Q5. How do you see China-Russia cooperation within the frameworks of BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), and the development prospects of the two?
Xi: Over the last 10-plus years, BRICS countries have followed the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, deepened exchanges and cooperation in economic and financial, political and security, and cultural and people-to-people fields, making BRICS an important force that plays an active, stabilizing and constructive role in international affairs. It has been proven that BRICS represents the right direction of global development, as evidenced by its ever-widening cooperation and promising future.
Russia is the birthplace of the BRICS Summit. It was in Yekaterinburg that BRICS leaders held their first meeting in 2009, opening a historic chapter in BRICS cooperation. The adoption of the BRICS Economic Partnership Strategy at the 2015 Ufa Summit was another milestone in BRICS economic cooperation.
Coming from different continents, BRICS countries are brought together by a shared aspiration to grow our economies, deliver better lives for our peoples, and play a bigger role in regional and international affairs.
The world today is undergoing major changes rarely seen in a century. This means both opportunities and challenges for the development of BRICS countries. Such a backdrop makes it all the more important for our five countries to stay united in the spirit of equality and mutual assistance, and deepen the BRICS strategic partnership to defend the common interests and development space of emerging markets and developing countries and achieve development and progress for all. We BRICS leaders will meet again in Brasilia in November. I hope and believe that our five countries will work together for a fruitful Summit, and take further, solid steps toward our vision of the second Golden Decade.
China and Russia are comprehensive strategic partners of coordination, and important members of BRICS. Our two countries have had close communication and coordination within the BRICS framework. As Russia will take over the BRICS chairmanship next year, China looks forward to strengthening coordination with Russia to make sure that with the sustained efforts of successive chairmanships, BRICS cooperation will yield still greater results to deliver more benefits to the people of our five countries and contribute more to world peace and development.
The SCO is a successful example of the commitment of both China and Russia to forging a new type of international relations and a good platform for such efforts. In the 18 years since the SCO's inception, China and Russia have maintained close coordination and collaboration. As a result, the Organization has kept growing and made important contribution to peace, stability, development and prosperity in our region. As I see it, China-Russia cooperation in the SCO has the following features:
First, we have stayed committed to the Shanghai Spirit. The Shanghai Spirit of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for diversity of civilizations, and pursuit of common development is the underlying philosophy of the SCO. China and Russia, together with other SCO member states, have firmly rejected such anachronistic ideas as clash of civilizations, Cold War mentality, and zero-sum game. Instead, we have forged a constructive partnership featuring non-alliance, non-confrontation and not targeting any third party, and set up a paradigm of a new type of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness and justice, and win-win cooperation.
Second, we have stayed committed to advancing the security and development interests of SCO member states. Stability and development are the common pursuit of countries in our region. China and Russia have worked with other member states to deepen all-round cooperation in political, security, economic and cultural fields, make effective responses to new security threats and challenges, and seek greater complementarity between the BRI, the EAEU and other regional cooperation initiatives, and the development strategies of individual countries in pursuit of integrated development of our region. All these efforts have made the SCO irreplaceable for the lasting peace and stability of the whole region and the development and prosperity of individual countries.
Third, we have stayed committed to raising the global profile of the SCO. Our Organization is an important and constructive force in Eurasia. China and Russia, together with other member states, have engaged extensively in regional and international affairs, upheld international fairness and justice, supported the building of an open world economy, and promoted a fairer and more equitable international order.
The SCO, responsive to the call of our times for peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit, enjoys strong vitality and a bright prospect. At last year's Qingdao Summit, we together drew up a blueprint for a new phase in the SCO development. The upcoming Bishkek Summit will therefore become a new starting point in the development of the Organization. China will work with Russia and other member states to enhance unity, mutual trust and cooperation in various areas so that our Organization will keep developing to add more stability and positive energy to the world and make unique contribution to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
Q6. How would you describe your personal friendship with President Putin?
Xi: Since 2013, President Putin and I have met nearly 30 times on bilateral and multilateral occasions, and talked on the phone and written to each other many times. I keep fond memories of each interaction I had with President Putin. We have had in-depth and most wide-ranging exchanges on both major issues like the international situation, bilateral ties and governance, and more light-hearted topics like literature, art and sports. We have taken a high-speed train ride together, watched an ice hockey friendly between Chinese and Russian youth teams, celebrated his birthday in Bali, exchanged phone calls and congratulatory messages on each other's important festivals, and been awarded medals of the highest honor by each other's countries. I have had closer interactions with President Putin than with any other foreign colleagues. He is my best and bosom friend. I cherish dearly our deep friendship.
My engagement with President Putin is built on a high degree of mutual trust. That is the solid foundation of our close friendship. We treat each other with respect, candor, understanding and trust. We share similar views on the international landscape and approaches to national governance, and we both shoulder historical responsibilities for national development and rejuvenation. Most importantly, we share a high degree of consensus on the strategic significance of the China-Russia relationship and therefore the same resolve and desire to deepen and sustain its growth. I look forward to continued close interactions with President Putin. Together, we will take our bilateral ties to new heights and work tirelessly for the development and prosperity of our two great nations and for the happy lives of our peoples.
Q7. The situation in Syria is stabilizing. The Syrian government has repeated on many occasions that it is ready to work with all relevant parties and restore its war-ravaged infrastructure as soon as possible. Does China intend to take part in Syria's reconstruction? In Venezuela, the situation has flared up lately. What is China's assessment? In addition, the deepening political confrontation between the US and Iran is leading to rising tensions in the Persian Gulf. How does China see the prospects for resolving the Iranian nuclear issue?
Xi: Syria is a time-honored civilization and an important country in the Middle East. It is heart-wrenching for us to see Syria caught in protracted turbulence that has wreaked havoc on its infrastructure and inflicted untold sufferings to its people. Fortunately, the situation there is improving, as the process of political settlement is making progress and the Syrian government and people are starting to rebuild their nation. The Chinese and Syrian people have long enjoyed a traditional friendship. As such, China stands ready to take part in Syria's reconstruction to the best of its capacity and help the Syrian people regain their normal life and work at an early day.
On Venezuela, China's position is consistent and clear. Bearing in mind the importance of upholding the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations, China maintains that the issue should be left to the government and opposition of Venezuela to resolve through inclusive political dialogue and independent consultation within the constitutional framework. China opposes external intervention, unilateral sanctions, and the use or threat of force. China will work with the rest of the international community to play a positive and constructive role on this issue, do more to facilitate talks for peace, and uphold international equity and justice, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and regional peace and stability to help Venezuela return to the track of normal development as soon as possible.
With the US imposing maximum pressure and unilateral sanctions on Iran in recent months, tensions have been escalating surrounding the Iranian nuclear issue, and for that matter, in the entire Middle East. Such developments are indeed a cause for concern. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the embodiment of multilateralism, is crucial for the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and for peace and stability in the Middle East. It must be respected and implemented effectively in its entirety. China and Russia have highly aligned views and positions on the Iranian nuclear issue with both countries calling on all relevant parties to act with reason and restraint and increase dialogue and consultation to deescalate the tensions. China and Russia will stay in close coordination to push for positive developments while upholding the authority of the UN, peace and security in the world, and the common interests of the international community. Besides, China will continue to stand firm for itsown legitimate rights and interests in this process.