The visit to Tirana of Chinese Ambassador Jiang Yu, Special Representative of the State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and new Special Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for China-CEEC Cooperation, was a great opportunity for Albanian Daily News to have a comprehensive interview with her during which she dwelt on many issues highlighting the successful convening of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. 
Ambassador Yu unveiled a balance sheet of China-CEEC cooperation in the 10th year since its launching and its perspective, and she also touched upon the Western Balkans and the cooperation of the regional countries in the frame of the China-CEEC initiative. 
“China-CEEC Cooperation focuses on practical cooperation. It has yielded fruitful results, benefiting all parties involved including Albania,” said the Special Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for China-CEEC Cooperation, Jiang Yu, who was the Chinese Ambassador to Albania from 2015 to 2019. 
“I feel at home to visit Albania again and see the magnificent mountains and rivers and the hospitable people of the “Land of the Eagles”. The experiences of working and living here and the many old friends I have made have become my precious treasure. I’ve always been thinking of my old friends here and paying special attention to Albania’s development and construction,” said Ambassador Jiang Yu in the following interview: 

Albanian Daily News: Could you please brief our readers on the major outcomes of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC)? 
Ambassador Jiang Yu, Special Rep for China-CEEC Cooperation: The successful convening of the 20th CPC National Congress is a major event of great importance not only to the Chinese people, but also to the cause of world peace and development. The congress has drawn a clear blueprint for China’s future development, stressing on the central task to advance the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernization. Chinese modernization is the modernization of a huge population, the modernization of common prosperity for all, the modernization of material and cultural-ethical advancement, the modernization of harmony between humanity and nature, and the modernization of peaceful development. The modernization China is working to achieve means the modernization for 1.4 billion people, a number larger than the combined population of all developed countries in the world today. This will set a model in promoting global development and common progress for mankind. China will strive to safeguard world peace and development as pursues its own development, and will make greater contributions to world peace and development through its own development.  China will always pursue high-quality development based on its own strength, high-standard opening up with a mutually beneficial strategy, trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and bilateral, regional and multilateral economic cooperation. China strives to create new opportunities for the world with its own development and to contribute its share to building an open global economy that delivers greater benefits to all peoples. 

– Given the current turbulence in the international landscape, what kind of foreign policies China will take in the next five years? 
– Today, our world, our times, and history are changing in ways like never before. The historical trends of peace, development, cooperation, and mutual benefit are unstoppable and in the will of the people. And yet, the deficit in peace, development, security and governance is growing and posing unprecedented challenges for the international community. The world has once again reached a crossroads in history. 
China’s foreign policy maintains continuity and stability. China will stay committed to its foreign policy goals of upholding world peace and promoting common development. China will address the uncertainties in the outside world with its own certainty, hedge the instabilities in international situation with the stability of its domestic and foreign policies, provide sustainable power for the recovery of global economy with its own high-quality development and high-standard opening up. China will make unremitting efforts for world peace and development with a responsible attitude and keep dedicated to promoting a human community with a shared future. 
China remains firm in pursuing an independent foreign policy of peace, and decides its position on issues based on their own merits. China respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, and stays true to the principle of equality of all countries big or small, strong or weak and rich or poor, and insists that conflicts to be solved through peaceful dialogue and consultation. China stands firmly for the basic rules of international relations and international fairness and justice, against all forms of hegemonism and power politics, the Cold War mentality, interference in other countries’ internal affairs, and double standards. China is committed to deepening and expanding global partnerships based on equality, openness, and cooperation, broadening the convergence of interests with other countries, contributing its share to building an open global economy and opposing protectionism. 
China will keep playing an active part in the reform and development of the global governance system, promoting greater democracy in international relations and working to make global governance fairer and more equitable. China has put forward the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative, calling on the international community to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, promote stronger, green and healthy global development, and build a balanced, effective and sustainable security framework. China welcomes Albania’s active participation in the above important initiatives to jointly promote humanity’s shared values of peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy and freedom, promote mutual understanding, forge closer bonds between peoples around the world and make unremitting efforts for world peace and development. 

– There are still conflicts in some Western Balkan countries in their search for truth. Your Excellency what is China’s position on the Western Balkan situation? What is your comment on China’s cooperation with Western Balkan countries? What is your response to claims by some Western countries that China is seeking to expand its influence in this region?        
– China remains firm in pursuing an independent foreign policy of peace, and stays true to the principle of equality of all countries big or small, strong or weak, and rich or poor. China respects the development paths independently chosen by the Western Balkan peoples and stands firmly against interference in internal affairs of countries in this region and double standards. China has always advocated that the Western Balkan countries properly solve problems left over by history through dialogue. In the spirit of mutual respect, mutual trust and mutually beneficial cooperation, China will, as a friend and partner of the Western Balkans, keep committed to promoting long-term stability, prosperity and development of the region.   
Powered by the Belt and Road Initiative and China-CEEC Cooperation, cooperation between China and the Western Balkan countries is highlighted with abundant achievements in various fields such as economy and trade, investment, agriculture, science and technology, education, culture, tourism and health. According to GACC statistics, from 2012 to 2021, trade volume between China and Western Balkan countries increased from US$1.47 billion to US$5 billion, added with a 42.2% year-on-year growth in the first three quarters of this year. A number of projects with Chinese enterprises involved have been completed, including the irrigation scheme from Murriz to Thana in Albania, the Stanari Thermal Power Plant in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the priority section of the North-South highway in Montenegro, the Miladinovci-Shtip highway in North Macedonia, and the E763 highway in Serbia.  Peppermint, tea and frozen fruit from Albania have obtained access to the Chinese market one by one, and the municipality primary school “Rajko Zinzifov” has been opened as a symbol of China-North Macedonia friendship. All these have contributed to the development of Western Balkan countries and improvement of their people’s life, embodying the spirit of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits and enriching the contents of China-Europe cooperation as well. 
During the critical period of Albania’s fight against COVID-19, China took the lead in providing anti-pandemic supplies and vaccines to Albania, helping to build a defense line for life and health. Not long ago, the Chinese Culture Week 2022 held in Albania attracted a large number of Albanian people and made jubilant scenery. These two vivid examples show that the people of China and Western Balkan countries are closely connected in heart and soul and the time-honoured friendship between us has been growing ever stronger with time. Deepening cooperation between us is in line with the fundamental interests and common aspirations of our peoples and the historical trends of peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit. With the leverage of China-Europe Land-Sea Express Line, we ought to make full use of visa facilitation arrangements between us, promote tourism cooperation between China and the Balkan region as a whole, expand export of agricultural and food products from Balkan countries to China, further strengthen cultural and people-to-people exchanges and keep deepening traditional friendship between us. 

– Could you please brief our readers on the major achievements of Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries (China-CEEC Cooperation) over the past decade and the major opportunities that the 20th CPC National Congress will bring to China-CEEC Cooperation?      
– In the 10 years since the launching of China-CEEC Cooperation, China-CEEC relations have been accelerated and upgraded in all aspects. First, considerable progress has been made in economic and trade cooperation. Over the past decade, trade volume between China and CEE countries has grown rapidly by 1.4 times, reaching US $136.2 billion in 2021, up by 31.6% year on year, much higher than the growth rate of China-EU trade. In the first eight months of this year, the trade volume between China and CEE countries increased by 12.5% year on year. China has become one of the most important trading partners and sources of imports for CEE countries outside the EU. China has approved access for nearly 200 categories of food, live animals and agricultural products from CEE countries to its market, and export of agricultural products from CEE countries’ to China has increased substantially by 1.5 times. Second, cooperation on major projects has made remarkable achievements. Outcomes and progresses of a number of major projects, including the Budapest-Belgrade Railway, the Piraeus Port in Greece, the Smederevo Steel Plant in Serbia and the Peljesac Bridge in Croatia, have been largely contributing to boost local employment and economic growth. The number of freight train operations of China-Europe Railway Express (CERE) to CEE countries has reached 13,709, accounting for 24% of the total. Third, friendship between our peoples has been further uplifted. The number of Chinese tourists visiting CEE countries has been quadrupled to 2.16 million. Direct flights between China and CEE countries such as Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Serbia and Greece counted 30 a week. Ties for 105 pairs of sister provinces and cities have been forged between China and CEE countries, exceeding the total number of those in the 30 years prior to the Cooperation. It has been proved by the facts that China-CEEC Cooperation, just like bilateral cooperation and China-Europe cooperation, constitutes one of the three accelerators for the advance of China-CEEC relations. 
China is committed to building world peace, contributing to global development and upholding the international order. This will provide three important opportunities for the growth of China-Europe and China-CEEC relations. 
First, the areas of cooperation have been more extensive and comprehensive. Against the backdrop of on-going COVID-19 pandemic and the spillover effects of the Ukraine crisis, the two sides have more room for cooperation in such areas as finance, agriculture, connectivity, green industries and new energy. CEE countries have unique advantages in this regard and can take the lead in China-Europe cooperation in these areas, so as to enhance the added value of bilateral relations and the Cooperation. 
Second, more possibilities in practical cooperation are to be focused on. China will promote for more CERE routes to CEE countries and enrich the construction of China-Europe Land-Sea Express Line. We will also organize more Chinese trade and investment promotion groups to visit CEE countries for investment and procurement, and encourage enterprises on both sides to deepen practical cooperation through China-CEEC E-Commerce Cooperation and Dialogue Mechanism to create new growth points for cooperation. We welcome more CEE enterprises to enter the vast Chinese market with ever growing opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation. 
Third, exchanges and mutual learning on state governance. Both sides are facing common challenges in green transformation, safeguarding industrial and supply chains, and addressing population aging. In the spirit of mutual-respect, mutual learning and mutual complementing, we should further strengthen exchanges of ideas and policies, and turn the outcomes into visible practical results, which could help to enhance the feeling of participation and gain of all participant countries in China-CEEC Cooperation. 

– Could you please brief our readers on the agenda for future events and activities of China-CEEC Cooperation? 
– This year marks the 10th anniversary of the launching of China-CEEC Cooperation. Currently, with joint efforts by China and CEE countries, solid progresses have been made in follow-up to the China-CEEC Leaders’ Summit. Most outcomes of the Summit have been completed or progressed positively, with only a few exceptions due to the effect of COVID-19 pandemic. For example, during the 5th China International Import Expo(CIIE) opened on November 5th, special promoting events were held exclusively for CEE participant countries to China-CEEC Cooperation. Many companies and associations from both China and other countries took an active part in the events, with many intentional agreements reached at the spot. In July, the construction of the Novisad-Subotica section of the Budapest-Belgrade Railway was officially started. Air China recently resumed direct flights between Budapest and Tianjin. China’s Hainan Airlines resumed flights between Belgrade and Beijing. LOT Polish Airlines added direct flights between Warsaw and Tianjin in October. At present, China is actively promoting the opening of CERE routes from Hebei province to the Czech Republic and Slovakia and from Jiangxi province to Bulgaria, and direct cargo flights between Luzhou, Sichuan Province and Slovakia. 
On our agenda, there are also a series of major events, including the Fourth China-CEEC (Cangzhou) SME Cooperation Forum, the Second Meeting of China-CEEC Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Working Group, Symposium on China-CEEC Connectivity Cooperation, and Working Group Meeting for China-CEEC Logistics Secretariat Focal Point Meeting, etc. Through these events, more tangible results are to be obtained in areas such as agriculture, connectivity, trade and investment, energy and digital industry, so as to bring more benefits to all participants. 

– Which countries have benefited more from China-CEEC Cooperation? What about my country, Albania? 
– China-CEEC Cooperation focuses on practical cooperation. It has yielded fruitful results, benefiting all parties involved including Albania. With different market potentials, product advantages and cooperation needs, benefits CEE countries get from the Cooperation also varies. But the overall trend is extensive participation, shared benefits and common development. With unique features of information sharing, coordination and synergy and requirement docking, the Cooperation therefore complements pure bilateral cooperation and has effectively spurred the enthusiasm for cooperation between China and CEE countries. Over the past 10 years, China and Albania have signed more than 30 cooperation documents, and China has become Albania’s main trading partner and source of investment. According to GACC statistics, China’s import from Albania grew by 102.6% last year and by 56.1% year on year in the first three quarters of this year. With Chinese investment, the Bankers Petroleum has created more than 500 jobs in Albania. Taken the opportunity of China-CEEC Leaders’ Summit, China and Albania have signed the Protocols on Inspection, Quarantine (and Sanitary) Requirements for Export of Dairy Products and Honey from Albania to China, and are stepping up follow-up work on the implementation of the protocols. One of the most important activities during my current visit to Albania is to attend a promotional event for Albanian products to Chinese market. This event will be hosted by the city of Ningbo in Zhejiang Province on the Chinese side, which has hosted two China-CEEC EXPOs. We hope that relevant departments, farmers and exporters of Albania will strengthen coordination with counterpart departments of Ningbo and Chinese importers, make good use of the platforms of China-CEEC Cooperation, and promote more Albanian products to enter the Chinese market. 
Albania is an active participant in and an important contributor to China-CEEC Cooperation. It has played a coordinating role by hosting the China-CEEC Forum of Capital City Mayors, Chamber of Commerce Roundtable, the China-CEEC Tourism Cooperation Association Meeting, which the Chinese side highly appreciates. We hope that China and Albania will make full use of the platforms in framework of the Cooperation to expand channels for cooperation and room for development, and push bilateral relations to a new high. 

– You served as the Chinese Ambassador to Albania from 2015 to 2019. What is your impression of the Albanian people, history and culture? Based on your experience, how do you evaluate the friendship between the two peoples and its prospects? 
– I feel at home to visit Albania again and see the magnificent mountains and rivers and the hospitable people of the “Land of the Eagles”. The experiences of working and living here and the many old friends I have made have become my precious treasure. I’ve always been thinking of my old friends here and paying special attention to Albania’s development and construction. My visit comes as the Albanian people celebrate the 110th anniversary of their country’s independence. I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to them and wish Albania to make ever new achievements on its path of prosperity, and its people well-being. 
China and Albania share many similarities. Both countries have a heroic history of resisting foreign aggression. Like countless Chinese national heroes, Skanderbeg is always remembered by the later generations. Both countries share the cultural heritage of openness and inclusiveness. Everywhere I go in Albania, I could feel the hospitality of the Albanian people and the nation’s strong desire to expand bilateral cooperation with China. China also has a big heart and advocates respect of the diversity of civilizations and promote mutual understanding and forge closer bonds between peoples all over the world. 
Both peoples value friendship. My Albanian friends often tell me with great gratitude about the numerous projects China helped build in last century. China will never forget the important role Albania played in promoting the resumption of China’s legal seat and rights in the United Nations and will continue to deepen friendship and cooperation with Albania. No matter how much China achieves in its development, we will never forget the profound friendship forged between the Chinese and Albanian peoples. We are ready to make joint efforts with our Albanian friends on the road of friendship, mutual trust and mutually beneficial cooperation for even brighter future of China-Albania relations in the new historical era. 

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