Consolidating Friendship, Strengthening Mutual Trust, Deepening Cooperation and Boosting Common Development
--Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi talks about Vice President Xi Jinping's visits to Ireland and Turkey
At the invitation of Irish Prime Minister Kenny and President Gul of the Republic of Turkey, Vice President Xi Jinping paid official visits to Ireland and Turkey from February 18 to 22. As the trip was coming to an end, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who accompanied Xi on the visits, introduced to the accompanying journalists the significance and fruitful results of the visits.
The visits came against the backdrop of profound and complex changes in the international situation, and new development opportunities for the ties between China and Ireland and Turkey, said Yang. Xi's trip was a major diplomatic move of the Chinese leader towards Europe, Asia and Africa. Xi conducted intensive diplomatic activities within a short period of five days. He traveled to four cities in Ireland and Turkey and attended more than 30 events. He met with leaders of the two countries, made extensive contacts with the Irish and Turkish people, addressed business forums, and visited an economic development zone and a farm. He also met Chinese students and overseas Chinese in the two countries. Prior to his visits, Xi accepted interviews by Irish and Turkish newspapers on China's relations with Ireland, Turkey, and the European Union (EU), and on China's growth. He explained to Europe, Asia, Africa and the international community at large that China's growth will expand world markets. He also said it would bring more opportunities and room for cooperation to the world, demonstrating the positive, open and cooperative image of a responsible big country, Yang said. Xi sent a positive message in the interviews that China is devoted to boosting relations with Ireland, Turkey and the European Union, Yang said. For their part, the Irish and Turkish governments attached great importance to Xi's visits, according him warm and friendly reception and a high standard of courtesy. Ireland made special arrangements for Xi's visit. Irish Prime Minister Kenny held talks with Vice President Xi at the weekend and Deputy Prime Minister Gilmore made a special trip to greet Xi and accompanied him on the visit. President Gul, Prime Minister Erdogan and other Turkish leaders specially adjusted their schedule to receive Vice President Xi. The people of Ireland and Turkey warmly welcomed Xi's visit, and the media of the two countries and the international public opinion delivered intensive coverage of the visit and made positive comments on it. Xi's trip to the two countries is rich in content and has yielded fruitful achievements. It accomplished the goals of consolidating friendship, strengthening mutual trust, deepening cooperation and boosting common development, and turned out to be a great success, Yang said.
First, promoting China-Ireland and China-Turkey relations to higher levels
China and Ireland have shared a traditional friendship, Yang said. In the 33 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, bilateral ties based on mutual respect and equal treatment have developed smoothly. Yang said the relationship has become a model of friendly co-existence for countries that have different territory sizes, social systems, and cultural traditions. In recent years, China and Ireland have seen closer high-level contacts, deepened their mutual understanding, and enjoyed more active non-governmental exchanges, Yang said. Xi's trip to Ireland was of special significance because it was an important visit by a Chinese leader since the new Irish government was formed last March, Yang said.
During his visit, Xi held talks with President Michael D. Higgins, Prime Minister Enda Kenny, Chairman Sean Barrett of Dail Eireann, the lower house of the Irish parliament and Chairman Paddy Burke of Seanad Eireann, the upper house of the Irish Parliament. During the talks, Xi appreciated the new Irish government for attaching importance to relations with China, developing cooperation with China and pushing for sustained, steady development of bilateral ties. He also expressed hope that the two sides would continue to elevate their traditional friendship and mutual trust and transform their sound political relations into mutually beneficial pragmatic cooperation. The Irish leaders said that as a friend of China, Ireland has always attached great importance to expanding and deepening bilateral relations with China and deems the strengthening of its ties with China as a top priority. The Irish government will adhere to the one-China policy and is very glad to have the opportunity to exchange experiences with China and to learn from each other, the leaders said. The Irish side has confidence in the development of bilateral ties and is willing to establish a stronger relationship with China.
Yang said that over the past 41 years since China and Turkey established diplomatic relationship, bilateral ties have maintained a healthy and sound momentum of development. That, he said, has been evidenced by reinforced political mutual trust, a steady rise in the level of bilateral trade cooperation and frequent humanistic exchanges. The two countries announced the establishment of a strategic cooperation relationship in 2010, marking a new phase of all-round development for their bilateral ties, Yang said. He added that Xi's visit was of great importance to further deepening the China-Turkey strategic cooperation.
During the visit to Turkey, Vice President Xi told Turkish leaders that in the new situation the further development of China-Turkey strategic cooperation has gone beyond the bilateral domain and is of great strategic significance. Strengthening bilateral cooperation has huge potential and great impact.
Xi made a four-point proposal on furthering China-Turkey relations. The proposal included maintaining bilateral high-level exchanges to consolidate strategic mutual trust, expanding pragmatic cooperation for common development, stepping up humanistic exchanges to increase people-to-people friendship and enhancing cooperation on a multilateral basis to safeguard common interests. Turkey said it agreed with Xi's proposals and that his visit will boost the development of their bilateral ties. Turkey is ready to work with China to further enrich the strategic relationship between the two countries so as to deepen bilateral strategic relations and bring their strategic cooperation to a higher level.
Second, promoting China-Ireland and China-Turkey pragmatic cooperation for new achievements
Yang said that as the first country to establish a free trade zone, Ireland has a lot of experience to offer concerning the development of an open economy. Since the outbreak of the euro zone debt crisis, Ireland has acted aggressively to deal with the crisis and became the first among debt-ridden European countries to register modest economic growth. As an emerging market country and a member of the Group of 20, Turkey has continued its robust economic development in recent years and has become the world's 16th largest economy and Europe's sixth largest. That, Yang said, shows that the two countries have huge potential for cooperation. In this connection, one of the important aspects of Xi's visits was to further deepen China's pragmatic cooperation with Ireland and Turkey, Yang said. During the visits, through meetings, talks and attendance of trade events, Vice President Xi focused on the promotion of China's pragmatic cooperation with the two countries in various fields and has made remarkable achievements.
On China-Ireland pragmatic cooperation, Xi pointed out that the two countries should focus their efforts on exchanges and cooperation in such fields as economy and trade, technology, education, and agriculture. Xi has made five-point proposals for the deepening of economic and trade cooperation between the two countries. First, to expand bilateral trade and vigorously promote the development of trade in services. Second, to increase mutual investment and broaden areas of investment cooperation. Third, to develop advanced and new technologies and expand cooperation in new industries. Fourth, to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and consolidate the foundation of economic and trade relations. Fifth, to make good use of cooperation mechanisms and leverage the bridging roles of trade associations. Ireland responded positively to Xi's proposals, stressing that the country welcomes the opportunities brought about by China's economic development and it also welcomes increasingly strengthened links in trade, education and tourism. Ireland is ready to promote its cooperation with China and will offer more convenience and favorable conditions to Chinese businesses so as to facilitate their investment in Ireland and in Europe.
On the issue of China-Turkey commerce, Xi fully affirmed the significant progress made by the two countries under mutually beneficial principles. Xi pointed out that China's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) for socioeconomic development and Turkey's aim to become one of the world's top ten economies by 2023 provided a timely opportunity that both countries could seize to expand bilateral cooperation. Xi stressed that China and Turkey should tap their own advantages and boost ties in such sectors as finance, energy, infrastructure construction and high-technology. That's to create new points of growth for the pragmatic cooperation of the two countries and achieve mutual benefits. Turkish leaders agreed by saying that strengthening ties with China is a priority as mutual cooperation serves not only the interests of the Turkish people but also of the world. The two countries enjoy very broad areas for cooperation.
During his visits, Xi delivered important speeches in commerce forums in Ireland and Turkey that were well received by the businessmen in attendance. Agreements covering numerous sectors, including service trade, two-way investments, financing, technology, agriculture, education and journalism were reached between the government departments, universities and corporations of both countries. The new bonds will boost the economy and trade of both countries, promote connections between businesses of the two nations and make tangible contributions to the improvement of people's livelihood.
Third, promoting nongovernmental, humanistic exchanges and cooperation
Humanistic exchange is an important foundation and motivation of the development of inter-country relations, Yang said. He added that culture is the bridge that connects the heart and feeling of peoples. The unique charm of the Irish culture and the richness of Turkish history and culture are attracting more and more Chinese. At the same time, profound Chinese culture is raising interest amongst the Irish and Turkish peoples. The increased interest indicates that humanistic exchanges and cooperation have become the important founding stones of bilateral friendship between China and Turkey and Ireland.
Upon his arrival in Shannon, Ireland, Xi chatted with farmers to learn about their farms and the living standards of the local residents. Xi also took time out of his busy schedule to watch popular Gaelic football and hockey matches and a classic Irish tap-dance performance of the River Dance. He also talked with the athletes and performers after the events. Xi extended a warm welcome to Irish farm owners to visit China and he encouraged the sports, cultural and arts institutions from both countries to cooperate by sharing experiences so as to enhance the level of cooperation and seek common development. Xi's words were met with enthusiasm from local residents and artists, who said the vice president's personal charm left a deep impression on them. They said they are willing to strengthen ties with the Chinese people and contribute to the bridge of friendship between the two countries.
This year marks the "Chinese Culture Year" in Turkey and China will host "Turkish Culture Year" in 2013, Yang said. During his visit to Turkey, Xi fully affirmed the significant value the mutual operation of "Cultural Years" has had on the deepening of traditional friendship and mutual understanding between the two peoples. He emphasized that both sides should work together in holding relevant activities to make bilateral friendship deeply rooted in the hearts of both peoples and create a favorable social environment for comprehensive development of China-Turkey relations. Turkey positively responded to Xi's words. Turkish leaders expressed willingness to cooperate with China in ensuring success of the cultural year programs, enhance humanistic exchanges, promote further development of bilateral friendship and build up understanding and friendship between both countries and their peoples.
Fourth, injecting new force into China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership
The European Union is the largest economy in the world as well as the biggest trade partner of China. The EU's importance to China will increase as the relationship and cooperation between the two economies expands, Yang said. As an important EU member and the country that will hold the EU presidency in the first half of 2013, Ireland plays a prominent role in international affairs. Xi's trip to Ireland injected a new driving force for the development of China-EU relations, Yang said.
During his visit, Xi exchanged views over the issues of China-EU relations and the European sovereign debt with the Irish side. China adheres to the policy that the development of its relations with the EU is one of the priorities of its foreign relations strategy, Xi said. He said China constantly supports European integration and that to maintain healthy development of China-EU ties, the two countries need to mutually respect and fairly communicate with each other and address differences in a friendly and practical way. Xi said he hopes that the Irish side will have greater impact inside the EU and will further promote its relationship with China. The vice president praised Ireland for its appropriate handling of debt issues. He stressed that China will continue to support the efforts from the EU, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank in a responsible way and within the realm of its abilities. China will continue to enhance its policy communications and coordination with the EU, boost China-EU cooperation in the fields of economics and trade, and investment and finance. China will also continue to participate in international actions for supporting the EU and the euro zone. Irish leaders expressed thanks for China's support in helping Europe overcome the debt crisis. Ireland also said it is China's good friend inside the EU and will further promote EU-China relations by taking advantage of its rotating presidency in the EU.
Fifth, strengthening communication and coordination in major global issues
Yang said that currently, the international situation is undergoing profound changes on a continued basis while the interests of states have become increasingly interdependent. Meanwhile, there are many uncertainties and unstable factors remaining in the international situation, Yang said. He added that the world's peace and development are facing both challenges and opportunities. Ireland is an important member in the EU and there is good momentum in the development of China-Ireland ties, Yang said. He also said that Turkey, which crosses the continents of both Asia and Europe, plays a significant role in regional and international affairs
During Xi's visits, the vice president has exchanged views with Turkish and Irish leaders on major international and regional issues such as the situations in West Asia and North Africa. Xi noted that China hopes relative countries in the two regions will restore their stable and normal orders as soon as possible. He said China also respects and supports regions and countries to independently deal with internal issues. Xi said that China also supports all diplomatic mediation efforts that contribute to stabilizing regional situations. China, Xi said, is willing to work with the entire international community in strengthening communications and coordination and making persistent efforts to boost peace, stability and development in West Asia and North Africa. Irish and Turkish leaders both expressed willingness to make joint efforts with China in deepening coordination in global affairs, strengthening cooperation and promoting relative issues to be handled and resolved with appropriate solutions.
Finally, Yang said Xi's official visits to Ireland and Turkey consolidated China's traditional friendships with Ireland and Turkey. He said the trip also enhanced political mutual trust, expanded pragmatic cooperation in all fields, boosted humanistic exchanges and strengthened China's communications and coordination with the two countries concerning major international and regional affairs. He said the visits will have significant and profound influence in elevating China-Ireland and China-EU relations and in promoting the overall development of the ties between China and Turkey.