China FO Presser

China FO Presser – Dec 8, 2023

12 Min
China FO Presser  – Dec 8, 2023

China Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin held a Regular Press Conference on Dec 8, 2023

 Some excerpts

Wang Wenbin: After China started managing COVID-19 with measures against Class-B infectious diseases from January 8, 2023, the Chinese government has improved visa and entry policies for foreign nationals to facilitate cross-border travel. As a provisional measure, Chinese embassies and consulates will charge 75 percent of the previous visa fees from December 11, 2023 to December 31, 2024. For more details, please consult Chinese embassies and consulates in relevant countries.

China Review News: According to reports, Sandiaga Uno, Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy of Indonesia, said on December 7 that Indonesia is considering adopting a visa-free policy for tourists from 20 countries including China, the US and Australia to boost tourism and the economy. Malaysia earlier announced a 30-day visa-free policy for Chinese citizens. Thailand has decided to temporarily waive tourist visa requirements for visitors from China. Yesterday China and Singapore announced a 30-day mutual visa exemption arrangement. China is reaching mutual visa exemption arrangements with more neighboring countries. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: China welcomes measures aimed at facilitating cross-border travel. We stand ready to work with relevant countries to create favorable conditions and provide greater convenience for easy cross-border travel.

Reuters: Taiwan’s defense ministry said today that a Chinese weather balloon had crossed the Taiwan Strait median line on Thursday. Does the foreign ministry have anything to offer regarding the balloon’s location or purpose? And Taiwan’s foreign ministry today also said that China has failed to live up to the promises it made Latin American countries that ended ties with Taiwan in favor of China. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on that as well?

Wang Wenbin: First of all, I would like to correct you that Taiwan is part of China. There is no so-called “defense ministry” or “foreign ministry” of Taiwan. On your first question, I am not aware of the situation and this is not a question on foreign affairs. On your second question, let me say that the normal, friendly relations between China and Latin American countries are deepening and our mutually beneficial cooperation is making positive progress. No matter what the DPP authorities say or do, they cannot change such a sound momentum of growth.

China Daily: The eighth Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was held in Beijing yesterday. Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Myanmar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Union Minister for Foreign Affairs U Than Swe co-chaired the meeting. Can you brief us on the outcomes of the meeting?

Wang Wenbin: The eighth Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting was successfully held in Beijing yesterday. Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Myanmar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Union Minister for Foreign Affairs U Than Swe co-chaired the meeting. Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sok Chenda Sophea, Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara, Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son and Laos’ Chairman of the Committee for External Relations of the Party Central Committee Thongsavanh Phomvihane attended the meeting. Under the theme of “Jointly Strive for Modernization and Cultivate New Strength in Subregional Development”, the meeting took stock of the progress of LMC, planned for the priority work in the next stage, and made preparation and built-up consensus for the fourth Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi noted, since the seventh LMC Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, relevant parties have acted in the Lancang-Mekong spirit of development first, equal consultation, practicality and high efficiency, and openness and inclusiveness, taken steady steps to advance cooperation in various areas, achieved a number of new outcomes and created multiple new highlights. First, cooperation has been upgraded under high-level guidance. Second, economic and trade exchanges have been fully accelerated. Third, people’s wellbeing has continued to improve. Fourth, the bond of the people in Lancang-Mekong countries has been closer. As the first new sub-regional cooperation mechanism jointly initiated and launched by the six Lancang-Mekong countries, LMC has become a new, important platform for advancing mutually beneficial cooperation in the region.

China suggested six priority areas for advancing LMC. First, build a closer community with a shared future. Lancang-Mekong countries need to enhance high-level exchanges to provide strategic guidance for LMC; we need to synergize development strategies to develop the big Lancang-Mekong market; and we need to put the people at the center of our work and bring the benefit of cooperation to our people. Second, build a more inter-connected economic development belt. The six countries need to fully improve infrastructure connectivity, expand trade and investment and improve the network of industrial and supply chains; and we also need to carry out closer cooperation on cross-border special economic zones to boost common development. Third, foster a more secure development environment. The six countries need to take security cooperation as a key cooperation area for the next stage, adopt the Operation of “The Safety of the Lancang-Mekong Region” at an early date, combat sub-regional cross-border crimes, especially telecom fraud and online gambling, and eradicate the security problems jeopardizing people’s security and disrupting development. Fourth, move towards a more digital development prospect. Sci-tech authorities of the six countries are discussing the establishment of a sub-regional innovation corridor, and China is ready to carry out more cooperation on digital economy and innovation under the framework of such corridor. In accordance with the spirit of the Global AI Governance Initiative, China and the five Mekong countries will actively explore cooperation in the field of artificial intelligence. Fifth, deepen people-to-people and cultural cooperation with more distinctive features. The six countries will carry out diverse forms of people-to-people and cultural exchanges in tourism, sports, media, sub-national cooperation, universities, youth and other fields, so as to enhance the friendship and affinity of the six peoples. Sixth, champion more inclusive cooperation. We will not engage in exclusive cliques and are committed to the right direction of regional economic integration. We will vigorously promote the coordinated development of the LMC with the Greater Mekong Sub-Region economic cooperation, the Three River Basin Mechanism and the Mekong River Commission, and make the sub-region a harmonious home of openness, inclusiveness, exchanges and mutual learning.

The foreign ministers of the Mekong countries spoke highly of the positive progress made in LMC and appreciated China’s positive contribution to promoting LMC. They agreed that LMC has become an important platform for maintaining regional peace and stability, promoting regional development and prosperity, and boosting industrialization and modernization of various countries. In the current complex and challenging international security and economic situation, Lancang-Mekong countries should jointly advance sub-regional cooperation, deepen interdependence, make good use of institutional platforms and relevant funds, coordinate efforts for development and security, and respond to traditional and non-traditional security challenges in a coordinated manner. Some countries have also identified specific areas for strengthening industrialization cooperation, which is constructive and forward-looking. All parties agreed to build a stronger Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Economic Development Belt, deepen cooperation in priority areas such as connectivity, further unleash development potential, jointly address global challenges, and build an even closer Lancang-Mekong community with a shared future.

This foreign ministers’ meeting is efficient, pragmatic and productive, which has further strengthened the determination and confidence of the six countries to jointly build a community of shared future of peace and prosperity among Mekong-Lancang countries. China will work with Mekong countries to jointly build an exemplar for Belt and Road cooperation, a pacesetter for implementing the Global Development Initiative, a pioneer for implementing the Global Security Initiative and a front runner for implementing the Global Civilization Initiative. We will build a more solid foundation for the LMC, enable it to move forward more steadily and make the pace more steady with broader prospect and bring more benefits to the people of countries in the region.

Bloomberg: Bloomberg today published a story with reporting that suggests that Chinese authorities in recent years have placed curbs on the ability of ethnic Mongolians in Inner Mongolia to express their ethnic identity such as the ability to study in schools using the Mongolian language. Given that China’s policies pertaining to ethnic minorities have been a point of contention in the past between it and the US, the EU and others, does the foreign ministry expect such findings to have an impact on future diplomatic relations?

Wang Wenbin: I’m not aware of the report. Can you explain the main opinions of it?

Bloomberg: The main opinions are that in a recent reporting trip to Inner Mongolia they found that in schools the students are no longer allowed to learn using ethnic Mongolian language and must learn using Chinese language.

Wang Wenbin: The relevant reporting team you mentioned once went to Inner Mongolia for interviews. If they were really objective, serious and careful enough to walk around the streets in Inner Mongolia, they would find that the so-called restrictions on the local language environment and the teaching of Mongolian are completely unfounded.?

The Chinese government upholds equality among all ethnic groups, and protects the freedom of all ethnic groups, including the Mongolians, to learn, use and develop their own spoken and written languages in accordance with the law. You asked whether China’s relevant regulations will affect its relations with other countries. As long as other countries continue to develop relations with China in accordance with the principle of mutual respect and non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs, their relations with China will not be affected.

CCTV: According to reports, the House of Representatives of the Philippines adopted a resolution on December 6 condemning China’s “illegal actions” in the South China Sea. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: The resolution adopted by the House of Representatives of the Philippines groundlessly criticized, misrepresented and smeared China. We firmly reject it. I would like to reiterate China’s solemn position as follows:

First, China has indisputable sovereignty over Nanhai Zhudao, consisting of Dongsha Qundao, Xisha Qundao, Zhongsha Qundao and Nansha Qundao, and their adjacent waters, and has sovereign rights and jurisdiction over relevant waters. China’s sovereignty, rights and interests in the South China Sea were established in the long course of history, and are solidly grounded in history and the law.

Second, the Arbitral Tribunal in the South China Sea Arbitration violated the principle of state consent, exercised its jurisdiction ultra vires and rendered an award in disregard of the law. This is a grave violation of UNCLOS and general international law. The award is illegal, null and void. China does not accept or recognize it, and will never accept any claim or action based on the award. This is firmly grounded in international law. China’s sovereignty and rights and interests in the South China Sea shall under no circumstances be affected by the illegal award. Any attempt to impose the illegal award on China is in violation of international law.

Third, China’s construction and deployment of necessary defense facilities on its own territory in Nansha Qundao, and the patrols by Chinese military and Coast Guard ships, the scientific research activities by relevant Chinese departments, and the fishing activities by Chinese fishing boats in waters under China’s jurisdiction are all legitimate, lawful and beyond reproach.

Fourth, Ren’ai Jiao is part of China’s Nansha Qundao. The Philippines illegally grounded a warship there and frequently sent vessels to illegally intrude into the reef’s adjacent waters to deliver construction materials in an attempt to reinforce the grounded warship. This amounts to grave infringement on China’s sovereignty. China will continue to do what is necessary to firmly safeguard its sovereignty in accordance with domestic and international law.

Fifth, China’s summer fishing moratorium in the South China Sea is a normal measure aimed at protecting marine biological resources in waters under its jurisdiction and a concrete step in fulfilling its obligations under international law including UNCLOS. The Philippine side should not make wanton remarks about this.??

Sixth, for some time, the Philippines has been sending people to Tiexian Jiao and other uninhabited islands and reefs of China’s Nansha Islands and sending aircraft and vessels to intrude into adjacent waters and airspace of China’s Nansha Islands and Huangyan Dao. These moves severely violate China’s sovereignty, endanger China’s security, go against the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and undermine peace and stability in the South China Sea. China has made serious démarches for nearly 100 times and officially expressed our protest to the Philippines.

We once again urge the Philippines to stop hyping up maritime disputes between China and the Philippines, stop its infringement of China’s sovereignty and provocation at sea, return to the right track of resolving maritime disputes through negotiation and consultation as soon as possible and work with China to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Kyodo News: During a meeting with Chief Representative Yamaguchi Natsuo of Japan’s Komeito party on December 6, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Wu Jianghao said that efforts will be made to promote exchanges and communication between parties and political figures and other areas. The communication between the ruling parties in China and Japan, however, has not been officially resumed. What’s China’s attitude towards this?

Wang Wenbin: China is open to exchanges and cooperation with Japan, including inter-party exchanges. We hope that Japan will work with China to follow the important mutual understandings reached by the leaders of the two countries, act on the principles and consensus in the four political documents between China and Japan, and align efforts to improve bilateral ties with the commitment to promoting a strategic relationship of mutual benefit, and work hard towards the goal of building a constructive and stable China-Japan relationship fit for the new era.

Beijing Daily: According to reports, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, based on Article 99 of the UN Charter, wrote to the rotating president of the Security Council saying that the situation in Gaza may threaten world peace and security and calling on the Security Council to take steps to realize humanitarian ceasefire and averting an even worse humanitarian disaster. It’s the first time in over five decades for the UN Secretary-General to invoke Article 99. What’s China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: As this round of Palestinian-Israeli conflict drags on and causes severe humanitarian disaster, the call of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reflects the strong concern of the international community on the serious situation in Gaza. The world must take more active steps to save lives and restore peace. The Security Council should listen to the call of the vast Arab and Islamic countries and the international community, take further and timely actions, realize a comprehensive ceasefire, protect civilians and ease the humanitarian situation. The recently released Position Paper of the People’s Republic of China on Resolving the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict fully reflects the above-mentioned position. China supports the mediation work of the UN Secretary-General and the UN Secretariat, we will continue to enhance coordination with relevant sides and play a constructive role in deescalating the situation.

Reuters: Could you tell us has Zambia’s official creditor committee co-chaired by China reached an agreement on how they define comparability of treatment and what they want from Zambia’s bondholders to achieve that? And have any further meetings been held on Zambia’s debt, either just the official creditor committee or the committee with Zambia and all the bondholders?

Wang Wenbin: China takes Zambia’s debt issue seriously and has always been actively advancing the settlement of debts by the Creditor Committee for Zambia. China always calls on parties to participate in Zambia’s debt treatment in accordance with the principle of joint actions and fair burden-sharing, and the aim is to comprehensively, systematically and effectively help Zambia emerge from the debt crisis. The Creditor Committee for Zambia is in consultations on this and relevant Chinese authorities will continue to participate in relevant process with a professional and responsible attitude.

Bloomberg: The US and Mexico signed an agreement on screening foreign investments specifically in relation to Chinese companies. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on the development?

Wang Wenbin: China believes that restricting normal trade and investment activities and disrupting relevant cooperation for political purposes does not serve the interests of any party. We hope the US will not overstretch the concept of national security, respect market rules and the principle of fair competition, and provide an open, fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for the investment and operation of companies from all countries in the US.

China News Service: The 24th China-EU Summit was held in Beijing yesterday. Can you share the major agendas as well as the outcomes and common understandings reached at the summit? EU leaders have spoken positively of the summit, but at the same time expressed their high concern over trade imbalance and excess production capacity. What is China’s response?

Wang Wenbin: This year’s China-EU Summit coincides with the 20th anniversary of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership and the 25th anniversary of the China-EU Summit mechanism. President Xi Jinping met with the two EU Presidents and Premier Li Qiang held the summit with them. The two sides exchanged views on strategic issues bearing on the China-EU relations, dialogue and cooperation in various fields, major concerns of the two sides, global governance and major international and regional issues. Both sides believe that the talks are candid, deep-going and productive, and that the two sides have enhanced mutual understanding, deepened strategic communication, and built up consensus for cooperation.

First, the summit charted the course for the growth of China-EU relations. The two sides agreed to fully leverage the guiding role of the China-EU Summit and the five high-level dialogues, step up dialogue and cooperation, properly manage differences, and make China-EU relations more stable and mutually beneficial. Second, the summit identified key areas for closer mutually beneficial cooperation. Dialogue and cooperation will be stepped up in such areas as trade and investment, green development, digital economy, artificial intelligence, geographical indication, intellectual property rights and export control. Third, the summit demonstrated the two sides’ willingness to resume cross-border travel and enhance people-to-people exchange. The two sides agreed to hold another meeting of the China-EU high-level people-to-people dialogue. Fourth, the summit sent out a strong message of China-EU joint response to global challenges. The two sides agreed to support and practice multilateralism, step up international coordination, advance reforms of the WTO and the international financial system, and jointly respond to global challenges such as climate change, bio diversity, food security and public health.

On the issue of trade imbalance, we must see that the current situation in China-EU trade is the result from the combined influence of macro-economic environment, international trade conditions and the two sides’ industrial structures. One should not simply put the responsibility on one side only, or blame market access. As for the EU’s repeated claim that its trade deficit against China surged last year, it was largely affected by energy price and geopolitical factors and was quite a special phenomenon. This year, the trade deficit has greatly decreased. China has never deliberately pursued trade surplus. China’s mega market will remain open to the EU and we welcome EU companies to share in the opportunities arising from China’s high-quality development and high-level opening up. At the same time, we hope that the EU will ease the export restrictions on high-tech products. This will effectively improve trade balance.

“Excess production capacity” is a relative term. One cannot just see the demand of a specific country or region, but needs to view it from the perspective of economic globalization. China’s new energy industry enjoys international competitiveness and can play an important role in the EU’s green transition and the global response to climate change. We hope the EU will see this issue from an objective and just manner. China is not to blame for the inadequate impetus for the EU’s industrial growth, and the EU should not take this as a pretext to adopt trade protectionist measures.

China stands ready to work with the EU to deliver on the important common understandings reached at the summit, remain committed to our partnership, to mutually-beneficial cooperation and to dialogue and consultation, properly manage differences and promote the sound, steady and sustained growth of China-EU relations.

Bloomberg: I just had a clarification question from your earlier announcement on the visa fees. Is that for all countries or only specific countries?

Wang Wenbin: It applies to all Chinese embassies and consulates overseas.