Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying’s Regular Press Conference on July 17, 2020
China Daily: A series of Senior Officials’ Meetings on East Asia Cooperation will be held soon. What is China’s expectation of the meetings?
Hua Chunying: On July 20 and 21, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Plus Three (China, Japan and the Republic of Korea) Senior Officials’ Meeting (APT SOM), East Asia Summit Senior Officials’ Meeting (EAS SOM) and ASEAN Regional Forum Senior Officials’ Meeting (ARF SOM) will be held in video format. Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui will attend the meetings.
Since the beginning of this year, The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the lives and health of people and economic and social development of all countries. Under the framework of the East Asia regional cooperation mechanism, countries in the region took the lead in carrying out COVID-19 cooperation, and successfully held the APT Special Leaders’ Meeting and the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, which demonstrated the spirit of working together to overcome difficulties and set an example of international solidarity in the fight against COVID-19. Countries in the region have provided material assistance to and shared experience and technology with each other, promoted the establishment of “fast tracks” for personnel exchanges and “green passages” for goods transportation, and maintained the stability of regional supply chains and industrial chains. Such efforts have achieved remarkable results. As I mentioned yesterday, in the first half of this year, the value of China’s imports and exports to ASEAN increased by 5.6 percent. ASEAN has become China’s largest trading partner, and China remains ASEAN’s largest trading partner for 11 consecutive years.
Countries in the region are still at a critical stage of fighting the pandemic and reigniting development. China is ready to work with other countries in the region to coordinate anti-epidemic and development efforts, build up political consensus, and promote practical cooperation, thus preparing for the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and Leaders’ Meeting on East Asia Cooperation to be held in the second half of this year and contributing to regional peace, stability, development and prosperity.
CCTV: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a press availability that when the UN arms embargo on Iran expires on October 18, China will sell weapons systems to Iran and they have been working on it. Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: We noted relevant reports. Pompeo’s remarks are totally unreasonable and apparently an excuse to push the UN Security Council to extend arms embargo against Iran. This is another proof of the untrustworthy and unreliable US turning away from its commitments, after defying UNSCR2231 and international consensus and unilaterally withdrawing from the JCPOA. We hope the US will return to the right track of upholding the sanctity of the Security Council resolution and complying with the Iranian nuclear deal, instead of going further down the wrong path.
China has all along adopted a prudent and responsible attitude toward weapons exports and followed the three principles for arms exports: the exports should be conducive to the legitimate self-defense capability of the recipient country; they should not undermine peace, security and stability of the region concerned and the world as a whole; and they should not be used to interfere in the internal affairs of the recipient country. Without violating international obligations including Security Council resolutions, China can carry out normal arms trade cooperation with any country and such cooperation is beyond reproach. The US has no rights to criticize China on this issue. It unsigned the Arms Trade Treaty last year while China recently just joined it. The two countries’ attitudes towards international rules stand in such sharp contrast that they are self-explanatory.
CRI: The first China + Central Asia (C+C5) foreign ministers’ meeting was held via video link yesterday. Could you share more details with us?
Hua Chunying: Yesterday, the China + Central Asia (C+C5) foreign ministers’ meeting was held via video link, which was attended and chaired by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. This is the first foreign ministers’ meeting between China and the five Central Asian countries. The participants had an in-depth exchange of views on four topics: strengthening cooperation against COVID-19, promoting economic recovery, maintaining regional security and enhancing international coordination. The meeting adopted and issued a joint statement on the virtual meeting of C+C5 foreign ministers and decided to establish a regular meeting mechanism of C+C5 foreign ministers, which will be a new and important platform for deepening bilateral strategic partnership.
The participants reached nine important consensuses on advancing cooperation between China and Central Asian countries and promoting regional peace and development. First, the development, stability and prosperity of China and Central Asian countries serve the common interests of all parties. All parties respect each other’s choice of development path based on national conditions and stand ready to jointly make contributions to safeguarding regional peace, stability and prosperity. Second, all parties speak highly of the outcomes of the anti-epidemic cooperation between China and Central Asian countries, which embodies the vision of a community with a shared future. They expressed willingness to further strengthen COVID-19 prevention and control cooperation and set up the “fast tracks” for personnel exchange and “green passages” for the flow of goods at an early date. Third, all parties will continue to seek complementarity between the Belt and Road Initiative and the development strategies of Central Asian countries, further expand trade volumes, and build more consensus and take concrete actions on building the silk road for health and the digital silk road. Fourth, all parties will support the building of partnership through enhancing connectivity, explore more trans-border routes that meet the needs and serve the benefits of all parties, and enable Central Asia to play its important role as a transport hub on the Eurasian continent. Fifth, all parties will strengthen agricultural cooperation to ensure food security. China welcomes Central Asian countries to increase their exports of high-quality and green agricultural products to China. Sixth, all parties will expand high-tech cooperation in e-commerce, smart cities, artificial intelligence and the application of big data technology, and jointly forge a digital economic partnership. Seventh, all parties condemn terrorism and advocate jointly fighting against terrorism, extremism and separatism, drug trafficking and organized transnational crimes. Eighth, all parties unanimously support the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan and stand ready to play a constructive role in promoting intra-Afghan talks, restoring peace and stability, advancing economic reconstruction and strengthening regional cooperation. Ninth, all parties should further strengthen cooperation in the UN and other multilateral mechanisms, jointly defend multilateralism, jointly oppose interference in other countries’ internal affairs, and uphold international fairness and justice.
You may ask why C+C5 foreign ministers need to meet regularly. Linked by mountains and rivers, China and Central Asian countries are close, friendly neighbors. More than 2,100 years ago, when Zhang Qian was sent as a diplomatic envoy of the Han dynasty to the Western Regions, China began a historical chapter of friendly exchanges with Central Asian countries. Twenty-eight years ago, China was among the first to establish diplomatic relations with the C5 countries. Over the past 28 years, guided by mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation, we have embarked on an extraordinary path of cooperation and set an example for a new type of international relations. It is natural for us to establish a mechanism for regular meetings.
Strengthening collective cooperation between China and Central Asian countries is neighbors helping and supporting each other, which conforms to the trend of the times, serves all side’s interests and benefits the international community. Cooperation between China and Central Asia is based on the common needs of both sides. It does not target any third party, nor does it affect bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the region. We are ready to take the opportunity of the establishment of the foreign ministers’ meeting mechanism between China and the C5 countries to hold regular meetings and formulate cooperation plans so as to steadily move forward the cause of the China-Central Asia friendship.
China News Service: On July 16, the White House issued a Presidential Message on the 75th Anniversary of the Trinity Nuclear Test. It said the US nuclear force has effectively maintained post-WWII global security and stability and provided security guarantee for the US and its allies. Since 1992, the US has observed a moratorium on nuclear testing “although Russia has conducted nuclear weapons experiments that produce nuclear yield, and despite concerns that China has done the same”. It once again called on Russia and China to join it in trilateral negotiations, working together to stave off a new arms race. Do you have a comment?
Hua Chunying: I have noted the Message. As we can see, the US is glorifying the role of its nuclear force in upholding global security and stability. It is also disregarding the overriding international momentum for peace and development. It hypes up major power competition, advances nuclear weapon modernization, and develops new types of nuclear weapons to seek absolute strategic advantage. At the same time, it tramples on the international arms control regime, shifts blame, and withdraws from organizations and treaties, all to unshackle its nuclear prowess. What the US has done poses grave threats to global strategic security and stability.
The US has conducted more nuclear testing than others, over a thousand at home and abroad, causing unspeakable damage to other countries’ ecological environment. As exposed by media reports, its multiple nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands caused irreparable damage to local residents’ health and ecological environment. You have surely noted recent US media reports on discussions within the administration on resuming nuclear tests. Now the US, the real thief, is crying “catch the thief” by accusing others of conducting testing with trumped-up charges. By dragging China into this issue, it seeks to let itself off the hook and out of the straitjacket. I need to stress that of all five nuclear-weapon states under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, China comes last on the number of tests. China was among the first group of signatories to the CTBT. It supports the purpose and objective of the treaty, stays committed to the nuclear testing moratorium.
On the US call for the so-called China-US-Russia nuclear disarmament negotiation, my colleagues and I have stated China’s position repeatedly. We hope the US will stop playing dumb. With the largest nuclear arsenal, the US should respond to international concern, earnestly fulfill its special and primary responsibilities to nuclear disarmament, respond positively to Russia’s call on extending the New START and further drastically reduce its nuclear arms stockpile. This is the correct way to safeguard its own security and global strategic stability.
Beijing Daily: David Stilwell, the State Department’s Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs said in his recent speech at a think tank that the US would urge all countries participating in the election of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) to carefully evaluate China’s candidacy, saying that electing a Chinese official to the ITLOS was like hiring an arsonist to run a fire department. What is China’s comment?
Hua Chunying: They always resort to some sensational but deceitful lines to slander and attack China. The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) is an important international judicial body established in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). China attaches great importance to and strongly supports the work of the Tribunal and maintains good cooperative relations with it. It has been the long-standing consensus and consistent practice of the Parties to the Convention that the representation of the principal legal systems of the world and equitable geographical distribution shall be assured. Judges of the Tribunal perform their duties in their personal capacity. The candidate nominated by China is well versed in international law and the law of the sea and has rich knowledge and practical experience in the field of international law of the sea. He fully meets the conditions stipulated in the Statute of the Tribunal and has been approved by the United Nations Asia-Pacific Group. If elected, He will surely devote himself in making an important contribution to the work of the Tribunal and to the peaceful settlement of maritime disputes.
So far, the United States has not ratified the UNCLOS, but has always posed as a defender of it. Assistant Secretary Stilwell showed no respect to the basic rules reached by the States Parties to UNCLOS on the election of judges to the Tribunal and the practical arrangements observed by the States Parties over time. He wanted to use his aggressive words to turn the international public opinion against China and lord over the States Parties to UNCLOS. Such action is what constitutes the greatest breach and violation of the UNCLOS, the international legal order and international relations.
Bloomberg: How does China respond to a speech Thursday by US Attorney General William Barr, in which he claimed hackers linked to China have targeted their universities and companies in a bid to steal intellectual property tied to coronavirus treatments? And how does China respond to Barr’s additional comments that the Chinese Communist Party has used public threats of retaliation and barred market access to exert influence over US companies?
Hua Chunying: We keep stressing that China is a staunch defender of cybersecurity. China has long been a major victim of cyber thefts and attacks. Our position on cybersecurity issues is consistent and clear. We firmly oppose and fight all forms of cyber attacks and thefts.
As we’ve repeatedly said, given the virtual nature of cyberspace and the fact that there are all kinds of online actors who are difficult to trace, I must underscore the importance to have enough evidence when investigating and identifying cyber-related incidents. Groundless speculations should not be allowed. Certain US politicians are so irresponsible that they will say whatever needs to be said to make China a target. We firmly reject that. I am sure those who have long been following cybersecurity issues have not forgotten the PRISM program. They must have also heard of the Equation Group. Yahoo recently reported on CIA’s secret authorization to conduct cyber attacks. The US and a few followers randomly wage cyber warfare against other countries. They are the biggest threat to peace and security in the global cyber space.
I stress again that cybersecurity is a global issue that bears on the shared interests of all countries and should be jointly guarded by the international community. The confrontational mindset, reminiscent of Cold War, will only poison the atmosphere for cooperation and will not be conducive to peace and security of cyber space.
Some US politicians seem to be alleging that China is waging cyber attacks to steal US research on COVID-19 vaccines. It’s just absurd.
We are already leading the world in vaccine R&D with top researchers. We don’t need to secure an edge by theft. As we speak, Chinese research teams are moving ahead with multiple vaccine tasks through five technical routes. Chinese IP vaccines have entered clinical trial stages. The Beijing Biological Products Institute of CNBG of Sinopharm has already built the world’s largest production facility for COVID-19 vaccines. Relevant authorities including the National Medical Products Administration of China have been working to accelerate progress on vaccine development. Besides, China has also been working actively with relevant countries on vaccine research and development, production and distribution to contribute to the global efforts towards securing an early victory against the virus.
I have also seen reports over the past couple of days on an article by leaders of eight countries including the ROK, Ethiopia and Tunisia, among others. They called on all countries to contribute to a fair and effective vaccine allocation mechanism. None of us is safe until all of us are safe. They also said that “immunization is our best chance of ending the pandemic at home and across the world – but only if all countries get access to the vaccine.” We couldn’t agree more.
As a matter of fact, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged at the 73rd WHA that COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available, will be made a global public good. This will be China’s contribution to enhancing vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries.
China will not act like some countries and seek monopoly or buy out vaccines and anti-epidemic medicines. Instead, we will continue working with relevant countries on vaccine research and development, production and distribution. And we will do our best to contribute to the endeavor to defeat the virus as soon as possible and safeguard people’s lives and health.
You also mentioned US officials’ claim on China’s threats of retaliation against US companies. That is typical distortion of facts and stark hegemony. Have you not seen how the US government spared no efforts to repress Chinese companies including Huawei? Have you not seen how they crossed every line, violated human rights to intimidate and arrest Chinese business executives, and coerced and co-opted its minion to illegally detain Ms. Meng Wanzhou? I wonder if any American business has had the same treatment or experience in China? China will not go so low as the US does. Instead, we will firmly advance all-round opening-up, foster an open economy at a higher level, and create a level playing field for all businesses, Chinese and foreign alike. That said, we will never allow the US to rampantly trample on Chinese companies’ legitimate rights. We have every right to say no to bullying and injustice.