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China will always be a contributor to global development, a defender of world peace and international order

1. Ambassador Zhou, I noticed that China has held a number of events celebrating the centenary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which attracted the attention of the world. Mr. Ambassador, my first question is, what does the centenary of the CPC mean to China and what message is sent to the world?

It is a great pleasure to be interviewed once again by Mr. Genc Mlloja and share my views on topics regarding China and China-Albania relations with the readers of the Albanian Daily News (ADN). July 1st, 2021 marks the centenary of the founding of the CPC. This is a significant, historic moment.

In his speech at the Ceremony Marking the Centenary of the Communist Party of China, General Secretary Xi Jinping reviewed the journey and remarkable accomplishments of the Chinese people throughout the past 100 years with the leadership of the CPC, and called upon the nation to turn to history for the strength to forge ahead on a new journey toward a more prosperous and modern country.

Since the day of its founding, the CPC’s mission has been the pursuit of happiness for the Chinese people and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. The CPC has led the Chinese people to secure the nation’s independence and sovereignty and to find the right path to achieve prosperity. The CPC succeeds because it always upholds people-centered philosophy and represents the fundamental interests of all Chinese people instead of any single interest group or privileged stratum. The CPC deepens its roots in China’s national reality, emphasizes innovation on theory and practice and sticks to the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics. Meanwhile, the CPC has always focused on self-improvement and self-enhancement. It is eager to learn whatever lessons it can from the achievements of other cultures and resolutely combats corruption in order to enhance the Party’s capacity to conduct sound, democratic, and law-based governance, so as to maintain constant vitality.

On China’s foreign relations, General Secretary Xi Jinping points out that peace, concord and harmony are ideas that the Chinese people has pursued and carried forward for thousands of years. China will unswervingly adhere to an independent foreign policy, practice true multilateralism and step up win-win cooperation and mutual benefit instead of playing a zero-sum game. China will always be a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development, and a defender of international order.

2. Undoubtedly, China has made significant success on development and achieved poverty reduction goal in the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals 10 years ahead of schedule. China’s development on science and technology is also impressive. Three astronauts have been successfully brought into China’s space station. What are the goals for China’s development in the future and how to achieve these goals?

As a developing country with the world’s largest population, China has successfully eradicated absolute poverty in 2020, creating a miracle in world’s poverty reduction history. China does not deliberately pursue specific GDP figures; the purpose for the Chinese government to advance development is the aspirations of 1.4 billion people for a better life. In recent years, China has followed a new development philosophy featuring innovative, coordinated, green and open development for all, as well as transformed development models to pursue inclusive and sustainable development. While promoting high-level opening-up, China will further give play to the advantage of the enormous market of our own, improve the socialist market economy system and expand domestic demand to improve the quality and efficiency of economic growth. We strive to develop China into a country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, harmonious and beautiful.

3. In the course of its fast development, China is also faced with challenges posed by climate change. China has set its goal for carbon peaking and carbon neutrality, how can China secure the realization of these goals?

While boosting our economy, China has actively undertaken international responsibilities to address the challenges of climate change and other environmental issues in line with its development stage and national conditions. China’s commitment to achieve carbon peak by 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2060 presents both a challenge and an opportunity for China. Green economy and digital economy are booming in China as the proportion of non-fossil energy in China’s total energy consumption has risen to 15.3%, the installed capacity of renewable energy accounts for 30% of the total worldwide and 44% of global growth, and our new energy vehicles make up more than half of the total worldwide. Since 2000, China has been contributing a quarter of all new green areas of the world. Proposed by President Xi Jinping, the idea that lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets has become a broad consensus in Chinese society.

4. Initiating the Belt and Road initiative (BRI), China-CEEC cooperation mechanism etc., China is playing a more significant role in the world. With the rise of China’s overall strength, some countries see China as a strategic competitor or systemic rival, what are your comments?

According to OECD’s forecast in December 2020, China is expected to contribute to over one third of the world’s economic growth in 2021. As the world’s second largest economy and largest trade partner of more than 130 countries and regions, China cannot develop in isolation from the rest of the world, nor can the world as a whole maintain peace, development, prosperity and stability without China.

The BRI and China-CEEC cooperation mechanism are the cooperation platforms jointly built by China and relevant partners, which are not exclusively beneficial to China. Guided by the principles of openness, inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit, the Initiative and Mechanism are open to any relevant parties. In the 7 years since the BRI was initiated, China’s trade volume with BRI partner countries has exceeded $7.8 trillion, with direct investment exceeding $110 billion. According to a World Bank report, BRI projects could help lift 7.6 million people out of extreme poverty and 32 million people out of moderate poverty worldwide by 2030. Since the launching of China-CEEC cooperation mechanism 9 years ago, an all-dimensional, wide-ranging and multi-tiered cooperation framework has been established. In 2020, the total trade volume between China and 17 CEE countries exceeded $100 billion, an increase of 85% compared to 9 years ago. Mutual tourists between China and CEE countries have increased from 500 thousand to 2.6 million. At the China-CEEC Summit held on February 9th, 2021, nearly 90 cooperation documents with a total value of almost $13 billion were signed, covering areas such as transportation, energy infrastructure, finance, agriculture, tourism, culture and environmental protection. President Xi Jinping announced that China may import, in the coming 5 years, more than $170 billion worth of goods from CEE countries, and double CEE countries’ agricultural exports to China. These are facts and benefits that we’ve witnessed.

China doesn’t take an interest in geopolitics. Cooperation between China and all countries is based on win-win objectives and principles of the market economy. The so-called China “debt trap” is groundless and senseless. We believe that countries in different development stages, size of economy and historic and cultural backgrounds can engage in mutually beneficial cooperation to achieve win-win outcomes. Wherever there is competition, it shall be in a fair and just manner on the basis of the UN Charter and WTO rules and the basic norms of international relations.

5. You mentioned the UN, Albania has been successfully elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, what is your comment on that?

I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations to Albania for being successfully elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, which bears the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. Albania attaches great importance to establishing friendly relationships with countries across the globe. It is gratifying to see that Albania has become more active in international stage in recent years. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China looks forward to consolidating cooperation with Albania to promote the Council to uphold multilateralism and principles of the UN Charter, promote the solidarity and cooperation of the UN Security Council, and play a bigger role in maintaining international peace and security within its mandate.

China also firmly supports Albania’s EU accession. I do hope that the negotiations process can make new progress, and that Albania will be successful in joining the EU.

6. Albania and China keeps a special relationship, there are many stories of friendly exchange among the two peoples. However, many Albanians think that China invested little in Albania, how can Albania take the opportunity of China’s development to fuel its own development?

Albania, a country where the mountains meet with the sea, is bestowed with picturesque scenery, abundant resources, talented people and enormous potential to be tapped. While China has a vast market, science and technology strength, which creates immense complementarity and huge potential for cooperation between our two countries. As a friend and a partner of Albania, China stays ready to enhance cooperation with Albania through both bilateral channel and China-CEEC mechanism to make fresh progress in areas such as tourism, agriculture, energy, infrastructure, etc.. To achieve this goal, both sides shall make efforts and take concrete steps. At government level, it is important to create a favourable, fair and just business environment so that enterprises can be attracted to invest.

China has been one of Albania’s leading trade partners in recent years. Despite the impact of COVID-19, bilateral trade increased 36% in the first half of this year. We have seen diversification in the categories of products exported to China, making our trade structure more balanced. I was pleased to attend the Inaugural Ceremony of Albania Pavilion at the 2nd China-CEEC Expo this June. The number of Albanian enterprises attending this expo increased substantially, and more Chinese buyers and media set their eyes on Albanian products. Chinese people have fond feelings about Albania and Albanian people. I believe that Albanian products has the potential to gain increasing popularity among Chinese consumers.

7. There are more mutual visits of citizens of our two countries for business, sightseeing, and study in recent years. What are your views on how to carry forward the friendship between our two countries, especially how to enhance mutual understanding of the youth?

Affinity between peoples is the foundation of state-to-state relations. China made great contribution to Albania’s economic development during the 1950s and 60s; many Chinese and Albanian families are still telling touching stories of our friendship in that age. I think that this special relationship has transcended history, politics, ideology and become our shared wealth. We have donated, and pledged to donate more, to help Albania’s earthquake relief efforts. When COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Albania, China was one of the first countries taking action to donate testing reagents and protective equipment. Public health officials, experts and medical professionals of both countries exchanged experiences on Covid-19 prevention and control strategies. Chinese vaccines are playing a crucial role in helping Albania to fight against COVID-19.

Recent years have witnessed more dynamic bilateral people-to-people exchanges. Hundreds of Albanian students are studying in China. Before the pandemic, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Albania was increasing substantially. The special historical bond between our two countries makes Albania a big potential tourist destination for outbound Chinese tourists. Our embassy here in Tirana will continue to promote bilateral people-to-people exchanges including sponsoring youth development programs, so as to inject new vitality into our friendship. I believe that with our concerted efforts, China-Albania relations will grow stronger and more fruitful than ever.

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