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Wang Yi Proposes a Five-point Initiative on Achieving Security and Stability in the Middle East

On March 24, 2021 local time, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi received an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya in Riyadh. The reporter asked, since taking office, the Biden administration has indicated an intention to adjust its Middle East policy, triggering new changes in the regional situation and hotspot issues. The Iranian nuclear issue may return to the framework of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Cooperation (JCPOA). New developments are unfolding in Yemen, Syria, Palestine, Libya and other flare-ups. How would you characterize China's current Middle East policy?

Wang Yi said that the Middle East was a highland of brilliant civilizations in human history. Yet, due to protracted conflicts and turmoil in the more recent history, the region descended into a security lowland. The Middle East belongs to the people of the region. For the region to emerge from chaos and enjoy stability, it must break free from the shadows of big-power geopolitical rivalry and independently explore development paths suited to its regional realities. It must stay impervious to external pressure and interference, and follow an inclusive and reconciliatory approach to build a security architecture that accommodates the legitimate concerns of all sides.

Wang Yi said, at the meantime, the world cannot enjoy real tranquility if the Middle East keeps suffering from instability. The international community should neither overstep its responsibility nor simply sit by and look on. The right thing to do is to fully respect the will of regional countries and contribute to stability and peace in the Middle East.

Wang Yi said, at present, COVID-19 is still spreading in the region, turbulence persists, and hotspot issues are evolving amid twists and turns. The region is again at a crossroads. Against this backdrop, China wishes to propose a five-point initiative on achieving security and stability in the Middle East:

First, advocating mutual respect. The Middle East is home to unique civilizations which have cultivated unique social and political systems. The characteristics, models and paths of the Middle East must be respected. It is important to change the traditional mindset and see Middle East countries as partners for cooperation, development and peace, instead of perceiving the region through the lens of geo-competition. It is important to support Middle East countries in exploring their own paths of development, and support regional countries and their peoples in playing a major role in pursuing political settlement of such regional hotspot issues as Syria, Yemen and Libya. It is important to promote dialogue and exchanges among civilizations to achieve peaceful coexistence of all ethnicities in the Middle East. China will continue to play its constructive role to this end.

Second, upholding equity and justice. Nothing represents equity and justice in the Middle East more than a sound solution to the question of Palestine and earnest implementation of the two-state solution. We support active mediation by the international community toward this objective and holding an authoritative international meeting on this matter when conditions are ripe. In its presidency of the UN Security Council this May, China will encourage the Security Council to fully deliberate on the question of Palestine to reaffirm the two-state solution. China will continue to invite peace advocates from Palestine and Israel to China for dialogue, and also welcome Palestinian and Israeli representatives to China for direct negotiations.

Third, achieving non-proliferation. Based on the merits in the evolution of the Iranian nuclear issue, relevant parties need to move in the same direction with concrete actions, and discuss and formulate the roadmap and timeframe for the United States and Iran to resume compliance with the JCPOA. The pressing task is for the United States to take substantive measures to lift its unilateral sanctions on Iran and long-arm jurisdiction on third parties, and for Iran to resume reciprocal compliance with its nuclear commitments, in an effort to achieve early harvest. At the same time, the international community should support efforts by regional countries in establishing a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

Fourth, jointly fostering collective security. In promoting security and stability in the Middle East, the legitimate concerns of all parties should be accommodated. It is important to encourage equal dialogue and consultation, mutual understanding and accommodation and improved relations among persian Gulf countries. It is imperative to resolutely combat terrorism and advance deradicalization. China proposes holding in China a multilateral dialogue conference for regional security in the persian Gulf region to explore the establishment of a Middle East trust mechanism, starting with such subjects as ensuring the safety of oil facilities and shipping lanes, and building step by step a framework for collective, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security in the Middle East.

Fifth, accelerating development cooperation. Enduring peace and security in the Middle East requires development, cooperation and integration. It is necessary to come together to defeat the coronavirus and achieve economic and social recovery as soon as possible. It is important to help post-conflict countries rebuild, support greater diversity in the economic growth of oil producing countries, and assist other Middle East countries in achieving development and revitalization, in light of the resource endowments of different countries in the region. China will continue to hold the China-Arab Reform and Development Forum and the Middle East Security Forum to increase the sharing of governance experience with Middle East countries.

Wang Yi said China has signed documents on Belt and Road cooperation with 19 Middle East countries and carried out distinctive collaboration with each of them. China is working with all regional countries in fighting COVID-19. It will deepen vaccine cooperation in light of the needs of regional countries and discuss with them trilateral vaccine cooperation with Africa. As it fosters a new development paradigm, China is ready to share with Middle East countries its market opportunities, work with Arab countries to actively prepare for the China-Arab states summit, promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, and expand new areas of growth such as high and new technologies. We also look forward to early conclusion of a free trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Wang Yi said, China is prepared to stay in close touch with all sides on the five-point initiative, and work closely to promote peace, security and development in the Middle East.

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