Chinese Ambassador to India H.E. Sun Weidong ​Received Written Interview from Force Magazine
2022-08-05 18:52

On August 3rd , 2022, Chinese Ambassador to India H.E. Sun Weidong received written interview from Force magazine, expressing China’s positions and his opinions on China’s national defense policy, Global Security Initiative, the bilateral relations between China and India, US “Indo-Pacific” Strategy, the Taiwan question, etc. The full interview is as follows:

Q: China is India's largest neighbor. China's military modernization is rapidly advancing. I have to admit India has strong security concerns about China. Recently I published a book "The Last War" which argues that PLA is very strong. Could you please briefly describe China’s armed forces and national defense policy?

A:August 1 of this year marks the 95th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. PLA is the people’s armed forces under the absolute leadership of the Communist Party of China. Over the past 95 years, it has gone through extremely difficult times and made extremely huge sacrifices for national independence, people's liberation and country’s prosperity, winning one glorious victory after another. In recent years, guided by Xi Jinping’s thinking on strengthening the military, PLA has undergone a comprehensive reform of unprecedented intensity, depth and breadth, realizing a whole new system, a whole new structure, a whole new pattern and a whole new morale. PLA is striding forward towards the grand goal of building a world-class armed forces in an all-round way.

The Chinese people are peace-loving. The Chinese path is the one of peaceful development and the Chinese foreign policy is an independent one of peace. China will unswervingly pursue a national defense policy that is defensive in nature. China will never seek hegemony, expansion or spheres of influence. Since the founding of New China, we never invaded other countries, never engaged in proxy wars, and never participated in any military bloc. Today, with the swirling combination of once-in-a-century changes and a world in turmoil, the dominant trend of peace and development is facing major challenges. China will always be a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development, a defender of the international order, as well as a mediator of hot-spot issues and a provider of public good. As has been and will continue to be proven, China's armed forces has always been a steadfast force for safeguarding world peace and its development has always been reinforcing the global dynamic in favor of peace.

China is firmly committed to the path of peaceful development, and sincerely hopes that other countries will also follow the path of peaceful development. China firmly opposes hegemony and power politics of any kind and will never allow its national sovereignty, security and development interests to be undermined. PLA has the determination and capability to prevail over all threats and challenges with the endeavor to provide strategic support for safeguarding national sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity.

Thank you for letting me know about the publication of your new book. I will read it when I receive it.

Q: Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the Global Security Initiative in April,which highlights the Principle of Indivisible Security. Could you explain its specific meaning?China claims that GSI is a new security vision. How is it fundamentally different?

A: President Xi Jinping made a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2022 in April, and proposed for the first time the Global Security Initiative (GSI). The GSI gives clear answers to questions of our times such as what security concept the world needs and how countries can achieve common security.As another global public good after Global Development Initiative, the GSI has contributed Chinese wisdom to eliminating the peace deficit and offered Chinese solution to tackling international security challenges.

The GSI is fundamentally different from the outdated Cold War mentality and the Zero-sum game thinking. It is mainly reflected in five aspects. Firstly, the GSI stays committed to international law and universally recognized norms of international relations, and rejects the attempt to replace international rules with self-made rules. Secondly, the GSI stays committed to the principle of indivisible security to achieve universal and common security, and rejects the attempt to pursue one’s own security at the expense of others and enjoy security rights without fulfilling security obligations. Thirdly, the GSI stays committed to maintaining international peace with global solidarity and win-win thinking, prevents bloc politics and camp confrontation from reviving, and rejects the attempt to build exclusive, small circles and blocs. Fourthly, the GSI stays committed to jointly practicing true multilateralism and upholding the authority and stature of the UN, and opposes unilateralism and excessive pursuit of self-interest, such as the wanton use of unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction. Fifthly, the GSI stays committed to ensuring both security and development which are becoming inseparable, avoids development deficits turning into security deficits, and rejects the attempt to weaponize the globalization in decoupling or cutting off supplies.

To sum up, the GSI is a new security vision which advocates common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. It advocates that all countries should foster the new type of security that features dialogue, partnership and win-win instead of confrontation, alliance and a zero-sum approach.

Q: Like India, China is also a major TCC (Troop Contributing Country) and FCC (Fund Contributing Country) to UN peacekeeping operations. Could you make a brief introduction on China's contribution to UN peacekeeping operations? In addition, some voices in the Western society accuse China of expanding its military strength by taking part in peacekeeping operations. What is your comment on that?

A: It has been 32 years since the Chinese military joined UN peacekeeping operations.As the second largest FCC to UN peacekeeping operations and the largest TCC among the permanent members of the UN Security Council, China has become a key factor as well as major force in UN peacekeeping operations.China's armed forces have contributed more than 40,000 service members to 25 UN peacekeeping missions.Sixteen Chinese military peacekeepers have sacrificed their lives for the noble cause of peace.Chinese peacekeepers have also actively promoted the economic and social development of the host nations. They have built and rehabilitated more than 13,000 kilometers of roads and provided medical services to over 170,000 patients in the peacekeeping mission areas.

In 2015, President Xi Jinping addressed the Leaders' Summit on Peacekeeping at UNHQ and announced six measures that China would take to support UN peacekeeping.Now China has completed the registration of a UN peacekeeping standby force of 8,000 troops. Meanwhile, China's armed forces have expanded the composition of their peacekeeping troops from single service to multiple military branches, enabling Chinese peacekeepers to perform diverse tasks in addition to enabling functions.The objectives of China's peacekeeping efforts have extended beyond conflict prevention to building lasting peace.China's participation in UN peacekeeping operations is a concrete demonstration of China's active fulfillment of its responsibilities as a major country. All relevant operations have been approved, deployed and authorized by the UN Security Council. Obviously the so-called “expanding military strength” is not tenable. In fact, the improvement of Chinese peacekeeping capability can better contribute to building a community with a shared future for mankind. It will bring more confidence and hope to peace and development in conflict areas and provide stronger strategic support for world peace and development. 

Q:What is your comment on the situation of bilateral relations between China and India? How to improve and develop this important relations?

A:Since the beginning of this year, China and India have maintained communications and exchanges, and effectively managed differences. We have maintained coordination and cooperation under the multilateral frameworks such as BRICS, G20 and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), etc. The bilateral relations have overall shown a recovery momentum. The Chinese side has always viewed and handled China-India relations from a strategic and long-term perspective, and took a positive attitude towards developing the relations. Even when the relationship between the two countries faces difficulties, China’s position has never wavered and we have been committed to pushing it back on the track of healthy and steady development.

China and India are ancient civilizations in Asia living side by side, and we are both major developing countries and emerging economies. The development challenges faced by China and India are unparalleled by other countries. For example, we need to feed over 2.8 billion people, which concerns the survival and development of nearly one third of world’s population. We need create tens of millions of new jobs each year, a number equaling to the total population of some middle-sized countries. The top agenda of our countries should concentrate on doing our own business well. In the face of the combined forces of changes and a pandemic both unseen in a century, China and India need to work together to maintain stability of the international order, promote regional peace and tranquility, and boost the recovery of the world economy. None of these problems can be solved by a country alone, but need to be jointly dealt with through cooperation among countries. Therefore, China and India are partners rather than rivals, and win-win cooperation is the best choice for both countries.

Looking ahead, China and India should uphold the consensus reached by leaders of the two countries, stick to dialogue and communication, and continuously enhance political mutual trust. The two sides should focus on cooperation and expand the positive side of bilateral relations. There are differences between China and India, but those are not the whole story of the bilateral relations. We should seek common ground while reserving differences and handle them properly. As two major countries, China and India should have the courage to overcome differences and move ahead, just as the elephants will not stop marching because of stones. I believe that as long as both sides have deep understanding of the importance of China-India relations and work together towards common goal, we can explore a way for the two neighboring major countries to live in harmony and achieve common development.

Q:Not long ago, the 16th round China-India Corps Commander Level Meeting was held. What outcomes did the meeting achieve? It has been more than two years since the border incident. How do you evaluate the current situation in the border area? How to deescalate the situation on the ground?

A: On July 17th, China and India held the 16th round Corps Commander Level Meeting and issued a joint press release. Building on the progress made at the previous meeting, the two sides continued discussions for the resolution of the relevant issues along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Western Sector in a constructive and forward looking manner. They had a frank and in-depth exchange of views in this regard, in keeping with the guidance provided by the State Leaders to work for the resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest. The two sides agreed to maintain the security and stability on the ground in the Western Sector. The two sides agreed to stay in close contact and maintain dialogue through diplomatic and military  channels and work out a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest.

The boundary question between China and India is left over from history. China always maintains that a fair and reasonable agreement should be reached by the two sides through consultation and negotiation.Pending a final resolution of the boundary question, the two sides should make joint efforts to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas. Since the border incident broke out in 2020, the two sides have held 10 meetings of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on Border Affairs (WMCC) and 16 rounds of Corps Commander Level Meeting. We have disengaged in most points of the western sector, and the current border situation is overall stable. The two sides should maintain dialogues via diplomatic and military channels and work out a mutually acceptable solution to the issue left, and strive to switch from emergency response to normalized management and control of the border situation at the earliest.

It serves the fundamental interests of both sides to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas, which is also our common wishes. It has been testified that China and India, as mature and rational major countries, are capable of managing the border situation and avoiding unfortunate incidents as long as both sides make joint efforts. We should adhere to seeking settlement of the boundary issue through peaceful dialogue, and do not allow the boundary question define the overall development of bilateral relations. We should speak and act in a way that is conducive to enhancing mutual trust and promoting bilateral relations, and push forward the healthy and stable development of China-India relations, which will create favorable conditions for the settlement of the boundary question.

Q: Since 2021, Quad has held four Leaders' Summit, the U.S., Japan, India and Australia repeated their commitment to a “free and open Indo-Pacific” at the Quad Leaders’ Summit in Tokyo this year, but why does China always criticize Quad?

A: For any mechanism or initiative, we should not only listen to what it says, but also see what it does and what impact it has. The U.S. promotes its Indo-Pacific Strategy and says fine-sounding words like "promoting regional cooperation", "returning to multilateralism" and "upholding international rules", but its action aims to create a closed and exclusive small circle to hijack China's neighbors onto its anti-China chariot and serve as a strategic tool for U.S. to contain China. From strengthening the Five Eyes to peddling the Quad, from creating AUKUS to launching IPEF, the US Indo-Pacific strategy is becoming synonymous with ‘bloc confrontation’. It seeks to maintain the US-led system of hegemony, challenge the ASEAN-centered regional cooperation architecture, damage the overall and long-term interests of countries in the region, and undermine global strategic stability and world peace and tranquility.

The Asia-Pacific is a promising land for cooperation and development, not a chessboard for geopolitical contest. Peace, development, cooperation and win-win outcomes are the common aspiration of the countries in our region. China is willing to work with all parties to make a clear distinction between right and wrong, and stay on the right course. We should reject attempts to create small, confrontational Indo-Pacific circles, foster a broad, inclusive platform for Asia-Pacific cooperation, and build an Asia-Pacific community with a shared future.

Q: China upholds true multilateralism and India supports reformed multilateralism, and both countries are important participants in several regional and international mechanisms. India will host the SCO Summit and the G20 Summit in 2022. What are the opportunities for India-China cooperation in regional and multilateral fields?

A: As the world's two largest developing countries and important countries in the Asian region, China and India have maintained a good tradition of coordination and cooperation in regional and international affairs. In the 1950s, China and India jointly advocated the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, which became a recognized basic norm of international relations. The two sides are both committed to upholding multilateralism and have carried out fruitful communication and coordination in multilateral institutions such as the United Nations, G20, BRICS and SCO. Facing a turbulent and changing world, China and India should rise above the zero-sum mentality, and uphold the concept of peaceful coexistence, the goal of development and rejuvenation, the principle of independence and the spirit of openness and inclusiveness. We should advocate Asian values, safeguard regional peace and stability, advocate open regionalism, practice true multilateralism, contribute Asian power to promote world prosperity and provide Eastern wisdom to improve global governance, so as to write a new chapter for regional cooperation, Asian revitalization and global development.

Q:Since the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis, some voices in the international community believe that Ukraine’s today is Taiwan’s tomorrow, and that mainland China poses a huge “military threat” to Taiwan. Others insist that mainland China should draw a lesson from the Ukraine crisis and avoid the isolation and sanctions, just as what Russia is facing. What do you think of that?

A: First of all, it must be pointed out that Taiwan is not Ukraine. The Taiwan question is fundamentally different from the Ukraine issue and there is no comparison at all. Taiwan is never a sovereign country but an inalienable part of China. The One-China principle is the consensus of the international community. The Taiwan question is purely China's internal affair, which tolerates no outside interference. How to resolve the Taiwan question is entirely China's own business.

Some people and some international forces deliberately draw parallel between Taiwan question and Ukraine issue, not because they don't have the common sense, but rather because of their sinister intentions. Their aim is to mislead the public and profit from that.They try to play with fire and create tensions in the Taiwan Strait to serve their own geopolitical, strategic and economic interests at the expense of the people's well-being and regional peace. The Chinese people have the unwavering resolve and determination to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity. We are ready to strive for peaceful reunification with utmost sincerity and utmost efforts, but reserve the option of taking all necessary measures. China will firmly respond to any provocative act that endangers China's core interests and undermines peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

Acting in bad faith on the Taiwan question, some western countries step up its official exchanges with Taiwan, and constantly distort, obscure and hollow out the One-China principle. China absolutely does not accept this, and the Chinese people absolutely reject this. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other western politicians are flagrantly playing with fire on the Taiwan question and even deliberately creating trouble in the Taiwan Strait. They make themselves enemies of the 1.4 billion Chinese people and will not come to a good end.

As the core of China's core interests, the One-China principle is a widely recognized consensus of the international community including India, as well as the political foundation for China to engage with other countries. India is among the first countries to recognize that there is one China. China reaffirms its commitment, on the basis of the One-China principle, to promote the continuous development of the bilateral relations.

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