President of The Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs: Humane society has once again reached a crossroads in history.

Interview with Mr.Wang Chao, President of The Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs.

The Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA) was established in December 1949, the same year of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. As the first institute devoted to people-to-people diplomacy of the the People’s Republic of China, CPIFA was founded at the initiative of the late Premier Zhou Enlai. Over the past 73 years, CPIFA has been actively carrying out people-to-peolpe diplomacy to enhance people-to-people friendship, promote state-to-state relations, and pursue world peace, development and cooperation.

The past five years have been truly momentous and extraordinary for China and the rest of the world. The report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China points out that today, our world, our times, and history are changing in ways like never before, which are posing unprecedented challenges for human society. The world has witnessed a persistent and unchecked pandemic, accelerating changes unseen in a century, and a period of turbulence and transformation. Over the past 5 years, guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy and committed to “making friends for the country”,CPIFA has been exploring various ways to build a bridge of friendship between the Chinese and people all over the world.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, CPIFA was engaged in “outbound and inbound visits”. We received a large number of foreign delegations every year, established dozens of “Track Two” dialogue mechanisms with major countries and international organizations, and held many influential conferences in China and abroad. Moreover, CPIFA delegations also visit other countries for extensive contacts with foreign dignitaries, parliamentary institutions, think tanks, media, etc. By doing so, CPIFA has played a unique role in enhancing people-to-people friendship, promoting practical cooperation, carrying out dialogue among civilizations and boosting bilateral relations.

After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, communication between countries was forced to suspend. However, CPIFA keeps maintaining and expanding exchanges with the world through “cloud diplomacy”, stands with people in their fight against the pandemic and brings all the people closer. Faced with such “political virus” as smears and rumors fabricated by certain countries, CPIFA introduces China’s economic and social development achievement, especially those in anti-pandemic and poverty reduction, and elaborates on China’s wisdom and solution through various manners. Meanwhile, CPIFA has been safeguarding our national dignity and legitimate rights and interests by debunking lies and perjury with facts. We promptly presents facts and truth to oppose politicizing or attaching a label to the virus and clarify China’s position on issues related to Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan question by inviting foreign scholars, parliamentarians to “visit China online”.

Over the past five years, CPIFA has maintained close exchanges with Azerbaijan and forged profound friendship. CPIFA has hosted H.E.Mr.Akhmedov, the vice Prime Minister of Azerbaijan and some other dignitaries’ visit to China, deepened cooperation with the Nizami Ganjavi International Center(NGIC) constantly, and kept in close contact with the Embassy of Azerbaijan in China. CPIFA delegations have also visited Azerbaijan to attend the Global Baku Forum several times. The positive exchanges between CPIFA and Azerbaijan have laid solid popular basis for the development of bilateral relations.

Over the past five years, people-to-people diplomacy has been fruitful and splendid. With sincerity and all our hearts, CPIFA has introduced our friends from all over the world about the story of China’s reform and opening up, the story of jointly building the “Belt and Road” and the story of building a community with a shared future for mankind, and expounded the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative, and show the world an open, confident and progressive China.

Now human society is faced with many global problems. Crises and challenges keep popping up. Some countries try to  create division and confrontation and stoke a “new Cold War” by drawing an ideological line between countries, which leads to growing hostilities in the international community. Friendship between people of all countries is also quarantined due to the coronavirus and the political virus. Human society has once again reached a crossroads in history.

This June and September, at the invitation of the NGIC, I attended the IX Global Baku Forum and the XXIV High-Level Meeting & Side Event to the UN General Assembly via video link and exchanged views on current global challenges and possible solutions with other participants . I mentioned at both meetings that given the current global security situation, the Global Security Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping, which advocates the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security, points out the direction to and China’s vision for common security. Given that the North-South gap keeps widening and development cooperation is losing steam, the Global Development Initiative, also proposed by President Xi Jinping, aims to arouse the international community’s attention to development issues and strengthen global development partnership. The two Initiatives have won wide support and recognition from the international community, including Azerbaijan.

Under the new international circumstance, the people-to-people diplomacy encounters risks and challenges brought by instabilities and uncertainties, as well as unprecedented new opportunities.

We firmly believe that the more turbulent the world is, the more active people-to-people diplomacy needs to be. No matter how the world changes, peace and development as the themes of the times will not be changed, and the original aspiration of people from all countries for friendly exchanges will not be changed. Making full use of people-to-people diplomacy is an effective way to heal the rift and confrontation between countries.

President Xi Jinping points out that friendship between countries lies in amity between their peoples. Chinese people are amiable, sincere, kind and friendly. We love to make more friends and close friends. Treating others with sincerity brings the Chinese and people across the world closer. CPIFA is willing to work for friendly exchanges and cooperation between the Chinese and people in other countries including Azerbaijan, deepen our people-to-people ties, promote our bilateral exchanges and enlarge our common “friends circle”, so as to inject positive energy to world peace, and contribute to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

With the attention and strong support from H.E.President Aliyev, NGIC has played an increasingly important role in promoting dialogue and understanding among different civilizations and building inclusive societies. It has become an internationally renowned institution dedicated to people-to-peolpe diplomacy.

NGIC is an old friend to CPIFA. Since 2017, we have conducted fruitful cooperation, with three to four events organized per year. All this has effectively enhanced the friendship between Chinese and Azerbaijan and received the recognition and support from our two leaders. In particular, it was a great honor for us that H.E. President Aliyev met the CPIFA delegation at the 7th Global Baku Forum in March 2019. In June 2019, CPIFA and NGIC co-hosted the XVII High-Level Meeting Beijing, during which Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan met the delegates from NGIC. In May 2021, I was invited to the video conference themed “The South Caucasus: Regional Development and Prospect for Cooperation”, and was very honored to have the opportunity to exchange views with H.E. President Aliyev on China-Azerbaijan relations and the Belt and Road Initiative. We are touched in particular to see that at the beginning of the outbreak of the pandemic, several NGIC board members sent a joint letter and video message to express their support for China’s fight against COVID-19. Besides, we deeply appreciate NGIC’s donation of anti-epidemic supplies to China. Recently, some NGIC board members, including the co-chairs, jointly sent a congratulatory letter to Chinese leader on the opening of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. I think cooperation between CPIFA and NGIC has become a model of people-to-people exchanges between China and Azerbaijan.

2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Azerbaijan. It is also a new historical starting point for both countries. The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China announces that China embarks on a new journey to build itself into a modern socialist country in all respects and advance toward the Second Centenary Goal. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan will also accelerate its realization of priority development goals by 2030. Both counties will embrace important development opportunities.

This September, President Xi Jinping met with President Aliyev during their attendance at the Samarkand Summit of the SCO. The two heads of state reached important consensus on deepening bilateral relations, firmly supporting each other and promoting the Belt and Road cooperation, which points out the direction for China-Azerbaijan relations. CPIFA is ready to take the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries as an opportunity to implement these important consensus reached by the two heads of state. We are ready to further expand our cooperation with NGIC and carry out more high-quality people-to-people exchanges in order to promote the sustained development of our bilateral relations and deliver benefits to our two peoples.

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