Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying’s Regular Press Conference on 4 January, 2021
Welcome to the year 2021’s first regular press conference. The year 2020 has been an extraordinary year for China and the world, giving me all the more reasons to thank friends from the press for being with us every step of the way, documenting and bearing witness to how we in the foreign service have forged ahead and tackled the challenges head on.
The year 2021 will be of historic significance to China as we will celebrate the CPC’s centenary. In the 1930s and 1940s, when the then Kuomintang government sealed off Yan’an and spared no efforts to “demonize” the CPC, foreign journalists like Americans Edgar Snow, Anna Louise Strong and Agnes Smedley, curious about who and what the CPC is, chose to blend in with the CPC members in Yan’an after going through various difficulties to get there, where they wrote many objective reports as well as works like the famous Red Star over China, giving the world its first glimpse of the CPC and its endeavor in uniting and leading the Chinese people in pursuing national independence and people’s liberation. They were indeed a window for the world to understand the CPC and China. They will always be remembered by the Chinese people as our good and true friends.
We will celebrate the CPC’s centenary and realize the first “centenary goal” in the year 2021, the first chapter of the Party’s great cause and embark on the second “centenary goal” to build a new journey of fully building a modern socialist country. We sincerely hope that all of the foreign journalists will employ their pens and cameras to faithfully and objectively report on the CPC’s state governance, the Chinese people’s pursuit of their dreams and China’s commitment to peaceful development. In promoting mutual understanding and cooperation, you will serve as the indispensable bridge and bond between China and the rest of the world.
The Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to provide all necessary convenience and assistance for your work and life in China.
CCTV: Indonesia has reportedly started distributing the vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. to all its 34 provinces on January 3. Egyptian Minister of Health said they have signed contract with Sinopharm and obtained the approval of the Egyptian Medicines Authority for vaccine emergency use. How do you comment on progress in China’s vaccine cooperation with other countries? Are Chinese vaccines safe and effective enough?
Hua Chunying: China all along remains open to international cooperation on vaccines and actively supports Chinese companies in cooperating with their foreign counterparts in vaccine R&D and production. At present, several Chinese vaccine candidates are undergoing phase III clinical trials smoothly abroad. China has also taken an active part in COVAX and other relevant international cooperation initiatives. Countries like the UAE and Bahrain have approved the registration of Sinopharm’s inactivated vaccines. China will firmly fulfill its commitment on ensuring the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries as a global public good after China’s COVID-19 vaccines are ready for deployment.
As for the safety and efficacy of Chinese vaccines, I would like to stress that the Chinese government always puts vaccine’s safety and efficacy in the first place, and Chinese companies have been developing vaccines in strict accordance with laws and regulations, following scientific laws and regulatory requirements. On December 30 last year, the National Medical Products Administration has approved conditional marketing authorization for Sinopharm’s inactivated COVID-19 vaccine, which testifies to the safety and effectiveness of Chinese vaccines. China is ready to continue to work with other parties to promote vaccines’ equitable distribution, contribute to the global fight against COVID-19 and protect the life and health of all the people around the world.
Xinhua News Agency: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will start his visit to five African countries today. If we count this one, Africa has been the destination of Chinese foreign ministers’ first annual overseas visit for 31 years in a row. What is the significance of this visit? What are the key items on the agenda for State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit?
Hua Chunying: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has left for his official visit to Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Botswana, Tanzania, and Seychelles. Since 1991, successive Chinese foreign ministers have all chosen Africa for their first overseas visit every year. This unique tradition reflects the special bond between the two sides featuring lasting friendship through weal and woe. It also shows that developing friendly cooperative relations with African countries has always been a basic policy and firm strategic choice in China’s foreign affairs.
In 2020, China-Africa friendship has been further elevated after going through the test of COVID-19. President Xi Jinping and African leaders successfully held an Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19, setting an example for international anti-pandemic cooperation. The year 2020 also marked the 20th anniversary of FOCAC. Over the past two decades, China and Africa have formulated and implemented ten cooperation plans and eight major initiatives. Trade between China and Africa has increased 20 times, and China’s direct investment in Africa has increased 100 times. China has helped Africa build more than 6,000 kilometers of railways and the same mileage of roads, nearly 20 ports and over 80 large-scale power plants. We are working with Africa to expand cooperation in new forms of business such as the digital economy, smart cities, clean energy and 5G. We are also taking new and solid steps in high-quality BRI development.
This year we will wrap up efforts to implement the outcomes of the FOCAC Beijing Summit. During this visit, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will hold in-depth exchange and coordination with African countries, promote implementation of the important consensus reached by President Xi Jinping and African leaders and the outcomes of the FOCAC Beijing Summit and the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19, support African countries in combating the virus and achieving economic recovery, advance BRI cooperation and build a closer China-Africa community with a shared future.
Beijing Daily: The Swedish mainstream media Daily News recently reported on how the U.S. side has pressured Sweden to exclude Huawei from participating in Sweden’s 5G building. The U.S. Ambassador to Sweden reportedly said that he is glad that Sweden has come to the same conclusion as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia already did on the 5G issue. The report also pointed out that there is no company on the U.S. side that can compete with Huawei in the 5G field. What is your comment?
Hua Chunying: I have also noticed the report. It shows once again that it is exactly the United States that has been practicing carrot and stick approach and “coercive diplomacy” all across the world. China is a victim of the U.S. coercive diplomacy.
The achievements and competitive edge of Chinese companies in 5G are well-known. The United States should realize that it will not succeed in holding back Chinese hi-tech companies or holding onto its monopoly in the sector through bullying and suppression. Just as State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi pointed out in a recent interview, “the best way to keep one’s lead is through constant self-improvement, not by blocking others’ development”. We hope that the relevant country will be able to see this clearly and provide an equitable, fair, open, transparent and non-discriminatory business environment for the operation, development and cooperation of relevant companies.
Reuters: The New York Stock Exchange delisted three Chinese telecom corporations. Does the foreign ministry have any comments on this? What kind of countermeasures will you take? Do you expect more Chinese companies to be delisted?
Hua Chunying: The Ministry of Commerce, China Securities Regulatory Commission and the companies concerned have responded to this.
I must stress that China firmly opposes the U.S. government’s politicization of trade issues and unjustified suppression of Chinese companies by abusing state power under the weakest pretext of national security. This is in serious violation of market competition principles and international trade rules the U.S. side always prides itself on. The position of the United States as an international financial hub hinges on global companies and investors trusting the inclusiveness and certainty of its rules and mechanisms. Lately some political forces in the United States have been wantonly suppressing foreign companies listed in the country, exposing an arbitrary and capricious uncertainty in its rules and mechanisms. This is ill-advised as it will not only harm the interests of international investors and the national interests and image of the United States, but also the global standing of the American capital market. We hope the United States will respect the market and rule of law and do things conducive to upholding order in the global financial market, protecting investors’ lawful rights and interests, and promoting the steady development of the global economy. The Chinese government will take necessary measures to resolutely safeguard Chinese companies’ rights and interests.
Shenzhen TV: Reports say that China ordered workers working on BRI projects to return home, and reduced diplomatic staff in 10 Pacific nations after COVID-19 broke out. China’s actions have largely been lacking with regards to providing COVID-related support in the region. Can you confirm that? Do you have any response?
Hua Chunying: These reports are nothing but ill-intentioned fake news. In fact, cooperation between China and Pacific island countries has become even closer. Last week, my colleague talked about the positive outcomes in the development of comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Pacific island countries in 2020 in a detailed way. I’d like to make some additional comments here.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Chinese diplomats in Pacific island countries have honored their commitment to “diplomacy for the people”, provided quality service to Chinese citizens overseas and worked diligently to guarantee the normal exchanges and cooperation between the two sides, including on BRI cooperation. The Chinese embassy in Kiribati was reopened in May and the Chinese embassy in the Solomon Islands was opened in September, 2020, a solid testament to how China values its relations with Pacific island countries.
Speaking of China’s support to Pacific island countries amid the pandemic, China initiated video conferences of health experts with 10 Pacific island countries in March, 2020 to share its experience in epidemic prevention and control and diagnosis and treatment to help them deal with the pandemic. China has set up the China-Pacific Island Countries COVID-19 Response Fund and later provided additional funding three times. The central government, local governments like the Guangdong provincial government, businesses and non-governmental organizations have donated substantial anti-epidemic supplies to Pacific island countries. According to available data, the Chinese government and society have so far donated over one million masks, 100,000 protective suits and 23,000 protective face shields and goggles, which plays an important role in assisting in Pacific island countries’ response to the pandemic. China will also readily consider providing COVID-19 vaccines to these countries in light of their needs through various ways, making China’s contribution by ensuring the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in the Pacific island countries.
In 2021, upholding the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, China will continue to work together with Pacific island countries to fight the virus and overcome difficulties, deepen comprehensive strategic partnership between the two sides and deliver more benefits to the two peoples.
China Review News: U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo said in a statement on December 31 that the CCP’s persecution of the Hong Kong 12 exposes once again Beijing’s brutality and its disdain for the rights of the Hong Kong people. Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: China is a country under the rule of law. Laws must be upheld and law-breakers must be brought to justice. Chinese judicial authorities handle cases in accordance with law and the U.S. side has no right to interfere.
The most basic human right is the right to life. Speaking of brutality and disdain for the rights of people, we shouldn’t forget that the number of confirmed U.S. coronavirus cases has surpassed 20 million and over 350,000 Americans died of COVID-19. But has Mr. Pompeo ever expressed any sympathy for these lost lives? What has he done to save those fallen lives? There can be no better definition for disdain for human rights than doing nothing to save lives from the coronavirus and treating them with utter disregard.
We urge the U.S. side to stop slandering and denigrating China, stop meddling in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of Hong Kong and stop interfering in China’s judicial sovereignty.
AFP: A World Health Organization mission is expected to come to China this month as part of a study on the origins of the coronavirus. Is the ministry able to confirm this and provide further details such as how long the visit will be and will the locations of the WHO mission include Wuhan?
Hua Chunying: I have no specific details for you on the question you raised. But as my colleagues have said many times on this podium, China attaches great importance to communication and cooperation with WHO, and we’ve been firmly supporting and coordinating with WHO on its relevant work.
More and more evidence or research suggests that the pandemic was likely to have been caused by separate outbreaks in multiple places in the world in the latter half of the year 2019, and the timeline has been constantly dialed forward. China is more than ready to cooperate with WHO on the needed investigation. We believe that origin-tracing should be conducted worldwide by scientists in a serious and science-based manner. We also hope that other relevant countries will demonstrate the same positive attitude as China does in coordinating with WHO on the relevant work, so that facts and truth can be established at an early date and a better science-based bulwark will be established for mankind to deal with any possible public health emergencies in the future.
Global Times: The U.S. State Department tweeted on January 3rd that the Chinese Communist Party undermines the international rule of law. It also posted a web-link to a web page called the Chinese Communist Party: Threatening Global Peace and Security. What is your comment?
Hua Chunying: Apparently some in the United States are still obsessed with the game of “repeating lies a thousand times to make them true”. However, I must remind them that lies will be lies, no matter how many times they are repeated, period.
It is clear to us all who is threatening global peace and stability. It is no other than the United States that has been pursuing unilateralism, undermining multilateral cooperation, wantonly pulling out of treaties and organizations, and arbitrarily resorting to use or threat of sanctions. To date, it has withdrawn from 10-plus international treaties and organizations. On climate change, it refuses to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and has withdrawn from the Paris Agreement. On arms control and non-proliferation, it pulled out of the JCPOA and the INF Treaty, unsigned the Arms Trade Treaty, announced its withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty, and has been dragging its feet towards extending the New START. At the crucial juncture when members of the international community joined hands to fight COVID-19, the United States pulled out of WHO. It consistently obstructs the selection of judges for WTO’s Appellate Body, which leads to its shutting down and seriously undermines the authority and efficacy of multilateral trading systems. The United States also has placed sanctions on relevant persons of the International Criminal Court in an attempt to prevent it from probing into U.S. army’s war crimes in Afghanistan. Its interference in other countries’ internal affairs and its initiation of wars in other countries cannot go unnoticed. Considering all that it has done, how can the United States safeguard global peace and security? Facts have proven time and again that the United States is the biggest destabilizing factor for global peace and security. Polls surveying people in over 10 countries including Germany, Japan and the ROK show that half or more interviewees believe the United States poses major threats to their national security. Recently there are some American scholars and media that publicly said that the biggest geopolitical threat to the United States is no other but itself.
We hope the United States will shake off its self-delusion, stop rumor-mongering, and regain its reason and sense at an early date.
China Daily: The U.S. President’s Deputy National Security Adviser Pottinger believes that the “most credible” source of the coronavirus outbreak is a leak from a research laboratory in China, as the Daily Mail reported. According to Pottinger, there is a “growing body of evidence” to support the theory that the Wuhan Institute of Virology is the source of the deadly outbreak that has spread across the globe. What’s your response?
Hua Chunying: I have taken note of the report. To be frank, I couldn’t believe what I was reading at first, so I went back to read it several times. The report did quote some remarks by Mr. Pottinger.
As is known to all, the so-called allegation that the virus was made in or leaked from a lab in Wuhan has been rejected openly by almost all leading scientists and disease prevention experts including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert. Chinese scientists have received many media interviews and American journalists have also visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology, using their profession perspective to report on the lab’s management and research. Chinese media have published a series of reality checks on COVID-19, debunking the false allegations with solid figures and facts.
As a senior government official, Mr. Pottinger is still hyping up such shoddy rumors and lies. I do hope the U.S. side can clarify whether he’s speaking for himself or on behalf of the American government. To back up such a claim, they should show the world the evidence without delay!
As I said just now, more and more clues, media reports and studies have shown that COVID-19 broke out in multiple localities across the world during the latter half of 2019 and the timeline has constantly been pushed to earlier dates. We hope scientists, under the leadership of the WHO, will conduct scientific studies into the origins to find out the truth at an early date so that mankind can be better prepared to deal with similar public health crises in the future.
Faced with the sudden onslaught of an unknown virus, China sounded the alarm for the whole world and made public critical information including the genome sequencing at the earliest time possible. We have maintained close communication and cooperation with the WHO and hope other countries will support the crucial leading role of the WHO and work together with it just like China.
Since this senior official has such a great interest in the origin tracing and given there are U.S. media reports on the bio-chemical research base at Fort Detrick and its possible link with the 2019 autumn flu and the COVID-19 epidemic, why hasn’t the United States invited WHO experts in for field investigation so far? What is the United States planning by setting up more than 200 biological laboratories overseas? Why don’t they invite international journalists to visit and make interviews in these labs?
Now a new wave of the pandemic is wreaking havoc worldwide. China stands ready to work with other countries in solidarity to defeat the virus at an early date and protect people’s health and safety as much as possible. As Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in his new year address, we shouldn’t allow conspiracy theories and attacks on science to prevail, resulting in unnecessary suffering to people’s health and society in general in the upcoming year. We hope that those on the U.S. side will regain their sense and reason, face the reality, and protect the lives and health of the American people through their best efforts and international cooperation. If it believes itself to be a major country, it should consider behaving like one!