Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin held a regular presser on May 20. He announced that Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will pay an official visit to China from May 21 to 22 at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi. He also fielded questions on the virtual meeting of BRICS foreign ministers and BRICS Plus meet.
Bloomberg: Sri Lanka’s former Finance Minister told the parliament earlier this week that the nation missed payments on debt due to Chinese banks. Later, its central banker said that Sri Lanka will not service its dollar debt until the country completed a debt restructuring. Can you give any update on China’s talks with Sri Lanka on the debt issue? How could this current situation affect China’s funding support for Sri Lanka going forward?
Wang Wenbin: China fully relates to the difficulties and challenges facing Sri Lanka and stands ready to play a constructive role in its steady economic and social development. As to Sri Lanka’s debt to the Chinese side, China supports relevant financial institutions in having consultations with Sri Lanka to seek a proper settlement. China stands ready to work with relevant countries and international financial institutions and continue to play a positive role in easing Sri Lanka’s debt burden and helping it achieve sustainable development. In the meantime, we hope and believe that Sri Lanka will work in the same direction and make independent efforts to uphold the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investment and financing partners, and maintain stability and credibility of its investment and financing environment.
CCTV: Could you offer more information on the consideration behind Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s visit?
Wang Wenbin: This visit to China is the first official bilateral visit of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari since he assumed the office of foreign minister. It will see his hope of taking China as the first destination of his overseas visits realized and also marks the first in-person high-level interaction between the two countries since the new Pakistani government was formed. As all-weather strategic cooperative partners, it is necessary for China and Pakistan to strengthen communication and coordination on major strategic issues and jointly respond to new developments in the international and regional situation and various risks and challenges.
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will hold talks with Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to have comprehensive and in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations and issues of common interest. China hopes to take this visit as an opportunity to renew our traditional friendship, consolidate strategic mutual trust, further deepen our all-weather strategic cooperative partnership and build a closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era.
NHK: During his visit to Japan and the ROK, President Biden plans to hold the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue between the US, Japan, India and Australia, and announce the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework targeting China. Do you have any response?
Wang Wenbin: We noted that US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the other day that President Biden’s upcoming trip to Asia is not aimed at confronting China. We hope that the US will match its words with deeds and work with countries in the region to promote solidarity and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific, instead of plotting division and confrontation. It should join efforts to foster an open and inclusive “circle of friends” in the Asia-Pacific, instead of putting together a closed and exclusive “clique”. It should do more to contribute to peace and development in the Asia-Pacific, instead of creating turbulence and chaos in the region.
China holds that any regional cooperation framework should conform to the trend of the times for peace and development and enhance mutual trust and cooperation among regional countries. It should not target third parties or undermine their interests, and should not be decidedly selective or exclusive.
Beijing Youth Daily: May 22 is the International Day for Biological Diversity. As the host country of the 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, what efforts has China made to protect global biodiversity?
Wang Wenbin: China attaches great importance to biodiversity conservation and vigorously promotes ecological protection. China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment is holding an event to mark the International Day for Biological Diversity this afternoon. Sun Jinlong, Secretary of the Leading Party Members Group of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, Xie Feng, Vice Foreign Minister, Wang Xiangang, Vice Governor of Yunnan Province, Li Chunliang, Deputy Director of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, Ambassador of the European Union to China, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme in China, among others, attend and address the event.
As the host country of COP15 of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, China successfully hosted the first phase of the conference last year. President Xi Jinping announced at the meeting China’s initiative to establish a Kunming Biodiversity Fund and take the lead by investing 1.5 billion RMB yuan to support biodiversity protection in developing countries, which has been highly commended by the international community. The Conference also adopted the Kunming Declaration, which provided political impetus for global biodiversity conservation. At present, China is actively preparing for the second phase of the conference and building consensus on the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. China will continue to actively promote the green Belt and Road Initiative and the Global Development Initiative and advance South-South cooperation to contribute Chinese wisdom and strength to global environmental governance and jointly build a community of life on earth.
Bloomberg: Bloomberg has reported that the Chinese and Russian governments are discussing more oil shipments, and that China will use the oil for its strategic reserves. Can the foreign ministry comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: I’m not aware of the specific situation you mentioned. To give you a principled response, China and Russia always engage in normal economic and trade cooperation on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. It needs to be stressed that unilateral sanctions are not conducive to resolving issues and will only sabotage the existing economic system and rules.?
Bloomberg: I just like to double back on the BRICS. In your comments, you said that the appeal of BRICS has been improving. I just want to ask, given the current war with Ukraine, has the participation by Russia had any impact on the standing of BRICS?
Wang Wenbin: The BRICS foreign ministers exchanged views on regional hotspot issues including Ukraine and Afghanistan during their meeting yesterday. In their joint statement, they expressed support for talks between Russia and Ukraine as well as humanitarian aid for Ukraine. This is an objective and just voice that should be valued by the international community.