By Wang Yu
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Afghanistan
Not long ago, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi called a video conference of Foreign Ministers of China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nepal on COVID-19. He put forward four major proposals to enhance cooperation across countries in pandemic response and promote post-pandemic recovery and economic development. He also reaffirmed Chinese support for the other three countries including in terms of vaccines. The Chinese Foreign Ministry, National Health Commission, International Development Cooperation Agency and other departments also held a joint meeting with the Afghan Foreign Ministry, Civil Aviation Administration, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Commerce and Industry on COVID-19 response. At the meeting, Chinese experts shared their experience in pandemic control, the two sides discussed about response measures, production resumption and personnel exchanges and agreed to increase the export of high-quality agricultural produces of Afghanistan to China as soon as possible.
In the past six months, I have witnessed many touching stories of China-Afghanistan cooperation in the fight against COVID-19. I was personally involved in the delivery of medical supplies on three different occasions and food reliefs to Afghanistan. Many of my Chinese colleagues have worked around the clock to coordinate the transportation and distribution of supplies, making sure that they reach the needy Afghan people and bringing health and hope to many Afghan families.
As concrete manifestations of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s thought on diplomacy in Afghanistan and China-Afghanistan relations, all these efforts have brought tangible benefits to the Chinese and Afghan peoples. With the vision and insight of a great strategist, Xi truly understands the laws of human society development. On the basis of solidly-based judgement on the course of international development and the historical position of China, he has put forward a series of new ideas, propositions and initiatives rich in Chinese characteristics while embodying the spirit of the times and leading the trend of human progress. With those, he gave clear answers to a series of important theoretical and practical questions. For example, what kind of world should China promote? What kind of international relations should China develop? What kind of diplomacy does China need? And how can China do a good job in diplomacy in the new era? These answers constitute and establish the Xi Jinping thought on diplomacy of socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era. Guided by his vision, we will enjoy new opportunities for bilateral relations to continue growing steadily and for our good-neighbourly friendship to become deeper and richer in contents.
According to Xi’s thought, the diplomacy of China as a major power in today’s world must be focused on pursuing a new model of international relations and developing a community of shared future for mankind. Over the years, China has adhered to the strategy of mutual benefit and win-win and formed a new pattern of comprehensive opening-up championed through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). As the initiative and concept turned into concrete actions, the BRI has rapidly grown into an open and inclusive platform for international cooperation and a universally welcome global public good. More than 100 countries and international organizations have become active supporters and participants. Among them, Afghanistan benefits most from the infrastructure construction and ensuing regional connectivity. China has assisted in the construction of the Jomhuriat Hospital in Kabul, the National Vocational and Technical College and the school building and auditorium in Kabul University. The Afghanistan-China air freight corridor and regular cargo train services have helped to export Afghan goods to Central Asia, Persian Gulf region, South Asia and China in particular. Marketable rugs, dried fruits, vegetables and so on have generated considerable income for Afghanistan and stimulated economic growth here. The delivery to Afghanistan of Chinese goods and aids, with full friendly sentiments, have also been facilitated.
Xi’s thought embodies the principles of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness in conducting neighbourhood diplomacy so that China’s development will benefit more its neighbors and facilitate common development. As a traditional friendly neighbor, China has always attached great importance to helping Afghanistan in public health and by providing humanitarian assistance. In 2014, the Jomhuriat Hospital in Kabul, built with Chinese aid, was put into operation. In 2017, the humanitarian aid programme for children suffering major diseases was launched with the BRI framework; by the end of 2019, the Chinese Red Cross Foundation had received a total of 184 children with congenital heart disease for treatment in China. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese government and all sectors of society have given strong support to the fight against the epidemic in Afghanistan. China has so far shipped three batches of pandemic response supplies totaling 20 tons and held two teleconferences for medical experts to share their experiences. The Chinese Embassy has sent food relief packages to civilians in Kabul. Some non-governmental organizations and individuals have donated to Afghanistan on their own to convey the profound friendship of the Chinese people.
Xi’s thought contains a balanced approach to upholding principles and pursuing interests based on the belief that ‘a state’s interests lie not with profits but with principles.’ In this connection, China has always carried out pragmatic cooperation with other countries on the basis of mutual benefit and win-win. The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence proposed in the early years of the People’s Republic have become basic norms governing international relations. Since the start of reform and opening up in the late 1970s, China has persisted in the pursuit of peaceful development, not only realizing its own economic rise but also motivating many other countries to reform and open up, thus making a great contribution to world peace. Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party, China has announced its mission towards a great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and actively promoted the building of a new model of international relations and a community of shared future for mankind. In this process, China has developed into an important force for world peace and stability.
According to Xi’s thought on diplomacy, China must firmly defend multilateralism. In today’s world, unilateralism and protectionism are surging against the tide. President Xi has stated on multiple international occasions the Chinese determination to pursue multilateralism. ‘China’s determination to support multilateralism will not change’; ‘Multilateralism is an effective way to maintain peace and promote development’;‘The core of multilateralism is that international affairs should be done through discussion among all countries and not decided by one or a few,’ he said. Following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan late last year, most governments and people around the world took the initiative to provide anti-epidemic supplies to China, helping the latter to manage through the most difficult times. When the pandemic spread to most parts of the world, China was still working hard to control it at home and, with a belief in a community of health for mankind, did its best to send large quantities of pandemic response supplies and experienced teams of experts to other countries, especially developing ones such as Afghanistan, winning extensive praises. In the future, vaccines developed and produced in China will also become accessible and affordable public goods for developing countries. Countries including Afghanistan will be prioritized users.
Dear friends, the wheel of history is irreversible. China will not rest in its efforts to build a community of shared future for mankind, nor will the fundamentals of a solid China-Afghanistan relationship change for a long time to come. Guided by the Xi Jinping thought on diplomacy, China will work with the Afghan side to defeat the pandemic, embrace peace and build an open, inclusive, clean and beautiful world of lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity.