CNN: First, you mentioned Fort Detrick on Monday while answering a question on origin-tracing, and then it became a trending topic in Chinese social media. Last night, the MFA became the hottest topic. Many Chinese netizens gathered speculations and hypothesis spreading online and continued to hype up the issue. China’s statement came as WHO experts are working in Wuhan. Do you intend to suggest that so long as they don’t conduct similar research in the US, then any conclusion reached in Wuhan would be one-sided and meaningless? Second question, you mentioned some expectations for the new administration, but it also came as the new administration is about to be sworn in. Is it meant to be a signal or a tough posture?
Hua Chunying: This reminds me of the question posed by Mr. Sudworth of BBC on Monday. But with your fluent Chinese, you should have a more accurate understanding of comments on Chinese social media as well as our positions. There should be no misunderstanding. If you check the past remarks of foreign ministry spokespersons, can you recall anything like your interpretation? Our consistent position is that origin-tracing is a serious scientific matter that must be studied by scientists and medical experts to reach a conclusion through science-based research. It will help us gain a better understanding of this new virus so as to better deal with similar public health crises in the future.
With regard to Fort Detrick, if you think back, wasn’t it back in June, July 2019 when American media including social media reported a lot on this? We are curious, when there were so many media reports in the US on the bio-chemical research base at Fort Detrick and the subsequent EVALI outbreak, why didn’t the US conduct any investigation but instead removed relevant reports? When the world asked time and again for an explanation from the US on Fort Detrick, why did the US remain silent with no explanation offered whatsoever?
Besides, when an EcoHealth Alliance expert who had been working with WIV for 15 years said that there’s no evidence showing that the Wuhan lab had the virus that could trigger the outbreak, why did the US quickly cut funding for his joint research program? I noted the American science community condemned this.
Also, when media reports showed that the epidemic broke out in multiple places earlier in the autumn of 2019 and there might be links between the seasonal influenza in the US and the epidemic, why did the US remain silent and neither invite WHO to look into the matter nor investigate itself? These are just some of the question marks waiting for answers. And it is not for China, but for the US, to offer the answers.
You mentioned comments on Chinese social media including the trending topics. Speaking fairly, the US media reported heavily on the lies of the American leadership, including all the stigmatization, labeling, and all sorts of smears and attacks. If American media, even the leadership or senior officials are free to make irresponsible comments and spread rumors and conspiracy theories, why is it that American media can report on them but Chinese media and people using social media couldn’t post their own comments? You should see how people in the US are suffering because of the rampant rumors and conspiracy theories. Aren’t there lessons to be learned?
I stress that China’s position is clear and consistent. We have no intention to misguide public judgement or the WHO mission’s work. We always firmly support the work of WHO and offer our strong coordination and close cooperation. We hope other countries could offer the same firm support and assistance to WHO.
You asked whether it was meant to be a tough posture for the incoming US administration, I think that’s reading too much into it. What’s the signal? Actually lately many in the business and academic circles in the US have been speaking up because they are all fed up with the extremely irresponsible remarks by a few politicians and hope that normal life and order could be restored. I think that if the new administration could be more rational and responsible in formulating domestic and foreign policies, it will be welcomed by the international community.
On China’s part, we always believe that the China-US ties are a very important bilateral relationship. The sound and steady development of this relationship serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples and countries and is the shared aspiration of the international community. China’s policy on developing relations with the US is consistent and clear. We hope the new administration could meet China halfway, properly handle differences in the spirit of mutual respect, and conduct mutually-beneficial cooperation in broader areas. This is the expectation of both peoples and the whole world.
CNN: We’ve seen a lot of coverage by the Chinese media questioning the safety of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine as 23 people died in Norway after receiving it. Many people believe that these reports are exaggerating and misleading. Some commented that such reports by state media will sow doubts about vaccines in the minds of the general public, which falls into the same rank as those anti-vaxxers in the United States and other western countries. All these have made people around the world less confident about vaccines, which will not help the global anti-epidemic efforts and eventually hurt China’s interests. How do you respond to such criticism?
Hua Chunying: The issue here is a fundamental one: why cannot Chinese media report on something already covered by western media? Even when Chinese media report facts objectively, they are rejected as propaganda or even disinformation. This very idea reveals the deep-seated ideological bias and appalling injustice against China. Why cannot Chinese media report facts when those in the west can say whatever they like? Where is the freedom of press and freedom of speech? Aren’t Chinese media and netizens entitled to the freedom of speech?
You mentioned the incident with the Pfizer vaccine where 23 elderly people died after receiving the vaccine in Norway. Wasn’t this first reported by western media? Didn’t Norway report this first? Didn’t the Norwegian Medicines Agency make an open statement? There was official review on the reasons of death for 13 of them, pointing to side effects of the vaccine. This is not made up by Chinese media, but first reported by western media. But we also noted that English mainstream media didn’t feature this in their reporting in a timely manner.
You should have noticed this interesting phenomenon: whenever there is any negative news about Chinese vaccines, western media always rush to report on it. For example, when a volunteer taking part in Chinese vaccine trails in Brazil passed away, before the reasons were found, western media wrote headlines about the incident, which later proved to be unrelated to the vaccine. Do I remember correctly? But later not one of the western media agencies apologized to China for the mistake in their reports.
It is the urgent task at hand for all of us to fight the virus. Vaccines themselves are a serious scientific issue. Against the grave situation, more vaccines being applied, especially in developing countries, would be of great help to our joint defence against the virus. At stake here is the fundamental interests of all humanity. But we are observing an abnormal phenomenon now. A handful of US and UK media have been taking the lead in pinning invisible geopolitical labels to vaccines and projecting political positions to their reporting. They want to promote Pfizer’s vaccine and trash Chinese vaccines. But China is not affected by such narrow geopolitical bias. We are ready to contribute to vaccine accessibility and affordability and would be glad to see developed countries sharing their vaccines with developing ones. That’s what we hope to see, not a zero-sum game. The double standard that has been exposed on the issue of vaccines reflect a thought-provoking and profound phenomenon that is not conducive to international anti-epidemic cooperation.
Bloomberg: Regarding the Xinjiang genocide statement, you referred to Pompeo, but the President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of State Antony Blinken in his confirmation hearing said he agreed with the Trump administration’s designation of what’s happening in Xinjiang as genocide. So specifically, I’m wondering if you could comment on the incoming Secretary of State’s position, Mr. Blinken’s comments and support of the designation?
Hua Chunying: Like I said to CNN, people all know the U.S. administration with Pompeo as a leading figure fabricated so many lies and rumors and spread so much poison. In fact, the American people also despise his lying character and words lacking the slightest credibility. I believe they have their fair judgment on the credibility of Pompeo and his like.
Among the American people there are various misunderstandings on Xinjiang-related matters, and the reason is crystal clear: Pompeo and other anti-China, anti-communist forces have been colluding with and employing anti-China scholars to spin rumors about China. The American media also exposed the Xinjiang-related rumors created by Adrian Zenz and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, as well as their sponsors. We hope the new U.S. administration will make cool-headed, rational and accurate decisions on Xinjiang and other important issues. On Xinjiang-related matters, we need to let facts and truth speak for themselves. The United States claims to champion democracy, right? Well, they should hear the voices from over 25 million Xinjiang residents of various ethnic groups. We are ready to have exchanges with them based on equality and mutual respect, and help them know more about the truth. In the meantime, we oppose interference in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of Xinjiang and human rights, and we will firmly uphold national sovereign and security.
Hubei TV: Lately there has been much debate over the home of paocai among netizens and public figures in China and the ROK, sometimes even leading to mutual criticism and exaggerated interpretation. I wonder if you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: I’m no culinary expert. To me, what we call paocai in Chinese is a broad variety of pickled fermented food that is not unique to a few countries, ethnic groups or regions. In China it is generally known as paocai, in the Korean Peninsula and among China’s ethnic Korean group kimchi, and the list of names goes on. Despite the similarity, each has its own unique features in terms of ingredient, flavor, recipe, etc. We support meaningful and friendly exchange and discussion over academic issues concerning paocai from a culinary perspective, but there should be no place for bias to avoid inciting confrontation and affecting people-to-people ties.
Xinhua News Agency: Biden’s incoming NSC Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell recently said that the current path that the China-US relationship is taking will only lead the two countries to a horrible situation. The two sides should suspend tit-for-tat actions, establish proper channels and mechanisms for contacts, and take some moderate steps to send positive signals of improving ties with each other. What is your comment?
Hua Chunying: China always maintains that a sound China-US relationship serves the fundamental interests of the two countries and the shared aspiration of the international community. Differences aside, China and the United States do share a wide range of common interests and space for cooperation, and we two shoulder special responsibility to world peace and development.
China’s policy toward the United States is consistent and clear. We are committed to developing a relationship with the United States featuring non-confrontation, non-conflict, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. We are also determined to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests. We hope that the new U.S. administration will work with China in strengthening dialogues, managing differences and expanding cooperation so as to return bilateral relations back to the right track of development at an early date and better serve the people of the two countries and the whole world.
O Globo: Supplies of active ingredients for the production of COVID-19 vaccines in Brazil had been held back in China. Brazilian authorities are concerned that this delay will affect their vaccination. Do you know the reason of this delay and when the supplies will be released to be sent to Brazil?
Hua Chunying: Regarding the specific situation surrounding vaccine export, I believe it’s better for you to inquire the relevant company.
What I can tell you is that the safety and efficacy of vaccines is always the top priority for the Chinese side. Chinese vaccine research and development companies have been strictly following scientific rules and regulatory requirements, promoting vaccine research and development in accordance with laws and regulations, and carrying out international cooperation in strict accordance with international norms and relevant laws and regulations. Phase III clinical trials of Chinese vaccines in Brazil are progressing smoothly. We believe that such bilateral cooperation will play a positive role in China and Brazil’s fight against the pandemic.
China has been very active in international vaccine cooperation and has joined COVAX. Chinese vaccines, once developed and put into use, will contribute to increasing the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries. We are also willing to continue our cooperation with Brazil in this regard.
NHK: US Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken said at the hearing that a tough stance should be taken on China’s human rights issue and military development. What is your comment?
Hua Chunying: You mentioned some comments on China made by Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken at a senate hearing. I’d like to make three points.
First, China’s domestic and foreign policies and strategic intent are open and transparent. China is committed to pursuing the path of peaceful development, upholding world peace, promoting global development, and safeguarding international order.
Second, China’s positions on China-US relations and Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang are consistent and clear. China is committed to developing a relationship with the United States featuring non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. At the same time, China will firmly safeguard its own sovereignty, security and development interests. We firmly oppose the U.S. side using relevant issues to interfere in China’s internal affairs, damage China’s interests and tarnish China’s image.
Third, we hope that the U.S. side will adopt a right perspective in viewing China and China-U.S. relations, work with China to manage differences through cooperation and bring China-U.S. relations back to the right track. This serves the common interests of the two countries and is also the shared aspiration of the international community.
O Globo: Is the delay of active ingredients export to Brazil due to a concern in China over the scarcity of supplies for domestic vaccination? Is the production capacity enough?
Hua Chunying: As I said just now, the Phase III clinical trial of the Chinese vaccine jointly carried out by Chinese and Brazilian companies and institutions has been going smoothly, and Brazil has already approved the emergency use authorization of China’s vaccine. We are willing to continue our cooperation with Brazil, but I would like to refer you to the competent authority for the specific details.
We all know that one Chinese coronavirus vaccine has been given conditional approval for general public use. At the current stage, China can only export a limited number of doses, including finished products, and concentrates and semi-finished products which will be processed further in receiving countries. So the Chinese enterprises are running full-steam day and night to produce as many vaccines as possible to meet the needs of China and other countries, and to honor our pledge of making vaccines more accessible and affordable in developing countries.
Bloomberg: Regarding your comments on Monday about the U.S. military lab and the spreading of viruses through it. Your ambassador to the US has described such speculation about the spread of the virus through the U.S. military as “crazy”. How can we reconcile comments made earlier by you on Monday with the ambassador’s previous statement?
Hua Chunying: I think you misunderstood my words. You may refer to the text of our press conference on that day.
About Fort Detrick, I merely stated a fact. It was back in June, July, 2019 when American media reported a lot on this, but the reports were soon removed. Many raised questions online but the US remained silent with no explanation offered whatsoever.
China’s position is very clear. As the novel coronavirus is a very cunning enemy that was unknown before, we hope scientists and medical experts led by WHO can conduct field trips, research and cooperation in a serious and science-based manner to find out the truth as soon as possible, so that we can better handle similar public health crises in the future.
We deplore conspiracy theories, because over the past year or so, China has been the biggest victim of conspiracy theories on COVID-19. That’s why we firmly support WHO and closely cooperate with it, hoping the truth can be found out through field trips, scientific research and cooperation conducted by scientists and medical experts. On this issue all parties should be candid and active in cooperation with the WHO.
After weathering so much, the U.S. media should have a stronger heart now. Why are you being so sensitive as if asking for kid-glove treatment? On one hand, you slash China with anything you like, and on the other, you cannot stand something that we say or you take a comment online as China’s official stance. More mutual understanding, please.
O Globo: Secretary Pompeo tweeted about the BRICS that thanks to President Bolsonaro and Indian Prime Minister Modi, Brazil and India get it that China and Russia are threats to their people. What’s your comment?
Hua Chunying: You are with a Brazilian media agency, so you should know, do the Brazilian government and people see China as a threat? We also have Indian journalists here, do our Indian friends see China as a threat? Like I said, Pompeo fabricated so many lies and rumors and spread so much poison. Are his words convincing at all? I feel there aren’t so many people in the world who would deign to collude with him at the expense of their own credibility.
CNN: Do you think you are going to miss him after he steps down as he’s such an easy target?
Hua Chunying: Of course. He’s such a good laughing stock. It’s like a new drama every day. But I think he has done irreparable damage to the U.S. national image and reputation. It’s such a tragedy for the American people. Will you miss him at CNN?