|Interview of Ambassador Liu Yantao by Cyprus News Agency|
On September 6, 2021, to markthe 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Cyprus, His Excellency Liu Yantao, Ambassador of China to Cyprus accepted an interview with the Cyprus News Agency, in which he elaborated extensively and in depth about China-Cyprus friendly relations and cooperation and plans for the future, the centennial of the founding of the Communist Party of China, as well as China's principled position on the origin-tracing of Covid-19 and the Cyprus Problem. The interview has been published on CNA's website and widely quoted by mainstream media of Cyprus. The full text is as follows:
Q1: Ambassador, you recently had a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades. What were the main issues discussed? And what kind of consensus did you reach?
I just had a very fruitful and inspiring meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades, during which we reflected on the progress in China-Cyprus friendship and cooperation, and exchanged views in-depth about the 50th anniversary of China-Cyprus diplomatic ties and plans for the future.
Ten months since I assumed my post as Chinese Ambassador to Cyprus, I increasingly feel that furthering China-Cyprus friendly relations and cooperation is the wide consensus of the leaders and all social sectors of our two countries. The strategic guidance of President Xi and President Anastasiades, joint commitment to shared principles and values are the key to the success of our bilateral ties and longstanding friendship.
In the meeting, we agreed that, as true and good friends of each other, China and Cyprus should think on the present and look to the future, seize the opportunity of the 50th anniversary of our diplomatic ties, to forge closer ties in a strategic manner, by synergizing development plans, jointly building a green, healthy, and digital silk road, creating an alliance of sister cities and museums, and enhancing exchange and cooperation across the board in education, culture, tourism and media, for the best interests of the two countries and peoples. We believe that China-Cyprus ties will have an even brighter future.
I also informed President Anastasiades that Chinese companies and Chinese communities in Cyprus have been donating and organizing events to help rebuild the fire-stricken areas in Cyprus.
Q2: How do you evaluate the latest announcements from the Turkish side with regards to Varosha? The Turkish President insists on a two-state solution in Cyprus, contrary to UN resolutions for a federal solution. Are you optimistic that the relevant sides will be able to work out a path for the resumption of settlement talks in line with the UN framework? What is China's contribution to upholding international legitimacy on the island? After Security Council session for the renewal of the peacekeeping force on the island, what is Beijing's message to the stakeholders in the region, in terms of reducing tension and upholding international law?
A: China has been closely following the developments in Varosha, and maintains that the announcement of further opening of Varosha made by Turkish and the Turkish Cypriot leader violates Security Council resolutions and increases tensions, which is totally inappropriate and nonconstructive. Both the Security Council Presidential Statement on Varosha and the resolution for UNFICYP mandate renewal explicitly call on Turkish and Turkish Cypriot leader to immediately revoke all unilateral acts taken on Varosha since October 2020. This is China's consistent position as well as the aspiration of the broader international community. As a Permanent Member of the Security Council, China firmly upholds the authority of the United Nations and maintains that UN resolutions on the Cyprus Problem should be fully respected and implemented.
China has all along upheld an objective and fair position on the Cyprus Problem and supported all efforts made by Cyprus to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity. We have played and are willing to continue to play a constructive role in facilitating a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Cyprus Problem under the framework of relevant UN resolutions. The leaders of China and Cyprus have maintained regular communication on the Cyprus Problem. Since 2015, China has been dispatching peacekeeping police officers to participate in UNFICYP missions, making contribution to the peace and stability in Cyprus.
China maintains that the international community should respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus, try to encourage relevant parties to narrow differences through dialogue and consultation under the framework of Security Council resolutions for a "bi-communal and bi-zonal federation", and continue to create conditions and build momentum for the resumption of negotiations.
We are pleased to see that the resolution on UNFICYP mandate renewal was adopted as scheduled, and we applaud UNFICYP's active efforts in maintaining peace and stability in Cyprus as well as advancing Cyprus' political process. In order to maintain lasting peace and stability in Cyprus and across the region, relevant parties should fully respect international law and avoid any unilateral acts that may increase tension and confrontation, and undermine efforts towards resumption of the talks on the Cyprus Problem.
Q3: How are the preparations undergoing to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China-Cyprus diplomatic ties? What are the landmarks the two countries are celebrating in their relations on this occasion?
A: A series of commemorative events marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China-Cyprus diplomatic ties are well underway with close concerted efforts from both sides. China and Cyprus have jointly held the first online forum on governance experience sharing and 50 years of China-Cyprus diplomatic ties. To celebrate our 50th anniversary, the two sides will also hold a photo exhibition, film a documentary on China-Cyprus friendship, release a logo for this special occasion as well as put on a lighting ceremony, etc. The two sides will also step up promotion of Cyprus in China via Cyprus' participation in the 4th China International Import Expo with its first-ever online national exhibit, deepen practical cooperation in various fields under the "Belt and Road" framework, and enhance local-government cooperation and people-to-people friendship by forging more sister cities, launching joint educational programs and so on and so forth. I am very pleased to see that all social sectors in China and Cyprus are actively involved in organizing these commemorative events, contributing their wisdom and efforts in summarizing 50 years of success of China-Cyprus friendship, and planning for the future development of our bilateral relations.
The landmarks most worthy of celebrating in China-Cyprus relations include breakthroughs in our cooperation in energy, communications, transportation, culture and education in recent years, and more importantly, the fact that having gone through 50 years of profound changes in the international landscape and in the face of the two-fold challenges of major changes unfolding in our world as well as a pandemic unseen in a century, China and Cyprus have always adhered to common principles and values.
First, we advocate mutual respect for sovereignty and equal treatment as a model of relationship of sincerity, friendship and equality between countries of different sizes. Second, we uphold fairness and justice, support each other, strictly adhere to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and safeguard international fairness and justice. Third, we advocate mutual appreciation between different cultures and civilizations instead of drawing ideological lines to engage in so-called "value-oriented" diplomacy. Fourth, we advocate true multilateralism and win-win cooperation instead of forming small biased groups or "circles" in the name of multilateralism. The precious experience and tradition of China-Cyprus relations should be carried forward, in particular, we need to adhere to common principles and values, give firm support to each other on issues bearing on our core interests; enhance strategic mutual trust and close dialogue on international and regional issues between leaders of our two countries to map out the direction for the future development of bilateral relations; adhere to mutual benefits and win-win result through expanding and deepening practical cooperation between the two sides; adhere to all-round friendship and people-to-people connectivity to build a China-Cyprus community with a shared future. This is the key to the stable development of China-Cyprus relations, and the source of great power to advance our relations to a higher level.
Q4: This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. What is the key to the success of the Communist Party of China for 100 years? What are the important goals for the future?
A: This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. Started from only over 50 members, the CPC has now developed into the world's largest ruling party with more than 95 million members, leading a country with a population of more than 1.4 billion meanwhile having significant global influence. Over the past century, the CPC has united and led the Chinese people in overcoming various difficulties and obstacles. After the founding of the New China, especially since the reform and opening up and the 18th CPC National Congress, under the CPC leadership, China has achieved "double miracles" both in terms of rapid economic development and long-term social stability, lifted nearly 800 million people out of poverty, eradicated absolute poverty nationwide, achieved a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and set the goal to complete building a socialist modern country by 2049, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. In the first half of 2021, China's economy continued to recover steadily, with GDP increasing 12.7 percent year-on-year to 53.2 trillion yuan (approximately US$8.23 trillion). The surveyed unemployment rate in cities and towns across the country averaged 5.2%, a decrease of 0.6% from the same period last year. A long-term survey by the Kennedy School of Harvard University shows that the Chinese people's satisfaction with the Chinese government under the leadership of the CPC is as high as 93%.
The CPC had led the Chinese people to national independence and people's liberation after 28 years of struggle since its founding in 1921. After the founding of New China, CPC had again led the people to leap from standing up to becoming rich and strong. The key to the 100-year success of the CPC lies deep in its nature, purpose and great practice of fulfilling its mission, which can be concluded as follows:
First, the CPC has unswervingly adhered to the people-centered approach. The purpose of the CPC is to serve the people wholeheartedly, and its mission is to seek happiness for the people and rejuvenation for the nation. Just as General Secretary Xi Jinping said, this country is its people; the people are the country. The CPC has in the people its roots, its lifeblood, and its source of strength, and has always represented the fundamental interests of all Chinese people. The CPC has done what it says.
Second, the CPC has always followed the guidance of scientific theories. It unswervingly adapts the basic tenets of Marxism to China's specific realities and quintessential traditional culture, adheres to the principle of seeking truth from facts, and upholds and develops Marxism. As a result, the scientific guiding ideology of the CPC in different historical periods was formed, including Mao Zedong Thought and the theoretical system of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era, and a development path that conforms to China's national conditions and people's needs was found. The great achievements China has realized proves that the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the correct choice for the CPC and the Chinese people.
Third, the CPC has always placed development as its top priority. Development holds the master key to solving all problems. It includes taking economic development as the central task, upholding the new development concept of innovation, coordination, greenness, openness, and sharing, building the new development pattern, and promoting high-quality economic development. At the same time, the economic development should be driven in a coordinated way along with political, cultural, social and eco-environmental development, making it possible for the people to share the fruits of economic and social development.
Fourth, the CPC has always laid emphasis on good governance, the selection and appointment of officials capable to effectively execute policies, practicing consultative democracy and the rule of law, with continued efforts to push forward the modernization of its governance capabilities and governance system. CPC believes that the essence of democracy is that people are the masters of the country. Democracy must help avoid political polarization, racial antagonism and social tearing, while promote economic development, political stability, cultural approval, social harmony and environmental friendliness, so that all people can live a happy life. Therefore, the realization of democracy is subject to the national conditions, and there is no one-size-fits-all model. Chinese democracy is an institutional arrangement in which all the people are the masters of the country, demonstrating the organic unity of electoral democracy, whole-process democracy, consultative democracy, and protection of democracy in accordance with the law.
Fifth, the CPC has sticked to constant self-innovation. The CPC is a political party that keeps pace with the times in order to maintain the Party's advanced nature and purity and better represent and benefit the people. It exercises full and strict governance over the Party by constantly purifying, improving, reforming and innovating itself. All the political parties make mistakes, however, the CPC has never concealed its own mistakes. It faces problems head-on and has a strong ability to become self-resilient and self-corrective.
This year marks the inauguration of China's 14th Five-Year Plan, the start of China's new journey of building a modern socialist country in an all-round way. The CPC will unite and lead the Chinese people in pressing ahead with the Chinese-style modernization, driving coordinated progress in material, political, spiritual, social, and ecological civilizations, to make new contributions to humanity's search for path0ways to modernize. It will continue to take comprehensive steps to deepen reform and opening up to make new contributions to shared development and prosperity of all countries of the world. It will shoulder its responsibilities as a major political party in a major country to make new contributions to improving the well-beings of mankind, and will actively improve global governance to make new contributions to humanity's joint response to common challenges.
Q5: A few days ago, US intelligence community released an assessment on COVID-19 origins, which accuses China of not being transparent and refusing to cooperate. Some foreign think tanks said that the origin tracing studies should be carried out on a global scale at the same time, instead of focusing only on China. What's your comment?
The so-called IC assessment on COVID-19 origins is a political report that runs contrary to science, a scapegoating report that shifts the responsibility for the botched US response to the pandemic, and a groundless report that smears China with fabricated evidence. This assessment is another testament to how the US seeks to mislead and deceive the international community, just like the lie it spread alleging that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction using a bag of "washing powder".
China has, since the outbreak of the pandemic, acted on the principles of science, openness and transparency, shared gene sequencing data and rendered assistance to anti-pandemic efforts worldwide. On COVID origin tracing, in the spirit of science, professionalism, seriousness and responsibility, China has twice invited WHO experts to visit China for origins tracing research, who released a Joint Report containing authoritative conclusions, including a lab leak is "extremely unlikely", and no evidence of large scale outbreaks of the disease in China's Wuhan prior to December 2019. The report also advised to continue to search for early cases worldwide including in China. These conclusions were widely recognized by the international and science community.
China maintains that origin-tracing must be carried out in accordance with scientific principles and rules. Phase Two of origin-tracing should be guided by the relevant WHO resolutions, done by scientists and based on evidence, and conducted in multiple places and regions around the world. Disclosed evidence and studies show that, cases of COVID-19 were likely circulating undetected for months in the United States, Europe and other regions as early as September 2019 much before the outbreak in China's Wuhan.
It has been widely reported internationally that Fort Detrick, a U.S. bio-military base, had the advanced capabilities to synthesize and modify SARS-related coronaviruses. Multiple biological safety accidents happened in Fort Detrick in history, leading to the shutdown of its lab in July 2019. After that, outbreaks of respiratory diseases sharing similar symptoms of COVID-19 occurred in the communities near Fort Detrick. The University of North Carolina has long possessed recognized capability in synergizing and modifying coronaviruses. The lab at UNC-Chapel Hill reported 28 lab incidents involving genetically engineered micro organisms to the US National Institutes of Health from 2015 to June 2020, six of which involved "various types of lab-created coronaviruses". These new discoveries and doubtful points are yet to be investigated by scientists in search for the real origin of the virus.
In the face of the pandemic, the wellbeing of all countries is closely linked. We need science, solidarity and cooperation to win this fight. China is committed to international cooperation in combating the virus as well as science-based origin-tracing study, and rejects the wrong approach of politicizing the efforts on these two fronts. So far, over 80 countries have written to the WHO in support of origin-tracing studies on a global scale, opposing a politicized and conclusion-led origin-tracing. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19, China and Cyprus have been standing in solidarity and have maintained close cooperation in donation of medical supplies, sharing anti-pandemic experience, and promoting vaccination programs, to restore and promote personnel mobility and business ties between the two countries as well as between China and Europe. We hope that our two countries will keep up the good momentum of cooperation and make greater contributions to the global fight against COVID-19.