A few days ago, I attended the Special Week activity hosted by the Afghan Red Crescent Society, where Afghan friends spoke highly of the efforts of the Chinese Red Cross Foundation to help 100 Afghan children with Congenital Heart Disease. All the operations were successfully performed by Chinese doctors in my hometown, Urumqi. This miracle, embodied with painstaking work of many Chinese people, restored laughter, happiness and hope for the hundred Afghan families.
October 1st is the National Day of the People's Republic of China. The Chinese Embassy shared joy of the festival together with Afghan friends. The Gansu Acrobatic Troupe, regardless of fatigue and physical discomfort after traveling thousands of miles from Gansu province of China to Kabul and Bamyan, made five consecutive wonderful performances to war orphans, university teachers and students within a short week. The waves of applause and laughter from the children and the youth reflected the pristine humanity amid the chaos of war as well as the people's pursuit of a colorful life of culture, and touched a wide range of friends in China and Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has entered election season. Almost all political parties leaders and candidates told me that, although they hold different political views between each other, they do share one commonality, i.e. they regard themselves as friends of China and are enthusiastic about China-Afghanistan relations. They said that being a major country adjacent to Afghanistan, China has never interfered in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, never lectured Afghanistan on its elections, electoral institutions or candidates, never imposed its own will on Afghanistan, never attached any political strings to the economic assistance to Afghanistan, and never seek any agents in Afghanistan. This kind of country is trusted by Afghanistan and this kind of people is respected by the Afghan people.
Afghan friends also told me that, Afghanistan admires the fact that China has enjoyed political stability, lifted more than 700 million people out of poverty over the past four decades, that all the 56 ethnic groups of China live in harmony, nearly 1.4 billion people live and work in peace, and people from all walks of life of different regions and religions all have a sense of security, gains, happiness and beautiful prospects for life and career. Although having made remarkable achievements in reform and opening-up as well as the building of democracy and rule of law, instead of being arrogant, China has always been modest and prudent, and always treated all countries as equals. China never exports its own model, and always supports others to build the country by exploring a development path matching their respective national conditions. This image of a responsible major country has earned the heart of the Afghan people.
China has a tradition of making new friends while never forgetting the old ones. The other day I met with relatives of His Majesty Former King Mohammed Zahir Shah, and they also cherished this tradition very much. I was told that His Majesty had great feelings towards China all through his life. He once told people around him when inspecting a China-aided fish farm in 1965 that, China was a trustworthy and close friend of Afghanistan, all the China-constructed projects were out of true friendship and benefited all the Afghan people, China did this without any self-interests and even asked for nothing in return.
Some Afghan friends express their concerns towards the ongoing international situation and Afghan domestic security, and ask me about the Chinese solution to world pattern and China-Afghanistan relations. This is my answer: fostering a new type of international relations and building a community with a shared future for mankind is the “Chinese Approach”, promoting China-Afghanistan strategic partnership for the community with a shared future is the “Chinese Promise”.
China and Afghanistan have already been partners with a shared future. Both countries sympathized and supported each other in anti-imperialist and anti-colonist struggles, experienced the rise and fall of the ancient Silk Road together, fought for independence and self-reliance together, supported Non-Aligned Movement and UN Agenda for Sustainable Development together, and combated international terrorism and transnational organized crimes together.
China has linked its own development closely with the reconstruction of Afghanistan, and welcomed Afghanistan to share the opportunity of its development. China provided thousands of training opportunities for Afghan professionals and nearly 200 scholarships to Afghan youths every year, encouraged capable Chinese companies to invest in Afghanistan, and built schools and hospitals for Afghanistan. China takes the request of Afghan brothers seriously and fulfills promises to the utmost extent. China has taken the initiative to open its transportation line and domestic market to Afghanistan and now Afghan saffron, pine nuts, marble and carpets can be sold at a good price in China. Afghan farmer and businessmen are the biggest beneficiaries of this initiative.
China, with its words and deeds unanimously, supports Afghan peace and reconciliation process based on the principle of “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned”, and promotes dialogue and negotiation among relevant parties. China makes active efforts for Afghanistan but never makes decisions for Afghanistan, fully respecting the Afghan people’s sense of sovereignty, safety and dignity. The reason that China advocates the China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue is that good-neighborhood is one of the prerequisites for the long-term stability in Afghanistan. China sincerely hopes that Afghanistan will become a harbor for cooperation instead of a competitive platform for major powers and is willing to work with the international community to support the Afghan peaceful reconstruction. China welcomes and supports everything that is for the benefit of Afghanistan and thinks that the whole world should also act in the same way.
As the international and regional situation’s changing and so as our domestic social conditions and public opinions, China and Afghan need to keep pace with the trend of the times. As a community of shared interests, responsibilities and destiny, the two countries can work together to lead the international community to a new path of mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation. The two countries can deepen cooperation on jointly building the Belt and Road Initiative, stick to the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration, and implement projects in the fields of connectivity, trade and investment, people-people exchanges and provincial cooperation in a down-to-earth manner. The two countries can expand political dialogue and policy coordination at all levels, strengthen mutual understanding and support each other on issues involving core interests and major concerns, and deepen bilateral and regional counter-terrorism cooperation.