The outgoing year of 2006 has witnessed more dynamic developments in party politics and more interactions among political parties across the world. Seizing opportunities and forging ahead with an enterprising spirit, the Communist Party of China has scored gratifying progress in the field of its external relations. Just as the old year was approaching the end, Xinhua correspondent had an interview with Minister Wang Jiarui of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee on this topic.
Q: Could you first of all give a brief account on the CPC's foreign affairs work in the past year?
A: 2006 has been another fruitful year for our party in terms of its external relations. In the light of the requirements of the central leadership and to the general situation at home and abroad, the CPC's work on the international front has been carried out in a down-to-earth and innovative manner and has consequently rendered new contributions to the all-round advancement of the CPC's party-building programme, to the better employment of the country's diplomatic resources, to the promotion of the idea of building a harmonious world, and to the publicity of China's opening-up strategy of sticking to the road of peaceful development and seeking reciprocal and all-win cooperation with others. At the same time, our work has taken more diversified forms and displayed its unique strength.
Q: Could you talk more specifically about the Party's international activities and how they have served the overall foreign strategy of the country?
A: First of all, the Party's international exchanges have been dedicated to the enhancement and development of state-to-state relations. Just thumb open this year's chronicle of inter-party exchanges, you would find that reelected General Secretary Nong Duc Manh of the Vietnamese Communist Party and newly elected General Secretary of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party and state President Choummaly Sayasone both visited China at the invitation of the CPC shortly after their respective party congresses. And less than six months later, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee and Chinese President Hu Jintao paid a state visit to the two countries respectively. Such frequent meetings between top party leaders have forcefully elevated the level of China-Vietnam and China-Laos good-neighbourly relations and friendly cooperation. China and Vietnam have also established a high profile cross-department steering committee for bilateral cooperation.
In the past year, major parties, both ruling and non-ruling, from Germany, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, India, South Korea, Japan, as well as from other countries in Latin America, Africa, West Asia and Eastern Europe have sent their delegations to China. Meanwhile, the CPC also sent out delegations to Italy, Austria, Mexico, Peru, Columbia and many other countries. With a view to normalizing state relations, the CPC has continued this year to develop contacts with political parties in countries with no diplomatic relationship with China. These exchanges have not only helped consolidate and enhance state relations, but also promoted the basic common understanding of the one China principle in the international community.
Secondly, the Party's international exchanges have played an active and supporting role in the major diplomatic moves of the nation. For example, the visits of the leading Indian political parties and their think-tanks at the CPC's invitation have enriched the "China-India Friendship Year". Also, as part of the efforts to retrieve China-Japan relations from deteriorating, we timely strengthened exchanges with the ruling coalition of Japan through the platform of the “China-Japan Exchange Mechanism of Ruling Parties” while continuing contacts with other parties in Japan. Shortly after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to China, I traveled to Japan as head of the CPC delegation to attend the second session of the “China-Japan Exchange Mechanism of Ruling Parties”. The inter-party discussions enabled the two sides to better understand each other's positions and broaden consensus. On the occasions of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the summit meeting commemorating the 5th anniversary of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Commemorative Summit marking the 15th anniversary of China-ASEAN dialogue relations, corresponding measures were taken on the party level to step up contacts and exchanges with parties from relevant countries. More importantly, the visits paid by members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau to related regions, namely Wu Guanzheng's visit to Africa and Li Changchun's tour of Central Asia and Europe, as well as Polit-Bureau members Liu Yunshan and and He Yong's trips to Southeast Asia and India respectively, have directly added weight to the above mentioned diplomatic endeavours.
Thirdly, the CPC's external relations have also provided facilitation to the solution of international and regional hot-spot issues. One of the conspicuous features of international developments this year was the heating up of hot spots one after another and incessant regional disturbances, towards which a greater role was expected from China. Facing such new circumstances, and proceeding from the general interest of China's overall foreign strategy, the CPC took the initiative to play its part and intensified inter-party exchanges in these hot-spot regions. We hosted DPRK leader Kim Jong Il in his unofficial visit to China at the beginning of the year, and invited major political parties from Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Iraq and Iran to visit China. In the year, the CPC sent out two delegations to the Middle East, headed by Comrades Wang Lequan and Liu Qi respectively. It proved that the CPC can play a favourable role in the settlement of hot spot issues by speaking to different forces and offering its good offices in candid dialogues with parties concerned.
Q: How did the CPC's relations with foreign parties promote the general domestic development?
A: First, we stressed a lot on sharing experience of state governing with other parties. For Example, building a new countryside has been one of the main topics in our discussions with African and Latin American parties, whereas our dialogues with European partners also involves subjects like how to secure social harmony, etc. Second, we tried to boost trade and economic cooperation along with party-to-party exchanges. When Comrade Zhang Dejiang headed a party delegation on a visit abroad earlier this year, he was again accompanied by a business entourage, which signed some USD 4 billion contracts during the trip, yielding more fruitful results in the effort to promote political relations and economic links at the same time. Meanwhile, the visits to China paid by senior officials from Finland, Belgium, Malta and Senegal as guests of the CPC in their dual capacities as both party and government leaders provided great impetus to the mutually-beneficial cooperation between China and these countries in areas of trade, developmental aid, infrastructures and energy resources. Third, we have also tried to provide services through our work to provinces and municipalities as well as other departments of the CPC Central Committee.
Q: What did your department do in the past year in serving the CPC's party-building efforts?
A: This year, focusing on the Party's new theoretical propositions of putting people first, upholding the scientific outlook on development, building a socialist harmonious society, building a new socialist countryside, building an innovation-driven nation and establishing a socialist view of honour and disgrace, we in the International Department, favoured by our unique ties with various kinds of political parties in different countries, and based on our long-term studies on party politics and trends of thought, have carried out quite a deal of research work through setting up thematic research groups, dispatching study teams abroad and organizing international seminars, with an attempt to pool wisdom of other parties and draw on their experience that may be of reference to the building of our own Party. Over the year, we have managed to accomplish nearly a hundred reports on a series of important subjects including practices of foreign ruling parties in securing social harmony; theories and practices in social development of other countries, relations between reform and the strength of governing parties and rural development experience in other countries, etc.
Q: The Central Foreign Affairs Work Conference set forth new requirements to foster an objective and friendly climate of public opinions. What role can party diplomacy play in this regard?
A: In inter-party exchanges, the people we deal with are mainly political leaders who have significant influence in the domestic and foreign policies of their countries. This year, we received more than 200 party delegations in China, and the CPC sent out some one hundred groups to different parts of the world. Through these exchanges of visit, we were able to meet several thousand political figures of various countries. The purpose of our work mainly focuses on in-depth discussions on issues and developments of common interest in bilateral and multi-lateral relations. Apart from expatiating on China's foreign policies and the achievements in our national development when meeting other parties, we also try to talk more about China's political system, our party establishment and the CPC's efforts to develop itself, so that our partners may have a better understanding of our country and our Party.
All the above shows that party diplomacy serves as an important tool for the building of China's soft power and that the Party's foreign affairs workers constitute a vital contingent in the field of external publicity.
Q: You have repeatedly mentioned the need to exploit advantages. Could you please elaborate a bit on the most outstanding advantage of party-to-party exchanges?
A: The most outstanding advantage in the CPC's exchanges with foreign partners lies in its people-oriented style of work. As the saying goes, “Between heaven and earth, man comes first.” With the on-going trends towards multipolarity and economic globalization, political parties across the world are rising and falling in more frequent turns, and domestic affairs of a country are increasingly interlaced with international relations. As a matter of fact, politicians are always the key players in the ups and downs of party politics. Having relations in one form or another with over 400 parties in some 160 countries in the world, every year the CPC, through inter-party exchanges, contacts with more than a thousand senior politicians as we try keenly to make as many friends as possible and to forge close ties with them. Among the people we meet are leaders of both ruling and non-ruling parties, both incumbent heavyweight officials and promising young people who are about to take leading positions. We have friends in countries both with and without diplomatic ties with China. Given the fact that in many countries, political parties take office in turns, maintaining a solid friendship with these people is of great significance to ensuring friendly relations with various countries.
Q: Lastly, what's your plan for the new year?
A: 2007 will be a year for us to further implement the spirits of the 16th CPC Congress and the plenums of the Central Committee, as well as the spirit of the central foreign affairs work conference. Moreover, the year 2007 will also see the holding of the 17th National Congress of the CPC. In this connection, the Party's work on external relations will continue to be guided by Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of “Three Represents”. We will exercise our duties in line with the scientific thinking on development, and make more effective publicity of our developmental achievements scored on all fronts since the last Congress of the Party. Having our eye on the up-coming CPC Congress, we will try to find out more regularities implied in the Party's work of foreign exchanges, draw out our strong points and make fresh contribution to the strengthening of our Party, to the all-round implementation of China's foreign strategies, to the building of a harmonious world and to the implementation of the decisions made at the central foreign affairs work conference.