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SCIO briefing on China's policy on the Arctic
国务院新闻办公室网站 www.scio.gov.cn   2018-01-29   来源:China.org.cn
  

Speaker:

Kong Xuanyou, vice minister of foreign affairs

Chairperson:

Hu Kaihong, spokesperson of the State Council Information Office of China

Date:

Jan. 26, 2018

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou (R) and Hu Kaihong, a spokesperson of the State Council Information Office, attend a press conference to issue the white paper on China's Arctic policy in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 26, 2018. China published a white paper on its Arctic policy Friday, pledging cooperative governance and elaborating a vision of "Polar Silk Road." [Photo/China SCIO]

Hu Kaihong:

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Welcome to this press conference.

Today, the State Council Information Office (SCIO) released a white paper on China's Arctic policy. We are taking this opportunity to hold a press conference to introduce the white paper's main content and China's Arctic policy.

Present at today's press conference is Mr. Kong Xuanyou, the vice minister of foreign affairs. I'm Hu Kaihong, the spokesperson of the SCIO.

Now, I'd like to make a brief introduction to the white paper. The white paper is the first one introducing China's Arctic policy, underscoring the region's significance in world affairs.

China is a major stakeholder in affairs related to the Arctic. The white paper explains our stance on this issue, and makes a thorough introduction of our policy goals, basic principles, and policies and positions on participating in Arctic affairs.

The white paper contains approximately 9,000 words, which are divided into three parts – the foreword, main content and conclusion. It advocates active participation by all relevant parties so as to promote sound governance in the Arctic.

As far as regional affairs are concerned, China has been a participant, builder and contributor. As a responsible major country, in accordance with the principle of "respect, cooperation, win-win result and sustainability," China is ready to cooperate with all relevant parties to seize the historic opportunity in the development of the Arctic, to address the challenges brought by the changes in the region.

China would like to jointly understand, protect, develop and participate in the governance of the Arctic, and advance Arctic-related cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, thus promoting the building of a community of shared future for mankind, and making a greater contribution to the peaceful, stable and sustainable development of the Arctic.

The white paper is available in eight languages, including Chinese, English, French, Russian, German, Spanish, Arabic and Japanese. The Chinese version is published by the People's Press, and the others by the Foreign Languages Press. You can find a copy in any branch of the Xinhua Bookstore nationwide.

That's all for my part. Now, I'll give the floor to Mr. Kong.

Kong Xuanyou:

First of all, welcome to today's press conference. There are so many friends from the media present here today, which is both expected and unexpected for me. I know that you must be very concerned about the publication of the white paper, because it is the Chinese government's first document on the policies on this region. But I didn't expect that that you show such great concern. Now, I would like to give a brief account of the relevant situations.

The Arctic covers both land and oceanic territories. Its special geographical location and ecological environment dictate that the Arctic has an irreplaceable role in scientific research, environmental protection, resource utilization and coping with climate change.

The issue of the Arctic not only involves the states inside the Arctic, but also has global implications and international impact. As a state outside the region, China is an active participant, builder and contributor in Arctic affairs, and is working hard to contribute its wisdom and strength to the development of the region.

The release of the white paper "The Arctic Policy of China," actually demonstrates China's standpoint and policy proposals in regard to polar affairs. It shows the country's willingness to maintain the sound, sustainable and peaceful development in the North Pole region, with concerted efforts from all parties. We hope the white paper could contribute relevant expeditions and cooperation from the various national parties on the rails, arousing local awareness of polar issues. On the other hand, we hope it will facilitate interaction between China and other international parties whose interests in the North Pole are critical. As a consequence, we anticipate a bright future for the entire Arctic region.

To better understand the white paper, I will summarize the publication as follows: defining the position, setting goals, adhering to principles and detailing proposals.

"Defining the position" means that China is a key shareholder in Arctic affairs, which constitutes the starting point for China to participate in Arctic affairs. This is demonstrated in two aspects:

First, China, as one of the countries on the Eurasia Continent, is geographically close to the North Pole, whose environment has a direct impact on the country's meteorological conditions, ecological systems as well as agricultural, forestry, fishing and ocean-based industries.

Second, China has been a participant and important player involved in the cross-regional and global issues concerning polar affairs. Its problems, particularly, climate change, ecological protection, the exploration and sustainable use of resources, peace, security and development, are challenging the future course of the world, where the efforts from foreign countries, like China, are indispensable. As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, a signatory of international treaties concerning the Arctic and a big country in trade and energy consumption, China will assume its responsibilities, share interests with Arctic States and a shared future with the rest of the world in the Arctic.

Policy Goals. China's policy goals on the Arctic are: to understand, protect, develop and participate in the governance of the Arctic.

The goals are interrelated to each other and should be considered as an integral whole. Understanding the Arctic provides guidance for China to carry out activities in the region. Protecting and developing the Arctic are the two main forms of China's activities in the region. Law-based governance is the major way for China to participation in the standardized management of Arctic affairs. Through all the above efforts to understand, protect, develop and participate in the governance of the Arctic, China will work with all other countries to promote the sustainable development of the region.

Basic Principles. China will participate in Arctic affairs in accordance with the basic principles of "respect, cooperation, win-win result and sustainability".

Respect should be reciprocal. It means all States should respect the sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction enjoyed by the Arctic States in this region, respect the tradition and culture of the indigenous peoples, as well as respect the rights and freedom of non-Arctic States to carry out activities in this region in accordance with the law, and respect the overall interests of the international community in the Arctic.

Cooperation means establishing a relationship of multi-level, omni-dimensional and wide-ranging cooperation in this area.

Win-win result means all stakeholders in this area should pursue mutual benefit and common progress in all fields of activities.

Sustainability means promoting the sustainable development of the Arctic by ensuring the sustainability of environmental protection, resource utilization and human activities in the area.

"Respect, cooperation, win-win result and sustainability" are the fundamental principles guiding China's activities in the Arctic, and the specific measures concerning Arctic affairs under China's foreign policies.

Expounding China's policies and positions. China has mainly five policies and positions on its participation in Arctic affairs. First, deepening the exploration and understanding of the Arctic; second, protecting the eco-environment of the Arctic and addressing climate change in the region; third, utilizing Arctic resources in a lawful and rational manner, including participation in the development of Arctic shipping routes, the exploration for and exploitation of non-living resources, the conservation and utilization of fisheries and other living resources and the development of tourism resources; fourth, participating actively in Arctic governance and international cooperation; fifth, promoting peace and stability in the region.

The five points of policies and positions embody China's policy goals and basic principles on the Arctic and guide China in its participation in Arctic affairs in various fields.

I'd like to point out that this white paper is the Chinese government's first published document on its Arctic policies and will serve as an important policy ground for China's participation in Arctic affairs at present and in the next period to come. Going forward, as China deepens its exploration and understanding of the Arctic, it will update its policy document to make it in keeping with the times. China will strictly follow the document and make a greater contribution to the peace, stability and sustainable development of the Arctic.

Hu Kaihong:

Thank you, Mr. Kong. Now begins the Q&A session. Please identify the media organization you represent before raising your question.

China Central Television (CCTV):

I have two questions. First, as a non-Arctic country, what role would China like to play in Arctic affairs? Second, China is very concerned about Arctic affairs, so what is the ultimate goal as China is continuing to carry out the Arctic-related activities?

Kong Xuanyou:

Thanks for your questions. I mentioned just now in my introduction that China participates in Arctic affairs as an important stakeholder. Based on this basic position, two points are emphasized on the role China plays in Arctic affairs: China will not overstep or be absent.

"Not overstepping" means that China, as a non-Arctic country, will not intervene in the affairs between the Arctic countries and within the Arctic region. We will participate in Arctic affairs in accordance with international law, and guide Chinese entities and individuals to carry out Arctic activities and Arctic-related cooperation based on international law and the domestic laws of Arctic countries.

"Not being absent" means that China, as an important stakeholder in Arctic affairs, will play a constructive role in the cross-regional and global issues of the Arctic.

China's participation and contribution will bring opportunities to the development of the Arctic. We are willing to share responsibility to promote development with Arctic countries and people through mutually beneficial cooperation, and share the benefits of Arctic development.

We pay close attention to Arctic affairs and our activities in the Arctic are aimed at understanding, protecting, developing and participating in the governance of the Arctic. The ultimate goal is to achieve win-win cooperation and sustainable development in the Arctic to benefit all mankind. This is our goal. Thank you.

Nihon Keizai Shimbun:

You mentioned earlier that the Arctic should be properly used according to the law. My question is about the Arctic shipping routes. There are various opinions on its advantages and disadvantages. What expectations does China have for the Arctic routes? What role can China play in order to solve the shortcomings of the Arctic routes?

Kong Xuanyou:

As a result of global warming, Arctic shipping routes are likely to become important transport routes for international trade. As a big maritime trading nation, China also pays close attention to the development and utilization of Arctic routes. Apart from China, major trading nations, including Japan and South Korea, are also very much concerned about the utilization of Arctic shipping routes. China is willing to carry out mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries, especially Arctic countries, in the economic development of the Arctic routes, infrastructure construction and marine scientific research.

At the same time, I would like to emphasize that China respects the legislative enforcement and adjudicatory powers of the Arctic states in the waters subject to their jurisdiction. We note that the Arctic countries have made a lot of preparations in the areas of legislation, infrastructure, sea charting and oil pollution prevention and response, in order to make the waterway navigable. We hold that Arctic countries should administer the Arctic shipping routes in accordance with international law and fully guarantee the rights and freedoms of all countries to use the Arctic shipping routes.

We hope that the controversy concerning Arctic shipping routes can also be properly resolved in accordance with international law through friendly consultations among the countries concerned. Thank you.

China News Service:

What is China's attitude towards international governance in Arctic? And what is the expectation in this regard? Thanks.

Kong Xuanyou:

China has always taken the governance of Arctic issues as a major goal in participating in cooperation. In recent years, along with relevant parties, we have been exploring ways to realize win-win results through engaging in Arctic governance. There are three key words underlined with regard to international governance: protection, respect and development.

The first key word represents protecting the basic legal framework concerning international governance in regard to the Arctic. There is, as yet, no international treaty to regulate activities in arctic regions, but the UN Charter, UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Spitsbergen Treaty all provide a basic legal framework for international governance of the Arctic to follow; they have proved to be effective and have been accepted by relevant countries, ensuring fair and reasonable order in the Arctic region. To look ahead, international governance in the Arctic should continue to uphold the basic legal framework.

The second key word refers to respecting the cooperative mechanism regarding international governance in the Arctic. Over the years, we have seen a diversified cooperation mechanism at the global, regional and national levels with the participation of many stakeholders. The mechanism is now proceeding well in general, and has contributed significantly to Arctic cooperation in different areas. Looking ahead, international governance in Arctic should fully respect the existing cooperation mechanism, accommodate the interests of different parties in a balanced way and achieve win-win results.

The last key word means achieving orderly development of international governance in the Arctic in keeping with the times. Recently, we have seen many new rules regarding Arctic rescue, research and navigation. And negotiations on the Fishery Treaty on the High Sea of the Arctic Ocean have been completed, becoming the latest development of international governance in Arctic. We expect the relevant parties to continue upholding the spirit of mutual respect and win-win cooperation, realize steady and orderly development of international governance in the Arctic. Thanks.

CNN:

Just now, you mentioned the objectives of China's Arctic policy. However, there are also media reports on China becoming a power in the polar regions, so in international society there is question if Chinese policy carries any strategic and military intention, and if China's increased influence in some countries resulting from increased investment will eventually transform into strategic power. Could you give any direct response in this regard?

Kong Xuanyou:

China attaches great importance to the development and utilization of the Arctic, and encourages and supports its enterprises and organizations to participate in development and utilization in accordance with the following principles.

First, to carry out any utilization in strict accordance with the law. China requires its enterprises and organizations to carry out any development and utilization in strict accordance with the domestic laws of Arctic States, relevant international laws, commercial laws and labor standards, while shouldering due social responsibility and respecting the legitimate interests and concerns of the indigenous peoples.

Second, to carry out green utilization. China requires its enterprises and organizations to carry out development and utilization in strict accordance with environmental standards of Arctic States, so as to protect the unique ecological environment of the Arctic region against destructive development and ensure sustainable development.

Third, to carry out cooperative utilization. China encourages its enterprises and organizations to make use of their advantages in capital, technology and domestic market and carry out development and utilization through international cooperation.

Fourth, to carry out utilization by following commercial principles. China encourages its enterprises to participate in cooperation concerning the Arctic region, and share any dividends of Arctic economic and social development with local people based on abiding by market rules and sound business practices.

In short, the fundamental objective of our participation in the development and utilization of the Arctic is to achieve win-win results for all stakeholders and to promote sustainable regional development.

I would like to emphasize that China's participation in the development and utilization of the Arctic is designed to be a contribution to the Arctic region, which will bring about opportunities for development that benefits local people. The doubts about the intentions related to Chinese involvement in Arctic development, like exploiting resources and destroying the fragile environment, are unnecessary. Arctic countries have sound legal systems, and have set high standards for environmental protection, labor and commercial use of the Arctic. I believe we will make positive contributions to the economic development of the Arctic society and the wellbeing of Arctic residents including the indigenous peoples in accordance with relevant standards and laws. Thank you.

Rossiya Segodnya:

According to Russian statistics, the ice-breaking pilotage number for the Northern Sea Route increased by 20 percent in 2017. The issue just raised by the Japanese reporter was about the Arctic route. May I ask whether Chinese companies would cooperate with Russian counterparts, and whether they would be prepared to conduct consultations in this regard. According to the Global Times, the number of Chinese tourists in the Arctic area of Russia has increased nine-fold in the past decade. As the number of Chinese tourists increases, does China plan to establish a cooperative relationship with Russia or other relevant departments to handle this growth?

Kong Xuanyou:

Over the years, China and Russia have had very good cooperation in Arctic affairs. We know that Russia is a great Arctic country with an important influence on Arctic affairs. Therefore, we are willing to strengthen our cooperation with Russia in various fields related to Arctic affairs from the perspective of deepening the all-round strategic partnership between the two countries.

As you mentioned, the number of Chinese tourists traveling to the Arctic region is increasing. As I said just now, for us, the priority is to understand the Arctic, the other is to protect the region and ensure its sustainable development. Under this premise, in order to promote economic and social development in the Arctic, citizens are encouraged to travel and to undertake scientific expeditions in the Arctic according to the principles mentioned above. In the meantime, we will always maintain close communication and cooperation with Russia and other relevant countries in the process of implementing this cause and ensure that the goal of Arctic cooperation can be effectively achieved. Thank you.

People's Daily:

China has carried out a lot of Arctic-related activities in recent years, which have also attracted widespread attention from the international community. What are the prioritized points in China's Arctic-related activities? What new activities is China ready to carry out in the future? And what new measures will China take in this regard?

Kong Xuanyou:

Just now I have said that China's participation in Arctic affairs has a long history. Consulting historical documents, we can see that China's earliest participation in the Arctic can be traced back to 1925 when the country joined the Spitsbergen Treaty. Since the 1990s, China has taken a substantial step in participation in Arctic affairs. Presently, China has prioritized its activities in three aspects, namely in Arctic scientific research, Arctic protection and Arctic international cooperation.

First, China continues to carry out Arctic scientific research. We prioritize the exploration and understanding of the Arctic in our Arctic-related activities. In 2004, China built the Arctic Yellow River Station. Since 1990, China's research vessel Xue Long (Snow Dragon) has carried out eight scientific expeditions in the Arctic Ocean, and conducted scientific research for 14 years with the Yellow River Station as the base. China has gradually established a multi-discipline observation system covering the sea, ice and snow, atmosphere, biological, and geological system of the Arctic.

Second, China continues to strengthen the protection of the Arctic. The protection of the Arctic mainly involves coping with climate change in the Arctic, protecting its unique natural environment and ecological system, and respecting its diverse social culture and the historical traditions of the indigenous people. China conscientiously follows the principles of the Paris Agreement, takes emission reduction measures to protect the Arctic ecological system, continuously participates in the research on the migration patterns of Arctic migratory birds, and advances international cooperation in the protection of Arctic species of fauna and flora.

Third, China has been actively promoting cooperation in the Arctic. Carrying out cooperation with all relevant parties is an effective way for China to participate in Arctic affairs. The China-Nordic Arctic Cooperation Symposium, so far held five times, has become an important platform for the two sides to discuss cooperation in the Arctic. In 2013, China hosted the 5th World Reindeer Herders Congress, reflecting our close cooperation with indigenous Arctic-based organizations. China participated in Russia's Yamal LNG project, setting an example of international Arctic cooperation. Since 2016, the Trilateral High-Level Dialogue on the Arctic involving China, Japan and South Korea has facilitated exchanges and cooperation in the Arctic region among the three counties. As far as I know, the annual event will again be held this year.

Looking forward, China will pursue steady progress in Arctic-related activities in accordance with the policy goals and basic principles set out in the white paper. Our new icebreaker for scientific research is currently under construction and is scheduled to go into service in 2019. Thank you.

Die Welt:

Last year, President Xi Jinping used the term "Ice Silk Road" in his speech in Moscow. However, the "Polar Silk Road" is what mentioned in this White paper. So can you please further elaborate on the term used for the Silk Road?

Kong Xuanyou:

In 2013, President Xi Jinping proposed the building of the Belt and Road Initiative. And I believe all of you are pretty familiar with the principal of the Belt and Road Initiative, which is extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. And this is an open and inclusive initiative for development.

Currently, the Belt and Road Initiative has been making great progress in the process of international cooperation, among which is the steady development of alignment between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union. Under the cooperation framework, China and Russia are carrying out discussions regarding the joint development and utilization of the shipping routes in the Arctic, including the building of the "Ice Silk Road" as one of the important endeavors.

China hopes to work with Russia and countries in this region to build a "Polar Silk Road" through developing the Arctic shipping routes. Thanks.

Reuters:

It's a rare opportunity to meet Mr. Kong, so I'd like to ask some questions about the situation on the Korean Peninsula. What's your opinion of the recent development on the peninsula? Since being appointed China's new special envoy for Korean Peninsula affairs, you haven't paid a visit to North Korea. Why not? Do you have a plan to go there in the future? If not, why?

Kong Xuanyou:

China's position on the issue is consistent and clear-cut. We are committed to achieving the denuclearization of the peninsula, upholding peace and stability on the peninsula, and settling relevant issues peacefully through dialogue and consultation.

You may have noticed recently that, especially after New Year's Day, some positive changes took place on the peninsula, with the dialogue between the two sides restarted. Even though the current contact is only related to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, we are confident that the resumption of dialogue will be a boon to stabilizing the regional situation.

China welcomes dialogue between the two sides. Their efforts have also been recognized and welcomed by the international community. We hope that through contact and dialogue, the two sides can enhance mutual understanding and trust. We also hope that the two countries can play a positive and constructive role in promoting peace and stability on the peninsula, and in solving regional issues through political dialogue.

The reason that I've not been to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea since being appointed China's special envoy for Korean Peninsula affairs is very complex. However, I need to stress that whether or not I go there, China's position on the issue remains unchanged, and we are working proactively to solve the issue through diplomatic means.

We hope that the current talks between the two countries can continue, and that more topics can be included in their future talks. We also hope that through the joint efforts of the two sides, the current talks can turn into political dialogue that can actually solve the problems on the peninsula.

We call on other concerned parties to give the two countries more support in this regard, and to help promote more contact between them. Nothing should be done to obstruct this process.

Macao and Asia Satellite TV:

You just mentioned that the white paper explains the important goals regarding the Arctic are to protect its resources and environment and to participate in regional governance . Can you give us a brief introduction regarding the next step China will take? Where, specifically, can China offer its wisdom?

Kong Xuanyou:

It is China's basic goal that through our participation in Arctic governance, we can understand, protect and develop the Arctic in a sustainable manner. At the same time, I would like to emphasize that Arctic protection concerns not only China. It is a common cause for all the countries concerned, and the international community in general.

China, as a major developing country, has a strong responsibility in this regard. We are close to the Arctic. Therefore, whether the region can achieve sustainable development, and whether the unique natural ecosystem there can be effectively protected, has direct bearing on our own interests and environmental protection. That's why we have already been participating in Arctic governance in a positive manner.

I believe Chinese scientists and various related parties in China has always worked in this way. I also believe in the future, they will adopt a more positive attitude to participate in the governance of the Arctic, including its protection, in strict accordance with the white paper we issued today. As for the specific programs to which China plans to offer its wisdom, I believe Chinese scientists and relevant parties have enough ability and wisdom to make their own contribution to the basic goal on participating in Arctic affairs. Thank you.

NHK:

Would you please introduce the concept and key content of the "Polar Silk Road"?

Kong Xuanyou:

As I mentioned just now, China and Russia are both willing to realize an effective alignment of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and the Russia-led construction of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), which involves the jointly building of a "Polar Silk Road". Now, the two sides are discussing how to realize more effective connection and give a more concrete shape to the vision, so as to accommodate each other's actual needs in development, as well as construction of the Belt and Road for the coming period. China, Russia, and other stakeholders still need further discussions to solidify their ideas.

Hu Kaihong:

Today's press conference ends here. Thanks for Mr. Kong, and thank you all.

[责任编辑:郑成琼 ]
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