China's role in Middle East will be enhanced: FM

Updated: 2014-01-10 02:20

(China Daily)

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III. The Syria issue is also a complicated one. China and Russia have vetoed Syria-related draft resolutions three times, which caused a huge controversy. With bloodshed still going on in Syria, how does China see the future of the Syria issue? The Geneva II conference on Syria will soon be held. Will China participate in it and what kind of role will it play?

You mentioned China's voting record at the UN Security Council. I want to tell our Arab friends that as a permanent member of the Security Council, China is fully aware of its responsibility and obligation for upholding international peace and stability. China is very serious and prudent when it comes to voting at the Security Council. We go by such principles: First, to uphold the purposes of the UN Charter and basic norms governing international relations, particularly the principles of non-interference in the internal affairs of members and equality of all countries regardless of size. This underpins the very survival and development of the developing countries, small- and medium-sized countries in particular. Second, to uphold the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of each and every country, which is the basic texture of the international order. If this is breached, many countries may feel insecure. Third, to maintain peace and stability of the regions concerned. We take into consideration the fundamental and long-term interests of the countries and peoples in the region when making our judgment on the issue.

The Chinese side always believes that the Syria issue can only be resolved politically, and there can be no other way. The war there has been going on for three years and people have now realized that war can resolve nothing, and violence can only breed hatred. This is why more and more countries have come to favor a return to the track of political settlement.

To make the Geneva II conference a success, much work remains to be done. The most pressing task is to put an end to the war and violence. It's unthinkable that the two sides are sitting down at the negotiating table while the fighting is still going on. At the same time, the work to destroy Syrian chemical weapons must not stop. The process should move forward step by step, until a complete and thorough destruction of all such weapons is achieved. With Geneva II providing a platform for a political settlement of the Syria issue, the international community, China included, should create an enabling environment and atmosphere to this end, whereby urging the two sides in Syria to sit down at the negotiating table. We may offer suggestions, make proposals, and submit plans, but only for them to consider. We must refrain from imposing anything on them. The Syria issue, ultimately, needs to be resolved through equal-footed negotiations between the two sides in Syria. Such negotiations will be tortuous, and not smooth at all. What is clearly defined is the future course of peace negotiations, the goal of which is also clearly defined as the implementation of the Geneva Communique. We hope that the negotiations will not only take place but also continue. Though time-consuming, as the negotiations may be, we must do our best to keep their momentum.

Follow up: Will the Chinese Side participate in Geneva II?

Of course we will. We have already done a lot of work to promote Geneva II. So we hope the conference will start on Jan 22 as scheduled and play a due role.

IV. Egypt is the first Arab and African country to have established diplomatic relations with China, and former president Mohammed Morsi made China the first country he visited after assuming office. But Egypt has remained in the state of turbulence after the coup. How does China see the future of Egypt?

Egypt is an ancient civilization and a major Arab and African country. China and Egypt have a long history of friendly exchanges. Egypt has played a very important role in maintaining regional peace and stability. In more recent years, turbulence erupted inside Egypt, which is detrimental not only to the country's own stability and development but also to the role it is expected to play in the region. Egypt, in our view, is in the middle of political and social transition, and it is in search of a development path suited to its national conditions. In so doing, Egypt has our understanding and support. The Egyptians are a great people. They have the wisdom and ability to find a development path that is conducive to the country, acceptable to its people and suited to Egypt's realities. The recent situation in Egypt is moving in a positive direction and we just hosted a visit to China by the Egyptian foreign minister. It is my impression that Egypt is regaining its confidence, more willing to get engaged with the rest of the world, including the major countries, which is a highly positive development. We hope that Egypt will restore stability, achieve development and regain its role as a major country in the region.

V. Relations between Iran and the United States have eased to some extent, and the work on the Iranian nuclear issue has entered a new stage. However, differences between Iran and some Arab countries, Gulf countries in particular, have further widened. How does China balance its relations with the Gulf Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, while engaging with Iran?

China has always maintained normal and friendly relations with other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. We enjoy friendly relations with Arab countries and at the same time maintain normal state-to-state relations with Iran. China's position on the Iranian nuclear issue has been a clear-cut and firm one. We oppose Iran's efforts to develop and possess nuclear weapons and support the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. We have participated in the negotiation process on the Iranian nuclear issue. After 10 years of negotiation, the P5+1 and Iran have recently reached the first agreement in Geneva, making the first step toward a peaceful solution, which indeed has not come easily. This agreement, although an initial one, sets the necessary restrictions on Iran's nuclear program, thus removing the most urgent concern of the international community. What matters now is to properly implement the agreement. The six-month Geneva nuclear agreement will test the ability of Iran and the other parties to fulfill their responsibilities and obligations in real earnest. At the same time, it is imperative to lose no time in pushing ahead with the negotiations in order to reach a final agreement that provides a comprehensive and once-and-for-all solution to the issue, which is the only way to eliminate the issue for good. That will benefit both Iran and the region as a whole.

We hope Iran and the Arab Gulf countries will solve their problems through consultation and negotiation. We are working toward this goal. We believe that Iran and other countries in the region will iron out their differences and disputes properly and thereby live in greater harmony with each other.