China FO presser on Aug 18
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin held a press conference on Aug 18, 2022.
CCTV: According to media reports, at the ninth China-Japan high-level political dialogue yesterday, both sides agreed to use the opportunity of the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties this year to strengthen dialogue and communication on various levels to jointly build constructive and stable bilateral relations. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: The two-thousand-year history of interactions and the past five decades following the normalization of diplomatic relations between China and Japan have taught us that peaceful co-existence and friendly cooperation is the only right way forward for bilateral relations. Both sides need to act on the important common understandings reached by the leaders of our two countries, which serve as the political guidance for bilateral relations. Both sides need to act with a high sense of responsibility and mission, learn the important lessons from history, keep a focused and independent view, avoid domestic and external distractions and work together to build a relationship that meets the needs of the new era.
We hope the Japanese side will bear in mind the fundamental, long-term interest of both countries and peoples, form the right perception of China, adopt a positive, practical and rational policy toward China, move in the right direction of peaceful development and follow the four political documents between China and Japan and act upon our political consensus. We hope Japan will work with China to enhance political mutual trust,?abandon the zero-sum game mentality, properly manage differences and work for a more mature, stable, sound and resilient China-Japan relationship.
Reuters: This is a question about missing Hong Kongers and Taiwanese held captive in Myanmar. According to a report from media outlet TVBS, there are over 6,000 Taiwanese that have fallen for a scam in Myanmar. Over 2,000 of these are still being held captive. The Hong Kong SAR government has recently said that five Hong Kongers who also fell for a similar scam in Myanmar are also still missing. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on this? Have relevant departments in China been investigating or tackling this issue?
Wang Wenbin: The Chinese government attaches great importance to consular protection and is fully committed to protecting the safety and lawful rights and interests of overseas Chinese citizens, including our compatriots in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The Chinese embassy and consulate in the country concerned are in close communication with its government in the ongoing search and rescue efforts.
We once again remind our fellow citizens to be vigilant against fake overseas job postings on the Internet, strictly abide by laws and regulations, protect themselves, and promptly report any information related to fraud and gambling. In case of an emergency outside China, please contact the local police immediately and get into touch with the Chinese embassy or consulate there.
Bloomberg: The US and Taiwan will start formal talks on a trade and economic initiative. The first round of these talks is expected to take place early this fall. That’s according to the USTR in a statement. Does the foreign ministry have any comment about this trade and economic initiative between the US and Taiwan?
Wang Wenbin: There is but one China in the world. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. The government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China. The one-China principle is the prerequisite for China’s Taiwan region to participate in external economic cooperation. China is always against any country negotiating economic?and?trade?agreements of sovereign implication or official nature?with?China’s?Taiwan?region. We ask the US to follow the one-China principle and the provisions of the three China-US joint communiqués with concrete actions, and?stop all forms of official interaction with Taiwan. The US must not negotiate agreements with sovereign implication or official nature?with?China’s?Taiwan?region or send any wrong signal to the “Taiwan independence” separatist forces in the name of trade and economic interactions. We urge the US not to repeat its wrongdoing. China will act resolutely to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity. We urge the US not to miscalculate on this.
The Paper: We noticed that the ROK Foreign Minister Park Jin recently said that China is the?ROK’s important economic partner. Without China’s participation, there would hardly be an Indo-Pacific future to talk about. He also noted that China and the ROK will soon celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. The two countries should keep in mind the future 30 years and jointly build ROK-China relations of mutual respect and shared interests. What is your response?
Wang Wenbin: We have seen Foreign Minister Park Jin’s remarks and commend those remarks.
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a fruitful meeting with Foreign Minister Park Jin recently. The two sides agreed to make events to mark the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties a success to build more positive and steady expectations for the bilateral relations.
China is ready to work with the ROK to stay in the right direction of the development of the bilateral relations, and usher in the next 30 years of common development and prosperity.
CRI: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised the so-called “Chinese debt trap” again during his visit to Africa. What is China’s comment?
Wang Wenbin: The so-called “Chinese debt trap” is a lie made up by the US and some other Western countries to deflect responsibility and blame. Their allegation against China is simply untenable.?Let the facts speak for themselves.
First, developing countries mainly borrow from commercial and multilateral lenders. According to the World Bank’s International Debt Statistics, by the end of 2020, commercial and multilateral creditors accounted for 40% and 34% respectively for the public external debt of 82 low-income and lower middle-income countries. Bilateral official creditors took up 26% and China less than 10%.
Second, in recent years, developing countries have mainly borrowed their new debts from Western commercial creditors and multilateral institutions. According to World Bank statistics, between 2015 and 2020, commercial, multilateral and bilateral official debts accounted for 42%, 35% and 23% respectively of the US$475.2?billion new public external debt of low-income and lower middle-income countries. Most of the commercial debts, or 39% of the total new debts, are financed by sovereign bonds in the international financial market. A research by Eurodad on 31 key indebted countries found that 95% of the countries’ sovereign bonds were held by Western financial institutions.
Third, the developing countries’ medium- to long-term debt payment mainly flows to Western commercial creditors and multilateral institutions. According to World Bank estimates, low-income and lower middle-income countries have to make US$940 billion worth of principal and interest repayments in the next seven years. That?includes US$356.6 billion to Western commercial creditors and US$273 billion to multilateral institutions, which?account?for?67% of the total payments due. Only 14% of their total payments, or US$130.8 billion, will go to the Chinese government and commercial institutions. They will have to pay more than US$300 billion to sovereign bond holders, most of which are Western financial institutions who are clearly the biggest source of debt service pressure for the borrowing countries.?
Fourth, it’s much more expensive to borrow from Western commercial creditors than from China. Take Africa as an example, according to the estimates of the UK’s Debt Justice based on World Bank data, the interest rates of China’s official and commercial loans to African countries are lower than the interest rate (of 5%) on commercial loans from other countries. They are also far lower than the interest rates (of 4-10%) on the 10-year government bonds, according to the numbers disclosed by the African Development Bank. Besides, the sovereign loans provided by China come with a fixed interest rate, while Western commercial creditors often apply fluctuating interest rate. As the US dollar enters its rate hike cycle, the debtor countries are facing growing pressure on repayment.
Fifth, Western commercial creditors and multilateral institutions have been absent from the global debt relief and service suspension effort. China has been implementing the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative and the biggest contributor to the effort. By contrast, Western commercial creditors and multilateral institutions, who hold the biggest share of debts, claimed they need to maintain their credit rating and have thus refused to be part of the effort and failed to make proportionate contributions to relieving the debt burden of developing countries.?
When certain politicians and media in the US and some other Western countries hype up the so-called “Chinese debt trap” despite those facts, their real aim is to create a narrative trap to sow discord between China and other developing countries, impede their cooperation and disrupt the growth of developing countries. But the developing countries and people with insight from the rest of the international community will not fall for this.?
Prasar Bharati: A recent report from Fudan University said that China’s engagement in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) dropped compared to the first half of 2021. Do you have any comment? Also, was the issue of security concerns and other issues, as reported by media, discussed during the meeting of China’s External Security Commissioner Cheng Guoping with the Pakistani Ambassador to China Moin ul Haque?
Wang Wenbin: China has put out a press release on the meeting you mentioned. You may refer to that. I want to stress here that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a key pilot project under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and is laser-focused on development and the improvement of people’s livelihood. It has been widely commended and recognized by people of various walks of life as it has brought tangible benefits to local socioeconomic development and the betterment of the people’s lives. China will continue to strengthen cooperation with Pakistan and make sure that CPEC cooperation will continuously benefit the people across Pakistan.
Let me take this opportunity to also update you on the progress of the BRI. For nine years since the launch of the BRI, China has been working with countries involved to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation in line with the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. Our efforts have yielded tangible and substantial progress. More than 140 countries have signed Belt and Road cooperation documents with China. A large number of practical cooperation projects have been launched. The China-Laos Railway is fully operational. The Peljesac Bridge in Croatia is successfully completed. The Jakarta-Bandung Railway, the Budapest-Belgrade Railway, the Port of Djibouti and the Gwadar Port have all seen important progress. These projects have benefited the local economy and people’s livelihood. The China-Europe freight trains are in steady operation and more than 1,000 trips were made each month for 27 consecutive months. In the first half of this year, the total trade in goods between China and Belt and Road partner countries reached 6.3 trillion yuan, up by 17.8% year-on-year and reaching 31.9% of China’s foreign trade in goods. Non-financial direct investment from China to partner countries reached 65.03 billion yuan, up by 4.9% and reaching 18.5% of China’s outbound non-financial direct investment.
Going forward, China will continue to make new solid progress in high-quality Belt and Road cooperation with all parties.
Shenzhen TV: According to reports, during the ninth China-Japan high-level political dialogue held yesterday, the Japanese side stated its position on the situation in the Taiwan Strait, said that China’s military exercises involve Japan’s EEZ and stressed the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: …..The Taiwan question bears on the political foundation of China-Japan relations and the basic trust between our two countries. There should be no ambivalence or vacillation about the attitude on the Taiwan question, still less any attempt to provoke or cross the red line on this. The Japanese side has made serious political commitments to China on this quite a few times. If the bedrock is shaken, whatever built upon it could rapidly collapse. Japan knows how sensitive the Taiwan question is and should be quite clear about the danger and harm in emboldening “Taiwan independence” forces. We urge Japan to draw the lessons from history, abide by the principles of the four China-Japan political documents and the commitments it has made.?
Since China and Japan have not yet carried out maritime delimitation in waters east of Taiwan, China does not accept the notion of so-called “Japanese EEZ”. The Chinese military drills in the waters off China’s Taiwan island?are necessary and legitimate?both as a response to the major provocation of the US side and the “Taiwan independence” separatist?forces and as a step to firmly uphold China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The relevant Chinese authorities had issued safety alerts and navigation warnings?before?the?start?of?the?drills. Our practice is fully in line with international law and established international practices.?We hope the Japanese side will truly and strictly abide by the one-China principle both in words and in deeds and actually do something that would contribute to cross-Strait peace and stability.
Prasar Bharati: Nikkei Asia and other media reports said that several nations are reducing projects that are a part of the Belt and Road Initiative. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: As I shared with you just now, for nine years since the launch of the BRI, much has been achieved in extensive and win-win cooperation between China and the international community. Let me add some more facts on that.
By July 4, China has signed BRI cooperation documents with 149 countries and 32 international organizations. We have adopted more than 3,000 cooperation projects which involve nearly US$1 trillion of investment. By the end of last year, China has established scientific and technological cooperation relationships with 84 Belt and Road participating countries, supported 1,118 joint research projects and launched 53 joint laboratories in agriculture, new energy and health. Cooperation is booming on developing the Silk Road of innovation. The China-Europe freight trains have seen steady growth and reached more than 190 cities in more than 20 European countries, building not just a transport route, but also a network of connectivity throughout Asia and Europe that brings all countries and regions along the route together for shared benefits. All these speak volumes about the endless possibilities of the benefits the BRI can bring to the world. We will continue to work with the international community to jointly advance high-quality Belt and Road cooperation and create more benefit for the world.
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