Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi says the country's top diplomatic priorities are to serve the needs of domestic development and safeguard sovereignty. His comments came in a wide-ranging news conference in Beijing Tuesday.
Foreign Minister Yang touched on a wide range of subjects in a briefing with journalists on the sidelines of the annual session of China's legislature, the National People's Congress.
The first question, asked by China Central Television, gave him an opportunity to talk about Beijing's foreign policy priorities.
Yang says safeguarding China's sovereignty and security has always been the overarching objective of all of China's diplomatic endeavors. He says that, in the past decade, China's diplomacy has actively served domestic economic and social development.
He says China feels privileged and has a strong sense of responsibility, because many countries in Africa have chosen it to be their development partner. He expresses confidence in Europe's ability to overcome its financial problems and says China's relations with Russia, India and Japan are basically good.
He also commented on one of China's most fraught relationships - its ties with the United States.
Yang acknowledges there are some differences between China and the United States, but says that, on the whole, the relationship is moving forward, not backward.
He is urging the American side to honor its commitments and, in his words, “properly handle” issues related to Taiwan and Tibet that concern China's core interests.
He welcomes what he calls “a constructive U.S. role” in the Asia Pacific region, but says he hopes Washington will respect China's interests and concerns there.
On the issue of territorial disputes in the South China Sea, Yang rejected the notion that Southeast Asian nations are worried about China's rising national strength.
He says he believes that trade figures speak louder than the microphones of naysayers.
He says China's trade with Southeast Asian nations last year topped $1 trillion and that China's investment in the region is approaching $20 billion.
The Chinese official also commented on two current international issues - suspicions that Iran is developing nuclear weapons and the ongoing violence in Syria.
He says China continues to oppose sanctions against Iran and says it hopes for a return to a multilateral mechanism for negotiating the Iranian crisis.
On Syria, Yang says China wants the Syrian people to resolve the issue without outside interference. China is sending an envoy to Syria to seek peace. It also is promoting a plan that calls on outside powers not to use humanitarian aid as an excuse to interfere in Syria and urges all warring sides, including the government, to immediately stop fighting.