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Wang Yi Talks about Fifth Anniversary of Phenomena in West Asia and North Africa

On May 13, 2016 local time, Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed his views on the situation in West Asia and North Africa during an exclusive interview with Phoenix TV upon the end of his visit to Tunisia.

Wang Yi said that this year marks the fifth anniversary of the "Arab spring", which broke out in Tunisia and spread to many countries in West Asia and North Africa. Today, it is necessary for the international community to summarize and reflect on the experience and draw up lessons from it.

Wang Yi said that the changes in West Asia and North Africa over these years can be summed up and classified into three types: the first is the Tunisian type. Changes have been made in a relatively smooth manner, namely, the completion of political transition through dialogues and consultations, which deserves full recognition. However, this type of change did not lead to a more robust economic development but to new problems such as massive youth unemployment. The second is the Libyan type. Libya still cannot get rid of anarchy, a situation that gives the extreme terrorist forces the environment and conditions to breed, spread and even overflow, and it has become an urgent problem which needs high attention from and requires to be immediately solved by the international community. The third is the Egyptian type. Egypt has witnessed two revolutions. Since the first revolution did not bring the results people had expected, the second one broke out. However, it didn't bear the desired effect of the so-called "color revolution" either. After General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took office, the country restored order in a short time. Political and social stability has promoted Egypt to get back on the track of development.

Wang Yi noted that these three types of changes happened in West Asia and North Africa one after another. No matter what types of the changes are, they all tell us a fact that revolution must ultimately be in line with local national and social conditions, conform to their development stages and levels, and should bring tangible benefits to the general public. Only this kind of revolution, or, in other words, a development path with own characteristics, can be a long-term one that adapts to the changing situation. Of course, if a new government or a regime intends to be stable, it must first realize effective governance while gaining the support from its people. In a word, the phenomena in West Asia and North Africa in the 21st century are worthy of further discussions.

Wang Yi further elaborated upon inquiry that more and more countries indeed hope that China will participate more in the Middle East affairs and play a more positive role in solving regional hotspot issues. This is exactly what we have done. First, as a permanent member of the United Nations (UN) Security Council, China is responsible for safeguarding world peace and stability. The Middle East is a region which sees relatively frequent turmoil, so China will certainly play its role, mainly through supporting the mediation efforts led by the UN under the framework of the UN. China's position is that we make judgments by the rights and wrongs of the issue itself rather than by allies or interests. Such moves of China have been welcomed by countries in the region. Just as Secretary-General Nabil El Araby of the League of Arab States (LAS) and many state leaders of the region said, China is the only major country that does not interfere with their internal affairs and sincerely helps them solve problems. We should live up to their expectations by doing our best to play China's unique and constructive role.

Meanwhile, we should also give full play to our own strengths, that is, our commitment to development, which is the key to all issues. This is China's fundamental experience, and I think it applies to the Middle East, West Asia and North Africa as well. A large number of Chinese engineering and technical staff are working in Iraq to help its reconstruction; otherwise, Iraq may face a much severer situation. In the future, we will also do our utmost to help and participate in the economic reconstruction of Syria and even Libya. What is particularly worth mentioning is that the "Belt and Road" initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping has won the most unreserved welcome and support in Middle East. And I deeply felt that during my attendance at the meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum. Twenty-one Arab states and the LAS have given full support to the "Belt and Road" initiative, as they consider this initiative in precise conformity to the urgent demands of development in the Middle East. The advancement of the "Belt and Road" initiative can help countries in the region achieve common development and prosperity. At the same time, the region's development can provide better conditions and foundations for the settlement of various hotspot issues. In this sense, we should attach greater importance to the Middle East. As we face relatively more difficulties and problems in this region when advancing the "Belt and Road" construction, we have every reason to devote greater efforts and conduct more work to promote good solutions of various problems.

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