Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying’s Regular Press Conference on 6 January, 2021
CCTV: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi just wrapped up his visit to Nigeria. Local media in Nigeria said that China has become an indispensable part of Nigeria’s modernization drive, and we should make full use of this visit to advance China-Nigeria relationship for brighter prospects. How do you comment on the outcome and significance of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang’s visit to that country?
Hua Chunying: Nigeria is the first stop of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s on-going visit to Africa. On January 5, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang met with President Muhammadu Buhari and held talks with Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama. They also jointly met the press after the talks.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Nigeria. During the visit, the two sides agreed to carry forward traditional friendship and usher in a more splendid 50 years for bilateral cooperation. The two countries reached a seven-point important consensus on deepening bilateral relations as follows: continue to strengthen cooperation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and firmly support each other until the pandemic is completely overcome; establish an intergovernmental committee to be led by the two countries’ foreign ministers that will coordinate and advance mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields; deepen BRI cooperation by closely aligning China’s new development paradigm with Nigeria’s new national development plan; promote the construction of key projects in Nigeria so as to help Nigeria accelerate industrialization; continue to expand cooperation areas and build new highlights in digital and green economy; deepen military and security cooperation in efforts to enhance Nigeria’s capacity in safeguarding national security; closely coordinate international and regional affairs, practice multilateralism, and safeguard the common interests of developing countries.
Nigeria is the largest economy and the most populous country in Africa, which has important international and regional influences. China is the largest developing country. Practical cooperation between the two sides serves the common interests of both countries and peoples. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang’s visit this time will give strong boost to China-Nigeria strategic partnership and inject new impetus into deepening China-Africa friendly cooperation.
Xinhua News Agency: We’ve noticed that some foreign experts and media talked about power outages and electricity use restrictions in major Chinese cities, claiming that the outside world couldn’t get to know the real situation and such lack of transparency would affect confidence in China’s development. Do you have any response?
Hua Chunying: This question doesn’t fall under the purview of the foreign ministry, but I have noticed much attention on this matter. China’s competent authorities already offered information on the relevant issue, stressing that China’s energy supply and demand is generally stable with adequate power supply capability. It has been widely covered by Chinese media.
The relevant authorities told us there are two major reasons behind the increase in electricity use. First, economic growth. Since November, China’s economic activities have been gathering pace, with industrial production growing at record high rates and added value of industries above designated size expanding more than during pre-COVID times. External demand remains robust with export growth at record high in recent years. Economic growth has resulted in a rapid rebound in electricity use. This is an illustration that as the world economy plunges into severe recession, China first managed to bring the epidemic under control, resume work and production and turn the economy around, contributing to the global economy. Second, dramatic increase in electric heating. This winter has brought wide-spread temperature drops with wind, rain and snow in many places across the country. As temperature fell lower than in normal years, there has been a significant rise in the use of electric heating, which has rapidly driven up power demand in some of the southern parts.
In light of these circumstances, relevant departments have stepped up monitoring and early warning on power supply and demand dynamics and worked to optimize solutions for orderly power use to ensure households and public services are not affected. Currently China’s energy supply and demand are generally stable with adequate supply. Competent departments have made public several times the power supply and demand situation as well as the measures adopted.
AFP: I have a few questions regarding the arrests in Hong Kong today. The first issue is, can the foreign ministry comment on the reasons behind the arrest of more than 50 people in Hong Kong under the National Security Law? The second issue is about the American lawyer John Clancey who was also arrested by national security police on suspicion of subversion. Can you confirm this? And do you expect such an arrest to have an impact on Hong Kong’s status as an international hub? And the third question is that U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for Secretary of State also called police action in Hong Kong “an assault on those bravely advocating for universal rights.” What is the ministry’s comment?
Hua Chunying: Your three questions can be answered together. I also saw relevant reports. The Secretary for Security of the Hong Kong SAR and the Hong Kong Police Force have both put up press releases, stating that the police force arrested some individuals suspected of violating the national security law and that the actions were necessary and essential. The SAR government shall not tolerate crimes subverting the state.
China is a country with rule of law and Hong Kong is a society with law and order. We support the HKPF in fulfilling their duties in accordance with law. You mentioned whether Hong Kong’s position will be affected, I believe all can see clearly that the normal rights and freedoms the Hong Kong people enjoy are not affected at all. If anything is affected, it is the freedom of some external forces who were colluding with certain individuals in Hong Kong to undermine China’s stability and security.
FSN: The head of the WHO said the details for a visit by its ten-man team to China had been previously agreed upon by China and the WHO but China did not grant access to its members upon arrival, and he has expressed disappointment. Can you tell us what the reason was for that and when this visit by the WHO will go ahead finally?
Hua Chunying: As you know, on the issue of COVID-19 origin-tracing, China has always been open, transparent and responsible and taken the lead in carrying out scientific cooperation in tracing the origin with WHO with the purpose of promoting international research on origin-tracing. In February and July last year, when China was faced with daunting domestic epidemic prevention and control tasks, China invited WHO experts to China twice to carry out cooperation on origin-tracing and formulate the China part of a global scientific cooperation plan on origin-tracing. In October last year, the Chinese side reached agreement on the members of the international expert group. Since then, the experts of the two sides have maintained frequent interactions. Four video meetings were held on October 30, December 3, December 10 and December 18 respectively. With a scientific attitude, Chinese experts shared the outcomes of China’s origin-tracing efforts in a science-based and candid manner, and the cooperation between the two sides has made positive progress.
Recently, in a positive and constructive attitude, China has maintained close communication with WHO on the expert panel’s trip to China for cooperation on origin-tracing. At present, the global pandemic situation remains very serious, and China is also making all-out efforts to prevent and control the epidemic. Chinese health and epidemic prevention departments and experts are devoting themselves to intense anti-epidemic work. Having all this said, in order to support international COVID-19 cooperation, China has overcome difficulties, accelerated preparatory work at home and tried its best to create favorable conditions for the international expert team’s visit to China. WHO knows that clearly.
The issue of origin-tracing is very complicated. In order to ensure the smooth progress of the work of the international expert group in China, necessary procedures need to be fulfilled and relevant specific arrangements need to be made. At present, the two sides are still in discussions.
Bloomberg: Regarding fresh reports that suggest that the New York Stock Exchange is reconsidering its decision to halt the de-listing of three major Chinese telecom firms after opposition from the US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. I’d like to ask your comment on this and what do you make of this flip-flop on the decision whether to de-list these three major Chinese companies?
Hua Chunying: I already stated our position on this issue twice during the past couple of days. I’d like to stress once again that 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. The suppression against Chinese companies will have very limited direct impact on them, but at the end of the day, the national interests and image of the United States and the global standing of the American capital market will suffer. We hope the United States will respect rule of law and market principles 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. I’m sure all countries, not just China, are watching what the United States plans to do, which will determine whether it can be seen as a reliable and trustworthy partner for cooperation.
CRI: During the 41st session of the Supreme Council of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) held on January 5 in Al Ula, the six GCC states and Egypt signed a declaration affirming GCC commitment to all-round cooperation, solidarity and integration among members and to bringing all members back to the track of cooperation. Earlier Saudi Arabia and Qatar have announced the opening of air, sea and land borders to each other. Do you have a comment?
Hua Chunying: China welcomes the successful GCC summit and the Al Ula Declaration. We support stronger solidarity and cooperation among GCC members and always advocate that differences should be resolved through dialogue and consultation. We hope GCC states will continue to strengthen solidarity and cooperation to jointly promote regional peace, stability and development, to which China will offer its support.
South China Morning Post: Today the police in Hong Kong arrested an American lawyer John Clancey. Some say this might add some uncertainty to China-US relations. Do you have a comment? Are you concerned about this?
Hua Chunying: As I said just now, Hong Kong is a society with rule of law. The HKPF has already issued a statement. We support it in fulfilling its duties in accordance with law to safeguard Hong Kong’s security and stability.
You asked if we are concerned that this incident might add uncertainty between China and the United States. I believe the root cause for the current difficulties or uncertainties in bilateral relations is clear to all. We hope certain people in the United States will look at China’s development and bilateral relations in a correct and rational light and stop fabricating all sorts of pretexts for wanton political suppression and containment against China. I believe people in both countries and beyond all hope to see a China-US relationship enjoying sound and steady development. We hope the United States can regain its sense of reason and work together with China to bring bilateral relations back onto the track of sound development.
Bloomberg: In regards to the tweet from Antony Blinken, the U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s choice for Secretary of State, I’d just like to quote the tweet in its entirety. He said, “The sweeping arrests of pro-democracy demonstrators are an assault on those bravely advocating for universal rights. The Biden-Harris administration will stand with the people of Hong Kong and against Beijing’s crackdown on democracy.” Given that you just spoke about upcoming U.S.-China relationship and this is potentially the incoming Secretary of State, I’d just like to ask for your comment specifically on this tweet in relation to the Hong Kong arrest.
Hua Chunying: As I said very clearly just now, the SAR government has made clear its position on the case. I’ve also stressed time and again that Hong Kong enjoys law and order and its departments act on their mandate according to law. No other country has any right to make wanton criticism or meddle. We hope the U.S. side will respect facts and rule of law. Lawful actions and handling of cases should be supported, not disrupted in all countries and societies with rule of law.
RIA Novosti: U.S. President Donald Trump on January 6 signed an executive order banning transactions with persons that develop or control eight Chinese software applications including Alipay, WeChat Pay and others, on the grounds that they endanger American people’s privacy and data security. I wonder what is China’s comment and if China will take any counter measures?
Hua Chunying: This is another example of the United States wantonly bullying foreign companies by abusing state power on the untenable ground of national security. Such hegemonic practice serves the interests of none. The measures will doubtlessly have some effect on Chinese companies, but more importantly, what will suffer at the end of the day is the interests of American consumers, and the national interests of the United States itself. What the United States has been doing is a vivid textbook on double-facing on its much-touted free market economy and fair competition.
The U.S. side claims that the ban on Alipay and WeChat Pay is to protect American citizens’ privacy and data security. However, the fact is, the United States is unrivalled when it comes to telecom theft. Its strong surveillance and highly resourceful means has rendered privacy or data security nothing but fiction for the American people and people in other countries. It steals data from everywhere and everyone, and its allies are not spared either. We all know the moves it employs: installing backdoors and pressuring telecom carriers from already disclosed “Dirtbox”, “PRISM” and “Irritant Horn”.
While conducting non-discriminatory surveillance and theft, the United States has been blaming others with no evidence at all. This is like a habitual thief blatantly stealing from others while asserting its own right to be free from theft. How hypocritical and preposterous!
I would like to add that science and technology should be a force for good in the service of human progress and welfare. It should not be ranked superior or inferior based on ideology, still less should it be used as a tool for political manipulation. The United States is so paranoid about China’s scientific progress, even going so far as to make it a matter of ideology. This exposes its severe lack of confidence and reluctance to make new progress.
We urge the U.S. side to earnestly respect market economy and fair competition principles, abide by international trade rules and provide an open, fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for foreign companies, including Chinese ones to invest and operate. The Chinese side will continue taking necessary measures to safeguard Chinese companies’ legitimate rights and interests.
The Paper: U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo told an interview that “The China-EU investment deal was a weak deal. It didn’t protect the European workers from the predation of the Chinese Communist Party.” Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: Isn’t that sour grapes? If the China-EU investment deal can’t protect European workers, can the U.S. additional tariffs protect them?
China and the European side have concluded a balanced, high-level and mutually beneficial investment agreement after seven years of joint efforts, which not only demonstrates China’s determination and confidence in promoting high-level opening-up, but also provides greater market access, a better business environment, stronger institutional guarantee and brighter prospects for China-EU mutual investment. It has been highly commended by people from in China and Europe as well as the international community. The conclusion of the negotiations is widely regarded as a milestone in China-EU economic and trade cooperation and a victory for multilateralism. In a grim situation where the pandemic hit the global economy hard, the conclusion of the China-EU investment agreement will help promote the recovery of the world economy, uphold multilateralism and safeguard an rules-based, open world economy.
Just as an ancient Chinese poem said, “Despite the incessant cry of apes from the banks, the swift boat has already sailed through thousands of hills”. China is ready to work with all parties, including the EU, to make the pie of shared interests bigger and achieve higher levels of mutual benefit and win-win results.