15:26 GMT23 April 2021
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    The head of Beijing's diplomacy gave an extensive overview of the country's foreign policy during a press conference devoted to the fourth session of China's legislature.

    Beijing carried out one of the biggest humanitarian operations in its history by helping other countries in 2020 to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the country's Foreign Minister Wang Yi has stated. He added that China was not alone in this fight, cooperating with Russia to combat "both the coronavirus and the political virus".

    It is unclear what Wang Yi was referring to in his statement, but the US has in the past repeatedly accused China of being responsible for the global outbreak of COVID-19. Beijing denied the unsubstantiated allegations and condemned Washington's attempts to politicise the pandemic. Russia has also faced various allegations related to the pandemic – from accusations of promoting an anti-vaccination agenda to allegations of the ineffectiveness of Sputnik V – the world's first registered vaccine against COVID-19.

    Wang Yi also stressed that Beijing had provided aid to developing states by donating coronavirus vaccines to them, as well as sold jabs to other countries. The foreign minister condemned "vaccine nationalism", "vaccine divide", and any attempts to politicise vaccine production and distribution, stopping short of pointing fingers at any countries.

    Relations With US Should Be Based on 'Healthy Competition'

    The head of Chinese diplomacy also touched on the country's bilateral ties with the US, calling for them to return to healthy and steady growth. Wang Yi noted that competition is inevitable in the two states' affairs due to their interests being intertwined, but argued that it should be "healthy", based on fairness and equity.

    The foreign minister also discussed the subject of Taiwan, an island that Beijing considers an inalienable part of the country, but which de-facto is self-governed. The US, as well as other countries, has long adhered to the One-China principle under which Taiwan is recognised as part of China and has not engaged in separate diplomacy with it. However, the previous US administration took a big step away from the policy, negotiating with the island to sell advanced weaponry to it despite Beijing's strong objections. Wang Yi expressed hope that the situation will change with Biden's arrival in the White House.

    "We would hope to see a clear departure from the previous administration's dangerous practice of 'pushing the red line' and 'playing with fire', and we hope that the Taiwan question will be handled prudently and properly", the diplomat said, hailing the One-China principle as the basis for relations between Beijing and Washington.

    China's top diplomat announced a new direction for the country's foreign policy similar to the one presented by the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken – diplomacy for the people. Wang Yi described the policy as a diplomatic effort directed first and foremost at making Chinese citizens happy and "rejuvenating the nation".

    Blinken, in turn, said that the foreign policies of previous administrations, including ones led by Democrats, had failed to take into account the "needs and aspirations of the American people". He vowed that the Biden administration's "diplomacy for the people" would ask the question "What will our foreign policy mean for American workers and their families?" when making certain decisions in the sphere of diplomacy from now on.

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    diplomacy, vaccine, coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic, Russia, US, China
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