Remarks at the MFA 2019 New Year Reception
H.E. Wang Yi, State Councilor and Minister of Foreign Affairs
Your Excellency Director Yang Jiechi and Madame Le Aimei,
Your Excellency former State Councilor Dai Bingguo,
Your Excellencies ambassadors, members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of international organizations and spouses,
Ladies and gentlemen, Friends,
It is my great pleasure to have you at this joyful occasion to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Let me first extend a warm welcome to all our guests from the diplomatic community, and say a big thank-you to our comrades from the various Chinese ministries, provinces and municipalities for your strong support to our country's foreign affairs.
The past year saw continued profound shifts in the international landscape, and a further build-up of factors of instability and uncertainty. Amid a complicated international situation and great changes unseen in a century, we forged ahead under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, and made new strides in China's foreign relations with a clear sense of purpose.
During the past year, we established Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy as the fundamental guideline for conducting China's foreign affairs in the new era. We advocated the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind and, keeping in mind the common interests of all countries, provided Chinese perspectives and proposals on navigating the once-in-a-century changes in our world. The international community is looking to China with higher expectations. As China moves closer to the center of the global stage, it has a more distinct and prominent role to play.
In 2018, China was an important force for stability. In the face of challenges to WTO rules and multilateralism in general, China stood up to safeguard its lawful rights and interests. At the same time, conscious of international expectations, we have been working with the United States to put our trade friction back on the track of dialogue and consultation, thus providing a positive outlook for the world. Growing at a high level, China's comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination with Russia has remained rock-solid and served as a source of strategic stability in the world. China enhanced communication and coordination with Europe and reached consensus on upholding the multilateral process and addressing various global challenges. China's relations with the rest of the world made steady progress, helping to make the world a more stable place.
In 2018, China was a strong advocate for openness. At important occasions throughout the year, including the conference commemorating the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up, the first China International Import Expo and the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference, President Xi Jinping conveyed a clear message to the world of China's unwavering commitment to further reform and opening-up, and announced important initiatives to open up the economy. Despite the rise of protectionism and headwinds against globalization, China stood firmly on the right side of history. With concrete actions, we demonstrated our sincerity and resolve to share development opportunities with the world and build an open world economy, playing our due role in safeguarding open and inclusive development of the world economy.
In 2018, China was an important driver of cooperation. Last year was the fifth year since President Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road Initiative. Building on the outcomes so far, we sought higher-quality development of Belt and Road projects. With growing interest from the world, another 60-plus countries and international organizations signed Belt and Road cooperation agreements with China, bringing the total number of such documents to nearly 170. A number of major Belt and Road projects saw solid progress. At the same time, historic achievements were made in China's cooperation with other developing countries. At the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, which attracted unprecedented participation, over 100 new cooperation measures under eight major initiatives were unveiled, and China and Africa undertook to build an even stronger community with a shared future. China's cooperation with Arab, Latin American and Caribbean countries was also brought to new levels.
In 2018, China was an important promoter of peace. Seizing the opportunity of a major turnaround on the Korean Peninsula, China encouraged the North and the South to improve their relations. We also supported the resumption of dialogue between the US and the DPRK to build mutual trust. China worked with like-minded parties to uphold and implement the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with the aim of maintaining peace and stability in the Middle East. Regarding the Rakhine situation, China proposed a three-phase approach and encouraged Myanmar and Bangladesh to reach a broad agreement on the return of displaced persons. The China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Dialogue, set up on China's initiative, produced important common understanding on advancing the peace process in Afghanistan. China also played an active mediating role on the Syrian and Palestinian issues, meeting its due responsibility for promoting regional peace.
In 2018, China was an important upholder of the international order. At international summits such as the G20, APEC and BRICS, President Xi Jinping took a clear stand against protectionism and unilateralism and called for a stronger commitment to the UN-centered international system and rules-based multilateralism, steering those summits to a series of pioneering, pace-setting and institutional outcomes. Calling for joint efforts to build a community with a shared future for mankind, China sought to promote a more equitable and fair system of global governance. In a turbulent world, China emerged as a pillar of stability.
In 2018, China was an important engine of development. Defying economic difficulties and downward pressure, China acted on the new development philosophy and achieved a medium-high GDP growth rate of 6.6 percent, hitting all economic targets for 2018. The Chinese economy now exceeds 90 trillion RMB yuan, with imports and exports totaling more than 30 trillion RMB yuan. It must be noted that consumer spending contributed as much as 76 percent to economic growth last year, which speaks volumes about the structural improvement and upgrading of the Chinese economy and sets the stage for sustainable, high-quality development. The figures I have just cited show that China continues to perform with full vigor its role as the most important engine of global growth, and it will maintain its irreplaceable role in the world economy.