Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on February 5, 2021
YLE News: Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin has expressed concern over the BBC report on alleged abuse of Uyghur women in the so-called “re-education camps” in Xinjiang. How does China respond?
Wang Wenbin: We repeatedly stated China’s position on BBC’s unjust, subjective and irresponsible reports on Xinjiang. We hope the relevant side can tell right from wrong, avoid being deceived or misled by disinformation or biased reports, and view the relevant matter in an objective and rational manner.
CCTV: The Xinhua News Agency just released a reality check on lies about Xinjiang. I wonder if you have a comment?
Wang Wenbin: A question on Xinjiang was just raised by the Finnish journalist. This reality check really comes at a good timing. I have also taken note of this reality check. It contains solid data and detail-rich stories, which pointedly debunked some typical rumors and lies about Xinjiang like the BBC reports. Xinjiang is a wonderful place where 56 ethnic groups are tightly united as seeds within a pomegranate fruit as they work together for a better life. Currently the region enjoys social stability, people enjoy their life and work and unprecedented achievement has been made in socioeconomic development and livelihood improvement.
However, for quite a while, some anti-China forces in the West, including the United States, have been fabricating and spreading a large amount of groundless disinformation about Xinjiang by distorting facts to smear China’s image, vilify its Xinjiang policy and meddle in its internal affairs in an attempt to fool the world and disrupt Xinjiang’s stability and development. But lies will never become truth, even if repeated a thousand times. The vast majority of people in the world are sharp-eyed and will look at Xinjiang’s development and achievement as well as China’s Xinjiang policy in an objective and just light. I hope you’ll get well-informed with the facts and see through the lies.
Here I’d like to take some time to share with you the true stories about Xinjiang.
There are revelations about the lies spread by BBC and Adrian Zenz.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation once reported that Azmat Omar, a Chinese citizen living in Australia, claimed that he had lost contact with his family in Xinjiang. They included his father, stepmother, three brothers, two sisters, and over 20 nieces and nephews. However, the fact is that all his relatives in China are living a normal life.
Another false allegation is that Xinjiang suppresses ethnic minorities under the pretext of fighting terrorism. However, in fact, incomplete statistics show that from 1990 to 2016, ethnic separatists, religious extremists, and violent terrorists plotted and conducted several thousand violent terrorist acts. They killed many innocent civilians and several hundred police officers and caused immeasurable property losses. These terrorist activities inflicted untold suffering on the people of various ethnic groups in Xinjiang. Responding to the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and other counter-terrorism resolutions, Xinjiang has acted within the law to crack down on violence and terrorist activities that violate human rights, endanger public security, undermine ethnic unity, and aim at separating the country. Since 2014, a total of 1,588 violent and terrorist groups have been taken out, 12,995 violent terrorists arrested, and 2,052 explosive devices seized. Such operations have effectively curbed the infiltration of extremism and protected to the best extent the right to life, right to health, right to development, and other basic rights of people of all ethnic groups. Xinjiang has reported no violent terrorist cases for more than four consecutive years.
Another lie says that Chinese embassies and consulates have refused to renew the passports of overseas Uygur people, forcing them to return home to face extrajudicial detention or imprisonment. But the fact is that Chinese citizens’ personal freedom and rights of exit and entry are protected by law. As long as they are Chinese nationals and admit themselves that they are Chinese citizens, and do not violate Chinese laws and regulations, they can apply to the Chinese embassy or consulate where they live for the renewal or replacement of passports. Chinese embassies and consulates conduct their services in accordance with the Exit and Entry Administration Law of the People’s Republic of China, the Passport Law of the People’s Republic of China and other laws and regulations to protect the legitimate rights and interests of overseas Chinese of different ethnic groups. Chinese citizens from Xinjiang who apply for the renewal or replacement of passports at Chinese embassies and consulates have been accepted and approved after being examined to comply with relevant laws.
These are facts and truth about Xinjiang. We welcome more interested foreign friends to visit Xinjiang to see with their own eyes all the changes and development that are truly happening there. We also call on media outlets that are committed to objective and unbiased reporting as well as professional ethics to tell the true story through their paper, pen, camera and microphone, which will expose the rumors and lies about Xinjiang.
Bloomberg: In a speech, President Joe Biden said that China is the United States’ most serious competitor and that the US will confront China on a number of issues, including its economic abuses, attack on human rights, IP, et cetera. But President Biden also added that the US is ready to work with Beijing when it’s in America’s interest to do so. I’d like to ask for the foreign ministry’s comment on President Joe Biden’s comments on China.
Wang Wenbin: We noticed reports on that. Peace, development and win-win cooperation is the trend of the times and the shared aspiration of all countries. China has always been a builder of global peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of international order. Our development means a growing force for world peace. We will continue actively developing friendly cooperation with other countries, and fostering a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind.
As two major countries, China and the United States share broad common interests and special, major responsibilities in safeguarding world peace, stability and prosperity. It is natural that there are differences between China and the United States, just like what happens between any other countries. However, the common interests of China and the United States far outweigh our differences. Our cooperation can lead to major achievements that benefit the two countries and the world. Faced with global challenges like COVID-19 and climate change, the areas where China and the United States can and must cooperate get only greater and wider.
China is committed to developing bilateral relations with the United States featuring non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. In the meantime, we will continue firmly upholding national sovereignty, security and development interests. We hope the United States can ride with the public opinions in China and the United States as well as the trend of the times, view China and its relations with China in an unbiased and rational manner, take a positive and constructive China policy, meet China half way, focus on cooperation and manage differences, promote the sound and stable development of China-U.S. ties, and work with the international community to advance the noble cause of world peace and development.
ITV News: Can I ask for the ministry’s response to the Ofcom decision to revoke the license of CGTN to broadcast in the UK?
Wang Wenbin: Ofcom, by oppressing CGTN for political reasons based on ideological bias, politicizes technical issues, seriously damages the reputation of Chinese media and interferes with normal people-to-people and cultural exchanges between the two countries. China is firmly opposed to that.
As an international professional media organization, CGTN strictly abides by the laws and regulations of the UK and the professional ethics of journalism, and adheres to the principles of objectivity, fairness, truthfulness and accuracy in news reporting. CGTN is internationally recognized for its professionalism. Over the past ten years and more since its launch in the UK, CGTN has adhered to professional ethics and conducted good cooperation with the British side. Its operation conforms to the law of communication and has played a positive role in enhancing mutual understanding and cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the Chinese and British people. On the one hand, the British side flouts the freedom of the press. On the other hand, the British side disregards facts and interferes with and obstructs the operation of CGTN in the UK. This is naked double standard and political repression.
We urge the UK to immediately stop political manipulation and correct its mistakes. China reserves the right to make necessary reactions to uphold the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese media.
China Review News: According to media reports, the government of Guyana issued a statement on February 4, local time, saying that it will continue to follow the one-China principle and maintain committed to diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China. The government of Guyana has not established any “diplomatic relations” with Taiwan and has terminated the agreement for Taiwan to set up an office in Guyana. What is China’s comment? Previously, the U.S. Embassy in Guyana and the Taipei Office of the American Institute in Taiwan welcomed Taiwan’s establishment in Guyana. What is your comment?
Wang Wenbin: There is but one China in the world, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory. China firmly opposes any official exchanges in any form between Taiwan and a country having diplomatic relations with China. Correctly adhering to the one-China principle, the Guyanese government announced the termination of the relevant “agreement” for Taiwan to set up office in Guyana and reiterated it values developing friendly relations with China and will not establish so-called official relations with Taiwan. The timely correction of mistakes by the Guyanese side is conducive to the overall interests of bilateral relations. The authorities of Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) deliberately seek “Taiwan independence” and expand “international space” under the pretext of carrying out unofficial economic and cultural activities, in an attempt to hide the truth and deceive the world. Facts have once again proved that the one-China principle is a widely recognized norm for international relations and universal consensus of the international community. The Taiwan authorities’ secessionist behavior and clumsy performance are unpopular, and their ugly face has been fully exposed, making themselves a laughing stock.
Relevant US officials have made seriously wrong remarks in breach of the principle of international law and norms governing international relations, to which China is firmly opposed. The Taiwan question concerns China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is purely China’s internal affair and allows no interference by any external forces. We urge the US side to correct its mistakes, take concrete actions to abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiques, and act in a prudent manner.
The Daily Telegraph: The Telegraph has reported that three Chinese nationals thought to be working as intelligence officers for China’s Ministry of State Security arrived in the UK under the false pretext of working for Chinese state media, and have been expelled from the UK in the last 12 months. Our request for comment to the Chinese embassy in London went unanswered. As such, can MOFA please respond today on this issue?
Wang Wenbin: I haven’t heard of this situation. What I know is that our journalists in the UK have been doing their work in accordance with local laws. The British side has made unjustified political crackdown on the Chinese media out of ideological bias.
The Paper: You refuted BBC’s report on systemic sexual abuse and torture of women in “re-education camps” in Xinjiang at yesterday’s press conference. The US State Department spokesperson said that China committed “crimes against humanity” and “genocide” in Xinjiang and must be met with serious consequences. Do you have a response?
Wang Wenbin: Yesterday I cited some examples to show the falsehood of BBC’s reports on Xinjiang. The Fact Check: Lies on Xinjiang-related Issues Versus the Truth released by Xinhua News Agency further debunked the false allegations aimed to smear Xinjiang. It’s really worth reading. Once again, BBC has released such a sensational report without verifying the facts. This is a serious breach of professional ethics. BBC is risking its own reputation. A few countries, buying into BBC’s false report, have made wanton criticism against China. We find this irresponsible and unacceptable.
Some people seem to believe that whatever BBC airs is true, while if something happens in Xinjiang, it must inevitably be bad. This is bias in its worst manifestation that runs counter to facts and truth.
We want to ask the United States, does it have any solid evidence to level accusation against China? If so, do show it. We urge it to respect facts and stop making baseless allegations and irresponsible or even ill-intentioned remarks.
Global Times: WHO experts have visited multiple places in Wuhan for origin-tracing study purposes. We noted that some reports say Chinese authoritative medical experts made the call that WHO should send experts to other places and countries for further study and WHO’s Wuhan mission is just a first stop. Do you have any comment on that?
Wang Wenbin: Origin-tracing is a complex scientific matter that requires international research and cooperation by scientists across the globe. China has been in close communication with WHO in an open and transparent way.
Since they concluded quarantine on January 28, the international experts in the WHO-China joint mission has conducted field visit with their Chinese peers and had multiple rounds of science-based, professional and candid exchanges on scientific issues of mutual concern. The Chinese government has provided strong assistance, which has been positively appraised by WHO and international experts.
The WHO mission’s visit to China this time is part of global science cooperation on origin-tracing. It is a first stop rather than the end. There have been more and more international reports that the virus and epidemics broke out in multiple places in the world in the latter half of the year 2019, indicating necessity and urgency for WHO to pay similar visits to other countries and regions. We also hope that following China’s example, relevant parties will act in a positive, science-based and cooperative manner on the origin-tracing issue, invite WHO experts in for an origin-tracing study and shoulder their due responsibilities and obligations for international cooperation in fighting the pandemic and building a global community of health for all.
Beijing Daily: On February 3, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement, “Today, the United States took the first step toward making good on that pledge when it extended the New START Treaty with the Russian Federation for five years”; “We will also pursue arms control to reduce the dangers from China’s modern and growing nuclear arsenal”. What’s your comment?
Wang Wenbin: China welcomes the five-year extension of the New START by the United States and Russia. It will help maintain global strategic stability, promote global peace and security and meets the shared expectation of the international community.
At the same time, the United States and Russia hold the largest nuclear arsenals, with their combined nuclear weaponry accounting for over 90 percent of the world’s total. The two should follow international consensus, uphold their special and primary responsibilities to nuclear disarmament, and further substantively slash their nuclear stockpile in a verifiable, irreversible and legally-binding way to create conditions for the ultimate comprehensive and complete nuclear disarmament.
There is an order-of-magnitude difference between the amount of China’s nuclear weaponry and that of the United States and Russia. We firmly reject the groundless allegation and vilification from the U.S. side. China follows a defense policy that is defensive in nature, with nuclear forces always kept at the minimum level required to safeguard national security. We are committed to not first using nuclear weapons at any time or under any circumstances and pledge unconditionally not to use or threat to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones, the only nuclear weapon state to have made such an explicit commitment. This, in itself, is a major contribution to the international nuclear disarmament process. China will continue to hold discussions on a broad range of issues bearing on strategic stability with relevant parties within such frameworks as the cooperation mechanism of the five nuclear weapon states, Conference on Disarmament, and the UNGA First Committee. We also stand ready to maintain communication with relevant sides on issues relating to nuclear arms control through bilateral channels.
AFP: Yesterday French President Macron warned about the lack of information about China’s coronavirus vaccines, saying they might even encourage the development of variants if they are not effective. He said absolutely no information has been shared about trials. Do you have any comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: In fact, we have talked many times about China’s science-based and responsible attitude towards vaccine research and development. The Chinese government has always given top priority to the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines. Chinese vaccine research and development companies have been promoting vaccine R&D in strict accordance with scientific laws and regulatory requirements and laws and regulations, and actively carrying out international cooperation.
At present, the phase III clinical trials of Chinese vaccines that are being conducted overseas are progressing smoothly. According to the data published so far, the Chinese vaccines are effective and safe. At the end of last year, China’s National Medical Products Administration granted conditional marketing authorization to Sinopharm’s inactivated vaccine. Plus, many countries including the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Brazil have approved the use of Chinese vaccines. All these testify to the safety and efficacy of Chinese vaccines.
I also want to point out that China leads the world in vaccine R&D and production, but China has never excessively promoted its vaccines. The international community should work together on vaccines, instead of competing against each other. We hope that countries, with the capacity to do so, will take actions to actively support COVAX and the work of the WHO, help developing countries access vaccines in a timely manner, and make their due contributions to mankind’s early victory over the pandemic.
Reuters: The foreign ministry requested a public apology from the BBC for broadcasting what it described as “fake news”. The BBC has said it stands by its reporting. Do you have any further comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: Yesterday the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs updated information on senior official from the Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs lodging stern representations with the head of the BBC’s Beijing Bureau over the BBC’s pandemic-related fake news reports. I have also noted the relevant response made by the BBC. Here I would like to share with you some of the BBC’s practices in publishing disinformation on China-related issues.
For example, the news video broadcast by BBC World News on January 26 linked the pandemic to politics, broadcast a video of an anti-terrorism drill but depicted it as news of “violent law enforcement and human rights violations” by China’s epidemic prevention teams. Can this be called accurate reports? Experts from the WHO are working with China to carry out study the origin of the virus. At the same time, news of multiple outbreaks of the virus have been reported many times by the media around the world. But the BBC still insists that Wuhan is the origin of the virus in its report. Can this be called unbiased reports? For a long time, the BBC has been viciously attacking and discrediting the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government with ideological pretexts. It has broadcast fake news many times, seriously deviating from the objective, balanced and fair position of media reports. At yesterday’s press conference I also cited some examples to show the falsehood of BBC’s reports on Xinjiang. The Chinese side is firmly opposed to this.
China urges the BBC to take concrete measures to eliminate the adverse impact of the relevant false reports, and make a public apology to the Chinese side. In the meantime, China reserves the right to take further measures.
Bloomberg: Earlier you said that China reserves the right to take legitimate action to safeguard the rights of Chinese media in response to the situation. What options are you considering in terms of legitimate action to safeguard the rights? Can you elaborate a little bit on that, please?
Wang Wenbin: CGTN has been strictly complying with British laws and regulations, abiding by the professional ethics of journalism, adhering to the principles of objectivity, fairness, truthfulness and accuracy in news reporting. Its professionalism has been recognized by the international community. For a long time, some British media have published a large number of reports on China that are not made up of facts but full of ideological prejudice, and some are pure rumors and false information.
On the one hand, the British side stressed that Ofcom is an independent specialized body and there is no political consideration in its decision. On the other hand, it has obstructed CGTN’s license to broadcast in the UK on the grounds of the so-called political party affiliation. This fully shows that the relevant decision is purely political repression and exposes the double standard and hypocrisy of the British side.
We urge the British side to immediately stop political manipulation, change course and correct mistakes, and facilitate normal news reporting by the Chinese media in the UK. China reserves the right to make necessary response and safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the Chinese media.
YLE News: Earlier I asked about our Prime Minister’s comment regarding the human rights situation and you said the relevant side should look at the issue in an objective manner. But the Prime Minister of Finland was quite serious in her comment. Is China planning to have a discussion with the Prime Minister to discuss her concerns about this?
Wang Wenbin: I stated China’s position on this at yesterday’s press conference. Xinjiang is an open region, and what it has done is totally upright and above the board. All relevant people including officials of the Finnish government are welcome to visit Xinjiang and see the place with their own eyes. In recent years there have been 1200-plus people from more than 100 countries who visited Xinjiang and got to know the region’s economic development, harmony among ethnic groups and the protection of the legitimate rights and interests of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang. In October last year, diplomatic officials of 20 Arab states and representatives of the Arab League visited Xinjiang and had candid discussions with the Chinese side.
That said, I’d like to point out that while foreigners with an objective mind are welcome to visit Xinjiang, we don’t welcome or accept any “investigation” in Xinjiang based on the presumption of guilt under the pretext of human rights. This is our stance. We hope the Finnish side can tell right from wrong, and avoid being misled by lies and smears.
The Globe and Mail: You said that CGTN has been strictly observing British laws and regulations. Ofcom said in its decision that it’s withdrawing the license from CGTN because, it said, CGTN is ultimately controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, and Ofcom said that disqualifies CGTN from a broadcast license. Is that inaccurate? Is Ofcom’s finding inaccurate?
Wang Wenbin: I wonder if you’ve seen CGTN’s statement in response to this matter. CGTN has played an important role in deepening communication and mutual understanding between the people of China and the UK for 18 years since coming to the UK. It also maintains a long-term and stable cooperative relationship with many media organizations in the UK. CGTN also said that it has provided detailed explanations to Ofcom in a proactive and cooperative manner, proposed transferring CGTN’s broadcasting license and sought a constructive solution.
You said that Ofcom made this decision based on the so-called political nature of CGTN, I would like to point out that the national circumstances of each country and the way the media are managed and operated vary, but this should not be an excuse for hindering normal people-to-people exchanges among countries.
China is a socialist country led by the CPC, and the British side has always been clear about the nature of the Chinese media. It has known this since the first day CGTN landed in the UK 18 years ago. Now, the British side is having an issue with the nature of the Chinese media and using it to oppress CGTN. This is all political manipulation. We urge the British side to correct its mistakes and facilitate Chinese media’s normal news reporting in the UK.