Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on 15 December, 2020
Reuters: A state media report this morning says that Australia is facing clearance regulations on coal. It suggested that there’s a more formal ban on Australian coal. Can the Foreign Ministry give any details on that? And also the report cites officials saying that it would reduce restrictions on other coal imports from Mongolia, Indonesia and Russia. Can the Foreign Ministry clarify what restrictions it was referring to?
Wang Wenbin: I am not aware of the specific situation and would refer you to the competent authority. But I want to point out that recent measures taken by the Chinese authorities on some imported products from Australia are in line with China’s laws and regulations and international practices. They are also responsible steps to safeguard the interests of domestic industries and consumers. Recently we’ve seen many reports in which Australia dresses up as a victim, pointing an accusing finger at China, directly or by insinuation. This move is meant to confound the public and we will never accept it. In fact, it is the Australian side that has been politicizing economic, investment and technological issues, and discriminating against Chinese companies in violation of market economy principles and international trade rules. It has gone so far down the wrong path. I can give you three examples to prove my point.
First, since 2018, a dozen of Chinese investment projects were turned down by the Australian side on the grounds of so-called national security, including Hong Kong CK Infrastructure Holdings’ takeover offer for Australia’s APA Group, and Mengniu Diary’s purchase of Lion Diary of Australia. These investment projects cover infrastructure, agriculture and husbandry fields, and their blocks caused huge losses for the Chinese companies. The Australian side amended its foreign investment law in March and June, substantially ramping up its screening on foreign investment in the name of national security. As the Australian media commented, these measures target no others but China. The China-Australia FTA makes it clear that the FTA should provide convenience for investors in both countries and continues to screen investments at lower threshold. So, what’s done by the Australian side went against the FTA. Because of these discriminatory actions, Chinese companies’ investments in Australia have nosedived since 2017, and the number of last year decreased by 85% compared to the 2016 level.
Second, with no solid evidence, the Australian side led a few others in shutting out Chinese companies from participating in 5G network building. It has yet to offer a plausible explanation for that.
Third, so far, the Australian side has mounted more than 106 anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations against China, but China only launched 4 such cases against the Australian side.
These actions, in violation of market principles and China-Australia FTA, disrupted bilateral cooperation momentum and damaged Australia’s national image and reputation. In contrast, China has been honoring its words and obligations under the FTA. We’ve been lowering import tariffs for Australia for six years in row since 2015, and now about 95% of Australian imports enjoy zero-tariff treatment. China is committed to expanding opening-up and improving business environment. At the 3rd CIIE, more than 150 Australian companies showed up. This number is higher compared to those of other countries, which speaks to the confidence of Australian companies in the prospect of the Chinese market.
I can assure you that there is nothing to worry about if it is normal exchange and cooperation based on mutual respect and in compliance with rules. On the contrary, what is worrying for us is such moves as politicizing and obstructing normal trade activities, interfering in others’ internal affairs in defiance of basic norms governing international relations and even provoking confrontation. We hope that the Australian side will reflect upon its own conduct, match its words with deeds, and provide favorable conditions for bilateral practical cooperation in various fields, instead of the opposite.
As for China reducing restrictions on other coal imports, I am not aware of the situation and would refer you to the competent authority.
Reuters: Brazil’s health regulator Anvisa said on Monday that China’s health authorities are not transparent in authorizing emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines in the country. Does the ministry have any comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: First, I would like to assure you that China attaches high importance to vaccine safety and efficacy. Chinese vaccine companies advance research and development in strict accordance with science and regulation requirements and engage in international cooperation in strict compliance with international standards and relevant laws and regulations. You many have noticed that some Chinese vaccines have entered into phase III clinical trial in relevant countries, making smooth progress on the whole and yielding positive effects. I also learned that some countries have approved the registration and use of Chinese vaccines. These all serve to show the safety and effectiveness of Chinese vaccines as well as regulatory authority’s observance of international customary practice and laws.
With regard to Brazil, as we stated earlier, vaccine cooperation between China and Brazil have been progressing generally smoothly. We noted that the Brazilian partner of the Chinese company expressed confidence in China’s vaccine. We stand ready to work with other countries to advance R&D cooperation and contribute to vaccine accessibility and affordability in the world, in particular developing countries so the world can vanquish the pandemic at an early date.
RIA Novosti: The U.S. electoral college has affirmed Biden’s election victory. Does China have a comment? Will President Xi Jinping have a telephone call with Mr. Biden?
Wang Wenbin: On your first question, we have taken note the election result. President Xi Jinping sent a telegraph on November 25 to Mr. Biden, congratulating him on winning the presidential election.
On your second question, we always believe that China stands ready to work together with the United States to strengthen communication, focus on cooperation, manage differences in the spirit of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation to advance the sound and stable development of bilateral ties. As to the specifics you asked about, if there is any information, we will release it in due course.
Middle East News Agency: First question. Saudi Arabia announced yesterday that a fuel transport ship anchored in the fuel terminal in its Red Sea port city of Jeddah was attacked by an explosive-laden boat, resulting in a fire with no casualties. Many countries condemned this terrorist attack as a threat to the security and freedom of navigation and international trade. Do you have any comment? My second question is about Sudan. U.S. officially announced yesterday to remove Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Chairman of Sudan’s Sovereign Council Burhan said that this move contributes to supporting democratic transition. Arab League and many countries welcomed the move. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: China condemns the attack against the ship in Saudi Arabia. We are consistently opposed to all attacks on civilians and civil facilities and call on relevant sides to avoid taking actions that might lead to escalation in regional tensions.
On your second question, we have taken note of relevant reports. China is consistently opposed to any country imposing unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction on other countries based on domestic law. We support the Sudanese government’s efforts towards improving external environment.
Beijing Youth Daily: British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on December 14 that “the Hong Kong National Security Law breaches the internationally-binding Joint Declaration, and is now being used to charge Jimmy Lai. This highlights the authorities’ continued attacks on the rights and freedoms of its people. We have raised this case with the authorities in Hong Kong and call on them to end their targeting of Lai and other pro-democracy voices”. Do you have any response?
Wang Wenbin: The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region already stated its position on the relevant case. I want to stress that China is a country under the rule of law and Hong Kong is a society under the rule of law. All people are equal before the law, and no one has impunity. What matters is whether one abide by the law or not, and it has nothing to do with political opinions.
During the 150-year or so British colonial rule over Hong Kong, Governors of Hong Kong were chosen and appointed in London by the British government. When ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1976, the British government made a reservation not to apply to Hong Kong the periodic elections provisions. Both the Public Order Ordinance and the Societies Ordinance during the British rule imposed draconian restrictions on assembly, procession and association in Hong Kong. The British side’s interference in Hong Kong affairs and undermining of Hong Kong’s rule of law under the pretext of democracy and freedom is just an old trick of the colonists, who habitually apply double standard to stir up troubles in another country. It was not until Hong Kong’s return to China that the residents in Hong Kong have enjoyed unprecedented democratic rights and freedoms. I want to stress that the Chinese government governs Hong Kong in accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law, and it has nothing to do with the Sino-British Joint Declaration. With Hong Kong’s return to China, all the rights and obligations related to the British side under the Sino-British Joint Declaration have been completed. The British side has neither the right to supervise Hong Kong nor moral responsibility towards Hong Kong whatsoever.
What the British side should do is to discard its colonial mentality, stop applying double standard, earnestly respect the HKSAR government and judiciary’s fulfillment of official duties and handling of the case in accordance with law, respect Hong Kong residents’ aspiration to live a life as normal as ever with stable social order, respect the fact that Hong Kong is China’s Special Administrative Region and respect the basic principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs in international relations.
Prasar Bharati: A follow question on China’s vaccine. China has reiterated many times that once the vaccine is available, it will be made a global public good. I was just wanting whether it will be provided free of cost to the countries. If it’s not free-of-cost vaccine, then what do you mean by “global public good”?
Wang Wenbin: China has announced that COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available, will be made a global public good that helps to ensure vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries. We honor our word and are fulfilling our commitment with concrete actions.
At present, Chinese vaccine companies are sparing no effort to advance their vaccine research and development, and several vaccines have entered phase three clinical trials. The Chinese government has been actively supporting cooperation between Chinese companies and other countries in vaccine research and development. At the multilateral level, China is in close communication and cooperation with the WHO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. We have joined COVAX as well as the WHO-sponsored Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator initiative.
Going forward, the Chinese government will continue to work together with the international community to help ensure all countries will have equal access to safe and effective vaccines. For underdeveloped or some developing countries, we will help with their vaccine accessibility and affordability through such means as aid.
Süddeutsche Zeitung: The Center for Global Policy published this morning a report suggesting that every year more than 500,000 people in Xinjiang are forced to pick cotton. The report claims that the majority of cotton grown in China is harvested by forced labor. Could you please comment?
Wang Wenbin: We already stated China’s position on the so-called “forced labor” issue on multiple occasions. According to laws including Labor Law, Labor Contract Law, and relevant administrative regulations, Chinese citizens sign voluntarily contracts with their employers on the basis of equality and consensus and get due payment. There is no “forced labor” alleged by some with ulterior motives.
Helping people of all ethnic groups secure stable employment is entirely different from “forced labor”. According to the Forced Labor Convention of the International Labor Organization, the term “forced labor” means all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily. All ethnic groups in Xinjiang choose their occupations according to their own will and sign employment contracts of their own volition in accordance with law on the basis of equality. They will not be discriminated against because of their ethnicity, gender or religious belief. Governments at all levels in Xinjiang fully respect the will of ethnic minority people in their employment choices and provide training for those who wish to improve the skills needed for employment. According to the Investigation Report on Employment of Ethnic Minorities in Xinjiang, 86.5% of the labor force in four surveyed villages are willing to work outside their hometown, which indicates that the ethnic minorities have a strong willingness of voluntarily going out for jobs. By the end of 2019, a total of 2.9232 million people in Xinjiang had been lifted out of poverty, and the incidence of poverty had fallen from 19.4 percent in 2014 to 1.24 percent.
This report you talked about mentioned the so-called photos of “reeducation centers”. Some western media absurdly take any walled-building in Xinjiang as “detention center”, but the fact is they are all civil institutions. For instance, the so-called “detention centers” in Tulufan are actually the buildings of the local administrative offices, and the “detention centers” in Kashi are actually local high school campuses, all of which are marked out on Google and Baidu maps. You all can check on them.
I noted that the author of this report is Adrian Zenz. The media has repeatedly disclosed that he is a member of a far-right organization founded by the U.S. government and a key member of anti-China institute set up by the U.S. intelligence agency, making a living from fabricating rumors and slanders against China. His so-called report does not have the slightest of credibility and academic integrity in it. I’d like to name some of his tricks to cook up falsehood for your reference.
First, data fraud. In his report on so-called forced sterilization, Adrian Zenz claimed that “in 2018, 80 percent of all net added IUD placements in China were performed in Xinjiang”, but the fact is that Xinjiang accounted for only 8.7 percent of the country’s new IUD placements in 2018, according to China’s National Health Commission.
Second, fabrications out of thin air. Adrian Zenz fabricated a so-called “Karakax (Moyu) List” where the most frequently cited internment reason was a violation of birth control. In fact, most of the people in the list are local residents of the Moyu county, who have been leading a normal life there. Only a very small number of people who have been affected by religious extremism and committed minor crimes have received vocational education and training in accordance with the law.
Third, groundless speculations. Adrian Zens alleged that women of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang receive excessively frequent checks and tried to use it as the evidence to prove that the Chinese government imposed forced sterilization on Uighur women who have given birth to a child. But there was no evidence in his report that women were forced by the government to use IUDs after having a child. His so-called conclusion is nothing but the product of his own wild conjecture.
Fourth, numbers game. Adrian Zens claimed that the natural population growth of Han ethnicity in Gulbagh Residential District is nearly eight times higher than that of Hotan County in 2018, using this as an example to lash out at the so-called policy of “Han settler colonialism”. The comparison of natural population growth rate between a residential district and a county is of no academic value demographically. Speaking of facts, if we compare the changes of Han population and Uyghur population in Hotan in 2017 and 2018, we can find that the total of Han population is decreasing, while that of Uyghur population is increasing. Adrian Zens’ allegation that the Chinese government is doubling down on a policy of “Han settler colonialism” is a complete lie without any factual basis.
We hope that friends from the media and people in other sectors can distinguish right from wrong, respect the facts, and do not be deceived by people like Adrian Zens, who use every possible means to make falsehood in academic research just to serve anti-China purposes.
Phoenix TV: Some British and Australian media reported that members of the Communist Party of China now infiltrate state departments, universities and banks of the UK and other Western countries, and these CPC members are potential agents. Do you have any response?
Wang Wenbin: This is no other than hysterical slanders made by certain anti-China elements to tarnish the image of the CPC. Such allegation is logically absurd and has no factual basis, nothing but another version of the “China threat theory”.
China is a country that adheres to the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics under the leadership of the Communist Party of China. The Communist Party of China is the vanguard of the Chinese working class, the Chinese people, and the Chinese nation. Our 92 million CPC members are playing an exemplary role in various areas. This is the reality in China. The CPC strives for the well-being of the Chinese people, the peace of the world and the progress of humanity. It honors its commitments and is open and aboveboard in all its actions. When interacting with each other, states should follow basic norms governing international relations and respect each other’s system and national conditions. Anyone with reason, conscience and a sense of justice will never accept those groundless denigration and attacks against China and the CPC.
Kyodo News: I have two questions. First, about the employee of Bloomberg, can you offer more details? Is it because of her work in the press sector? Second, the Committee to Protect Journalists criticized the situation of press freedom in China. I wonder if you have a comment?
Wang Wenbin: On your first question, I already shared relevant information yesterday. The Beijing National Security Bureau has recently taken compulsory measures in accordance with law on this Chinese citizen whose surname is Fan on suspicion of engaging in criminal activities that jeopardize China’s national security. I believe you may have noted some foreign media reports saying that according to Bloomberg, the detention is not in relation to Fan’s work.
Regarding your second question, the Chinese government protects citizens’ freedom of speech according to law and gives full play to the press and the public’s role of supervision. The progress in China’s press sector has been witnessed by all. The NGO’s comment is completely groundless.
AFP: The government of Palau said it has intercepted an illegal Chinese fishing vessel with 28 crew members on board. Could you give more details, including whether there are any Chinese nationals among the crew? Are you in touch with them?
Wang Wenbin: We have taken note of reports on that. The Chinese government always asks overseas Chinese citizens and companies to comply with local laws and regulations. We also hope relevant governments will protect their safety and legitimate rights and interests in accordance with law.