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Ambassador Chen Xiaodong's interview with Shannon Ebrahim
2021/07/06

1. Q: On July 1st, China held a grand ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. General Secretary Xi Jinping's speech at the ceremony has received wide attention from the international community as well as South Africa. What do you think are the key points in President Xi Jinping's speech for the outside world to observe China's future development?

A: July 1st, 2021 marks the centenary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), on which day China has formally announced the realization of the first centenary goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. This means that we have brought about a historic resolution to the problem of absolute poverty in China. General Secretary Xi Jinping's speech at this important historical moment is of great significance to China and the world at large.

Through the mirror of history, we can find where we currently stand and gain foresight into the future. This is the main thread that binds together all of General Secretary Xi Jinping's important speech. To hold this grand ceremony is to learn from the Party's centenary journey, its achievements and figure out how China succeeded in the past and how we can continue to succeed in the future. In his speech, General Secretary Xi Jinping put forward experience and recommendations on nine fronts that will guide China's future development. The experience and recommendations are the best channels through which the outside world can observe and understand China, which can be summed up in five "upholds":

First, we must uphold the full leadership of the CPC and advance the new project of Party building. General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that China's success hinges on the Party. The leadership of the CPC is not self-appointed. It is the choice of history and the people, and has been proved correct by history and reality. The COVID-19 pandemic and transformations rarely seen in a century have become interwoven with one another. Facing these challenges, the CPC has led China to win the tough battle of poverty alleviation as well as pandemic prevention and control. This is the best testimony to the strong leadership and cohesion of the CPC.

Marxism is the fundamental guiding ideology upon which our Party and country are founded. On the new journey, China will continue to adapt the basic tenets of Marxism to China's specific realities and its fine traditional culture and develop the Marxism of contemporary China and in the 21st century. We will continue to guide China's development with Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and realize the second centenary goal.

To forge iron, one must be strong. An important reason why the Party remains so vital and vibrant despite having undergone so many trials and tribulations is that it practices effective self-supervision and full and strict self-governance. We must strengthen the Party's organizational system, work hard to train high-caliber officials who have both moral integrity and professional competence, remain committed to improving Party conduct, upholding integrity, and combating corruption. We must ensure that the Party preserves its essence, color, and character, and see that it always serves as the strong leadership core in the course of upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.

Second, we must uphold the people-centered philosophy of development and ensure that the fruits of development benefit the people more. This country is its people; and the people are the country. As we have worked hard to establish and consolidate CPC's leadership over the country, we have in fact been working to earn and keep the people's support. With these words, General Secretary Xi Jinping affectionately summed up the flesh-and-blood ties between the CPC and the people. The Party has in the people its roots, its lifeblood, and its source of strength. The Party has always represented the fundamental interests of all Chinese people. It stands with them through thick and thin and shares a common future with them. The Party has no special interests of its own-it has never represented any individual interest group, power group, or privileged groups. On the journey ahead, China will continue to practice a people-centered philosophy of development and better achieve common prosperity. We will develop whole-process people's democracy, safeguard social fairness and justice, and resolve the imbalances and inadequacies in development and the most pressing difficulties and problems that are of great concern to the people.

Third, we must uphold and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics and follow a path suited to China's national conditions. As General Secretary Xi Jinping said, Socialism with Chinese characteristics is a fundamental achievement of the CPC and the people, forged through innumerable hardships and great sacrifices. It is the right path for China to achieve national rejuvenation. To follow one's own path is a historical conclusion reached by the CPC in its century-long struggle. It is also a cause that developing countries in Africa and other countries are working hard to pursue.

On the journey ahead, the CPC and the Chinese people will adhere to Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and walk on a new path of modernization with Chinese characteristics. China must deepen reform and opening up across the board, ground our work in this new stage of development, fully and faithfully apply the new development philosophy, and foster a new paradigm of development. China must promote high-quality development and build up our country's strength in science and technology and continue to govern based on the rule of law. China must promote harmony between humanity and nature, and take well-coordinated steps toward making our people prosperous, our nation strong, and our country beautiful. At the same time, we are also eager to learn what lessons we can from the achievements of other cultures, and welcome helpful suggestions and constructive criticism. We will not, however, accept lecturing from those self-appointed preachers.

Fourth, we must uphold the principle of win-win cooperation and work for the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. The CPC cares about the future of humanity, and wishes to move forward with all progressive forces around the world. China has always worked to safeguard world peace, contribute to global development, and preserve international order.

In 2017, when members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the 19th CPC Central Committee met with Chinese and foreign journalists, General Secretary Xi Jinping solemnly declared, "Together with the people of all countries, China will actively promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind and continue to make new and greater contributions to the lofty cause of peace and development for mankind." As China's diplomacy moves forward with great success, the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind has become increasingly prominent in its value and significance. Against the backdrop of mounting challenges and increasing risks, this concept has undoubtedly pointed out the right direction and injected power into action in an uncertain world.

As a new concept and plan for global governance and development of human society, a community of shared future for mankind has been widely recognized by the international community and has been included in various UN resolutions and documents on many occasions. This shows that a community with a shared future for mankind has become the new consensus of and a value pursued by the international community.

On the journey ahead, China will continue to be guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy and remain committed to promoting peace, development, cooperation, and mutual benefit, to an independent foreign policy of peace, and to the path of peaceful development. China will work to build a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind, promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation through joint efforts, and use China's new achievements in development to provide the world with new opportunities. The Party will continue to work with all peace-loving countries and peoples to promote the shared human values of peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy, and freedom. China will continue to champion cooperation over confrontation, to open up rather than closing our doors, to focus on mutual benefits instead of zero-sum games, and to oppose hegemony and power politics.

Fifth, we must uphold China's core interests and resolutely advance the process of peaceful reunification. Peace, concord, and harmony are ideas the Chinese nation has pursued and carried forward for more than 5,000 years. The Chinese nation does not carry aggressive or hegemonic traits in its genes. The Party cares about the future of humanity, and wishes to move forward in tandem with all progressive forces around the world. We will stay true to the letter and spirit of the principle of One Country, Two Systems, under which the people of Hong Kong administer Hong Kong, and the people of Macao administer Macao, both with a high degree of autonomy. We will ensure that the central government exercises overall jurisdiction over Hong Kong and Macao, and implement the legal systems and enforcement mechanisms for the two special administrative regions to safeguard national security. While protecting China's sovereignty, security, and development interests, we will ensure social stability in Hong Kong and Macao, and maintain lasting prosperity and stability in the two special administrative regions. We will uphold the one-China principle and the 1992 Consensus, and advance peaceful national reunification.

2. Q: Over the past few decades, the CPC has led economic and political reforms in China, which has achieved unprecedented growth and become the world's second largest economy. What major achievements do you think have changed the destiny of the Chinese people during this period?

A: As General Secretary Xi Jinping said, all the struggle, sacrifice, and creation through which the Party has united and led the Chinese people over the past hundred years has been tied together by one ultimate theme-bringing about rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. This has been the greatest of the Chinese nation's dreams since modern times. The CPC has united and led the Chinese people to forge ahead on the road of pursuing their dreams. It only took China decades to complete the industrialization process which developed countries have traversed for hundreds of years. China becomes the world's second largest economy with comprehensive national strength, scientific and technological strength, and defense strength. Our cultural and international influence has also increased significantly. The destiny of the Chinese people has been undergoing profound changes. The most important achievements of this period can be summed up in three "creates".

First, the CPC has created great achievements in the socialist revolution and construction. The CPC united and led the Chinese people in blood-soaked battles, achieved national independence and liberation, and established a new China where the people are the masters of the country. New China established the basic political system of the People's Congress system, established the basic political systems such as the multi-party cooperation and political consultation system under the leadership of the CPC, the system of ethnic regional autonomy, and the system of grassroots autonomy for the masses. The broad masses of the people fully enjoy the protection of the Constitution and laws, democratic elections, democratic consultations, democratic decision-making, democratic management, democratic supervision and other rights. The people exercise their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association within the bounds of the Constitution and legal norms, and extensive human rights with the right to survival and the rights to development as the core are fully guaranteed.

Different from frequent political unrest such as regime change, social divisions and violence spread in some countries, Chinese society has maintained long-term stability and China built the world's largest social security system with basic medical insurance covering more than 1.3 billion people. The security index of the Chinese people is 98.4 percent, which makes China one of the most secure countries in the world. Chinese people's satisfaction with the CPC and the government reached 93.1 percent, one of the highest levels in the world, according to a survey by the Ash Center at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Living in this thriving socialist country, the Chinese people feel a sense of happiness and security.

Second, the CPC has created great achievements in reform, opening up, and socialist modernization. The CPC created, persisted, defended, and developed socialism with Chinese characteristics. It has achieved a historic transformation from a highly centralized planned economic system to a vibrant socialist market economic system, from a closed and semi-closed system to all-round opening up, from a relatively backward situation to a historic breakthrough into the world's second largest economy, and from insufficient food and clothing to a moderately prosperous society in general and towards a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

Under the leadership of the CPC, China has become the world's largest manufacturer, the largest trader in goods, the largest holder of foreign exchange reserve, and the second-largest destination as well as source of foreign direct investment in the world. Over the past 40 years, the average annual contribution rate of China's economic growth to world economic growth has reached about 18 percent, and in recent years it has been as high as about 30 percent. China has become the number one engine of world economic growth. Locally, the sense of gain and confidence of the Chinese people has been unprecedentedly improved.

Third, the CPC has created great achievements in building socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era. Over the past four decades and more, China has lifted more than 700 million people out of poverty, accounting for over 70 percent of global poverty reduction in the same period. China has achieved the poverty reduction goals set out in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule. At this important moment of the centenary of the founding of the CPC, China has achieved comprehensive victory in the battle against poverty. The first centenary goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects has been realized as scheduled. China is now marching toward the second centenary goal of building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects.

General Secretary Xi Jinping has pointed out that the period from 2020 to the middle of this century can be put into two stages. From 2020 to 2035, China will basically realize socialist modernization. From 2035 to the middle of this century, China will become a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful. The Chinese people, united and led by the CPC, are marching toward great rejuvenation with indomitable spirits.

3. Q: We have noted that many leaders from the political parties and the government in South Africa recently attended the celebrations of the centenary of the founding of the CPC held by Chinese Embassy in South Africa. Many of them fondly recalled and thanked the CPC for its support to South Africa's national liberation movement. In the mid-20th century, the CPC gave strong support to Africa and other developing countries in their struggle for national liberation and independence. What do you think is the significance of this special friendship to the future development of China-Africa relations?

A: The CPC strives for the well-being of the Chinese people and human progress. The Chinese and African peoples have supported and cooperated with each other in our respective endeavors to fight against colonialism and imperialism to win independence and liberation, and in the pursuit of development and national renewal. A fraternal bond of shared future has been forged between us. China cannot develop in isolation from the rest of the world or Africa. The rest of the world including Africa also need China to seek prosperity and stability. We are bound not only by profound traditional friendship and closely-linked interests, but also by the dreams we all have.

As put by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi at a recent forum on "China and the UN: Cooperation in 50 Years and Beyond", Chairman Mao Zedong once said, it was our fellow developing countries that "carried" the People's Republic of China into the United Nations. The word "carry" aptly captures the profound friendship between China and other developing countries. Chinese people will never forget the touching scene at the UN General Assembly where African delegates sang and danced in celebration of China's restoration of its lawful seat in the UN. Chinese people will never forget our African brothers' valuable and firm support for China. Whether in the past, present or in the future, China always stands together with developing countries, upholds win-win cooperation for common development and provides all-round support for Africa's economic and social development.

Since the 18th CPC National Congress, General Secretary Xi Jinping has attached great importance to relations with Africa. He proposed that relations with Africa must be developed under the principle of honoring sincerity, real results, amity and good faith and that of pursuing the greater good and shared interests among countries. President Xi Jinping devoted himself to developing relations with Africa. In 2013, He chose Africa as part of his first trip abroad after taking office. So far, he has visited Africa four times, including three state visits to South Africa. In 2015 and 2018, our two Presidents co-chaired two historic FOCAC Summits held in Johannesburg and Beijing respectively. The ten cooperation plans and eight major initiatives, each providing 60 billion US dollars in financial support, have helped Africa achieve long-term stability and sustainable development. At the end of January 2021, over 85 percent of the eight major initiatives have been implemented.

Since COVID-19 started, General Secretary Xi Jinping has all along cared about Africa and South Africa. President Xi Jinping and President Ramaphosa jointly initiated the China-Africa Extraordinary Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19. He also spoke many times with various African leaders. China has actively provided emergency COVID-19 response supplies and sent medical teams to Africa. China has actively participated in the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative. We have canceled the interest-free loans due to mature by the end of 2020 for 15 African countries within the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). In the next three years, China will provide another 3 billion US dollars, based on the provided 2 billion US dollars, of international assistance to help developing countries fight the virus and restore economic and social development.

China has now entered a new development stage, which brings new opportunities. China stands ready to take advantage of this year's new FOCAC meeting to promote the connection between China's 14th Five-Year Plan and the long-range goals for 2035 on the one hand, and the African Union's Agenda 2063 and the development strategies of various African countries on the other. China is ready to embrace technology, innovation and green development to lead post-COVID economic recovery and seek high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. China is also ready to move forward cooperation in infrastructure, people's well-being, health, human resource training, green energy, and 5G, so as to help Africa advance industrialization and modernization, and usher in the fourth industrial revolution.

4. Q: The ANC and SACP, as members of the Alliance, have maintained friendly relations with the CPC. What does this mean for the development of relations between South Africa and China in your view?

A: China-South Africa relations started from party-to-party exchanges. The strong friendship, close exchanges between and important guidance provided by the leaders of the CPC, the ANC and the SACP have boosted the sustained development of bilateral relations.

The CPC and the ANC are friendly parties. Besides, the CPC and the SACP are born in the same month of the same year. The parties of two countries are important progressive forces in the world and have forged a deep friendship since South Africa's struggle against Apartheid. Walter Sisulu, Yusuf Dadoo and other former leaders of the ANC and the SACP have visited China in the 1950s, and were received by Chairman Mao Zedong and other former leaders of China. China has firmly supported the just struggle of the ANC and the SACP.

After the founding of the new South Africa, our party-to-party relations developed rapidly.The two sides have had increasingly close personnel exchanges and in-depth exchanges on governance. We share broad common positions on opposing hegemony and power politics, opposing interference in internal affairs, safeguarding the common interests of developing countries, establishing a more reasonable international political and economic order and jointly building a community with a shared future for mankind. The ANC's Top Six have all visited China. The ANC and the SACP have sent many delegations to China for training sessions. President Cyril Ramaphosa, General Secretary Nzimande and other top leaders of the two parties attach great importance to and are personally involved in exchanges with the CPC. In 2009, President Cyril Ramaphosa led the ANC's first National Executive Committee delegation to China. General Secretary Nzimande has visited China more than a dozen times.

On the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC, President Ramaphosa as President of the ANC and General Secretary Nzimande respectively sent congratulatory letters to the CPC. President Ramaphosa, General Secretary Nzimande and President Xi Jinping jointly attended the CPC and World Political Parties Summit held on July 6th, which once again demonstrated the special friendship of Comrades plus Brothers between the political parties of the two countries.

Whether in South Africa's struggle for national liberation or in the development of the new South Africa, the CPC has always stood firmly with the South African people and progressive political parties such as the ANC and the SACP. It can be said that the close party-to-party cooperation between the two sides has created good conditions for the establishment and development of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.

Under the stewardship of the leaders of the two parties and two countries, especially President Xi Jinping and President Cyril Ramaphosa, the China-South Africa Comprehensive Strategic Partnership has been developing rapidly, bringing huge tangible benefits to the peoples of the two countries. China-South Africa relations have become a model for China-Africa Relations, South-South cooperation, and the solidarity and cooperation among developing countries.

5. Q: Currently the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging around the world. How has China managed to hold grand celebrations? It has been noticed that some countries in the world are still using COVID-19 source-tracing to attack China. What is your opinion on this?

A: Since COVID-19 hit China, the CPC and Chinese government have put the people and their lives front and center. China carried out an unprecedented nationwide lockdown and the most comprehensive, strict and thorough prevention and control measures to quickly and effectively contain the spread of the virus in and beyond China. China has paid a huge price and made a huge sacrifice to curb the spread of the virus, and achieved major strategic results in this nationwide battle against COVID-19 in only about three months. On this basis, China coordinated efforts on both COVID response and socioeconomic development, and quickly restored production and life. China has become the only major economy in the world that achieved positive growth in 2020.

China's vaccination drive at home is accelerating, more than 1.26 billion doses have already been delivered. China is confident enough to control the spread of the virus and protect every citizen. While striving to shore up defense through immunity at home, China has also so far provided more than 480 million doses of vaccines to nearly 100 countries. China has cooperated with many developing countries in rapidly promoting mass production of vaccines, and contributed to further building a global Great Wall of immunity.

The pandemic is indeed still raging, and the international community looks forward to strengthening cooperation in the fight against this virus. However, some politicians and media in the United States ignored the authoritative, formal, and scientific conclusions of the WHO, frequently hyped up conspiracy theories about source-tracing, and even resorted to the intelligence community to replace scientists for research. Source-tracing is a scientific issue which should be carried out by scientists worldwide, and should not be politicized arbitrarily. China took the lead in conducting source-tracing cooperation with WHO. China has twice invited WHO experts to China to carry out research, and jointly formulated the Chinese part of the global new COVID-19 scientific cooperation plan. On March 30 2021, WHO officially released a China-WHO joint study report. The report established that a lab leak is extremely unlikely, and did not reach conclusions such as any large-scale transmission in Wuhan before December 2019. These conclusions follow the procedures of WHO by adopting science. They are scientific and authoritative. They should be recognized, respected, upheld and used as a basis for the next stage of source-tracing worldwide. China's open and transparent attitude on source-tracing has also been fully affirmed by international experts.

We must resolutely oppose stigmatizing COVID-19 by associating it with certain countries or regions. For example although African countries are fighting hard against AIDS, one can never say that HIV comes from Africa. Professor Karim, the then co-chair of the COVID-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC), has made it clear that when we assign a geographical location to name a new coronavirus variant, it will have a stigmatizing effect. In March 2021, Science published a letter co-authored by Professor Karim, other South African scholars and government officials, calling for accurate naming of various new coronavirus variants, which was widely recognized by the science community.

The world is now still suffering greatly from COVID-19 and South Africa is facing the impact of a third wave of infections. On July 3rd, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) announced that it has authorized emergency use access in South Africa with conditions for the CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Sinovac Life Sciences Co. of China. The Chinese side welcomes this important development in China-South Africa cooperation on COVID-19 vaccines. The Chinese Embassy in South Africa will actively follow through on the political commitment of President Xi Jinping on making Chinese COVID-19 vaccines a global public good. The Chinese side will continue to fully assist and accommodate the South African side to see that Chinese vaccines delivered to South Africa as quickly as possible, so as to help the South African people fight and eventually defeat the virus.

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