Ambassador Cong Peiwu held a video dialogue with Baker, President and CEO of the Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada, to exchange views on China’s foreign policy, China-Canada relations and other topics. The main contents of the dialogue are as follows:
Baker: Canada pays close attention to China’s relationship with Australia. In the view of Canada, China expressed dissatisfaction with the Morrison government by economic and trade means due to the criticism of China’s domestic and foreign policies and the Chinese’s participation in Australian and foreign affairs. This reminds us that after Meng Wanzhou’s arrest, China not only arrested two Canadian citizens, but also expressed dissatisfaction with Canada through tariff and non-tariff barriers. Will the use of economic means become part of China’s foreign policy, including dealing with relations with Canada, Australia and other countries?
Ambassador Cong: China is committed to mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation and attaches importance to the development of economic and trade relations with other countries.
At present, China is entering a new stage of development, implementing the new development concept, and accelerating the construction of a new development pattern with the domestic large circulation as the main body and the domestic and international double cycle promoting each other. The new development pattern is not a closed domestic cycle. China will implement a higher level and wider opening up.
The so-called use of economic and trade means by China to punish other countries does not exist. As for the export of Australian products to China you mentioned, the competent Chinese authorities have taken relevant measures against foreign products exported to China in accordance with the law and regulations, which is in line with Chinese laws and regulations and international practices, protects the legitimate rights and interests of relevant domestic industries and consumer safety, and also conforms to the relevant provisions of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.
As far as I know, up to now, Australia has launched 106 anti-dumping and countervailing investigations against Chinese products, while China has launched only 4 anti-dumping and countervailing investigations against Australian products.
The same is true of China-Canada trade. Last year, China suspended the import of meat products for a period of time. The reason is that in June last year, China found obvious loopholes in the health certificate issuance system for meat products exported to China, and Canada also confirmed this. China has suspended imports as a result. Later, Canada put forward a rectification action plan. After evaluation, China believed that Canada’s rectification action basically met the requirements of ensuring safety, and agreed to resume Canada’s meat exports to China.
In the first 10 months of this year, Canada’s pork exports to China showed strong growth, up 227% from the same period last year, and China has become the largest export market for Canadian pork. The export of refueling rapeseed to China faces a similar situation. China has intercepted a variety of quarantine pests in imported refueling rapeseeds.
In order to safeguard the safety interests of Chinese consumers and protect China’s agricultural production, China has decided to suspend the import of rapeseeds from Canadian enterprises, which involves two Canadian enterprises. At present, the two sides maintain communication at the technical level, and hope that the two sides will reach an early conclusion.
I want to point out that even in the context of the COVID-19 epidemic, the total export volume to China increased by 6.6% year-on-year in the first 10 months of this year. During the same period, Canada’s total exports fell by more than 14%. These data show the strong resilience of China-Canada economic and trade relations.
China has never used trade as a means to punish other countries. If there is a country in the world that uses economic and trade means as a weapon to punish other countries, it is the United States.
As we all know, in recent years, the United States has frequently waved economic and trade sanctions and “long-arm jurisdiction” sticks to impose unilateral sanctions on other countries, and China, Canada and other countries are victims. We urge the United States to stop such acts.
Baker: Recently, the Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada released a poll. In view of the current situation of Canada-China relations, the different values and political systems of the two countries, it is not difficult to find that the Canadian people’s attitude towards China has become tougher and their goodwill is also declining.
According to the Asia Pacific Foundation polling data, 66 percent of respondents saw China as an opportunity in 2018, but only 33 percent in 2020. This is a matter of concern. Canada is an influential medium-power country, and the Canadian government’s attitude towards China will be affected by public opinion. Will you report such information back to Beijing, and how do you respond to it?
Ambassador Cong: I have taken note of the recent poll released by the Asia-Pacific Foundation. I think there are many reasons for the results of the above poll. One of the important factors is that in recent years, some Western media have been extremely selective in reporting on China, even distorting the facts and spreading false information.
Some Western politicians are also involved in this for their own political interests or political agenda. During this year’s epidemic, some American politicians stigmatized China and spread “political viruses” in order to transfer their responsibility for ineffective epidemic prevention and control. The above-mentioned reports and words and deeds have had a certain impact on Canada and misled the public opinion of Canada.
Of course, the relevant poll changes are more related to the case of two Canadian citizens. Almost all Canadian media reported that China “arbitrarily arrested” two Canadian citizens and engaged in “coercive diplomacy”.
This is completely nonsense. I would like to reiterate once again that two Canadian citizens were arrested and prosecuted by the competent Chinese authorities in accordance with the law on suspicion of crimes against China’s national security.
The Chinese judicial department handles cases independently in accordance with the law and guarantees the legal rights of the above-mentioned Canadian citizens in accordance with the law.
There is also no basis for some media to hype that two Canadian citizens were unfairly treated. For example, there are reports that China has confiscated the old glasses of Canadian citizens, which is not the case. We also provided better food to detainees, including two Canadian citizens, to boost their immunity during the pandemic.
The Meng Wanzhou incident is the crux of the current Sino-Canada relations, so the relationship between the two countries is facing serious difficulties. This is a serious political incident fabricated by the United States, with the aim of suppressing Chinese high-tech companies and Huawei companies. In the process, Canada and the United States abused bilateral extradition treaties.
Now, more and more insightful people have issued a rational voice on solving the Meng Wanzhou incident and demanding the release of Meng Wanzhou.
I hope that Canada will seriously reflect on their rational voice. We urge Canada to make a correct decision as soon as possible, release Meng Wanzhou and let her return to China safely from the merits of the matter itself and fairness and justice.
Regarding the public opinion, I would like to add one point. Whether it is the Asia-Pacific Foundation or other institutions’ polls in China, we should pay attention to it. At the same time, we should also consider the current factors related to China’s political environment. Since I took office, I have maintained contact with people from all walks of life in Canada.
Before the epidemic, I visited many cities in Canada. After the epidemic, I contacted people from all walks of life in Canada by phone and video. I have the impression that many Canadians still cherish Sino-Canada relations and regard China as an opportunity rather than a challenge. However, due to the current political environment, they are unwilling to publicly express their support for Sino-Canada relations.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Canada 50 years ago, China has always attached great importance to the development of relations with Canada. An important experience in the development of bilateral relations is that a healthy and stable development of Sino-Canada relations is in the common interests of the two countries and their peoples.
The two sides have broad common interests and broad space for cooperation in the fields of safeguarding multilateralism and promoting bilateral economic and trade cooperation. I once again urge the Canadian government to make a correct decision as soon as possible to solve the current prominent problems between China and Canada and create conditions for the two countries to get back on track.
Baker: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador, for your talk. I think many Canadians are as concerned about the case of two Canadian citizens as I do. Ms. Meng Wanzhou has been released on bail, and two Canadian citizens are still detained in a completely different situation, which is the most important concern of many Canadians.
Recently, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng talked about “Wolf Warrior Diplomacy” in a speech at Renmin University of China, rejecting the label and saying that China will defend its own interests more strongly in response to international criticism. Some Chinese scholars oppose “wolf war diplomacy”, believing that too much “force” will lead to China’s isolation. Judging from Mr. Ambassador’s experience, what is the best way for China to achieve diplomatic goals?
Ambassador Cong: I would like to add a point first to the case of the two Canadian citizens you mentioned. The case of the two Canadian citizens is fundamentally different from the Meng Wanzhou incident.
Ms. Meng Wanzhou is innocent and has never violated any Canadian law, but she has been detained by the Canadian side for more than two years. The Chinese people are very angry about this, and Canada should release Meng as soon as possible.
The so-called “Wolf Warrior Diplomacy” is actually another copy of the “China Threat Theory”. Looking back on China’s history and culture, I think there are two key words: peace and harmony. China has a 5,000-year civilization, and peace and harmony have been integrated into the genes of the Chinese people, which determines that we are a peace-loving country.
China has always been committed to taking the road of peaceful development and has enshrined adhering to the road of peaceful development in the Constitution. China has been contributing to world peace and development. At present, China is the second largest contributor to the United Nations and the country with the largest number of peacekeeping troops among the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. China has joined almost all universal intergovernmental international organizations and signed more than 500 multilateral treaties. China has never closed the door to the outside world or imposed its will on others. In recent years, some people in the United States have launched a series of anti-China moves, which are very dangerous to stigmatize China, unprovokedly smear China’s image, grossly interfere in China’s internal affairs, and undermine China’s normal foreign relations. China is just taking necessary measures to safeguard China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and safeguard China’s sovereignty, security and development interests.
China has never stigmatized other countries. In fact, some American and Western politicians, including U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo, continue to attack, smear and slander China. These acts lose the minimum etiquette of interaction between countries. The real purpose of unfounded accusations against China for engaging in “wolf war diplomacy” is to prevent China from telling the truth and preventing China from defending its own national interests.
China does not take the initiative to cause trouble, but it is also not afraid of trouble. The Chinese people have principles. China’s diplomacy has never been only the backbone! Moreover, as the world’s largest developing country, China speaks for developing countries internationally. On issues related to China’s sovereignty, security, development interests and international fairness and justice, China’s diplomacy must resolutely and vigorously fight back all malicious provocations, vigorously safeguard national interests and dignity, and safeguard international fairness and justice.
The so-called “Wolf Warrior diplomacy isolates China” is untenable. For example, at every meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the number of countries that support China’s position far exceeds that of unprovoked attacks on China. For another example, in the field of international cooperation, 138 countries and dozens of international organizations have signed the “Belt and Road Initiative” cooperation document with China so far. Where does China start from being isolated?
Baker: A few weeks ago, I talked to Mr. Ambassador about the impact of the Biden administration on Canada’s policy towards China. Today, I would like to know your opinion. At present, it seems likely that after the Biden administration comes to power, it is likely to seek to unite allies to deal with China. How does such alliance work and what does it mean for China, and is it of concern to China?
Ambassador Cong: At present, Sino-US relations are at a critical historical juncture. China’s information is very clear. Promoting the healthy and stable development of Sino-US relations is not only in the fundamental interests of the two peoples, but also the common expectation of the international community. We hope that the two sides will adhere to the spirit of no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, focus on cooperation, control differences, promote the healthy and stable development of Sino-US relations, and work with other countries and the international community to promote the noble cause of world peace and development. It is imperative that the two sides should work together to eliminate all kinds of interference and resistance to achieve a smooth transition in Sino-US relations. At the same time, we should strive to restart dialogue, get back on track and rebuild mutual trust in the next stage of Sino-US relations.
Some people suggest that the United States form an anti-China alliance, which is a complete cold war and zero-sum thinking, which is not in the interests of China, the United States and the people of the world. We strongly oppose this. I believe that the people of the world will not agree. This idea of engaging in a “new cold war” is extremely dangerous. Especially under the current world situation, the international community should work together to strengthen international anti-epidemic cooperation, promote the recovery of the world economy, and jointly deal with climate change. Among them, dealing with the topic of gas change is of great importance, which is related to the future of human development and the common interests of countries, including China, Canada and the United States. Recently, President Xi Jinping announced four new measures to increase China’s independent contribution. Among them, by 2030, China’s unit GDP carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced by more than 65% compared with 2005, non-fossil energy will account for about 25% of primary energy consumption, and forest accumulation will be more than 20 In 2005, an increase of 6 billion cubic meters will reach more than 1.2 billion kilowatts of wind and solar power generation. In the field of coping with gas change, China, Canada, the United States and the international community should focus on cooperation.
The formation of an “anti-China alliance” will not succeed at all. For Canada, the United States is a close ally. At the same time, Canada has demonstrated its spirit of self-reliance on the Iraq war and Cuba. We hope that as a foreign policy independent country, Canada will continue to use the unique wisdom and courage of the Canadian people to eliminate third-party interference. I believe that Canada can actively carry out cooperation with China while handling its relations with the United States.
Baker: Thank you for your comments. I’m sure most Canadians will agree with what you just said. Canada has its own allies, and Canada will also handle global affairs in its own way. Another important topic is about Hong Kong. According to a poll by the Asia-Pacific Foundation, about 300,000 Canadian citizens live in Hong Kong. Now many observers believe that China is unwilling to keep Hong Kong’s status as a special administrative region and the rule of law principle in Hong Kong’s governance. How should we understand China’s future plan for Hong Kong? How should Canada work with China to ensure the best results for Hong Kong?
Ambassador Cong: Hong Kong affairs are purely China’s internal affairs, and no foreign country has the right to interfere. At the same time, it is not only in China’s interest, but also in the interests of countries, including Canada, to maintain the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong. Some people say that China’s unwillingness to enforce the rule of law in Hong Kong is completely inconsistent with the facts.
For a period of time since the “amendment disturbance” in Hong Kong last June, the activities of “Hong Kong independence” and the local radical separatist forces have become increasingly rampant, and violent terrorist activities such as beating, smashing, looting, arson, attacking the police and innocent citizens have escalated, which has seriously damaged the security and stability of Hong Kong and is not in the interests of foreign investors.
To this end, China has taken necessary measures in accordance with the law to plug the risk loopholes in Hong Kong’s national security, so as to ensure the long-term stability of Hong Kong and ensure the stability of “one country, two systems”. After the implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law, it has played such a role.
According to a recent survey in Hong Kong, about 70% of the respondents believe that the implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law contributes to the stability and security of Hong Kong, and more than 80% of the respondents said that their lives were not affected by the implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law. Hong Kong’s National Security Law not only benefits Hong Kong residents, but also provides good news for foreigners in Hong Kong, including 300,000 Canadian citizens.
As for the future development of Hong Kong, our plan is very clear. At the end of October, the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China deliberated and adopted the Proposal of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Formulating the Fourteenth Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-term Goals for the 23rd Five-Year, emphasizing the comprehensive and accurate implementation of “one country, two systems” and supporting Hong Kong and Macao to better integrate into the overall national development situation and high quality. Build Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
Among them, the construction of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area is a major national development strategy, which plans the blueprint for development in the next five years or more.
I believe that Hong Kong will rely on the institutional advantages of “one country, two systems”, seize the major historical opportunity of the construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, promote the rule and mechanism connection of the economic operation of the three places, and promote the efficient and convenient flow of various elements. We hope that Canada will take a rational view of the implementation of Hong Kong’s National Security Law and support China’s policies to maintain social order and the principle of the rule of law in Hong Kong.
Baker: I believe Mr. Ambassador is very clear that the United States, Australia, Japan, India and other countries are promoting the replacement of “Asia-Pacific” with “Indo-Pacific” and supporting the construction of “free and open Indo-Pacific”. Some ASEAN and European countries have also expressed their support for the Indo-Pacific Outlook, which is a more inclusive and pluralistic term.
China does not often mention the term “Indo-Pacific”. What is China’s view on the Indo-Pacific strategy? What are your suggestions on how Canada views this strategy?
Ambassador Cong: “Indo-Pacific Strategy” is the product of advocating long-outdated Cold War thinking. The Asia-Pacific region and East Asia have formed a lasting regional cooperation framework.
China hopes to continue to maintain the principles and regional cooperation methods characterized by cooperation and coordination.” The Indo-Pacific Strategy is intended to engage in small circles, implement geogame, provoke regional countries to confront, and contradict the existing cooperation structure in the Asia-Pacific region. I believe that all parties in the region have a clear understanding of the “Indo-Pacific Strategy”.
At the informal meeting of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders held last month, China’s initiative to build a community of destiny in Asia and the Pacific was welcomed and supported by many countries and economies in the region, because it is in line with the common aspirations of countries in the region, including ASEAN.
Recently, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) was successfully signed. The total population of RCEP member countries is more than 2.2 billion, accounting for about 30% of the global total. This will strongly promote regional economic recovery and boost global economic growth. China is happy to see such cooperation and opposes the initiatives and ideas of gangs and small circles that are not in line with the trend of the times.
Canada is an important member of the Asia-Pacific region and one of the founding members of APEC. It is in the interest of Canada to have a peaceful and prosperous Asia-Pacific region.
I note that this year’s Asia-Pacific Foundation poll shows that the proportion of respondents who identify with Canada as members in the Asia-Pacific region has decreased by 5 percentage points compared with 2018. It is hoped that Canada will take diplomatic action in accordance with its own interests and continue to play a constructive role and play an active role in the Asia-Pacific region to contribute to regional stability and prosperity.
Ambassador Cong also answered questions from the audience participating in the online video dialogue on the future cooperation between China and Canada, the economic recovery in the post-epidemic Asia-Pacific region, and China’s provision of COVID-19 vaccine as a global public good.
Ambassador Cong said that under the new situation, China and Canada have a broad space for cooperation, whether in bilateral fields such as cultural exchanges, fighting against the epidemic, or in safeguarding multilateralism, combating climate change and other global governance. China attaches importance to China-Canada relations.
At present, the root of the difficulties encountered in Sino-Canada relations is that Canada unjustiably detained Meng Wanzhou, an innocent Chinese citizen who did not violate any Canadian law at the request of the United States. The Canadian government should take immediate measures to correct the mistakes, let Ms. Meng Wanzhou return home safely as soon as possible, remove the stumbling block hindering the development of China-Canada relations, and push the relations between the two countries back on track.
Ambassador Cong stressed that the Asia-Pacific region is an important engine of world economic growth. China is willing to work with Canada and other countries in the region to jointly promote the construction of interconnection and economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region. China is fulfilling its commitment to the novel coronavirus vaccine as a global public good with practical actions.
It is willing to actively promote vaccine research and development cooperation with other countries, and make positive contributions to the realization of vaccine accessibility and affordability at the world, especially in developing countries.