Premier Wen Jiabao Receives Interview of Russian Media
On October 29, 2008, Premier Wen Jiabao received the joint interview of deputy director-general of ITAR-TASS Vladimir Kuchko and Interfax First Deputy General Director Renat Abdullin in Moscow and answered questions on developing China-Russia strategic partnership, deepening the bilateral pragmatic cooperation, China's economic situation and development strategy and the international financial crisis. The full text of the interview is as follows:
Wen: I'm very glad to be interviewed by you. It should be a written interview, but face-to-face exchanges are more sincere and cordial. It is meaningful for me to receive your interview after concluding an official visit to Russia and attending the 13th regular meeting with Russian Prime Minister. First of all, please convey my greetings to the Russian people. I'd like to repeat what I said yesterday at a meeting with friendly Russian personnel: "China and Russia are friends forever!"
Kuchko: Premier Wen, I'd like to express sincere gratitude to you for taking time off your busy schedule to receive our interview and understanding the significance that the exchanges between the Chinese leader and Russian media send a friendly message to the Russian people. I'd like to ask the first question.
What's your comment on the present state of cooperation between China and Russia? What measures will be taken by the two countries to lift the China-Russia strategic partnership to a higher level?
Wen: China and Russia have handled the bilateral relations from a strategic height and long-term perspective since the establishment of strategic partnership 12 years ago. A series of major achievements have been made: completely settling the border issue left over from history through friendly consultations; signing the treaty of good-neighborly friendship and cooperation which defines the peaceful thought of long-lasting friendship; extending understanding and support to each other on issues related with the core interest of the other side and of major concern; keeping close communications and collaboration in the international and regional affairs. The bilateral trade volume has grown quickly, with an increase of less than US$10 billion 12 years to the estimated over US$50 billion this year. We are sure that the goal of US$60-80 billion of bilateral trade volume will be reached by 2010. We enjoy increasing cultural and education exchanges and deepening friendship between our people. China and Russia held the "Year of Russia" and the "Year of China" in 2006 and 2007 respectively, which is an original initiative to greatly enhance the mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples. All those facts show that China-Russia relations are at the best historical period.
I'd like to describe the prospect of China-Russia relations as new situation and new period. First, China and Russia enjoy a solid foundation of cooperation which is strategic mutual trust. The two sides share identical or similar opinions strategically and common interest on major international and regional issues, which lays down the foundation of growing cooperation. It is based on such a solid foundation that China-Russia relations develop steadily. This is most important. Second, China-Russia cooperation is comprehensive, covering various fields of politics, economy, culture, military affairs and education at both official and non-official levels. Third, the cooperation is mutually beneficial and win-win in nature. It serves the fundamental interest of the two countries and their people and is beneficial to Asia and Pacific, Eurasia and the world at large.
Abdullin: economic and trade cooperation is an important component of bilateral relations. During your visit, what outcome has been made in terms of bilateral energy cooperation, including cooperation on oil pipeline?
Wen: the comprehensive bilateral economic and trade cooperation covers a wide range of areas, including energy, high-tech and finance. Energy cooperation is not limited to the field of oil and gas. It also includes power and new energy cooperation. Oil and gas are major sectors of economic and trade cooperation between China and Russia. The bilateral cooperation in that regard is well developed. Breakthroughs have been made during my regular meeting with Russian Prime Minister. The two sides signed a MOU, covering all the details of China-Russia oil and gas cooperation. With the direct support of the leaders of the two countries, the pipeline construction project was also confirmed after friendly consultations. A pipeline from Siberia of Russia to China will be especially built. This cooperation will stimulate not only the oil trade but also the upstream and downstream cooperation between the two countries. It will surely further advance the bilateral economic and trade cooperation.
It should be pointed out that the energy cooperation between China and Russia should take a long point of view. The cooperation is all-round, involving not only energy trade but also new energy development and application of advanced technologies, not only energy exploitation but also deep processing so as to add more value to both countries.
Kuchko: the series of event happening recently show that the mechanism of maintaining peace and stability in the world is very vulnerable. What's your view on strengthening the role of the United Nations and other international organizations? Will China continue to support the idea of multi-polarization of the world? How to continue to push forward the process of multi-polarization?
Wen: yes, there are many unstable factors in the world. What kind of world do we need? I believe people around the globe need a peaceful, stable, safe and harmonious world.
To that end, historical experience tells us countries must observe the UN Charter and norms of international relations and give full play to the role of the UN and other international organizations in international affairs. World affairs should be handled jointly by people of all countries through consultations. I want to emphasize that the voice of the developing countries should be strengthened since they make up a majority in today's world.
Like human history and the nature, the world is diversified instead of only following one model. We firmly uphold that the world should have a diversified system and culture. It is beneficial to world peace and development and people of all countries. On this point, China and Russia hold a common position.
Abdullin: cooperation at the local level is of special significance to the development of bilateral relations. What measures do you think should be taken to push forward the local cooperation?
Wen: China and Russia share more than 4,300 km of border line. To strengthen local cooperation between the two countries enjoys favorable conditions and great potential. If you visit Manzhouli and Heihe of China or Chita and Bragoveshensk of Russia, you will find it is very busy there and border trade has become a spontaneous need of local people. It not only promotes the bilateral economic and trade exchanges and local development but also enhances the mutual understanding and friendship of the two peoples.
Under such circumstances, what should the governments of the two countries do? I propose the following three points:
First, to create sound conditions for local cooperation. What is most important is to strengthen the infrastructure construction, especially that in the ports, including road and bridge.
Second, to build a fair and reasonable trade order in line with the interest of the two peoples, standardize trade rules, crack down on smuggling and other illegal activities, protect the legitimate right of investors, maintain normal trade and investment activities and ensure the long-term orderly development of border trade.
Third, to integrate the local development strategies of the two countries. Russia has the Far East development strategy while China has the strategy of rejuvenating the old industrial base of Northeast. Those two regions are close to each other. In the implementation of the strategies, the two sides can strengthen exchanges, communications and cooperation. Problems will occur inevitably in the process. So long as both sides follow the principle of friendly consultations and resort to normal channels, the problems will be solved ultimately. I hope the local cooperation between our two countries will grow increasingly prosperous.
Kuchko: Beijing successfully hosted the Olympic Games, which is a strong evidence of the prestige enjoyed by China in the international community. Does the ability of hosting such a major international event prove China has built a new international position? That is the change from a developing country to a big political and economic power in the world. What's your position of China in terms of politics and economy in the world?
Wen: hosting the Beijing Olympic Games is a century-old dream of the Chinese people. I remember two sentences said by a famous Chinese educator Mr. Zhang Boling 100 years ago. Mr. Zhang lived in Tianjin. He is my fellow villager. The first sentence is that to build a powerful country we must build powerful will, to build powerful will we must build strength, and to build strength we must build a strong body. He gives top priority to sports to realize the comprehensive development of people. The other sentence is that when will the Chinese people be able to participate in the Olympic Games? When will the Chinese people be able to win the Olympic gold medal? When will the Chinese people be able to host the Olympic Games?
It was indeed a dream 100 years ago. But today the dream comes true. China has experienced the vicissitudes of a century. Over more than a hundred years, the Chinese people suffered wars and tribulation and finally founded the People's Republic of China. In particular, China has undergone world-shaking changes since reform and opening up 30 years ago. With economic and social development, we are capable of hosting the Olympic Games, about which the Chinese people are excited. It shows that with hard work the Chinese people will be able to stand among the advanced countries in the world.
It deserves the pride of all the Chinese people to successfully host the Olympic Games, but the Chinese leaders and people always keep a sober mind. China remains to be a developing country. We are still faced with structural issues in the process of economic development, i.e. income imbalance, regional imbalance, rural and urban imbalance and imbalance of economic and social development. In terms of the aggregate economy, China ranks among the top countries in the world. However, China has a population of 1.3 billion, and its per capita GDP ranks after the 100th in the world. We have a long way to go to realize the modernization goal of prosperity, democracy, civilization and harmony. It requires the relentless efforts of several or even a dozen of generations and takes a hundred of years to reach that goal. By then, China will make greater contributions to world peace and progress of mankind. We do not have any reason to be complacent. We need to work even harder. Therefore, we must follow the socialist road with Chinese characteristics, insist on reform and opening up, stick to the path of peaceful development and adhere to the independent foreign policy of peace.
I like Russia. I remember the first Russian book I read when I was young is What Is to Be Done written by Chernyshevskij. What he impressed me most is that a person would rather have a rough time than complaining the suffering. In order to forge his will, he slept on a board with nails. Later I found that Lenin also wrote an article entitled What Is to Be Done. Of course, the content was different.
Abdullin: according to China's economic development index in the third quarter, inflation decreased. We know that the Chinese leaders were worried about inflation at the middle of this year. How can China control the inflation? What impact will the international financial crisis exert on China? What measures will China take to reduce the impact? In addition, during your talks with Russian leaders, did you exchange any opinion on the coordination of position and actions between China and Russia to jointly cope with the financial crisis?
Wen: when we planned the economic development goals and policy measures at the beginning of this year, we did give priority to curbing inflation. The CPI then grew excessively to more than 8%. Food has a big share in China's CPI. We have taken measures early to address this problem, including paying great attention to agricultural development, consolidating the fundamental position of agriculture, increasing grain output, enhancing the income of farmers and ensuring farm products supply.
First, we eliminated the agricultural tax and other related taxes and fees and ended the several thousand years of history of Chinese farmers paying agricultural tax. Meanwhile, we increased the grain subsidy to farmers and the minimum procurement price of grain.
Second, we have strengthened agricultural infrastructure construction, especially the water conservancy construction. The government has earmarked fund step by step to renovate reservoirs in poor conditions and dredge waterways to increase the capacity of coping with agricultural disasters.
Third, we have actively disseminated the advanced and applicable agricultural technologies, use good seeds, take sound planting methods and improve water and soil. What is best known is the spread of hybrid rice which has greatly increased grain output.
Fourth, we have made great efforts to improve the well-being of farmers. We implemented the 9-year free compulsory education, and canceled the textbook and accommodation fees of kids from poor regions and families. A new type of rural cooperative healthcare system has covered almost all the rural areas of China. A fund with 80% paid by the government and 20% by farmers is established to solve the difficulties of farmers to get medical services. We encourage the selling of commodities in the rural area. In particular, the Chinese government grants subsidies to the sellers of home appliances in the rural area in order to stimulate the consumption of farmers.
We have also increased effective supply, curbed unreasonable demand and strengthened market management. It is after taking the above-mentioned measures that inflation has decreased on a monthly basis. It has dropped to 4.9% in August and 4.6% in September. It is estimated to drop further in the next three months.
To exchange opinions and coordinate position with Russian leaders so as to jointly cope with the current international financial crisis is a priority of my visit. We not only reached wide consensus but also coordinated position and studied cooperative measures. We believe it is of realistic and strategic significance to reinforce China-Russia economic, trade and financial cooperation as the world economy slows down.