Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on July 20, 2020
I. As agreed by the two sides, the 7th China-France High Level Economic and Financial Dialogue will be held through teleconference on July 21. Vice-Premier Hu Chunhua of the State Council and French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire will co-chair the dialogue.
Established in 2013, the China-France High Level Economic and Financial Dialogue serves as an important platform for communication and policy coordination on strategic, overarching and long-term issues in the economic and financial sectors. It has played a positive role in deepening bilateral practical cooperation in these areas, enhancing communication and coordination on major international economic and financial issues, and in promoting the China-France comprehensive strategic partnership.
II. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will co-chair with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Viet Nam Pham Binh Minh the 12th Meeting of the China-Viet Nam Steering Committee for Bilateral Cooperation on July 21. The meeting will be held via videolink.
CCTV: The US Department of Defense published an article which cites Defense Secretary Mark Esper as saying “We’re in an era of great power competition… and that means that our top strategic competitors are China, then Russia.” China is the bigger problem, he said. The Chinese wants to rewrite the rules of the international order that have served the nations of the world – including China – so well since the end of World War II, the National Defense Strategy says. A rising China, by itself, would not concern US leaders, but a rising China under the governance of the Chinese communist party is a concern. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: Certain individuals in the US have always looked at China-US relations with Cold-War mentality and zero-sum game mindset and instigated the containment and oppression of China. This is one of the important reasons why China-US relations are facing severe challenges.
China has all along been an upholder of international order and champion and practitioner of international fairness and justice. It stands in stark contrast with the US, who has kept turning away from international treaties and organizations and selectively applied international law as it sees fit. The international community knows clearly who is a trouble-maker. China wants to rewrite, if anything, the obsolete model of a country seeking hegemony when growing stronger, and is firmly committed to finding a new path of peaceful development and win-win cooperation with other countries.
The CPC leadership is the defining feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The CPC is the fundamental guarantee for China’s development and renewal, and a force contributing to world peace and common development. The US should respect and welcome the fact that the CPC is endorsed by the Chinese people, rather than wantonly smear its image, sow discords between the CPC and the Chinese people, and fan up an ideological confrontation and form a clique on the international stage.
China’s foreign policy on the US is consistent and clear. We are committed to developing a China-US relationship featuring non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. In the meantime, we firmly uphold our sovereignty, security and development interests. We urge the US to reject its Cold-War mindset, zero-sum game mentality and ideological bias, view China and China-US relations correctly, stop those negative words and deeds, and work with China for moving the bilateral relationship back onto the right track of coordination, cooperation and stability.
China News Service: US Secretary of State Pompeo said in a public speech in Iowa on July 17 that “we’re telling the truth every day of where the coronavirus came from, and the communist cover up of that virus.” I wonder if you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: Secretary Pompeo’s accusation against China is just another repeated lie that has no factual basis at all.
As editor-in-chief of the Lancet wrote, the WHO and China explained what was going on in January, but certain countries didn’t respond to it in the following six weeks, which is an unpardonable error. It is incorrect to accuse the WHO or China on conspiracy grounds.
Shifting the responsibilities to China, pinning labels on the virus and resorting to politicization cannot solve the problems facing the United States. Respecting facts and science while enhancing anti-epidemic cooperation is the right way forward. We hope the US government can have a responsible attitude for the life and health of its people, and devote more time and energy on fighting the virus at home as well as boosting international cooperation.
Ta Kung Pao: Reports say that Britain signals it may suspend extradition treaty with Hong Kong as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is expected to make the announcement on the Hong Kong treaty when he addresses Parliament. Do you have any response?
Wang Wenbin: China strongly condemns the UK’s recent wrong remarks and moves on Hong Kong which disregard the basic fact that the Law on Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR is conducive to the steady and sustained implementation of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong, grossly violate international law and basic norms governing international relations, and flagrantly interfere in China’s domestic affairs. We urge the UK to stop going further down the wrong path to avoid greater damage to China-UK relations.
People’s Daily: Further to your announcement on the 12th Meeting of the China-Viet Nam Steering Committee for Bilateral Cooperation, could you shed some light on its background and agenda?
Wang Wenbin: Currently, overall China-Viet Nam relations are on a positive trajectory. As this year is the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations, General Secretary and President Xi Jinping held phone talks and exchanged congratulatory messages with General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trongon to mark the occasion on the eve of the Spring Festival, making strategic plans for advancing party and state relations. In the face of the sudden COVID-19 outbreak, China and Viet Nam stood in solidarity with mutual assistance and achieved major victory in the fight, which created good conditions for exchange and cooperation going forward.
China looks forward to taking stock of progress in bilateral relations with Viet Nam at this meeting, and exchanging ideas in depth on coordinating exchange and cooperation in various fields with ongoing prevention and control efforts. We believe that with our concerted efforts, the meeting will deliver expected outcomes and contribute to our comprehensive strategic cooperation partnership.
Reuters: Chinese embassies across Southeast Asia have responded strongly to US statements on the South China Sea on social media and in local newspapers, for example your embassy in Yangon accused the US of showing a selfish, hypocritical, contemptible and ugly face. Do you have any further comments on what seems to be an escalating war of words over the issue in the region?
Wang Wenbin: The spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar has issued remarks on the article written by the US charge d’affaires to Myanmar. In fact, it is the US side that first attacked and criticized China and the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar is compelled to make clarification and refutation.
The US statement is far-fetched and fact-distorting. China and Myanmar are close neighbors that share a friendly bond between us. Our cooperation has withstood the test of the times. The US move to slander China and its attempt to drive a wedge between China and Myanmar in our relations and cooperation is unpopular and will never succeed. China and Myanmar will further deepen cooperation, jointly build a community with a shared future and open up a new chapter in our bilateral friendship.
BBC: You mentioned earlier that the UK may be in breach of international law in terms of its dealings with Hong Kong. Could you elaborate on this a little bit more and tell us which laws you were referring to?
Wang Wenbin: The UK’s recent wrong moves on the national security law for Hong Kong grossly interfere in China’s domestic affairs and violate basic norms governing international relations and international law. We urge the UK to correct its mistakes and stop going further down the wrong path and interfering in Hong Kong affairs.
AFP: Another question about China-UK relations. The British Foreign Secretary Raab on Sunday accused China of gross human rights violations over its treatment of minorities in Xinjiang. He said that “we want a positive relationship with China but we cannot see behavior like that and not call it out”. Do you understand Mr. Rabb’s concerns? How do you plan to address them?
Wang Wenbin: The relevant remarks by the British side are nothing but slanders and smears. China has repeatedly stated its position on Xinjiang. Xinjiang-related issues are not about human rights, ethnicity or religion at all, but about combating violent terrorism and separatism.
Regarding the so-called “forced sterilization”, the fact is that the population of Uyghurs in Xinjiang grew from 5.55 million to 11.65 million over the past four decades, accounting for about 46.8 percent of the total population of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The so-called sterilization is totally nonsense.
Phoenix TV: On July 17, UN Secretary-General António Guterres delivered remarks to the high-level segment of the United Nations Economic and Social Council on “Multilateralism After COVID-19: What kind of UN do we need at the 75th anniversary?” He pointed out in the speech that “The pandemic has underscored the need for a strengthened and renewed multilateralism”. Does China have a comment?
Wang Wenbin: The high-level segment of the United Nations Economic and Social Council on “Multilateralism After COVID-19: What kind of UN do we need at the 75th anniversary?” was held on July 17. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the meeting and elaborated on China’s position in his remarks titled “Firmly Uphold Multilateralism and Build A Community with A Shared Future for Mankind”. He stressed that amid the once-in-a-century changes, we need a United Nations that safeguards world peace and security, and fairness and justice, a United Nations that advocates harmonious co-existence across different races, systems and cultures, a United Nations that champions common development by addressing the North-South gap, a United Nations that keeps abreast of the times and effectively responds to global challenges. State Councilor Wang called on the international community to uphold multilateralism and reject unilateralism and protectionism, support greater democracy in international relations and reject hegemonism and power politics, safeguard the international order underpinned by international law and reject unlawful acts and double standards, and to call for solidarity and cooperation and reject self-conceit and beggar-thy-neighbor practices.
During this event, Secretary-General Guterres underscored the need for a strengthened and renewed multilateralism that is inclusive, effective and networked to improve global governance. Participants at this high-level segment all expressed support for multilateralism, the UN-centered international system, and solidarity against COVID-19 and other challenges. They also concur with China’s proposals and propositions. It demonstrates the broad-based international consensus on upholding multilateralism. As we mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the UN, China stands ready to work with the rest of the international community to stay committed to the correct path of multilateralism, uphold UN authority, support a greater role by the UN, speed up implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, jointly address the pandemic and other challenges, and build a community with a shared future for mankind.
Bloomberg: The UK’s most senior judge warned that the British judges would quit their role in Hong Kong if the national security law threatened the independence of the courts. What is your position on this?
Wang Wenbin: The judiciary and the Department of Justice of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region have responded to this.
The national security law for Hong Kong is aimed to plug loopholes in the HKSAR national security legislation and establish and improve the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security in the HKSAR. The independent judicial power including that of final adjudication enjoyed by the HKSAR under the Basic Law will not be affected.
We are firm in our resolve to fully and faithfully implement the “one country, two systems” and act in strict accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law, to advance the full and effective implementation of the national security law for Hong Kong, and oppose foreign interference in Hong Kong affairs.
Macao Monthly: On July 18, UN Secretary-General António Guterres delivered the 2020 Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture held online. He said that the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare global inequalities and that the crisis is an opportunity to develop a new social contract that invests in health care, education and basic income for all and a new global deal that promotes equality of all countries. I wonder if you have a comment?
Wang Wenbin: China supports stronger international cooperation against COVID-19 led by the UN and WHO. I might take this opportunity to brief you on the measures China has taken in this regard.
China has pledged US$2 billion in both bilateral and multilateral channels to help with global COVID-19 response in terms of material assistance and economic and social recovery and development in affected countries. At the multilateral level, China has provided a total of US$50 million in cash in two batches to WHO in support of its work, offered donations to international organizations including Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, helped launch WHO Solidarity Response Fund projects in China, and actively responded to the G20 call for debt repayment moratorium for the poorest countries by suspending debt repayments for 77 developing countries and regions. We are also speeding up efforts to establish a cooperation mechanism for Chinese hospitals to pair up with 30 African hospitals.
China attaches high importance to international cooperation on vaccine development. We have joined WHO’s global initiative on development of vaccines and drugs. Just recently China held a teleconference with WHO on advancing the Solidarity Trial project. Once China succeeds in developing and deploying a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, it will be made a quality global public good. This will be China’s contribution to enhancing vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries.
BBC: It is expected that in the coming hours the UK will withdraw from its extradition arrangement with Hong Kong. If this happens, how will China respond to that?
Wang Wenbin: Like I said, China strongly condemns and firmly opposes the UK’s recent wrong remarks and moves on Hong Kong which grossly violate international law and basic norms governing international relations, and flagrantly interfere in China’s domestic affairs. We urge the UK to stop going further down the wrong path to avoid greater damage to China-UK relations.
I would like to add that China will firmly fight back in response to acts that interfere in China’s domestic affairs.
The Paper: EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said in a statement on July 17 that he is deeply concerned at the growing use of sanctions, or the threat of sanctions, by the United States against European companies and interests. The EU has witnessed this developing trend in the cases of Iran, Cuba, the International Criminal Court and most recently the Nordstream 2 and Turkstream projects. “As a matter of principle the European Union opposes the use of sanctions by third countries on European companies carrying out legitimate business. Moreover, it considers the extraterritorial application of sanctions to be contrary to international law.” I wonder what is China’s position on this?
Wang Wenbin: We noted this EU statement. China opposes the US unilateral sanctions and “long-arm jurisdictions” against other countries based on its domestic laws, as they are in violation of international law and basic norms governing international relations, undermining other countries’ legitimate rights and interests, and shunned by all. We support international cooperation by all countries based on internationally recognized rules.
NBC: The UN’s World Food Program has warned of famine of biblical propositions that the pandemic would drive millions to starvation. What is China planning to do on this issue? Is China prepared to set aside disputes and work with the US in the context of international cooperation to help the less fortunate nations, as in Africa for example where you were an ambassador?
Wang Wenbin: The impact of COVID-19 on global food security has become one of the major concerns on the global agenda. We believe that all countries should strive to stabilize domestic food production and uphold normal agricultural production while ensuring epidemic prevention and control and safeguarding global public health. All should maintain stable food supply and price, reduce trade restrictions to ensure unfettered global food supply chain; support the role of FAO and other international organizations and strengthen information and experience sharing, technical cooperation and policy coordination in food production; increase funding and technical support to developing countries, especially the least developed countries so as to help them better guarantee food security and uphold global food security.
As the largest developing country and a responsible major country, China has all along proactively participated in world food security governance. We sent experts and technicians to Asian, African, Latin American and the Caribbean and the Pacific Island countries and provided assistance to relevant countries to the best of our capacity. China has now become the developing country that contributed the most funds, sent out the most experts and conducted the most projects under the FAO South-South cooperation framework. Since COVID-19 began, China has been actively responding to initiatives of international organizations. At the request of relevant counties, we offered technical and material support to those countries affected by locust plagues and emergency food aid to a dozen countries. China actively puts forward propositions in the UN, G20 and other multilateral fora, and works with all sides to safeguard the stability and security of international food supply chain to avert regional crises.
China stands ready to step up cooperation and coordination with all sides truly committed to helping developing countries to buttress global food security while combating the coronavirus, and to contribute to building a community with a shared future for mankind.
Reuters: According to reports from the Nikkei Business Daily, the UK government has asked Japan to help build its 5G networks without using Huawei technologies. Do you have any comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: We stand against behaviors that reject certain businesses from particular country and even oppress foreign companies and block win-win cooperation under the pretext of national security without producing any solid factual evidence and in violation of market rules. Such practices will only erode one’s own interests and credibility and stand in the way of development and progress for mankind.