Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on 9 February, 2021
AFP: A question on the Iran nuclear deal, the JCPOA. The French President Macron proposed to mediate between the United States and Iran in order to revive the deal. Does China welcome the proposition by the French President?
Wang Wenbin: The Iranian nuclear issue is at a crucial juncture. The imperative at the moment is for all parties to accelerate implementation of the consensus reached at last December’s foreign ministers’ meeting. The U.S. side should rejoin the JCPOA with no preconditions as early as possible and lift all relevant sanctions. On this basis Iran should resume full compliance. China follows closely the development of the situation and remains in close communication with relevant parties. The Chinese side has suggested that an international meeting between the JCPOA participants and the U.S. side be held as soon as possible to negotiate a roadmap for full compliance by the U.S. side and Iran. We will continue to work with all relevant parties and the international community to bring the JCPOA back on track and advance the political settlement process of the Iranian nuclear issue.
CCTV: Does China have any expectations for the upcoming China-CEEC Summit?
Wang Wenbin: China-CEEC cooperation is a cross-regional cooperation platform that arises from mutual needs and common development based on the shared aspirations of China and the CEECs, which has provided opportunities for both sides.
Since its inception nine years ago, the China-CEEC cooperation mechanism has grown into a full-fledged one and achieved fruitful outcomes. The summit this time will be hosted by President Xi Jinping, marking the highest-level China-CEEC leaders’ meeting ever. Besides looking back on the journey of and drawing experience from China-CEEC cooperation over the past nine years, all parties will discuss new ideas and proposals to boost post-COVID cooperation and economic recovery and development, chart the course and draw a blueprint for future development and inject new impetus into China-CEEC cooperation and the China-EU comprehensive cooperative partnership.
Associated Press of Pakistan: Last week Chinese government donated a batch of half a million coronavirus vaccine to Pakistan. On Monday, PLA also sent a batch of COVID-19 vaccine to Pakistani military, thus making Pakistan the first country to receive COVID vaccine both from the Chinese government and military. Pakistani leadership and people have appreciated this gesture by the Chinese government. What’s your response to this?
Wang Wenbin: Like you mentioned, the Chinese government and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army delivered a batch of COVID-19 vaccines to Pakistan on February 1 and 8 respectively, which is the first batch of vaccine aid provided by the Chinese government and the Chinese military to another country.
Since the outbreak of the epidemic, China and Pakistan have stood together and helped each other. In the depths of China’s fight against the epidemic, Pakistan extended a helping hand to China at the earliest time possible. In the same vein, the Chinese side has provided Pakistan with anti-epidemic supplies such as testing reagents, masks, protective gowns and vaccines to meet the urgent needs of the Pakistani side, attesting to the long-standing ironclad friendship between China and Pakistan.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Pakistan. Going forward, China will continue to support and assist Pakistan in its epidemic prevention and control, economic recovery and social development in light of Pakistan’s needs to the best of our capacity, and jointly hold a series of events in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the diplomatic ties to inject new impetus into China-Pakistan relations.
Reuters: The U.S. Navy said that two U.S. carrier-strike groups conducted coordinated operations in the South China Sea on February 9. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: The United States frequently sent vessels and aircraft to the South China Sea to flex its muscles. This is not conducive to peace and stability in the region. China will continue to take necessary measures to firmly defend national sovereignty and security and work together with regional countries to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.
AFP: Two French navy ships recently conducted a “freedom of navigation” mission in the South China Sea. French Defence Minister Florence Parly said this is “a striking proof of the capacity of our French Navy to deploy far away and for a long time together with our Australian, American and Japanese strategic partners.” Is China aware of the relevant situation? Do you have any response?
Wang Wenbin: There is no problem with freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea. China always respects the freedom of navigation and overflight enjoyed by all countries in the South China Sea in accordance with international law. However, we oppose any attempt to undermine China’s sovereignty and security and disrupt regional peace and tranquility under the pretext of “freedom of navigation”.
CNR: China said not long ago that it would provide COVID-19 vaccines to African countries. Can you share some latest update?
Wang Wenbin: The shipment of the vaccines that China provides to Equatorial Guinea will begin today, and they are expected to arrive in the country’s capital Malabo on the morning of February 10 local time. This is the first batch of vaccine aid that the Chinese government provides to Africa, an important action to fulfill our commitment to make vaccines a global public good, and a concrete step to act on President Xi’s words that once the development and deployment of COVID-19 vaccine is completed in China, African countries will be among the first to benefit, a pledge he made last June at the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity Against COVID-19.
China and Equatorial Guinea are each other’s sincere and reliable partners and brothers. Over the past 50 years and more, the two countries have been championing the fine tradition of solidarity, mutual assistance and ever-lasting friendship. Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, the two sides have been supporting each other in overcoming the difficulties together. This time, China provides vaccines to Equatorial Guinea at the earliest time possible to help it defeat the virus, which demonstrates once again the profound friendship between people in China and Equatorial Guinea, as well as between China and Africa.
China continues acting on President Xi’s important announcements. We are ready to cooperate through various means with Equatorial Guinea and other African countries on vaccines, and offer as much support and help as we can to African countries based on their need, so that we can defeat the virus together, achieve common development in the post-COVID era, and deliver benefits to Chinese and African people.
Shenzhen TV: With the Spring Festival just around the corner, we have noticed that Chinese embassies and consulates in many countries have been distributing festival packages to local Chinese nationals including students. Can you give us more details on this? What would you say to these Chinese citizens who are staying put for the Spring Festival?
Wang Wenbin: To our knowledge, more than 170 Chinese embassies and consulates have distributed hundreds of thousands of Spring Festival packages so far, with more on the way. It’s not much, but it carries the best wishes from home. Our colleagues abroad designed the packages and purchased and packed the items, some of which were hand-made by themselves. In addition to anti-epidemic supplies such as masks, there are also Spring Festival couplets, Chinese knots, clay ox sculptures and even traditional food for the festival such as dumplings and glutinous rice balls. The content may vary, but the simple warm gesture conveys the same loving care of the motherland. We hope this will help add some festivity in the air for our compatriots in distant lands and bring them a familiar taste of home.
The health and safety of Chinese citizens overseas is always close to heart for the Chinese government, and the motherland always has their back. At present, as the pandemic is yet to be contained overseas, we would like to remind our compatriots abroad to keep up prevention and protection measures and enjoy a safe and happy Chinese New Year.
Reuters: A U.S. audio app appeared to be blocked in China’s mainland. Do you have any information on that?
Wang Wenbin: I’m not aware of what you said.
I’d like to stress our principle that China’s internet is open, and the Chinese government manages internet-related affairs according to law and regulation. China is firmly determined in safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests and rejecting foreign interference.