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

Updated: 2014-01-10 02:20

(China Daily)

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IX. You are an expert on Asian affairs. China has recently established the East China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone, which has drawn attention from various parties. How does China view the prospects of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific, in particular, since the US has re-balanced its strategic focus away from the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific?

Let me say first of all that the Asian region is on the whole peaceful and promising, with countries living together in amity, and the regional economy maintaining a sound momentum of rapid development. Globally, Asia, East Asia in particular, has enjoyed the fastest growth and the biggest potential. As for some issues left from history that exist in the region, efforts are being made to find a solution through peaceful negotiations. Of course we know that the US has traditional influence and practical interests in this region, which we think is normal, since it is also a big nation in the Asia-Pacific. China respects the US' legitimate interests in the Asia-Pacific and hopes to see it play a constructive role in regional affairs. President Xi Jinping stated publicly that the vast Pacific Ocean has ample space for China and the US to both develop. In June 2013, President Xi Jinping and President Obama held a meeting at the Annenberg Estate in California, during which the two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on a wide range of topics and reached consensus on many issues. The meeting went well. In particular, President Xi Jinping proposed that China and the US should build a new model of major-country relationship and President Obama readily agreed to the idea. President Xi explained the three features of the proposed new model of major-country relationship, namely, first, no conflict or confrontation; second, mutual respect; and third, win-win cooperation. The US side subscribed to the idea fully.

We have since implemented the agreement reached between the two presidents and advanced the building of this new model of major-country relationship, starting first and foremost from the Asian region. I hope to see more communication and closer coordination and cooperation between China and the US, first in Asian affairs, for more commonalities, which may help develop sound interactions in this region. This serves not only the interests of China and the US, but also those of all countries in this region. We are making progress in all these areas.

As for the Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea that you have mentioned, there is actually nothing unusual about it. Dozens of countries have already done so and some did it long ago. For example, Japan established its ADIZ as early as in 1969. The Republic of Korea and India, both our neighbors, have set up their ADIZ as well. To establish the ADIZ is China's legitimate right and is in full accord with international law and practice. Moreover, the ADIZ is not territorial airspace, still less no-fly zone. Its establishment will not change the legal status of the airspace concerned, nor will it affect the freedom of flight ensured by international law. Our ADIZ has been in place for some time now and the area has been very peaceful with no flight of any airlines being affected. In retrospect, Japan and the US did overreact. Allow me to quote a Chinese saying: it is not permissible to only allow magistrates to burn down houses while forbidding common people to even light lamps. All countries are equal. We established the ADIZ only recently while some other countries did it long ago. It is really unfair to make all sorts of criticisms and even accusations against China for doing so. Details of the ADIZ may differ from country to country, as there are no explicit international laws and regulations governing ADIZ. If there are any questions about ADIZ specifics, we are ready to sit down and talk about it. It is absolutely unnecessary to get restless or even make groundless accusations against China as Japan did. In fact, there may be other considerations behind Japan's reactions.

It is possible that they would like to create tension between China and Japan on purpose, which would enable Japanese leaders to press ahead with their plan in Japan and break away from post-World-War II restrictions on Japan. We have noted that Japan has stepped up its rearmament recently, a move calling for attention. In particular, when the authorities in Japan fail to correctly understand Japan's history of aggression, Japan's rearmament move cannot but sound the alarm to its neighbors and the international community.

Recently, Japanese Prime Minister Abe paid homage to the Yasukuni Shrine in total disregard of opposition of people of various countries. Our friends from Arab states may not know the shrine very well. It is a symbol of the militaristic aggression. Until this day, all the exhibits in the shrine are designed to justify Japan's decision to launch that war of aggression at the time, and the 14 Class-A war criminals tried at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East are still honored in the shrine. This is the place that Abe visited. Worse even, he calls the war criminals "the souls of the war dead" and "pays deepest respect" to them. He has gone too far and what he has done is way beyond Japan's domestic affairs. In essence, it is an attempt to whitewash Japan's war of aggression, overturn the just trial of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, challenge the outcomes of World War II and the resultant post-war order and lead Japan to danger. Lessons of the history have to be learned. This is not just a problem between China and Japan, but rather an issue to which the whole international community should pay much attention. Nobody should be allowed to turn back the wheels of the history or backtrack. Back then, Japanese fascists committed atrocities in Asia, just as German fascists did in Europe. In China alone, the Japanese war of aggression inflicted casualties of as many as 35 million, not to mention countless property losses. The Chinese nation is tolerant and generous. We have given up war reparations, and furthermore we have told our people that the Japanese people are also victims of militarism and that only the militarists should be held responsible for the war. In other words, Class-A war criminals honored at the Yasukuni Shrine should take the responsibility for the war of aggression.

Now, Abe went so far as to pay homage to these Class-A war criminals. He has crossed the bottom line of human conscience, which is completely unacceptable, not only to China, but to the whole international community. It would be unimaginable if this took place in Europe. The only way to open up the future is to expose and condemn the past; and the only way for Japan to win back the trust of its neighbors is to commit itself to peace. We hope that Japanese leaders will understand this most basic principle and respect human conscience and internationally recognized red line.

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