State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets the press

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Ministry of Foreign Affairs, March 8, 2022
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The Straits Times: On the South China Sea, do you feel that China and ASEAN countries can overcome differences and reach a Code of Conduct (COC)? And do you feel that the COC should be legally binding?

Wang Yi: This year marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). Over the past two decades, China and ASEAN countries have jointly implemented the DOC, and have ensured the overall stability in the South China Sea. Of course, for lasting peace and security to take hold in the South China Sea, it is necessary to develop regional rules that are more substantive and more effective. Therefore, the parties made it clear in the DOC that adopting a "code of conduct" in the South China Sea shall be the eventual objective.

Since China and ASEAN countries launched consultations on the COC, much has been achieved. Due to the pandemic, the consultation process has been somewhat affected. Nevertheless, China has full confidence in the prospect of finalizing the COC. Our confidence comes from the fact that advancing COC consultations serves the shared interests of China and ASEAN countries and is a crucial step to ensure that the South China Sea becomes a sea of peace and cooperation. The COC will not only be in line with international law including UNCLOS, but also provide a more effective safeguard for the lawful rights and interests of countries outside the region. As the consultations enter a crucial stage, I believe it is important to pay attention to and handle well two things.

First, we need to put our differences in perspective. Divergent views might appear in any consultation or negotiation. As long as all parties keep in mind that we share the same goal, no differences cannot be bridged and no consensus is beyond reach.

Second, we need to firmly thwart disturbances. Some countries outside the region are not happy to see the conclusion of the COC or tranquility in the South China Sea, because that would deny them the ground to meddle in the South China Sea for selfish gains. ASEAN countries need to stay clear-eyed about this and jointly resist disturbances and sabotage attempts from outside. I am confident that no countercurrents created by outside forces could make waves in the South China Sea, and no external disturbance could stand in the way of regional cooperation.

Associated Press of Pakistan: Currently Afghanistan is facing a serious humanitarian crisis and threat of terrorism. What does China think all parties should do to help Afghanistan weather this crisis?

Wang Yi: The US walked away irresponsibly from Afghanistan, leaving the Afghan people in a serious humanitarian crisis and creating enormous security challenges to regional stability. Afghanistan is in a critical transition from chaos to order. All parties must uphold the "Afghan-led, Afghan-owned" principle and support the Afghan people in exploring a development path suited to the national circumstances. The immediate priorities are to race against time to speed up the provision of humanitarian aid, and to immediately lift the freeze on Afghanistan's assets in the US and various unilateral sanctions to unconditionally return assets that belong to the Afghan people, so as to avoid "secondary damage" to the Afghan people and help them get through the cold winter and embrace the coming of spring.

China has promptly lent a helping hand to Afghanistan and will continue to provide additional assistance based on the Afghan people's needs. We are preparing for holding the third Foreign Ministers' Meeting among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan, so as to harness and contribute our strengths as neighbors for the durable stability and security of Afghanistan.

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