Ambassador Qin Gang Takes an Interview with NPR Morning Edition
By Chinese Embassy in US Published: Jan 29, 2022 08:50 AM
On January 27, 2022, Ambassador Qin Gangâ€‚had an interview withâ€‚NPRâ€‚Morning Edition's Steveâ€‚Inskeepâ€‚onâ€‚Beijing Winter Olympics, China-US relations and issues related to Xinjiang and Taiwan. Part of the interview editedâ€‚byâ€‚NPRâ€‚was aired on January 28.
Here is the full transcript of the interview:
Steve Inskeep:â€‚I wannaâ€‚begin with the Olympics. Many people will know of course that this is the second timeâ€‚thatâ€‚China's hostedâ€‚the Olympics,â€‚andâ€‚last time was 2008. A lot has happened since 2008. How is China's place in the world different,â€‚if at all,â€‚than it was in 2008?
Ambassador Qin:â€‚China isâ€‚undergoing a great transformation economically and socially. Sinceâ€‚2008â€‚when Beijing held the first Olympics, China is becoming more prosperous, and the Chinese people are getting better off. All ofâ€‚theâ€‚people have beenâ€‚lifted out of poverty. We are on a course towards common prosperity. And China's standing in the world is getting more important and prominent.â€‚Chinaâ€‚is playing a more important role in maintaining peace, stabilityâ€‚and security. And we are working with all of theâ€‚like-minded countries to build aâ€‚community with aâ€‚sharedâ€‚future for mankind.
So we are now welcoming the arrival ofâ€‚Beijing Winter Olympics.â€‚Beijing is ready.â€‚All the venues,â€‚stadiums,â€‚facilitiesâ€‚areâ€‚in perfect conditions,â€‚and organizing and operating work is well on the way.â€‚2,000 athletes from aroundâ€‚90 countriesâ€‚are ready. Aâ€‚big quarantine closedâ€‚loop is now in place to protect all the stakeholdersâ€‚in the loop from being contaminated.
One particular highlight of the Beijing Winter Olympics is being green. Just give youâ€‚two examples. All the stadiums and venuesâ€‚will be supplied with green energy. And we use the cutting-edge technology of producing ice to reduce the (carbon dioxide) emission to nearly zero. So Beijingâ€‚is ready. So we are confident to deliver a streamlined, safe and splendidâ€‚Winter Olympics as we promisedâ€‚to the world.
Steve Inskeep:â€‚I think a lot of people would agree with you that China is playing a larger role in the world stage. But there's also been a change in opinion globally about China. The Pewâ€‚Center tracks this in 17 different countries,â€‚they doâ€‚routine polls. And in 2021, aâ€‚Pewâ€‚survey of these 17 countries foundâ€‚â€”â€‚there's a headline that I wrote down hereâ€‚â€”â€‚large majoritiesâ€‚say China does not respect the personal freedoms of its people, and more and more people around the world believe that.â€‚Why do you think that opinion has changed?
Ambassador Qin:â€‚It'sâ€‚aâ€‚one-sided observation. Ifâ€‚you ask if people have freedom and human rights, you need to ask the people of the country itself. I can give you two figures,â€‚most recent ones. One is that according to Harvard University, Kennedy School, theâ€‚support rate of the Chinese people towards the Chinese government...
Steve Inskeep:â€‚This is a survey done by Harvardâ€‚that you had?
Ambassador Qin:â€‚Harvard, independently. (So the support rate) is 91%. This is theâ€‚tenthâ€‚yearâ€‚thatâ€‚Kennedy School ofâ€‚Harvard University conductedâ€‚this kind of surveyâ€‚independently. Another figure, which is also most recent. Edelman, one of the largest PRâ€‚companies, conducted similar surveyâ€‚among Chinese people.â€‚The resultâ€‚is the same.
Steve Inskeep:â€‚If there's such overwhelming support for the government, some people who are concerned about China would ask whyâ€‚is there a need for such widespread facial recognitionâ€‚software, Internetâ€‚censorship and other means to limit speech and effectively control the people?
Ambassador Qin:â€‚That's a misunderstanding. Actually, Chinese people can have wide access to information on the Internet. There areâ€‚over one billion â€‚netizensâ€‚in China,â€‚the world'sâ€‚largest number of Internetâ€‚users. Every dayâ€‚people can get access to different resources of information. And they can comment and they can exchange.
Steve Inskeep:â€‚There is an enormous amount of information. But if there's a controversial topic, it disappears from the Internet.
Ambassador Qin:â€‚Well, I think that we regulateâ€‚theâ€‚Internetâ€‚according toâ€‚lawâ€‚and inâ€‚theâ€‚interestsâ€‚of the general public. On the one hand, we let people get access to different information. On the other hand, we bear in mind the general interestsâ€‚of the public.
Steve Inskeep:â€‚Criticism of the government doesn't last very long online, right? It goes away.
Ambassador Qin:â€‚That's not true. So the government has many channels to solicit opinions fromâ€‚the people, including criticism.â€‚Everyâ€‚major policy,â€‚before it is published, is made publicâ€‚for comments. Among themâ€‚areâ€‚also criticisms and complaints. The government listensâ€‚toâ€‚andâ€‚considers them, and corrects it if there is anything wrong.
Steve Inskeep:â€‚Part of that change in China's image that I mentioned seems to have to do with the policy toward Uyghurs in Western China. And the USâ€‚diplomatic boycott also seems grounded in part. I want to mention that our correspondentsâ€‚have tried to approach this fairly. NPR correspondentsâ€‚have visited Western China. We've also interviewed people outside of China. We understand that it's cast as an anti-terrorism policy and that's a real concern.â€‚What we have found, though, isâ€‚that people are imprisoned, that they also have been pressed to abandon their language, abandon their culture, abandon their religion.â€‚Can you explain why the policy needs to have gone so far?
Ambassador Qin:â€‚That's not a true representation of what has been happeningâ€‚in Xinjiang.
Steve Inskeep:â€‚It is what ourâ€‚correspondentsâ€‚have observed.
Ambassador Qin:â€‚Thereâ€‚are fabrications,â€‚lies and disinformation around. The actual conditions, Uyghurâ€‚people as other ethnic groups of people, they enjoy happy life. They enjoy the rights and freedom guaranteed by the Constitution of China. They are a member of the big family of Chinese nation. Theâ€‚so-calledâ€‚"genocide"â€‚or "forced labor", theseâ€‚are big lies of the century. There's no genocideâ€‚at all.â€‚People useâ€‚sensational accusations for political purposes. I give you two figures.â€‚Overâ€‚theâ€‚past 40 years, the Uyghur population rose from 5.5 million to 11 million, more than doubled. The average life expectancy of Uyghurâ€‚people in the past 60â€‚yearsâ€‚has increased from 30 to 72.â€‚So have you seenâ€‚genocide in the world like this?
Steve Inskeep:â€‚Let's set aside the word "genocide", though, and focus on the things that our correspondentsâ€‚have found:â€‚large numbers of people imprisoned,â€‚people encouraged to give up their language and culture. You acknowledge those thingsâ€‚or not?
Ambassadorâ€‚Qin:â€‚You have toâ€‚make a distinction between people breaking the law and being sent to prisonâ€‚andâ€‚some other people being sent to theâ€‚vocational training center.
Steve Inskeep:â€‚Youâ€‚are referringâ€‚to what outsiders called camps?
Ambassadorâ€‚Qin:â€‚Those people breaking the law, the terrorists, of course, the destination for them is prisonsâ€‚with barbed wire and high walls.â€‚To keep the society safe, we have to bring them to justice. There is no problem, as you do in the United States.â€‚But for those people, to some extent, more or less influencedâ€‚by extremistâ€‚ideas, which is a drivingâ€‚factor to many people in anyâ€‚terrorist and separatist activities,â€‚we give them a chance.â€‚We use a measureâ€‚to correct them. It's what we callâ€‚a preventive measure.
Steve Inskeep:â€‚Preventing them from having terrorist thoughts before they have them.
Ambassador Qin:â€‚Those people...not every Uyghur was sent to the school.â€‚But when we found some people, as I said just now,â€‚more or less influencedâ€‚by extremist ideas, before theyâ€‚are getting worse, weâ€‚send them to the school, giving them education onâ€‚language andâ€‚law and give them vocational training,â€‚so that when they finish, they can get a decent job with a good pay, so they can support themselves and they can support their families,â€‚so they willâ€‚no longer be engagedâ€‚into extremist and separatist activities.
Steve Inskeep:â€‚I want people to know,â€‚if they don't,â€‚that China is very diverse that Uyghurs are one of many groups we could look at,â€‚who are different from the majority of China in different ways.â€‚Is part of the goal assimilation?â€‚Ensuring that there is no group that is so separate or different from the large population of the country that it poses a threat?
Ambassador Qin:â€‚The goal of this policy is to make the society stable and safe, to make peopleâ€‚without fear, without hate, that peopleâ€‚fromâ€‚all ethnic groupsâ€‚liveâ€‚peacefully and calmly.
Steve Inskeep:â€‚I wanna ask about Taiwan, which is something that your Foreign Minister this week brought up with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.â€‚If people don't know, I want to remind them the United States has agreed with China that there is one China,â€‚that Taiwan is part of China. At the moment,â€‚of course, there are two governments.â€‚And the United States has argued that Taiwan's future should be determined by the Taiwanese people. Do you agree with that?
Ambassador Qin:â€‚No. I don't agree with that. The One-China principleâ€‚is the mostâ€‚important foundation of China-USâ€‚relationsâ€‚in theâ€‚past decades.â€‚When the US-China diplomatic ties wereâ€‚established,â€‚the United States acknowledgedâ€‚that both sidesâ€‚of the Taiwan Straitâ€‚belong to one China,â€‚there's only one China in the world, the governmentâ€‚ofâ€‚People's Republic of China is the sole legal government representingâ€‚China. This is a stipulation in the three Joint Communiques, which lay the foundation of diplomatic relations.â€‚But recently, we have seen the escalation of tensionâ€‚inâ€‚the situation across theâ€‚Taiwan Strait. This is because the Taiwanese authority is trying to seek independenceâ€‚agenda by borrowing supportâ€‚andâ€‚encouragementâ€‚of theâ€‚United States and the USâ€‚is playing Taiwan card.
Steve Inskeep:â€‚Playing the Taiwan card to contain China.
Ambassador Qin:â€‚To contain China. What does itâ€‚mean? We talkedâ€‚about the three Joint Communiques. We talkedâ€‚about the one-China principle. The United States has been walking away,â€‚bitâ€‚by bit,â€‚from this commitment,â€‚by increasing official links and upgradingâ€‚them,â€‚by selling more advanced weaponryâ€‚toâ€‚Taiwan,â€‚and by sending soldiers landing on Taiwan. The one-China policy is being hollowed out by the United States.
Steve Inskeep:â€‚Is this what your foreign ministryâ€‚means by saying the United States failing to keep its commitments,â€‚that the US has simply been too friendly to Taiwan?
Ambassador Qin:â€‚We have takenâ€‚noticeâ€‚of President Biden's words thatâ€‚the United Statesâ€‚does not support Taiwan independence and the United States wantsâ€‚to see peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, the United States will adhere toâ€‚its one-China policy, but so far we haven't seen many actions to honor his words.
Steve Inskeep:â€‚There is much fear in the United States of an eventual effort by China to resolve this matterâ€‚militarily,â€‚to attack Taiwan. Should Americans be concerned about theâ€‚Chinese attack on Taiwan?
Ambassador Qin:â€‚People on both sides of the Taiwanâ€‚Straitâ€‚are Chinese.â€‚We are compatriots. The last thingâ€‚we will do is fight with our compatriots.â€‚We will do our utmostâ€‚in the greatest sincerityâ€‚to achieve a peaceful reunification, which we believe isâ€‚in the best interestsâ€‚of peopleâ€‚across the Taiwan Strait, in the best interestsâ€‚of China-US relations, in the best interestsâ€‚of peace and stability in the region.â€‚But as I said a few minutes ago, that the Taiwanese authority is walking down the roadâ€‚towards independence, emboldened by the United States.â€‚So China will not commit to giving up non-peaceful means for reunification,â€‚because this is a deterrenceâ€‚toâ€‚separatist forces, not targeting Taiwanese people. Let me emphasize this. The Taiwan issue is theâ€‚biggestâ€‚tinderbox between Chinaâ€‚and the United States.â€‚If the Taiwanese authority,â€‚emboldenedâ€‚byâ€‚the United States, keepsâ€‚going down the road for independence, it would most likely involve Chinaâ€‚and the United States, the two big countries,â€‚in aâ€‚military conflict. Chinaâ€‚does not want to have conflict or confrontation with the United States. The United States does not want war withâ€‚China. So, no war, no conflict is the biggest consensus between China andâ€‚the United States. So let's work together to contain the separatistâ€‚forces of Taiwan, to give peace a chance. Let peace prevail.
Steve Inskeep:â€‚In the timeâ€‚that I have left, Ambassador, Iâ€‚wanna ask about a couple of narratives that people lay out about the United Statesâ€‚andâ€‚Chinaâ€‚and see what you think of them. One is an Americanâ€‚narrative. Americansâ€‚in both political parties have said in recent years that the United Statesâ€‚feels that it reached outâ€‚to China,â€‚that it encouraged the opening toâ€‚China,â€‚that it increased economic ties with China, in the hope that Chinaâ€‚would change, become more open, more democratic, more in line with the rules of the world. And there are Americansâ€‚in both political parties who now feel that hasn't happened, that it hasn't worked out. That is the narrative here. Do you accept any part of that story?
Ambassador Qin:â€‚For people having the mind of changing China,â€‚from the very beginning, it's an illusion. China is a nation of 5,000 years'â€‚civilization. China is China. The United States is the United States. The United Statesâ€‚cannot expect to change Chinaâ€‚at its will, and vice versa. We don't have the intention to change the United States.â€‚We don't have the intentionâ€‚toâ€‚replace the United States. Both countries have our ownâ€‚agendas. Both countries have challenges at home. Both countries want to deliver better lives to people. So why not work together? Rather than trying to outpaceâ€‚each other or to suppressâ€‚the other's development?
Steve Inskeep:â€‚You're saying that if Americaâ€‚is to continue itsâ€‚engagement with China, Chinaâ€‚will remain as it is?
Ambassador Qin:â€‚We have always advocatedâ€‚engagementâ€‚and cooperation with the United States. Butâ€‚people,â€‚as you said just now, in this countryâ€‚haveâ€‚a lot of different opinions. Youâ€‚hadâ€‚better letâ€‚the United Statesâ€‚speak for itself. But we do believe that China's development is a big opportunity for the United States.
Steve Inskeep:â€‚There's another narrative about the United States. The idea that Americaâ€‚is a great power that is now in decline. You can find people around the world who say that,â€‚you can find Americansâ€‚who will say that. I'd like people to know,â€‚if they don't, you have worked closely with President Xi. If you think about his view of the world, do you think that he believes Americaâ€‚is a power inâ€‚decline?
Ambassador Qin:â€‚Nobody in China bets against United States.â€‚Everybody in China, including the Chinese leadership, believesâ€‚that United Statesâ€‚is one of theâ€‚most important countries. And the relationship between Chinaâ€‚and the United Statesâ€‚isâ€‚the most important relationship.â€‚We must work well and notâ€‚mess it up. We wish the United Statesâ€‚well. But the question is:â€‚can the United Statesâ€‚respect and accept China's rise as a positive force to maintain or to facilitate worldâ€‚peace and prosperity?â€‚Canâ€‚theâ€‚United Statesâ€‚believe that China's rise willâ€‚benefit otherâ€‚countries, benefit people in the United Statesâ€‚and provideâ€‚more business opportunities and more jobs?
Steve Inskeep:â€‚And the final thing, do you anticipate a period of greater difficulty between the two countries?
Ambassador Qin:â€‚We are at a very challenging time. What I'm here to do is to reach out to people of all communities in the United States,â€‚tell them China's intentionâ€‚and policy â€” of courseâ€‚a good intentionâ€‚andâ€‚reasonable policy vis-a-visâ€‚China-US relationshipâ€”â€‚andâ€‚(be) open-minded for all sorts of opinions.â€‚I want to listen. I want to deliver.â€‚And I want to help improve the relationship. But looking ahead, it's a bumpy road. Both countries are in the process of recognizingâ€‚each other and finding an appropriate way to get along with each other.â€‚In China's belief, we hope thatâ€‚good relationship will be established based on the principles ofâ€‚mutual respect, peaceful coexistenceâ€‚and win-win cooperation. As I said, it's not easy, and itâ€‚will take time. There will beâ€‚a lot of difficulties. My role is to make thisâ€‚road haveâ€‚less pain, less difficultiesâ€‚andâ€‚more certainty.
Steve Inskeep:â€‚Ambassador, it's been a pleasure talking with you. Thank you so much.
Ambassador Qin:â€‚Thank you for having me.
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