CCTV: China has announced the upcoming visit by Mongolian President Ukhnaagiin Khurelsuh. Can you share with us the program of the visit? How does China see its relations with Mongolia? What is the expectation for this visit?
Zhao Lijian: Back in 2018, President Ukhnaagiin Khurelsuh paid an official visit to China as Mongolian Prime Minister. In June 2021, Mr. Khurelsuh was elected as the President of Mongolia. The upcoming visit will be his first visit to China as Mongolian President, which will carry forward the friendship and the fine tradition of close high-level exchanges between our two countries and shows the excellent growth of our comprehensive strategic partnership.
During the visit, President Xi will hold formal talks with President Ukhnaagiin Khurelsuh. The two presidents will jointly witness the signing of cooperation documents. Premier Li Keqiang and Chairman Li Zhanshu of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress will meet with President Ukhnaagiin Khurelsuh respectively. Leaders of the two countries will have an in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations and international and regional issues of mutual interest, and jointly chart the future course of the growth of China-Mongolia relations.
China looks forward to working with Mongolia to take this visit as an opportunity to deepen our strategic mutual trust and practical cooperation and set an example in neighborly relations to elevate China-Mongolia relations to a new height.
China News Service: The 6th China-South Asia Expo will be concluded today. Could you share more with us on the outcomes of this expo? In the face of sluggish global economy and mounting development deficit, how does China view its cooperation with South Asian countries?
Zhao Lijian: From November 19 to 22, the 6th China-South Asia Expo has been successfully held in Kunming, Yunnan in an online-plus-offline format. President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the expo, which shows the high importance China attaches to the event.
The China-South Asia Expo is an important platform for multilateral diplomacy, trade and economic cooperation and cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and South Asian countries. Under the theme of “New Opportunities for New Development”, this expo attracted representatives from 80 countries, regions and international organizations. Participants also include more than 30 Chinese government agencies and 64 Global Fortune 500 companies from both home and abroad. During the expo, the value of newly signed on-site deals exceeded 400 billion yuan and deals signed off-site totaled over 200 billion yuan. During the expo, a series of side events were successfully held, including the 3rd China-South Asia Cooperation Forum, the first China-Indian Ocean Region Forum on Development and Cooperation and the 1st Belt and Road Supply Chain Summit.
China and South Asian countries are friendly neighbors and development partners. Here are some examples I’d like to share to illustrate this point. China’s trade with South Asian countries nearly doubled compared with a decade ago and totaled $187.5 billion in 2021, up by over $50 billion than the pre-COVID number in 2019. In particular, trade between China and India in the first nine months this year reached $103.6 billion, up 14.6 percent year-on-year. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the Port City Colombo project and the Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka and other connectivity cooperation projects are all making steady progress. The cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and South Asian countries continue to expand. China’s Yunnan province alone has received nearly 2,000 international students from South Asia.
China stands ready to work with South Asian countries to advance high-quality Belt and Road cooperation and implementation of the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative, and achieve common development and progress with all countries in South Asia.
Global Times: It is reported that former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said that the US needs to focus on building the country’s own economic strengths, rather than on attacking China. Recently, IMF Director General Kristalina Georgieva, former chief economist of the World Bank Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg, among others, also called on the US to rethink economic wars against China. Do you have any comment on this?
Zhao Lijian: This is not the first time that people with vision have called for reason to prevail on China-US relations. What you mentioned once again shows that China and the US both stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation.
China-US economic and trade relations are mutually beneficial in nature. Starting a trade war or a technology war, building walls and barriers, and pushing for decoupling and severing supply chains run counter to the principles of market economy and undermine international trade rules. Such attempts serve no one’s interests. The US needs to listen to the voices calling for reason, give up the zero-sum mentality, stop overstretching the concept of national security, and stop politicizing, instrumentalizing and weaponizing economic, trade and tech issues. China is ready to work with the US to follow through on the important common understandings reached between the two heads of state at their meeting in Bali, and bring China-US relations back to the track of stable growth.
AFP: On US Vice President Kamala Harris’s visit to the Philippines. She visited today the Palawan island, which is on the edge of the South China Sea. Kamala Harris was there to show support to the Philippines. I wonder if you have any reaction to that visit today by Kamala Harris on that specific island?
Zhao Lijian: Our view has always been that exchanges and cooperation between any set of countries should be conducive to the mutual understanding and trust among regional countries and the peace and stability in the region. It should not target or hurt other countries’ interests. We are not against normal interaction between the US and the Philippines, but their interaction should not be damaging to other countries’ interests.
Beijing Youth Daily: The list for T50 World Construction Machinery Industry 2022 was released recently. Among the companies, 12 are Chinese manufacturers. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Thumbs up for the impressive performance of Chinese companies. Speaking of construction, Chinese companies helped design and build the main venue for the Qatar FIFA World Cup, the Lusail Stadium, which has caught the eyes of the world as the games kick off. It is reported that the Lusail Stadium is the largest and most advanced professional football stadium built with the most sophisticated systems. It is also the first World Cup stadium ever built by Chinese companies as the general design and construction contractor. China’s contribution to this year’s World Cup does not end there. Chinese companies also undertook the water safety and photovoltaic projects to shore up water supply and power generation for the World Cup, helping make sure that people all over the world share the joy of this major sporting event.
Across the world, more than 190 countries and regions benefit from Chinese investment and “built by China” projects, which serve local socioeconomic development and are welcomed by local communities. We believe “made in China” and “built by China” will deliver even more tangible benefits to people all over the world.