Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on 8 February, 2021
Shenzhen TV: Mushahid Hussain Syed, Chairman of Pakistan’s Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, said in a recent interview that the economic growth of China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and the population growth of the Uyghur community belie the politically-motivated fiction peddled by a few Western politicians. Also the UAE ambassador to China Ali Al Dhaheri spoke highly of Xinjiang’s economic development and progress in poverty alleviation, applauded the effective counter-terrorism and deradicalization efforts and expressed hope for stronger cooperation with China on this front. Do you have a comment?
Wang Wenbin: China appreciates the objective and unbiased position upheld by the Pakistani and UAE sides. Chairman Hussain and Ambassador Dhaheri both spoke about their first-hand experience in Xinjiang during the interviews, which reflects the real situation in Xinjiang. It has also proven that the lies on Xinjiang concocted by a handful of anti-China elements in the West are nothing but a farce to malign and smear China. Their attempts to interfere in China’s internal affairs will not succeed.
Since 2018, more than 1,200 people from over 100 countries have visited Xinjiang. That includes UN officials, foreign diplomats posted in China, some countries’ permanent representatives to Geneva, journalists and religious groups. They saw with their own eyes a region thriving with stability and prosperity and commended its exemplary counter-terrorism and deradicalization efforts. We welcome more foreign friends to visit Xinjiang and see the real situation there, including its socioeconomic development and how local residents are enjoying their life and work. We believe more and more countries will speak up for justice like Pakistan and the UAE.
Reuters: Australia has said that the journalist Cheng Lei was formally arrested on February 5 on suspicion of supplying state secrets overseas. Can you give us any more details on this case? Secondly, Cheng Lei family have asked for access to her. Is China willing to arrange this access?
Wang Wenbin: As we understand, the Chinese judiciary, after investigation in accordance with law, approved the arrest of suspected criminal Cheng Lei, an Australian citizen, on February 5 on suspicion of illegally providing state secrets to foreign forces in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China. The case is still is the process of handling. The Chinese judicial authorities handle the case in accordance with law and fully protect her rights.
China is a country governed by law. China’s judicial authorities have been dealing with cases independently and the rights of the person involved are fully protected. We hope the Australian side will respect China’s judicial sovereignty and stop interfering in China’s handling of cases in accordance with law in any form.
Xinhua News Agency: International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Friday that China was the only major economy to register positive growth in 2020. The IMF projected China’s economy to grow by 8.1 percent in 2021, which will help China inject more growth momentum into the rest of the world. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: In 2020, despite the impact of COVID-19 and deep global recession, the Chinese economy has achieved steady recovery rapidly with a growth rate of 2.3%, creating enabling conditions for the world to resist the negative impact of the pandemic and economic recession.
As a large developing country with a population of 1.4 billion, a labor force of 900 million and a market of the 120 million economic entities, China has been and will continue to be an important engine for global economic recovery and a sought-after destination for investors all over the world. Statistics from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) showed that global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to China rose by 4 percent in 2020, making China the world’s largest FDI recipient.
According to the annual “Business Confidence Survey” released by the German Chamber of Commerce in China, German companies in China are currently optimistic for the coming year. 77 percent of German companies expect the market to develop significantly better in China than in other economies and 72 percent plan further investments in China. Previously, another survey showed that about 82 percent of U.S. companies surveyed said they would not move their production lines out of China for the next three years and nearly 70% of Japanese companies still have high expectations of China’s exuberant market demand.
The Chinese economy is now deeply integrated into the world economy and the ties between China and the rest of the world will get closer as China has entered a new development stage. Just as President Xi Jinping said in his special address at the World Economic Forum Virtual Event of the Davos Agenda, as a longstanding supporter of economic globalization, China is committed to following through on its fundamental policy of opening-up. China will continue to promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, foster a business environment that is based on market principles, governed by law and up to international standards, and unleash the potential of the huge China market and enormous domestic demand. We hope these efforts will bring more cooperation opportunities to other countries and give further impetus to global economic recovery and growth.
AFP: A follow-up question on Cheng Lei. Can you tell us to which country she is suspected of having supplied state secrets?
Wang Wenbin: Like I said, the case is still in the process of handling. I have no further information to offer at this moment.
Beijing Youth Daily: According to reports, former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz passed away on February 6 local time. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: Former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultza is a veteran statesman and diplomat, who made positive efforts and contributions to promoting China-U.S. relations during his tenure of office. After leaving office, he remained committed to enhancing mutual understanding and trust between the two countries and advancing China-U.S. friendly cooperation. We deeply mourn for his passing and express our sincere sympathy to his loved ones.
Bloomberg: A question about Bloomberg News employee Fan’s detention. Does the foreign ministry have any update?
Wang Wenbin: The Beijing National Security Bureau has 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. Her case is still under investigation.
CCTV: You talked about the vaccines China provides to other countries last week. Do you have any update on that?
Wang Wenbin: As I said last week, China has been earnestly acting on President Xi’s pledge that once developed and deployed, Chinese vaccines will be made a global public good contributing to the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries. China is providing vaccine aid to 53 developing countries including Pakistan, and we have exported and are exporting vaccines to 22 countries. China also actively participates in the WHO-led COVAX and decided to provide 10 million doses of vaccines to the program, mainly to meet the demand of developing countries. China supports domestic companies in conducting joint R&D and manufacturing with foreign partners, and in exporting vaccines to countries that are in urgent need of vaccines, have certified Chinese vaccines, and authorized their emergency use. We also support and assist foreign vaccine companies in manufacturing in China, whose vaccines will then be delivered overseas.
After delivering our donation of vaccines to Pakistan, our first recipient, our donated vaccines also arrived in Cambodia yesterday and the Laos today. The shipment of vaccines we are providing to Equatorial Guinea will begin tomorrow. The first batch of vaccines we exported to Peru also arrived today. In the coming days we will provide vaccines to other countries. The pertinent governments expressed deep gratitude to China.
China will continue cooperating with the relevant countries on vaccines and providing support and assistance to the best of our ability, making concrete contributions to an early victory against the pandemic and a global community of health for all.
Reuters: Just follow on Cheng Lei’s family asking about potential access. Is China considering it will arrange this or do you have any more comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: The Chinese judicial authorities handle the case in accordance with law and fully protect her legal rights.
Kyodo News Agency: The Japanese side said that on February 6 and 7 China Coast Guard vessels entered Japanese waters near the “Senkaku Islands”, over which the Japanese government lodged protest with the Chinese side. Could you give us some information about the operation and China’s position?
Wang Wenbin: The Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands are inherent Chinese territory. The patrol and law enforcement activities by China Coast Guard in these waters are legitimate and lawful measures to safeguard sovereignty.
China Daily: According to reports, a glacier collapsed in northern India on February 7, triggering devastating flooding downstream which may have killed between 100 and 150 people. Does China have a comment?
Wang Wenbin: We have taken note of the flooding in northern India. We mourn the passing of the victims and extend our condolences and sympathy to the bereaved families and the injured. We hope those missing will be rescued soon.
AFP: A question on the WHO expert mission to China. Can you tell us when will their mission end and when will China organize press conference with the experts? Thank you.
Wang Wenbin: As for the specific schedule of the WHO expert group in China, you may ask the competent department. Here, I would like to share with you some other information about the WHO experts’ visit to China.
The WHO mission’ visit here is part of the global scientific cooperation on origin-tracing. The Chinese and foreign experts have overcome the difficulties caused by the pandemic to sit together face-to-face for the first time to have candid, deep and friendly exchanges with a rigorous, science-based attitude and the principle of seeking truth from facts. As far as I know, they have reached some consensus, which I believe will be accurately captured in their report. The nearly one-month joint efforts of the two sides have laid a good foundation for the global science cooperation on origin-tracing. This also attests to China’s concrete actions to support the work of WHO and promote the building of a shared community of health for all.
Tracing the origin of the virus is a complex scientific issue, which does not fall within the scope of diplomacy and should not entail any political factors. More and more facts have shown that the virus and epidemics had been present in multiple places as early as in the second half of 2019. A comprehensive analysis of relevant information and systematic visits to relevant sites will help draw a scientific, objective and comprehensive conclusion on the source of the virus. In an open and transparent spirit, China will continue to carry out follow-up cooperation with relevant experts from other countries and make its own contributions to better preventing future risks and protecting the life and health of people around the world.
CNR: According to reports, on February 6, Mr. Faki was re-elected as Chairman of the African Union Commission. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: China congratulates Mr. Faki on his reelection as Chairman of the African Union Commission, which fully attests to African countries’ trust in and recognition of his work. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has sent a congratulatory message to him on behalf of the Chinese side. We wish Chairman Faki greater success in his second term.
The African Union (AU) serves to rally states on the Continent to seek strength through solidarity. In recent years, the AU has been upholding multilateralism, promoting peace, development and integration in Africa, and coordinating African countries in fighting COVID-19. In all these aspects, it has achieved notable progress and demonstrated important influence in regional and international affairs. China extends its congratulations on this.
We attach high importance to developing relations with the AU, take it as a major partner in advancing China-Africa friendly cooperative ties, and firmly support it in playing a bigger role in African and international affairs. We stand ready to have closer communication and coordination with it and to deepen solidarity and cooperation in such areas as promoting peace and development in Africa, jointly advancing the BRI, fighting COVID-19 and defending international equity and justice. Together, we hope to forge a closer China-Africa community with a shared future and safeguard developing countries’ shared interests.
Bloomberg: Bloomberg is reporting that China is set to allow some stranded Australian coal cargoes to unload. Can you confirm that China is going to allow some of these Australian coal cargoes to come onshore? And if so, will they be able to secure customs clearance?
Wang Wenbin: I’m not aware of this and would refer you to the competent authorities or local government.
The Paper: The Canadian embassy in China published a statement on its website last night, saying that the Embassy of Canada wishes to convey sincere regret that the private production of T-shirts for embassy staff has offended public sentiment in China. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: We noticed the Canadian embassy admits that the behavior of its staff member has offended public sentiment in China. Canada should take this as a lesson learned and make sure such things won’t happen again.
AFP: U.S. President Joe Biden talked about President Xi Jinping this weekend and said that he doesn’t want conflict with China. Does China have any comments on what Joe Biden said?
Wang Wenbin: President Xi Jinping and President Biden have had many interactions in the past. Communication at various levels between China and the United States is conducive to greater mutual understanding and the development of bilateral relations.
China is committed to developing a relationship with the United States featuring no confrontation, no conflict, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. At the same time we will firmly safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests. The two sides should work in the same direction, focus on cooperation and manage differences to promote the sound and steady development of bilateral ties and better serve the people of both countries and beyond.
China News Service: According to reports, the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum recently convened in Geneva and elected a temporary executive authority. Do you have any comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: With the mediation efforts of the international community, the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) has elected the Presidency Council and leadership of the interim government. China welcomes that. We hope relevant parties in Libya will take this opportunity to strengthen negotiation and dialogue, consolidate consensus and make concrete progress in the political settlement process of the Libyan issue. China stands ready to work with the rest of the international community to play a positive role in restoring peace and stability in Libya.
The following question is raised after the press conference:
Q: Indian Union Minister of State for State Transport and Highways VK Singh said India and China have different perceptions of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). He said “If China has transgressed 10 times, we must have done it at least 50 times”. But the Indian government does not announce it, and the Chinese media do not cover it. “China has been attempting to expand its area by taking advantage of its perception of the LAC... But, the present government has ensured that this does not happen,” he added. Do you have any response?
Wang Wenbin: This is an unwitting confession by the Indian side. For a long time, the Indian side has conducted frequent acts of trespass in the border area in an attempt to encroach on China’s territory and constantly created disputes and frictions, which is the root cause of the tensions at the China-India border. We urge the Indian side to follow through on the consensus, agreements and treaties it reached with China, and uphold peace and stability in the border region with concrete actions.