Interview with President Xi on Central Asian matters and the G20
President Xi Jinping undertook a media interview with media from Turkmenistan, Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan on bilateral relations, the G20 affairs, the development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and China’s economic situation before carrying out a tour of Central Asia as he headed to the G20 summit.
Below is the full text of that media interview as published on Xinhua:
“1. How would you evaluate Turkmenistan’s relationship with China, in particular the energy cooperation between the two countries? What outcomes do you expect to achieve from this visit?
The friendly relationship between China and Turkmenistan dates back a long time. The commercial and cultural exchanges along the ancient Silk Road have laid a solid foundation for the traditional friendship between the two countries. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1992, bilateral relations have come a long way. Last year, two-way trade reached a new record of US$10.3 billion, registering a growth of over 100 folds in seven years. The two sides have maintained close communication and coordination in the United Nations and on Central Asian affairs and firmly upheld their common strategic interests. China is satisfied with the achievements in its relations with Turkmenistan.
Energy cooperation is a highlight in China-Turkmenistan relations, which fully testifies to the high level of political mutual trust between the two sides. The two countries successfully carried out major cooperation projects such as trade in natural gas and construction of the China-Central Asia gas pipeline. The China-Central Asia gas pipeline is now linked up with the second line of China’s west-to-east gas transmission project. Together, they form the longest natural gas pipeline in the world. The natural gas from Turkmenistan at the heart of Central Asia could now be transferred through a distance of over 8,000 kilometers, crossing mountains and rivers, to reach the Pacific coast. It is a fine example of international energy cooperation and an epitome of the friendship between the Chinese and Turkmenistan people.
China, a major energy consumer, and Turkmenistan, a major energy producer, enjoy a natural advantage and huge potential in energy cooperation. China is ready to expand the current pipeline construction and natural gas trade with Turkmenistan in line with the principle of equality, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation. The two sides may launch all-dimensional cooperation, including in areas of exploration, development and oil and gas chemical industry, and be each other’ s long-term, stable and reliable strategic partners in the energy field.
Now, the Chinese people are working hard to realize the Chinese dream of the great renewal of the Chinese nation, and the Turkmenistan people are striving to bring about an epoch of power and happiness. This makes the development strategies of the two sides all the more compatible.
I am looking forward to the visit during which I will have in-depth exchange of views and jointly make some important decisions with President Berdimuhamedov on how to plan for the third decade of bilateral relations and how to coordinate development strategies of the two sides and realize common prosperity. I am confident this visit will achieve the goal of lifting the overall bilateral relationship, facilitating large projects and cooperation in priority areas and promoting lasting friendship from generation to generation, so as to inject a strong impetus into the relationship between the two sides.
2. How does China view its current economic slowdown? What are the future prospects of China’s economy? Will China adopt any new measures to stabilize economic growth?
The fundamentals of the Chinese economy are sound. In the first half of this year, China’s GDP grew by 7.6%, which was relatively high compared with other countries. In fact, the growth rate could have been higher had we continued with the past development model. However, we have chosen to implement a macroeconomic policy under which we will press ahead with the adjustment of economic structure in order to transform and upgrade the economy. We would rather bring down the growth rate to a certain extent in order to solve the fundamental problems hindering our economic development in the long run. In this sense, such a growth rate is the result of sound adjustment.
In specific terms, domestic demand accounted for 7.5 percentage points in the 7.6% growth rate, and our current account surplus is now within the internationally recognized reasonable range. We have focused on improving our social security policy and stabilized and expanded employment, providing 7.25 million new jobs in the first half of this year. We are indeed confronted with difficulties such as local government debt and overcapacity in some industries, but the problems are well within control and could be handled properly.
China’s economy, the second largest in the world, is highly integrated with the world economy. China’s economic development has contributed significantly to world economic recovery. A China that enjoys more stable economic performance, higher quality of growth and better prospect of sustainable growth undoubtedly bodes well for the world economy. We have the conditions to realize sustained and sound economic development, which will expand market and development space for other countries and generate more positive spillover effect for the global economy.
3. You will have a bilateral meeting with President Putin on the sidelines of the G20 St Petersburg Summit. What expectations do you have for this summit? How do you see the work Russia has done in hosting the summit?
I am very much looking forward to meeting my old friend President Putin in St Petersburg. As I said during my visit to Russia last March, I hope the two sides will seize the opportune time of early spring to plough and hoe and reap a bumper harvest not only for our bilateral relations but also for peace and development in the world.
It is heartening to note that both sides are working hard to implement the cooperation consensus and agreements President Putin and I reached in Moscow, and bilateral cooperation in a wide range of areas, from economy, trade, investment, energy and law enforcement, to strategic and security matters, military-to-military relations, defense technology, local exchanges, culture and international affairs, has yielded important results or made positive progress.
This time, my meeting with President Putin will take place in autumn – the golden season of harvest. What has been sowed in spring will be turned into rich fruits this autumn. Together, we will review the progress in bilateral ties since our March meeting, set the direction and targets for cooperation in various areas in the next stage, and witness the signing of many new cooperation documents between relevant departments and companies.
I am sure that both sides will use the upcoming summit meeting as an opportunity to further capitalize on the high-level political relationship between our two countries, deepen practical cooperation across the board, intensify coordination and collaboration in international affairs, and take China-Russia relations to the next level to facilitate development efforts in both countries.
As the holder of this year’s G20 presidency, Russia has made robust efforts to coordinate among members, strengthen the role of the G20 and promote world economic recovery. It has done a great deal of effective work in preparation for the G20 summit, fully demonstrating the role and impact of a major global player. China highly commends Russia’s effort.
China pledges its full support to Russia’s efforts to host a successful summit. We believe that under Russia’s stewardship and with the efforts of all parties, the forthcoming St Petersburg summit will deliver positive results. By building consensus for G20 cooperation, putting forward ideas for global economic governance, and stimulating growth momentum for the world economy, the summit will serve as an important link in the course of G20′ s development.
4. The Eighth G20 Leaders’ Summit will soon be held in St Petersburg, Russia. What does China expect from the summit?
The G20 Leaders’ Summit will soon take place in St Petersburg. At a time when world economic growth lacks momentum and the deep-seated impact of the international financial crisis goes on unabated, it will be an important meeting among leaders of the world’s major economies. China supports the St Petersburg summit to focus on growth and employment to promote even closer partnerships among G20 members, strengthen their macro-economic policy coordination and jointly usher in a brighter future for the world economy.
First, G20 members should adopt responsible macro-economic policies. It is important that each country should, first and foremost, manage its own affairs well, keep its own economic house in order, and enhance economic competitiveness through vigorous structural reforms. On the basis of this, parties should step up policy coordination, make sure that the spillover effect of their policies are positive, not otherwise, and work together to meet the major risks and challenges in the international economic and financial fields.
Second, the G20 should uphold and promote greater openness in the world economy. Countries should categorically oppose protectionism of all forms, promote an early harvest of the Doha Round negotiations, and safeguard a free, open and non-discriminatory multilateral trading regime. Efforts should be made to deepen economic integration among countries, build a global value chain, and avoid fragmentation of markets and trading systems. This will contribute to win-win development of all countries.
Third, the G20 should work to improve global economic governance. It should continue to increase the representation and voice of emerging markets and developing countries. In particular, it should speedily implement the quota and governance reform plans for the IMF; complete on time IMF’s quota formula adjustment and the next round of general quotas review by January 2014, and review the basket of currencies for special drawing rights as scheduled for 2015.
Fourth, the G20 should strive to be a development partner for developing countries. It should fully harness its own advantage and demonstrate greater political commitment to pushing for solutions to global development issues. It should forge more effective global partnerships on development, and mobilize more economic resources to tackle a greater number of development challenges.
5. What has made it possible for the G20 Leaders’ Summit to play an important role in tackling the international financial crisis? How is the G20 different from other mechanisms for international economic cooperation? What is China’s view on G20’s role in the present-day world?
The G20 consists of both developed countries and emerging economies. It operates on consensus and reflects the changing world economic landscape as well as shifts in international economic relations.
After the outbreak of the international financial crisis in 2008, the G20 was defined as the premier forum for international economic cooperation. As such, it has encouraged greater international coordination on macro-economic policies. It has taken a number of major steps, and gradually lifted the world economy out of the shadow of the financial crisis. In addition, it has promoted quota reform at the IMF and voting rights reform at the World Bank, established the more representative Financial Stability Board, and supported the WTO in playing a central role in the multilateral trading regime. By doing so, it has made important contribution to the improvement of global economic governance.
Right now, the G20 is in a transition from a crisis-management mechanism to one that is dedicated to long-term economic governance. If its members continue to follow the spirit of solidarity and win-win partnership, and take firm steps to strengthen macro-economic policy coordination, improve global economic governance, reform the international financial system, and promote global trade liberalization, the G20 will definitely embrace a bright future.
6. How do you evaluate the current relationship between China and Kazakhstan, and what are your expectations of its future? What could the two countries do to meet the bilateral trade target of US$40 billion by 2015, and how will they engage in cooperation in non-resources sectors? China and Kazakhstan are comprehensive strategic partners. What are your views and suggestions for bilateral cooperation on international and regional issues?
China and Kazakhstan are friendly neighbours and comprehensive strategic partners. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties 21 years ago, bilateral relations have maintained sound, rapid and steady development. Both sides view the relationship with the other as a foreign policy priority. It is fair to say that the relationship is now at its best in history and the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries faces unprecedented opportunities for further growth.
Continuous expansion and deepening of China-Kazakhstan practical cooperation is essential to strengthening the material foundation of the comprehensive strategic partnership. Recent years have seen robust growth in bilateral economic cooperation and trade. China is now the largest trading partner of Kazakhstan, and Kazakhstan is China’s second largest trading partner in the CIS region. To further elevate bilateral practical cooperation, the two countries have set the strategic target of raising two-way trade to US$40 billion by 2015.
Admittedly, to achieve these goals requires efforts from both sides. The two countries need to continue to act in the principle of mutual benefit and, while maintaining their sound cooperation in oil and gas, fully tap the cooperation potential in agriculture, transport, hi-tech, telecommunications, chemical engineering and other non-resources areas. At the same time, exchanges and cooperation may be increased between the people and localities of the two countries to put in place a cooperation structure with clear priorities and simultaneous growth across the board. I am confident that with concerted efforts of the two sides, the all-dimensional, wide-ranging and results-oriented cooperation between China and Kazakhstan will be elevated to new heights, bringing more tangible benefits to the two peoples.
Both being developing countries and countries of influence in the world, China and Kazakhstan hold common or similar positions on international and regional affairs and both shoulder the important mission of safeguarding peace, development and stability in the region and beyond. As members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, China and Kazakhstan have worked actively together within the SCO framework to take on security threats including terrorism, separatism and extremism and advance cooperation in agriculture, finance and connectivity, among others. China will continue to work with Kazakhstan to make new and still bigger contribution to peace, stability and development in the region and the world at large.
7. How do you assess Uzbekistan’s relations with China? In what areas could the two countries work together to revive the Silk Road?
Uzbekistan is a close and friendly neighbour as well as a strategic partner of China. Over the past 21 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, China-Uzbekistan relations have maintained sound and steady growth. Fruitful cooperation has been conducted across the board and a large number of major joint projects successfully implemented to the benefit of the people. In 2012, two-way trade reached 2.875 billion U.S. dollars, more than 50 times the figure in the early days of diplomatic relations. China is now Uzbekistan’s second largest trading partner and its biggest source of foreign investment. The China-Uzbekistan strategic partnership is brimming with vigour and vitality. China will, acting in the long-term interests and in keeping with the need of the growth of bilateral relations, work with Uzbekistan to take the strategic partnership to new heights.
Both China and Uzbekistan boast time-honoured history and splendid culture. More than 2,000 years ago, the Chinese and Uzbek people opened the Silk Road together. Today, it is the shared historic mission of both countries to revive the Silk Road. By fully tapping into their geographic proximity, economic complementarity and close cultural, historical and people-to-people ties, the two countries may work actively together in the following areas. First, advance connectivity. China is ready to cooperate with Uzbekistan in rail, road, air and transit transportation, among others. Second, expand trade and investment and raise the quality of business cooperation. The Chinese government will encourage more Chinese companies with a competitive edge to invest in Uzbekistan and welcome Uzbek companies to conduct business in China. Third, boost people-to-people exchanges. We will tap the potential in tourism cooperation, actively exchange academic and other delegations and stage cultural performances in each other’s countries.
I am confident that with the joint efforts of the two sides, the modern Silk Road with diverse forms and rich content will definitely bring more benefits to the two peoples.
8. How do you see the current development and prospect of Kyrgyzstan’s relations with China? What do you expect to achieve from your visit to Kyrgyzstan?
Kyrgyzstan celebrated the 22nd anniversary of independence just a few days ago. I wish to take this opportunity to extend, on behalf of the Chinese government and people, warm congratulations to the people of Kyrgyzstan. I wish the friendly country of Kyrgyzstan prosperity and its people happiness.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992, China-Kyrgyzstan relations have maintained fast and steady growth. Cooperation in various fields has yielded obvious results and bilateral relations have reached an unprecedented height with bright prospect. The two sides have resolved once and for all the boundary question left over from history in the spirit of mutual respect, equality and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, making the 1,100 km boundary a bond of friendship and cooperation between the two peoples. Practical cooperation in trade, energy, transport, telecommunications, agriculture and other areas has continued to expand. China is now Kyrgyzstan’s second largest trading partner and its second biggest source of foreign investment. The two sides fully respect each other’s development path chosen in light of national conditions, firmly support each other on major issues related to their respective core interests and have worked hand in hand in the aftermath of the international financial crisis and major natural disasters. As such, they are indeed each other’s trustworthy neighbour and friend.
China highly values its relations with Kyrgyzstan and sees major opportunities to further grow this relationship. China is ready to work with Kyrgyzstan to deepen political mutual trust, expand mutually beneficial cooperation, boost strategic coordination and raise the bilateral relationship to a new level.
I am looking forward to my state visit to Kyrgyzstan. During the visit, I will have official talks with President Almazbek Atambayev to jointly map out and make important decisions concerning the future growth of bilateral relations.
I am convinced that with concerted efforts of the two sides, the visit will be a success and will inject fresh and robust dynamism to the growth of China-Kyrgyzstan relations.
9. Cooperation in security and economy represents the principal direction of SCO cooperation. In your view, how should the SCO better perform its security and economic functions?
In the past 12 years since the founding of the SCO, member states have forged a close community of common destinies and shared interests. In the face of complex regional and international situation, maintaining regional security and stability and promoting common development of member states has been, is and will continue to be SCO’s top priority and objective for quite a long time to come.
On security, member states need to continue to firmly support each other’s endeavour to safeguard national security and social stability and intensify efforts to combat terrorism, separatism and extremism and drug-related crimes. What merits caution is that there is a growing tendency of terrorists and drug criminals colluding with each other in the region. Therefore, counter-terrorism and anti-narcotic efforts should be integrated with a two-pronged approach. China believes that there is a need to give the SCO Regional Counter-Terrorism Structure the function of anti-narcotics to enhance its overall ability to fight both terrorism and drug trafficking.
On economy, member states need to vigorously promote pragmatic cooperation. The ultimate purpose of maintaining regional security and stability is to achieve common development and prosperity. Parties need to accelerate the implementation of cooperation projects in such advantageous areas as transport, energy, communications and agriculture, and expedite studies on setting up an SCO development bank to resolve project financing difficulties and address international financial risks. Moreover, the SCO needs to step up pragmatic cooperation with other multilateral mechanisms in the region to draw on each other’s strengths.
China has all along supported SCO’s development. For a long time, China has actively exchanged experience on law-enforcement and security cooperation with other member states, provided concessional loans for economic cooperation among member states, helped them train professionals for national development, and worked with them to respond to the international financial crisis in a spirit of solidarity. China will continue to join hands with other member states to create a brighter future for the SCO.
10. The 13th Meeting of the Council of Heads of Member States of the SCO will soon be held in Bishkek. What are your expectations and assessments of the upcoming summit? What initiatives will you put forth at the summit?
Since its inception, the SCO has taken solid steps in cooperation in political, security, economic, people-to-people and cultural fields and on the international stage. It has played an important role in maintaining regional security and stability and promoting common development, and is now brimming with vigour and vitality. It has become the consensus of member states to facilitate faster and better development of the organization and to promote the attainment of common targets.
The SCO Bishkek Summit will take place against two important backgrounds. First, there have been new changes in the region and the world. In-depth adjustments in global economy, persistent turmoil in west Asia and North Africa, and new complexities in the Afghanistan issue have all posed new challenges to regional security and stability and to SCO cooperation and development. At the same time, emerging economies have demonstrated greater development potential and broader prospects for cooperation. This has brought new opportunities for SCO’s development. Second, the Treaty on Long-Term Good-Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation Between the SCO Member States, which has officially come into effect, has injected fresh impetus to member states’ efforts to elevate cooperation to a higher level, improve their capacity in meeting various threats and challenges, and speed up the building of a region of lasting peace and common prosperity. In this context, the upcoming summit will make plans and arrangements for SCO’s work at the next stage in line with the above-mentioned developments and changes.
I believe that to advance the development of the SCO, it is necessary to continue to carry forward the “Shanghai Spirit” that features mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diverse civilizations and the pursuit of common development. It is important to ensure success in two areas: first, enhance self-development, improve capacity-building, and increase efficiency and level of cooperation; second, strengthen partnership network building, promote cooperation with observers and dialogue partners through concrete steps, and jointly work out regional development plans. Three tasks need to be fulfilled in real earnest, namely, maintaining security, developing the economy and improving people’s wellbeing as identified in the Strategic Plan for the Medium-Term Development of the SCO, to the benefit of people of member states.
At the summit, I will put forth China’s views and initiatives on the afore-mentioned matters and I look forward to hearing valuable opinions from colleagues. I am confident that with concerted efforts of all member states, the summit will produce expected results and open a new chapter in the development of the organization.”