国人的诉求是“黑人的命也是命”,受到不公正对待甚至暴力威胁的美国亚裔的诉求是免于伤害、恐惧和歧视。

  人权有一定的普遍性,但具体到不同国家会有不同的人权实践。就拿抗击疫情来说,国际公认有效的抗疫做法是要戴口罩、保持社交距离、隔离14天。但是有的人就是不愿戴口罩,也不愿保持社交距离,照样聚集聚会,隔离也就象征性的3天、5天。中国政府坚持生命至上的理念,将1100万人的城市武汉封了76天,当时还有人指责我们违反人权、限制自由,事实证明我们恰恰是保护了人权。但我们并没有把我们的做法强加于别的国家。既然有人愿意以生命为代价,甚至以死亡几万、几十万人的代价来维护其不戴口罩的权利,维护其所谓自由与人权价值观,那我们也无话可说。回到你刚才的问题,避免因人权分歧影响合作的最好办法就是相互尊重、平等对话、互不干涉。

  今年是“阿拉伯之春”十周年。当年美国就是以“人权高于主权”的口号对叙利亚、利比亚等国进行干预,被称为“阿拉伯之春”。但是现在十年过去了,“春天”在哪里?看看那里多少人饥寒交迫,多少人无家可归,战乱使他们失去了可以发展的十年。而那些实施干预的人他们真的是为了保护这些国家的人权吗?他们制造的是人权灾难!这个教训很深刻。现在没有人再说“阿拉伯之春”了,因为结果我们看不到“春天”,有的只是战乱、饥饿和难民。我们不能让这种悲剧重演。

  森:下面问新疆问题。这个问题好像成了中国和西方国家一个很严重的分歧点。去年,美国对6家新疆企业实施了制裁,对新疆的棉花和番茄出口也进行了制裁。想问您这些制裁对新疆的企业和出口有何影响?

  乐:问题的关键不是“制裁的影响”,而是“制裁的原因和动机”。美欧一些国家制裁新疆企业所谓的“理由”就是“强迫劳动”,甚至还说“种族灭绝”。但是,证据在哪里?谁裁定的?他们的做法是先扣帽子,认定有“强迫劳动”“种族灭绝”,然后发起制裁,然后再向我们提出要去新疆调查、找证据,这不是典型的有罪推定吗?

  实际上,对于“强迫劳动”,美国人可能更熟悉。因为“强迫劳动”是奴隶制产物,美欧国家有数百年贩卖、虐待和歧视黑奴的历史。当年的黑奴被强迫劳动,他们没有人身自由,没有任何权益,也不能享受自己的劳动成果。但是新疆的劳动者是自由的,他们自愿签订劳动合同,权益得到保障,享有自己的劳动成果。而且,在新疆,摘棉花是一个高收入工作,好多人争先恐后报名参加。更何况新疆全区棉花机播率达到100%、机采率达到70%,不可能存在强迫劳动的现象。近日,瑞士良好棉花发展协会(BCI)上海代表处发表声明称,按照BCI的审核原则,新疆没有发现一例强迫劳动现象。

  被制裁的新疆企业都是合法注册、合规经营,企业员工都对工作非常满意。制裁显然损害了这些企业的利益,也损害了新疆老百姓的利益,而且一定程度上影响了棉花等产品的全球产业链、供应链稳定。他们口口声声说保护新疆的人权,反对“强迫劳动”,但是他们制裁的结果是破坏了当地人权,并在新疆人为制造“强迫失业”、“强迫贫困”。他们的真实意图根本不是保护人权,而是破坏新疆的稳定,遏制中国的发展。新疆很多棉农都说,“新疆的棉花是白的,但是制造谣言、对中国搞制裁的人的心是黑的”。

  我这几年也去过新疆,亲眼看到新疆现在处于历史上发展最好、最稳定、最安定的时期,那里已连续四五年没有发生暴恐袭击案件。当地的百姓都过着幸福的生活。仅2019年新疆就接待中外游客2亿多人次。许多企业纷纷到新疆投资。有稳定才有发展,我觉得这是新疆治理的重大成果。新疆是开放的,我们欢迎大家去看看。近几年已经有100多个国家的1200多位各界人士到新疆参访,亲眼见证了新疆的发展繁荣、民族团结和宗教信仰自由。我听说你下周要去新疆,希望你在那里多走走、多看看,把一个真实的新疆展现给世界。

  森:在新疆问题上,中美之间以及中国和西方之间信任非常薄弱。美国越来越不信任中国,觉得中国对信息进行控制。而且似乎联合国也不能无障碍地去新疆参访。刚才您说新疆没有强迫劳动,但如何让世界相信、让美国相信这些信息是真实的?

  乐:美国不相信我们说的话,因为它心里有鬼,它搞的是有罪推定。中国外交部、新疆自治区政府已多次举行新闻发布会,介绍新疆的情况,但是他们都不信。他们信什么呢?他们信个别反华分子的“伪报告”,他们信几个东突分子“编故事”,他们信一些西方媒体的“假消息”。假消息害死人。当年,美国凭一袋洗衣粉就入侵伊拉克,用一个摆拍视频就干涉叙利亚,给地区带来深重灾难。他们不信、不听、不报道真相,这就是人们说的“你永远叫不醒一个装睡的人”。

  新疆是开放的,大家都可以去。这也是为什么我们邀请外国记者去。但是有些人不敢去。我们邀请一些西方国家的使节访问新疆,他们到现在都还没做出决定。怕什么呢?我们欢迎他们到新疆访问、考察,但是不能来进行所谓的“调查”。就像朋友来家里做客,我们欢迎,但如果到我家来翻箱倒柜,挖地三尺,要找所谓的“犯罪证据”,我当然不欢迎。你也没有这个资格来调查,谁给你这个权力?凡是去过新疆的外国朋友,都对我们的治疆政策予以高度评价,这一点是有目共睹的。这是我们自信的来源——我们做得好,不怕大家去新疆看。

  森:我想问关于香港的问题。最近香港选举法有了一些修订,特别是关于立法会的选举。我们也听到一些“民主斗士”正在接受庭审。有人认为香港的民主出现倒退。我想请您介绍一下香港今后的发展前景。我本人也曾经跟一些香港的居民交流,即使是那些不支持上街抗议游行的人,好像也担心20年后的香港会不会变得像中国内地的一座城市。西方的民主和中国共产党的治港模式之间也有某种角力。未来香港会不会变得越来越像中国大陆?

  乐:香港是中国的香港,香港同胞是地地道道的中国人。就像香港一首流行歌曲所唱的,“洋装虽然穿在身,我心依然是中国心”,“我的祖先早已把我的一切,烙上中国印”。香港的治理遵循的是中华人民共和国宪法和香港基本法,不是别国的法律。香港是中国的香港,这是改变不了的。

  香港模式就是“一国两制”。香港回归24年来,“一国两制”取得巨大成功,但香港一些治理中的问题也逐渐暴露出来,特别是法律制度存在明显缺陷和漏洞,需要进行修改和完善。去年我们颁布了香港国安法,今年修改完善了香港的选举制度,不是要改变“一国两制”,而是要完善“一国两制”,确保“一国两制”行稳致远,确保香港长治久安。20年后的香港只会更稳定、更繁荣,人民生活更幸福,不会有别的选择 。

  我们修改完善香港选举制度,主要是要落实“爱国者治港”这一基本原则。这不是新的要求,这是邓小平先生在香港回归前就提出来的,也是基本法所要求的。爱国者治理也是世界通行的政治伦理和普遍实践,包括美国。一个连自己的国家都不爱、不效忠、还要搞香港独立的人,怎么能有资格参与香港治理?我相信美国也不会允许不遵守宪法、不热爱和不效忠自己国家的人当议员或阁员。那些反中乱港分子不是什么反对派、“民主派”,他们是分裂分子和暴徒,受到审判是罪有应得。

  我们完善香港选举制度的做法得到了广大香港民众的支持。民调显示,超过七成香港居民赞同,还有230多万香港居民联署支持。

  森:我下面想问关于台湾的问题,您也知道拜登派遣了一些前议员和前政府官员,包括一名前议员和两名前国务院的官员,就是所谓的一个“低级别代表团”访问台湾。而特朗普政府曾派了现政府官员去台湾。外界分析认为,拜登想要借此既表现对台湾的支持,又不想惹恼中国,您对此怎么看?

  乐:台湾问题涉及中国的核心利益。中国政府在台湾问题上没有任何妥协的余地和退让的空间。我们坚决反对任何形式的美台官方往来,无论是低级别还是高级别。美国不要打“台湾牌”,这是一张危险的牌。一个中国原则是中国的红线,我们绝不允许“越线”行为。

  森:美国有很多人猜测中国可能会比预期更早把台湾重新纳入大陆治下。中方是否有台湾回归的时间表?

  乐:中国国家统一是不可阻挡的历史进程和大势,任何人、任何势力都阻挡不了。我们永远不会允许台湾独立,中方维护国家主权、安全、统一的立场坚定不移。我们愿尽最大努力争取和平统一的前景,同时不承诺放弃其他选项,任何选项都不排除。

  森:也就是说在台湾回归方面,中方并没有时间表,当前这个情况可以持续很多年?

  乐:这是一个历史进程。

  森:下面我想转到南海问题上,这个问题也是存在多年了,而且是有起伏的。最近我们也听到了菲律宾关于与中国的争议岛屿问题提出了一些抗议,美方也表示了对菲方的支持。我今天主要想问的并不是针对菲律宾方面,我想问中国和美国的海军或者海警船能否同时在南海存在?美方在这里的军舰存在了很长时间,中方是否认为美方必须离开南海?

  乐:首先,南海距离美国本土有7000多英里,但对中国来说是家门口。美国大老远跑到南海来,而且还开着军舰、战机,带着武器。据统计,过去一年美国向南海派出军机约4000架次,军舰130多艘次。美国到南海来干什么?南海这个地方本来风平浪静,偏偏美国在这里不断地炫耀武力,兴风作浪,制造事端。南海正常航行与飞越不存在任何问题。至于美国能不能来南海?我给你打个比方,你家门口的路通常行人可以来来往往,但是如果有人在你家门口拿着武器耀武扬威,秀肌肉,甚至还向你家里窥探张望,长期逗留不走,那就是一种挑衅、一种骚扰、一种威胁,当然遭到坚决反对。所以关键是在这里干什么,而不是能不能来。

  美国不是南海问题的当事方。中国正与东盟国家通过外交渠道推进“南海行为准则”磋商。希望美国能够多做有利于地区稳定的事,不要挑衅、挑事,这很容易导致“擦枪走火”,引发不必要的麻烦。维护海上安全符合中美共同利益,中美可以就海洋开发与保护等开展合作。

  森:但是从美国政府的观点来看,中国在南海搞了很多基础设施建设,填海造陆等,美方认为这是挑衅行为,中方作何回应?

  乐:南海岛礁是我们的固有领土,我们在自己的岛礁上修建设施,改善当地条件,便利船只往来,保障航行安全,这些都是正常的,无可厚非。

  森:我想回到比较宏观的问题上。在过去的10年、20年乃至40年期间,中国的国际地位发生了很大的改变。不管是在军事上还是在经济上,实力都有了很大的增长。您如何看待今后中国外交政策的走向?中国外交的目标是什么?

  乐:今年是中国共产党成立100周年。众所周知,中国共产党始终致力于为中国人民谋幸福、为人类进步作贡献,始终奉行独立自主的和平外交政策,致力于维护和促进世界和平与发展。和平发展是中国外交的基石,已写入中国的宪法。近年来随着中国的快速发展,中国国际地位、国际影响力不断提升,也给世界带来了更多机遇,作出了很多贡献。但是不管中国如何发展变化,中国独立自主的和平外交政策不会变,不称霸、不搞扩张、不干涉别国内政的外交方针不会变。我们的确比过去富了、强了,但我们富而不骄、强而不霸。我们不认为国强必霸,但我们坚信国霸必衰。

  中国的发展不是为了超越谁、取代谁,也不是为了和谁争世界老大,而是为了让中国人民过上更好的日子,为了推动构建人类命运共同体。中国的发展会为世界带来更多机遇,创造更多合作机会,为世界稳定作出更大贡献,注入更多正能量。

  中国作为第一个在《联合国宪章》上签字的国家,坚定捍卫以联合国为核心的国际体系,捍卫以《联合国宪章》和国际法为基础的国际秩序。拜登政府说美国将重回多边主义,我们希望美方坚持真正的多边主义,而不是搞小圈子。多边主义应该是包容、合作,而不是排他、对抗、分裂。世界上有190多个国家,搞“四边机制”、七国集团或十几个国家的同盟,这不是多边主义。多边主义应是全球性的,包括世界所有国家。面对疫情等一系列严峻挑战,我们要营造全球合作的大气候,而不是拉帮结派的小圈子。

  森:随着世界形势发生变化,今天您愿意跟我们分享新的外交政策或思路的转变吗?

  乐:在结束今天的采访前,我想与你分享四点体会和感受:

  第一,中国未来发展前景看好。我们颁布了“十四五”规划和2035年远景目标纲要,已经绘制了中国未来5年和15年国家发展的宏伟蓝图,我们将致力于高质量发展,致力于构建以国内大循环为主体、国内国际双循环相互促进的新发展格局。这就意味着中国将更加开放,将在更大范围、更宽领域、更高水平对外开放,将为世界各国提供更多发展机遇,更大的市场选择和更加广阔的合作前景。

  第二,关于中国外交,我们主张推动构建人类命运共同体,推动构建相互尊重、公平正义、合作共赢的新型国际关系。其中很重要的是相互尊重、平等相待。我们认为在国际大家庭当中,每个国家都是平等的,没有哪个国家可以高人一等,高高在上,更不应该把其他国家分成三六九等,贴上“威权国家”“失败国家”甚至“无赖国家”等各种标签,这都是不允许的,也不符合主权平等的原则。中国对世界各国一视同仁、平等相待。我们对他国既不仰视也不俯视,而是平视。

  第三,中美关系要拨乱反正。拜登政府正面临一系列国内问题,特别是抗击新冠疫情和促进经济复苏。要解决这两大问题,没有一个合作的、健康的中美关系是难以想象的。我多次说过,中国不是美国的对手,更不是敌人,而是美国的抗疫队友和发展伙伴。美国不能把队友当对手。尤其在当前面临疫情挑战的形势下,中美只有携手合作,才能共克时艰。

  最后还想对你们记者提一点希望。希望你们能够向世界更多展示一个真实的中国和中国共产党。为什么讲这个,就是因为我发现一些西方记者不负责任、昧着良心对中国进行攻击抹黑。他们用“灰黑滤镜”丑化中国、用“移花接木”歪曲中国、用胡编乱造抹黑中国,结果就是误导民众,毒化舆论,甚至还会把决策者带进沟里,给世界带来灾难。我刚刚提到的伊拉克战争、叙利亚战争都是教训,不能让悲剧重演。你们应该学习你们的前辈——美国记者埃德加·斯诺。他在中国革命异常艰苦的时期,克服困难深入到中共中央所在地陕北地区进行实地调查采访,和中共领袖毛泽东、周恩来以及红军战士、当地老百姓结下深厚友谊。他的报道向世界展现了真实的中国共产党和中国红军。我希望你们都成为新时代的斯诺,多深入了解中国,把一个真实的中国和中国共产党展现给世界。

  谢谢。

 

Transcript of Vice Minister Le Yucheng’s

Exclusive Interview with the Associated Press of the United States

 

  On 16 April 2021, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng spoke with Ken Teizo Moritsugu of the Associated Press (AP) at an exclusive interview. The following is a transcript of the interview:

  Ken Teizo Moritsugu: First of all, thank you very much for taking the time to be with me and AP today. I think it’s a pivotal time for China and for U.S.-China relations, and I think our audience and myself personally are very eager to hear what you have to say about U.S.-China relations in the 21st century.

  Le Yucheng: It is my pleasure to have this interview. We are at a time when the world is undergoing once-in-a-century changes. China and the United States are the world’s two biggest economies. How we engage with each other is an important question. The relationship between the two major countries must be properly handled.

  Since the Biden administration took office, there have been some positive interactions between China and the United States. President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden talked on the phone and exchanged New Year greetings on the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year. They also had a long discussion on bilateral relations, which has pointed the way forward. Last month, the two countries had a dialogue in Anchorage. Although the opening remarks were a little bit unusual, the dialogue was a constructive and useful one on the whole. The teams on both sides are now actively working on the follow-ups of the dialogue. All this tells us that for China and the United States, dialogue is better than confrontation. Dialogue can enhance mutual understanding and mutual trust, and pave the way for cooperation. Without dialogue, things cannot get started.

  The U.S. side describes China as “the most serious competitor”, and defines the relationship as competitive, cooperative and adversarial. We do not quite agree. It disproportionately stresses competition and confrontation, and plays down cooperation. Such an approach is too negative and lacks a forward-going spirit.

  For two big countries like China and the United States, competition might be inevitable. But competition must be healthy, and should not be allowed to become a vicious zero-sum game. China and the United States are two major countries with special responsibilities to the world. We need to avoid confrontation and in particular, avoid creating confrontation. We also need to do our best to expand cooperation, as it benefits both sides. As we have always said, China and the Unites States both gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation. Of course, cooperation shall always be equal-footed and lead to win-win outcomes. It is not one side drawing up a laundry list of demands to the other side.

  In English, you have the prefix of “co-”, which means doing things together. In cooperation, one should not be selfish and care only about self-interests with little regard for the well-being of the other side.

  Ken Teizo Moritsugu: I wonder if you could speak a little more directly to the Biden administration? Obviously he, as the new President, is almost approaching 100 days in office. I think everybody has a little better sense of how President Biden will lead the government and the country. And I wonder, up to now, how do you evaluate what the Biden administration has done and its approach to China. It seems that China will be able to work with the Biden administration, will you agree?

  Le Yucheng: This year marks the 50th anniversary of the secret visit by Dr. Henry Kissinger. Over the past five decades, China-U.S. relations have achieved more than anyone could have imagined 50 years ago, bringing enormous benefits to the people of both countries. The history of China-U.S. engagement tells us one important thing: China and the United States, despite their different social systems, are well able to stay in peace, engage in mutually beneficial cooperation and move forward side by side.

  Regrettably, there is a negative tendency in the United States, namely, some people are competing for being tougher on China and taking this as a politically correct thing to do. Some still refuse to accept that the 1.4 billion Chinese people have the right to pursue a better life, and that China has the right to pursue its own path of development, the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. This tendency is dangerous, and could derail this relationship and lead the world to catastrophes. Such tendency must be stopped.

  The two countries must refuse to be short-sighted. We need to look far, see the larger picture, keep this relationship to the overall direction of peace and cooperation, follow the spirit of no confrontation, no conflict, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, and jointly strive for healthy and stable development of China-U.S. relations.

  China and the United States are cooperating on some specific issues. For instance, we have provided favorable COVID vaccination arrangements for each other’s diplomats. Special Envoy John Kerry is in China for discussions on cooperation against climate change. All these are positive trends that should be encouraged.

  Ken Teizo Moritsugu: You mentioned John Kerry’s visit to Shanghai. I think, for many of us, we are wondering what they are saying because the meetings are being held behind closed doors. I realize that climate is viewed as a possible area of cooperation between the U.S. and China. At the same time, some of the rhetoric we hear from the Biden administration is quite forceful, asking China to do more in the area of climate. Next week, President Biden will host the Climate Summit. There is the sense that they are expecting China to make some further announcement beyond the commitments it made last year. What can you tell me about the meeting so far in Shanghai and what is the Chinese response?

  Le Yucheng: Indeed, the two climate envoys are having discussions in Shanghai. The relevant information will be released tomorrow. On climate, our two countries once worked together very closely. During the Obama administration, three joint statements and one cooperation document on climate change were issued. And we jointly played an important part for the Paris Agreement to be reached. Under the Trump administration, the U.S. withdrew from the Paris Agreement, which caused serious disruptions to international climate efforts. Now that President Biden has announced the U.S. return, we welcome that. Since the United States has come back, it shall stay and redouble its efforts to make up for the time lost during its absence. We expect the United States to do more on climate change. We have received the invitation from President Biden to President Xi to attend the Climate Summit. We are looking into it. The Chinese side will send a positive message at the meeting, a message for cooperation and a message for responsibility. Addressing climate change is not what others ask us to. We are doing so on our own initiative.

  President Xi Jinping has set forth that green mountains and lucid waters are indeed mountains of gold and silver. Guided by this vision, China has come a long way in building ecological civilization. We are having bluer skies, greener mountains and cleaner rivers, and the Chinese people are happier with the improvement. At the same time, China sets great store by international cooperation on climate response. In September last year, President Xi Jinping announced that China will peak its carbon dioxide emission by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 as its nationally determined contributions (NDCs). For a big developing country with 1.4 billion people, these are no easy tasks. Some countries are asking China to fast forward the process. That, I am afraid, is not very realistic. When it comes to climate response, China is at a stage different from that of the U.S. and European developed countries - we are still a primary school student, while the U.S. and other developed countries are already in middle school. So, it is against the natural course of development if you ask these two groups of students to graduate at the same time. Developed countries will take 50 to 60 years to move from carbon peak to carbon neutrality, but China has undertaken to do it within 30 years. This is already a big commitment, isn’t it? China will continue to do its best efforts under the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and will contribute even more to the global emissions reduction. If you read our 14th Five-Year Development Plan, you may notice those mandatory targets related to emissions reduction, reflecting the priority we give to peaking the CO2 emission on schedule. We honor our word and will make best efforts to meet the goals on schedule.

  Ken Teizo Moritsugu: Just one more follow-up on climate. You mentioned that you would like to see the United States redouble its efforts in climate cooperation because of the time lost after Trump withdrew from the Paris accord. Are there any specific things that you are looking for the United States to do in this area?

  Le Yucheng: Well, the United States could at least do one thing, that is to provide more technological and financial support to help upgrade the energy structure in developing countries. Lead by example, instead of blaming and scapegoating China.

  Ken Teizo Moritsugu: Let me shift to the area of human rights. There is a huge divide between China and the United States on human rights. The Biden administration and its officials have repeatedly raised the issues of Xinjiang and Hong Kong. I know China has always responded and there is a back and forth. It feels like there is almost no way to resolve this issue of difference. How can China and the United States manage this issue and is there a danger that this issue could derail cooperation in other areas?

  Le Yucheng: Well, China and the United States are two different civilizations. We are in different stages of development and have different historical background. It is normal that we do not always agree on human rights issues. That said, differences must not be turned into friction points, and human rights are no excuse to interfere in each other’s internal affairs. And no country is in the position to lecture others on human rights issues.

  Human rights means a lot of things. Different countries and different populations have different demands on human rights. If you ask refugees from Syria and Libya which human rights they want, I think that they want their basic living needs to be met: jobs and enough food. Even in the United States, different populations have different needs. For George Floyd, the young man suffocated by the police, his last demand was to breathe. For African Americans, human rights mean that “black lives matter”. For Asian communities in the United States facing unfair treatment or even threat of violence, they simply want to be free from harm, fear and discrimination.

  Human rights does have some universality. But when it comes to a particular country, practices could be different. Take COVID response for example, the internationally recognized practices are mask wearing, social distancing and two-week quarantine. But in some countries, some are unwilling to wear masks or keep social distancing, and there remain big-scale gatherings, and quarantine lasts for only three to five days.

  The Chinese government puts people’s lives above everything else, and that is why we put Wuhan, a mega city with 11 million people, under lockdown for 76 days. At the time, some framed this as human rights violation and restrictions on freedom. But what happened has shown that we did the right thing. We have protected human rights by what we did, and we are not forcing others to follow our approach. If for some, tens of thousands of lives are the cost to pay for the right to not wear masks, if that is what they call personal freedom and human rights, then we have no comments to make.

  Back to the question you have raised, how our two countries can keep our human rights differences from derailing cooperation in other areas. My answer is to respect each other, no interference, and having dialogue as equals.

  Ten years ago, the United States, citing human rights above sovereignty, started intervention in countries like Syria and Libya. That was how the Arab Spring began. Now 10 years on, where is that “spring”? How many people have become refugees and lost their homes? Conflicts deprived these countries of 10 years that could have been used to develop. And those who made the intervention, were they really to protect human rights in these countries? I think they only produced human rights disasters! This is a hard lesson that must be learned. Now people seldom talk about the Arab Spring, because we’ve seen what happened - instead of a spring, there are wars, hunger and refugees. Such tragedies shall never happen again.

  Ken Teizo Moritsugu: Let’s talk specifically about Xinjiang. It has been a flashpoint between the West and China. The American government has put sanctions on six companies in Xinjiang last year and on their exports to the U.S. Most recently in January, they put sanctions on cotton and tomato from Xinjiang. What is the impact of the sanctions on Xinjiang’s economy?

  Le Yucheng: I think what matters here is not the impact of the sanctions but reasons and motives behind. The so-called “reason” for the U.S. and European sanctions on companies in Xinjiang is “forced labor”, or even “genocide”. But where is the evidence? Who is in the position to act as the judge? They first adopted the approach of name-calling, made the allegations of “forced labor” and “genocide” before putting sanctions on us, and then they said they need to come to Xinjiang for investigation and evidence collection. Isn’t this typical presumption of guilt?

  The Americans might be more familiar with the concept of “forced labor”, because it actually originates from slavery. For centuries in the U.S. and European history, slaves were sold as property and mistreated, and had no dignity. When the slaves in the U.S. were forced to work, they had no personal freedom, no basic rights. And they could not own the fruits of their work. But people in Xinjiang are free to choose their job and sign work contracts according to their own will. Their rights and interests are protected. They own the fruits of their work. Plus, cotton-picking is a well-paid job for many in Xinjiang. What is more, cotton in Xinjiang is 100 percent planted and 70 percent picked by machines. There is simply no need for forced labor. The Shanghai office of the Better Cotton Initiative, a Swiss organization, issued a statement which says that in keeping with its verification principles, it has found no single case of forced labor in Xinjiang.

  Those companies which have been sanctioned are registered and operate lawfully. Their staff are happy about their work. The sanctions have taken a toll on those companies as well as the livelihood of the ordinary people in Xinjiang, and disrupted to some extent the stability of the world’s cotton production and supply chains. Those who imposed the sanctions are using human rights protection and opposition to forced labor as their excuse. But what they have actually done undermines human rights in Xinjiang, adding unemployment and poverty. The real purpose behind is far from human rights protection. It is to destabilize Xinjiang and hold back China’s development. That is why many cotton farmers in Xinjiang say, “cotton flowers in Xinjiang are pure white, but the hearts of those rumor mongers and of those who imposed sanctions on us are dark.”

  In recent years, I myself took several trips to Xinjiang. I could see that the region is more stable and prosperous than any time before. There have been no terrorist attacks in the last four or five years and people are living a stable and happy life. In 2019 alone, Xinjiang welcomed over 200 million Chinese and foreign visitors. More investment is coming. Stability brings prosperity. This is the major accomplishment we have made when it comes to Xinjiang’s development.

  Xinjiang is open to the outside. You are all welcome to go and see. In recent years, we received over 1,200 people of various sectors from more than 100 countries to see for themselves a stable and prospering Xinjiang that enjoys harmony among ethnic groups and the freedom of religious belief. I heard that you will visit Xinjiang next week. I encourage you to see more of the region and present the image of the real Xinjiang to the world.

  Ken Teizo Moritsugu: I think one of the issues with Xinjiang is that it’s an issue of trust between China and the U.S., or China and Western nations. I think increasingly, Americans aren’t sure if they can trust China in a sense, as China controls information a bit more restrictively than many countries. It also seems that the UN would like to have more unfettered access to Xinjiang. It has been very difficult to agree on a visit by the UN. Even as you say that there is no forced labor, we were unable to verify, or feel confident that we can trust the information. I wonder if you have any thoughts on that issue?

  Le Yucheng: The United States doesn’t trust us because it has its own calculations. It prefers to believe in the presumption of guilt. China’s Foreign Ministry and the government of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region have actually held many press briefings, but those in the U.S. simply choose not to believe us. Instead, they choose to believe the groundless reports by anti-China elements, stories fabricated by a handful of ETIM elements, and some “fake news” from a few Western media outlets. Disinformation can be extremely harmful. Many years ago, a package of washing powder was used as the excuse to start the war in Iraq, and a staged video the excuse for military interventions in Syria. Both were disastrous to the region. Some people simply refuse to listen, to believe, or to report the truth. This reminds me of one saying, “you can never wake up someone who pretends to be asleep.”

  Xinjiang is open to the outside. We welcome everyone, including journalists, to Xinjiang, but some are unwilling to come and visit. We have invited Western diplomats to Xinjiang, but they are still reluctant to accept our invitation. I wonder what are they afraid of? We welcome them to come and visit Xinjiang, and they should come as visitors, not as investigators. We welcome friends to visit us. But if they come into the house as if this is their own place and search up and down for the so-called “evidence of crimes”, then of course they won’t be welcomed. Nor do they have the right to behave like that, do they? All foreign friends who have visited Xinjiang speak highly of our policies there. We have confidence in our work and we are not afraid of others coming to Xinjiang to have a look.

  Ken Teizo Moritsugu: Let me turn to Hong Kong. In recent weeks we had further developments that the new election law in Hong Kong, which I think at least from one perspective reduced the number of directly elected representatives in the legislature. It seems to be moving backwards on democracy. I am sure that you are aware that today we are expecting verdicts to be made at the trials of some of the democracy activists in Hong Kong. I want to ask about the bigger picture. Where is Hong Kong headed? I know when I talk to people in Hong Kong, even if they don’t support the protest, they’re concerned that Hong Kong in 20 years will be a very different place than Hong Kong is today, and the Hong Kong, where they grow up, is going to be more similar to a mainland Chinese city. I think there is a bit of a tug of war, perhaps, between Western democracy and Chinese Communist Party’s ideas or goals for Hong Kong. So I want to put that to you. Where do you think Hong Kong is headed? Will Hong Kong be more like a mainland city in 20 years or whatever time frame as appropriate or will it retain some of the things that make it different?

  Le Yucheng: Hong Kong is part of China and our compatriots in Hong Kong are fellow Chinese. Just as a popular song in Hong Kong puts it, “I may wear suits, but my heart is still a Chinese heart” and “My Chinese identity has been imprinted on everything about me by my ancestors”. So the administration of Hong Kong follows the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR, instead of laws of any other country. Hong Kong is always China’s Hong Kong. That will not change.

  The Hong Kong model is One Country, Two Systems. In the past 24 years since Hong Kong’s return to the motherland, the One Country, Two Systems policy has achieved tremendous success. That said, questions have emerged in the administration of the SAR, especially some legislation deficiencies and loopholes. And that is why it has become imperative to improve the legislation system. In 2020, we promulgated the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong SAR. And this year, we made the change to the SAR’s electoral system. But the purpose is not to change the One Country, Two Systems, but to improve it and ensure the steady practice of this policy in the long run and for Hong Kong to achieve enduring stability. Twenty years later, Hong Kong will see greater stability, more prosperity and a happier life of its people. This, we believe, will be the future of Hong Kong.

  The thrust in improving the electoral system is to implement the basic principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong”. This is not a new requirement. Actually Mr. Deng Xiaoping pointed this out even before Hong Kong’s return, and it is also in keeping with the Basic Law.

  Administration by patriots is also political ethic and a common practice across the world. There are similar practices in many other countries, including in the United States. Just imagine if someone does not love the motherland or is even asking for Hong Kong independence, then how can he be qualified to take part in the administration of the Hong Kong SAR? It is impossible. I think the same would be true in the United States. You won’t allow a person who is not loyal to the country and the Constitution and not patriotic to become a congressman or woman or to serve as a cabinet member.

  So those anti-China, destabilizing elements in Hong Kong are not really the so-called opposition party or “pro-democracy advocates”. They are actually separatists and rioters. Standing trials is what they deserve.

  The improvement of the Hong Kong SAR’s electoral system has won support from the residents in Hong Kong. According to opinion polls, 70 percent of them support the improvement, and over 2.3 million Hong Kong residents have signed letters to express support.

  Ken Teizo Moritsugu: Let me move on to Taiwan. As you know, President Biden sent to Taiwan this week a delegation of former officials, a former senator and two former deputy secretaries of state. It has been described as some “low-level” delegation. It’s not sending a current-sitting cabinet secretary as President Trump did earlier last year. I am wondering what is your take, because the analysis is that while Biden wanted to show support for Taiwan, he also didn’t want to upset China too much.

  Le Yucheng: Well, the Taiwan question bears on China’s core interests. There is simply no room for compromise. China firmly opposes any form of official engagement between the United States and Taiwan. Whether low-level or high-level, official engagement is what we firmly oppose. The United States should not play the “Taiwan card”. It is dangerous. The one-China principle is China’s red line. No one should try to cross it.

  Ken Teizo Moritsugu: I am sure you are aware that there has been some speculation or prediction in the United States that China could act sooner than thought in trying to bring Taiwan under Mainland Chinese rule. What is your comment on that? It there any timetable, in your mind, for bringing Taiwan under Mainland China or Beijing’s rule?

  Le Yucheng: National reunification of China is a historical process and the tide of history. It will not be stopped by anyone or any force. We will never let Taiwan go independent. We are firmly committed to safeguarding national sovereignty and security and promoting national reunification. We are prepared to do everything we can for peaceful reunification. That said, we don’t pledge to give up other options. No option is excluded.

  Ken Teizo Moritsugu: So there is no timetable, and the current situation could continue to exist for many years?

  Le Yucheng: Well, it’s a process of history.

  Ken Teizo Moritsugu: Let me shift to the South China Sea. That is an issue for several years, and tension keeps going up and down and continues. As you know, most recently the Philippines has been complaining about the presence of Chinese fishing boats in the islands that both countries are claiming as their territory. The United States has spoken up in support of the Philippines in this particular situation. I’m not asking as much about the Philippines but looking in the broader sense. Do you think the U.S. and China and their navies, can they coexist in the South China Sea? Can the two actually be there, because the U.S. has been there for a long time, and now China is there, and maybe sending coast guards. Or do you think that eventually, in the Chinese thinking, the U.S. has to leave?

  Le Yucheng: To begin with, the South China Sea is over 7,000 miles away from the continental U.S., but it is at China’s doorstep. The United States has traveled long distances and come with military vessels, aircraft and weaponry. Last year alone, the United States flied military airplanes at the South China Sea for nearly 4,000 times and sailed military vessels for over 130 times. What are they here for? The South China Sea could have been peaceful and tranquil, except that the United States has been flexing military muscles and stoking discords. Navigation and overflight in normal sense is not a problem here. You asked whether the United States can come. Well, let me draw an analogy. People can pass by my doorstep. That is fine. But imagine if a person with weapons lingering at your doorstep and spying on you, time and again, without leaving, that would be a kind of provocation, harassment and threatening. Of course we are strongly opposed to that. So the crux of the matter is what the United States is doing here, not whether it can come or not.

  The United States is not a party directly concerned when it comes to the South China Sea issue. China and the relevant ASEAN countries are advancing the code of conduct consultation through diplomatic channels. We hope that the United States will do more things conducive to regional stability, rather than making provocations and creating troubles, because this could cause accidents. Maintaining maritime security serves the common interests of China and the United States. We could also work together in areas such as marine development and protection.

  Ken Teizo Moritsugu: Yet, from the U.S. government’s perspective, a lot of the land reclamation in the South China Sea in terms of China’s infrastructure development. The U.S. views that as a provocation. So how would you respond to that?

  Le Yucheng: The South China Sea islands and reefs that you talked about are Chinese territory. We’ve done some construction work on our own islands and reefs in order to improve the conditions there, for better navigation safety and convenience for the ships passing by. I don’t see that as a problem.

  Ken Teizo Moritsugu: Let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture. China’s position in the world has changed quite a bit in the last 10, 20 or 40 years. China has become economically stronger, militarily stronger. How do you see China’s foreign policy going forward? What is China trying to achieve in its foreign policy?

  Le Yucheng: This year marks the centenary of the Communist Party of China. The CPC is committed to bringing happiness to the Chinese people, and contributing to the progress of humanity. China follows an independent foreign policy of peace. We are always committed to world peace and development.

  Peaceful development is the cornerstone of China’s foreign policy. It has been written into the Chinese Constitution. Yes, our international standing and influence are indeed rising, which has also contributed more opportunities to the world. But certain things will not change. Our independent foreign policy of peace will not change. Our stance of seeking no hegemony, no expansion and no interference in others’ internal affairs will not change.

  Indeed, we are getting better off, but arrogance and hegemonism are not who we are. In our view, a strong country is not necessarily hegemonic, but a country will decline if it seeks hegemony.

  China’s pursuit of development is neither about surpassing or replacing anyone else, nor about competing for global supremacy. Rather, it is about improving Chinese people’s lives and contributing our share to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. So, the more China develops, the more we can do to share development opportunities with other countries, and to contribute more to global stability.

  China was among the first countries to sign on the UN Charter. We remain firmly committed to upholding the UN-centered international system and the international order based on the UN Charter and international law.

  We have noticed that President Biden’s statement that the United States has returned to multilateralism. And we hope true multilateralism will be upheld. True multilateralism means mutual acceptance and seeking common ground, rather than group politics and teaming up against others. It calls for cooperation, not confrontation and division.

  The world has over 190 countries. A quadrilateral mechanism, a group of seven countries, or an alliance of a dozen countries are not multilateralism. Multilateralism should be global in scale and for all countries.

  Now humanity is facing a myriad of serious challenges, including this pandemic. The world needs global cooperation, not small circles pitted against one another.

  Ken Teizo Moritsugu: Let me just ask you if there is anything else that is on your mind. What I’m interested in is that even if the goals of China’s foreign policy are the same, does the strategy and the approach have to shift because of the changing world climate? Is there anything that you can tell me about what is new, what is happening, or what is changing?

  Le Yucheng: Before we conclude this interview, I wish to share with you my four observations and thoughts:

  First, China’s development has a promising future. In China, we have adopted the 14th Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development and have set the Long-Range Goals for 2035. These represent the blueprint for China’s development in the next five years and the coming 15 years. We are striving for high-quality development and building a new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay and, domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other. It means that China will open wider, and continue to expand, broaden and deepen opening-up at a higher level. For other countries, this would bring more development opportunities, a growing market and broader prospects for cooperation.

  Second, about China’s diplomacy. We call for building a community with a shared future for mankind. We advocate a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation. Mutual respect and treating each other as equals are very important. In the big family of nations, all countries stand as equals. No country is superior to others and in the position to act in a domineering way. Even less should countries be labeled as “authoritarian countries”, “failed states” or even “rogue states”. This is discriminatory and unhelpful, and goes against the principle of sovereign equality. China views all other countries as equals. We don’t look up or down on others. We view others on an equal footing.

  Third, China-U.S. relations should be put back on track. We know that the Biden administration is combating COVID-19, promoting economic recovery and dealing with many other domestic priorities. COVID response and economic recovery are the two areas where China-U.S. cooperation could be critically important. I have commented on many occasions that China is not an adversary and even less an enemy for the United States. On issues such as epidemic response and development, our two countries could be teammates and partners. The United States should not mistake teammates as adversaries. With COVID-19 confronting us, it is all the more important for our two countries to work together to navigate this trying time.

  Last but not least, I wish to raise some hope for friends from the media. I hope you will present to the world a truthful image of China and of the Communist Party of China (CPC). I raise this point because in recent years, there are a few journalists, from some Western countries, who are irresponsible when reporting on China. They betray their conscience and apply a gloomy filter, so to speak, in reporting on China. They write untruthful stories that defame China. This is misleading and poisonous, and misguides the decision-makers. It could pull the world into a precarious situation. What happened in Iraq, Syria and Libya are hard lessons. Tragedies shall never be allowed to happen again.

  Let me also mention Edgar Snow, the American journalist. In the hard times of China’s revolutionary years, he came against all odds to Shaanxi and Gansu, the base areas of the CPC Central Committee back then, for field research and interviews. He developed close friendship with the then Chinese leaders, such as Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, and with many Red Army soldiers and local people. It was through Mr. Snow’s reports that the world came to know the real CPC and the Red Army.

  To friends from the media, I hope you will all become “Edgar Snow” in the new era. I hope you will learn more about China and, through your reporting, present the truthful images of China and of the CPC to the rest of the world.

  Thank you.

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