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Cyprus Mail publishes Interview of Ambassador LIU Yantao by Mr. Chris Michael


On December 12, 2020, Cyprus Mail published an interview of Ambassador LIU Yantao by Mr. Chris Michael, in which Ambassador Liu shared his thoughts on his first impression of Cyprus as he assumed post, prospects of of China-Cyprus relations, China's 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) and Vision 2035, the Cyprus Problem, China-US relations, Xinjiang-related issues and new initiatives and measures proposed by Chinese President XI Jinping at recent multilateral conferences. The full text is as follows:


1.Could you introduce yourself and your first impression of Cyprus upon arrival?

I was born in 1964 in Jilin, China and have a master's degree in law. In 1992, I joined the foreign service of China and had been posted in Singapore and served as Vice Mayor of Wenshan Zhuang and Miao Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province of China, Consul General in Durban, South Africa and Minister Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in the United States. Before coming to Cyprus, I worked as the Director of the External Relations Office of China Xinjian Group.

I arrived in Cyprus in late October to assume my duties. I am already in love with the pleasant climate, beautiful landscape and warm and friendly people here. I recently met with many high-ranking officials of Cyprus and was warmly received wherever I went. The agenda of the meetings were all about mutual understanding and support, friendship and cooperation between the two countries. I am truly honored to be Ambassador of China to Cyprus and will do my best to push the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries to an even higher level.


2.Next year is the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Cyprus. What's your plan for further promoting China-Cyprus relations?

China and Cyprus are good brothers, friends and partners. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties 49 years ago, our two countries have been strictly abiding by commitments made in the communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic relations, and continued to promote friendly exchanges at all levels and mutually beneficial and fruitful cooperation in various fields. This year, our two countries' joint fight against COVID-19 further enhanced the political mutual trust and people-to-people friendship. China-Cyprus relations are at a historic best with a broad and bright future.

Before I came to Cyprus, I had visited many Ministries and major Chinese enterprises in Beijing, from where I got many good ideas for further exchanges and cooperation with Cyprus. Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China-Cyprus diplomatic ties. Currently, our two sides are working together on plans for closer exchange and cooperation in the areas of politics, economy and trade, science and technology, culture, education, tourism, etc. Some of our preliminary plans include exchange of congratulatory messages between the two Presidents, invitation to Cyprus to attend the 4th China International Import Expo, issuance of commemorative first-day envelopes, interuniversity cooperation, filming a documentary on "50 Years of China-Cyprus Friendship", and helping promote Cypriot culture and tourism in China. We are confident that the above plan will inject greater vitality and impetus into the friendship and cooperation between China and Cyprus, which will uplift our bilateral relations to a new high.


3.Recently, the fifth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China adopted the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives through the Year 2035. What does it herald for China's future development?

We can envisage the future development trend by looking at China's economy amidst the pandemic this year. Since the beginning of the year, the spread of COVID-19 has done a serious blow on the world economy. But China's economy withstood the test of the pandemic, showing strong resilience and potential for growth. All regions and sectors in China coordinated the prevention and control of COVID-19 in a scientific manner, effectively restored the order of production and social life. With a year-on-year decline of 6.8% in Q1, China's GDP in Q2 and Q3 increased by 3.2% and 4.9% year-on-year, and the economic growth in the first three quarters turned from negative to positive, keeping the trend for stable recovery. This year, China is expected to become the only major economy worldwide to achieve positive growth with GDP exceeding US$15 trillion.

China has entered a new stage of development from building a moderately prosperous society in all respects to building a modern socialist country in an all-round way. At this stage, China will uphold the new development concepts of innovation, coordinated, green, open and shared development, exert more efforts for high-quality and sustainable development, and promote a dual-cycle growth pattern relying on both domestic and international economic cycles and with the domestic cycle being the mainstay. China has been deeply integrated into the world economy, and the new development pattern is by no means a closed domestic cycle, but aims to better connect the domestic and international markets, to build a new open economic system at a higher level, and to implement the open policy to the outside world at a larger and wider scope and at a deeper level. China's development achievements will benefit the world and bring more new opportunities for the long-term recovery, sustained prosperity and development of the world economy.


4.Recently, the fenced-off Varosha in the occupied area was partially opened, which severely hampered the process of resolving the Cyprus Problem. What is your comment?

China has been closely following the developments in the Cyprus Problem. On the issue of the partial opening of the fenced-off Varosha, China has taken the initiative in promoting the UN Security Council to issue a presidential statement expressing concerns and urge withdrawal of the decision to open Varosha and adherence to relevant UN resolutions.

China and Cyprus have similar national conditions and share common positions in safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity. China unswervingly supports a comprehensive, fair, reasonable and lasting settlement of the Cyprus Problem in accordance with relevant UN resolutions, and we support all efforts made by Cyprus in safeguarding its sovereignty and territorial integrity for peaceful reunification, and opposes any unilateral provocations and actions that undermine regional peace. As one of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, China will continue to play a constructive and coordinating role in facilitating the resolution of the Cyprus Problem, UNFICYP mandate renewal, and implementation of relevant UN resolutions, with a view to uphold fairness and justice, and urge all parties to accommodate Cyprus' concerns to the maximum.


5.President Xi Jinping recently sent a congratulatory message to president-elect Joe Biden. What does China expect for the development of China-US relations?

The relations between China and the United States are among the most important bilateral relationships in the world. Healthy and stable China-US relations concerns the welfare of the Chinese and American people and people around the world. It also bears on global peace, stability and development. President Xi Jinping pointed out, back in 2014, that past and current experiences prove that China and the US stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation. In his message to Mr. Biden, President Xi also noted that promoting healthy and stable development of China-US relations not only serves the fundamental interests of the peoples in both countries, but also meets the common aspiration of the international community. He hoped that the two sides will uphold the spirit of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win results, focus on cooperation, manage differences, advance the healthy and stable development of China-US ties.

China's policy stance on developing China-U.S. relations has been highly consistent and stable. China and the US should adopt a strategic and long-term perspective, and steer the bilateral relationship in the right direction. China is willing to work with the United States to develop a bilateral relationship based on coordination, cooperation and stability, so as to bring China-US relations back to the right track.


6.Recently, some EU countries have accused China of "forced labor", "genocide" and other so-called human rights issues in Xinjiang, and are planning to adopt legislation and impose sanctions. What is your response to this?

Some politicians have been spreading fallacies on Xinjiang, creating "fake news", wantonly criticizing China's Xinjiang policy, and interfering in China's internal affairs. China firmly rejects this political manipulation. I had worked in Xinjiang for three years. As far as I know, the so-called "forced labor" and "genocide" are nothing more than coining stories and smearing China by anti-China politicians and institutions in some countries. It is far from the truth.

As a matter of fact, the rights and interests of workers from all ethnic groups including the Uyghurs in Xinjiang are protected by law. They are free to choose a profession, and governments at all levels actively provide protection for their rights of employment. Xinjiang has opened education and training centers between 2017 to 2019, in order to provide courses of Mandarin, law, vocational skills and de-radicalization to those people who had been influenced by religious extremism and posed threat to the society. The courses were quite rewarding. Through training, the vocational skills of the trainees improved and the employment rate among those people increased significantly. Since 2018, a total of more than 151,000 people from impoverished southern Xinjiang found jobs and all their families were lifted out of poverty. How could anyone call this extensive employment as "forced labor"?

In 1978, the Uyghur population in Xinjiang was only 5.55 million. From 2010 to 2018, it grew from 10.17 million to 12.72 million, an increase of 25%. The number is higher than the growth rate of the whole population in Xinjiang, which is 14%, and much higher than that of the Han population, which is 2%. Their traditions, customs, religious beliefs and spoken and written languages have been lawfully protected. There are 24,400 mosques in Xinjiang alone, more than twice the mosques in the US, UK, France and Germany combined. How is it in any way "genocide"?

Recently, the Xinjiang Autonomous Region held a press conference on relevant issues, answered questions from CNN and other foreign media, and released the "Report on Freedom of Religious Belief in Xinjiang". Readers may click on the following links to learn more information. Press Conference: http://english.ts.cn/system/2020/11/28/036520629.shtml. Report: http://english.ts.cn/system/2020/11/03/036488725.shtml.

I want to stress that some politicians profess they care about ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, but at the same time they are taking all sorts of measures to repress Xinjiang enterprises. This inconsistency exposes their hypocrisy and malicious intention to contain Xinjiang's development and sow discord between different ethnic groups of China. We urge those politicians to respect facts, discard bias, stop political manipulation as well as erroneous words and deeds.


7.Chinese President Xi Jinping recently attended the BRICS Summit, the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, and the G20 Summit. What new initiatives and measures did China propose?

These three multilateral conferences were held against the intertwining background of unprecedented pandemic and unprecedented changes in international relations, with the global economy falling into a severe recession, and the world entering a period of turbulences and transformation. President Xi, in light of the changes of the world, time and history, pointed out the historical role of BRICS countries, APEC and G20, and put forth 23 important initiatives, proposals and measures, which propelled the international community towards better coordination on COVID-19 control and prevention, economic and social development, shaping of the post-pandemic international order, and strengthening of global governance.

In promoting cooperation in the fight against the pandemic, China calls on all countries to replace differences with solidarity, eliminate prejudice with rationality, support the key leading role of the World Health Organization, and jointly build a global firewall against COVID-19. China will continue to actively support and participate in international cooperation on COVID-19 vaccines, and make vaccines a global public good accessible and affordable to people around the world. To this end, China has set up a BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Center.

In promoting the recovery and growth of the world economy, China calls on the international community to unswervingly build an open world economy, safeguard the rule-based multilateral trading system that is transparent, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive, with WTO as its core, and refuse protectionism in the disguise of national security. China calls on all parties to grasp the future development direction of the digital economy, so as to expedite new development momentum based on scientific and technological innovation and digitalization and increase investment in digital infrastructure.

In promoting the reform of the global governance system, based on the global governance principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, President Xi Jinping further proposed upholding multilateralism, pursuing openness and inclusiveness, promoting mutually beneficial cooperation and keeping pace with the times. He called on the international community to firmly support the UN's authority and status, and uphold the international order underpinned by international law. China stands ready to, on the basis of the Global Initiative on Data Security, join other parties in discussing and formulating rules on global digital governance.

No matter how the international situation changes, China will uphold multilateralism and win-win cooperation, unswervingly build a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind, and make greater contribution to the world peace and development.


Link to interview: https://cyprus-mail.com/2020/12/12/an-interview-with-ambassador-liu-yantao/

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