The current political unrest in some West Asian and North African nations has had a notable influence. Keeping a close watch on the development and changes to the situation in such areas, China plays an important role in promoting regional stability.
Since the 1950s, the relationship between China and the Arab world has withstood the test of the ever-changing international and regional landscape. The countries in the region have always maintained friendly relations and extensive and mutually beneficial cooperation with China. The reason is that both sides observe the basic norms of mutual respect and non-interference in each other's internal affairs when it comes to international relations.
Non-interference in each other's internal affairs does not mean doing nothing. Since the beginning of the political unrest in West Asia and North Africa, China has expressed concern and kindness to people in those countries. China has made clear that it respects the choices of the public in each country and believes that the people in all countries have the wisdom and strength to solve their own problems and choose a road of development that is suitable to their national conditions.
Regarding the violent conflicts in certain countries, China calls on all related parties to settle differences through dialogues and negotiations and to avoid violence. This not only represents China's coherent foreign policy but also shows the Chinese people's goodwill to people in these countries. China sincerely hopes that they will achieve social progress and economic prosperity through peaceful means.
China has conducted fruitful diplomatic activities in West Asia and North Africa in the past few months. China launched an emergency response mechanism immediately after Libya was attacked, evacuating 35,860 Chinese citizens by air, land and sea within 10 days. The success of the unprecedented evacuation was partly attributed to the help and support provided by many countries in the region, reflecting the sincere friendship between Chinese and the Arab world. It also shows that China's peaceful foreign policy has paid off.
China does not pay lip service to respecting the will of ordinary people. Shortly after the new administrations were established in Tunisia and Egypt, China established contact with them and provided timely assistance to the two countries based on their needs. A top Chinese leader expressed support for Egypt's transitional government and also showed respect for the will of the Egyptian people in a letter. A number of officials from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs visited the two countries in early March and conveyed the same message to the leaders of both countries. Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister paid an official visit to Egypt in early May, which promoted the mutual trust between the two countries and showed China's will to take a positive and open attitude toward various political forces.
China has also extended respect and support to the Gulf Cooperation Council, a major regional organization that has made great efforts to maintain stability in the Persian Gulf. China warmly welcomed the Saudi King's special envoy in mid-March. Chinese Foreign Minister visited Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, in early May to attend the second round of strategic dialogues between China and the Gulf Cooperation Council. The council sent far more representatives to the second round of dialogue than the first round. Both sides expressed their strong desire to carry out strategic cooperation.
China has forged an image of a trustworthy and responsible country by adhering to its principles and showing flexibility when dealing with various problems according to the actual situations in international forums such as the United Nations. Based on the principles of respecting national sovereignty and non-interference in others' internal affairs, China did not vote in favor of the U.N. Security Council's resolution for establishing a no-fly zone in Libya.
However, it did not cast a dissenting vote either based on the purpose of protecting civilians and the positions of various parties, such as the League of Arab States and the African Union. In regards to other countries that experienced unrest, China strongly promoted peaceful negotiations to avoid casualties and property loss. Meanwhile, China also opposed interference in the internal affairs and the sanctions approved by the U.N. Security Council and by other international institutions, which have made the problem more complicated.
I recently visited many countries, such as Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Qatar and Israel. After conducting extensive contact with local governments and the people, I deeply felt that China's friendly, sincere and positive diplomatic work is highly praised by the local governments and the people, and China's ideal of mutual respect and win-win cooperation is also widely understood and endorsed. The foreign policy of developing a comprehensive China-Arab friendly cooperative partnership will not change no matter how the international situation changes. The traditional China-Arab friendship will show new vitality and the China-Arab friendly cooperation will also make solid steps.
Wu Sike is Special Representative of Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and China's Special Envoy to the Middle East.