China FO Presser

China FO Presser, Apr 13, 2023

10 Min
China FO Presser, Apr 13, 2023

China Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin held a Regular Press Conference on April 13, 2023. Some excerpts

CNR: On April 12, State Councillor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang visited Uzbekistan. Could you share more information with us?

Wang Wenbin: On April 12, Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev met with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang in Tashkent. State Councilor Qin also held talks with Uzbekistan’s Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Bakhtiyor Saidov.

State Councilor Qin noted that President Xi Jinping and President Shavkat Mirziyoyev agreed on building a community with a shared future at the bilateral level and gave China-Uzbekistan relations a new characterization. Under the strategic guidance of the two heads of state, the growth of China-Uzbekistan relations is presented with important opportunities. China will continue to work with Uzbekistan to firmly support each other on issues concerning each other’s core interests, make the pie of cooperation bigger, forge stronger synergy for the Belt and Road cooperation, cement the foundation of friendship between the two peoples and take bilateral relations to a new level. China supports Uzbekistan in advancing reform and development, opposes all external interference in Uzbekistan’s internal affairs, and stands ready to work closely with Uzbekistan to combat terrorism, separatism and extremism and jointly safeguard peace and tranquility of the two countries and the region.?

State Councilor Qin stressed that the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative proposed by President Xi have received extensive support from the international community. China stands ready to step up coordination with Uzbekistan to jointly advance the three initiatives and make China and Uzbekistan’s contributions to building a community with a shared future for mankind. China appreciates Uzbekistan’s contributions to the preparation of the fourth Meeting of Foreign Ministers among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan and stands ready to work closely with Uzbekistan to make the meeting a success.

The Uzbekekistani side noted that President Xi’s successful and historic visit to Uzbekistan last year elevated bilateral relations to an unprecedented level. The Uzbekistan-China comprehensive strategic partnership has grown more mature. Uzbekistan looks forward to deepening all-round cooperation with China and drawing on China’s experience in governance such as poverty reduction. Uzbekistan will continue to fully support and actively participate in the Belt and Road Initiative, unswervingly abide by the one-China principle and jointly fight terrorism, separatism and extremism with China. The Uzbekistani side also noted that China takes an active part in global governance and makes important contributions to peace, progress, development and prosperity for humanity. Uzbekistan is willing to maintain close coordination with China on international and regional affairs and jointly build a community with a shared future for mankind.

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said he looks forward to attending the China-Central Asia Summit and the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in China. State Councilor Qin Gang expressed welcome for that.?

Reuters: Taiwan said China will set up a no-fly zone to the north of the Island of Taiwan on Sunday that will affect 33 flights. Has China notified neighboring countries and international airlines and vessels to avoid the area?

Wang Wenbin: I’d refer you to competent authorities for this question.

Phoenix TV: It was reported that High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said on April 12 that he will postpone his visit to China after testing positive for COVID-19. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: The EU side has notified the Chinese side of the decision to postpone High Representative Borrell’s visit to China after he tested positive for COVID-19. We expressed our understanding and sent our warm thoughts to High Representative Borrell to wish him a speedy recovery. We welcome him to visit China at a time of mutual convenience.

Yonhap News Agency: It was reported that the DPRK launched a new type of ballistic missile on April 13 in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, what is China’s stance on this?

Wang Wenbin: This round of tensions on the Korean Peninsula happened for a reason. The US’s recent massive military drills near the Peninsula and its deployment of strategic weapons apparently had a negative impact. It is hoped that all parties will remain cool-headed, exercise restraint and stop the pressure and confrontation. The US in particular needs to act as soon as possible to address the legitimate concerns of the DPRK and create conditions for the early alleviation of tensions and resumption of dialogue.

CCTV: On April 13, 2021, the Japanese government decided to discharge over one million tons of nuclear-contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station into the ocean after filtering and dilution. This caused serious concern and strong opposition from the Japanese people as well as the international community. Now two years have passed, rather than canceling the decision, the Japanese government announced that it will start the discharge during spring or summer this year. The Japanese people have held several rallies recently to protest against the Japanese government pushing forward the discharge plan. What is your comment?

Wang Wenbin: The unilateral decision of the Japanese government to discharge Fukushima’s nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean in disregard of the global public interest will cause unpredictable risks of nuclear pollution to the global marine environment and human health. China has repeatedly expressed our grave concern and strong opposition.

Twelve years ago, a devastating earthquake happened in Japan on March 11, which triggered a nuclear accident rated the highest level at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. China and the rest of the world showed deep sympathy and provided prompt humanitarian assistance to the Japanese government and people. In April 2021, however, without either fully exploring all possible and safer options or fully consulting with neighboring countries, the Japanese government unilaterally decided to discharge the nuclear-contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean, a chilling move that would pass on the risk to the entire humanity.

There is no precedent for discharging nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean. This discharge is different from the normal disposal of water from nuclear power stations because it contains dozens of radionuclides. For some of these radionuclides, no technologies have been publicly deemed effective for treating them. The nuclear-contaminated water in storage has already reached over 1.3 million tons, and more than 100 tons are added to the bulk every day. The discharge of such a large amount of water will last as long as 30 years or even longer. This will cause unpredictable hazards to the global marine environment and human health. Though Japan decided to dilute the radioactive substances in the nuclear-contaminated water, nothing has been done to control the total amount of radionuclides in it. Japan claims that the treated nuclear-contaminated water is safe and harmless, yet it refuses to discharge it into Japan’s inland rivers or use it for agricultural and industrial purposes as suggested by the Pacific island countries. This has essentially refuted Japan’s own claim about the safety of the nuclear-contaminated water.?

Over the past two years, the international community, including the Japanese people, have been calling out to the Japanese government for the shelving of the discharge plan. Regrettably, the Japanese government has stubbornly pushed forward the plan in total disregard of the concerns from the international community and its due international obligations, without offering a convincing explanation on the reliability of the treatment system or the uncertainty of environmental impact, and before the IAEA reaches a conclusion on the safety of the plan. This is beneath a responsible country and falls far short of what the international community expects of Japan.

China once again urges Japan to face up to the concerns of the international community, step up to its due responsibilities, and earnestly perform its international obligations. It needs to seek a science-based, open, transparent and safe way to dispose of the nuclear-contaminated water, including duly studying other options than ocean discharge and fully subjecting itself to international oversight. Pending full consultation and consensus with neighboring countries and other stakeholders as well as relevant international agencies, Japan must not start the ocean discharge process.

CCTV: It was reported that Japan’s Defense Ministry signed contracts worth $2.84 billion with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to develop a new missile force. At the center of the plan is for Japan to obtain the capability of striking targets more than 1,000 km from Japan, so as to address the “threat from China”. Japan also plans to deploy hypersonic weapons by 2026, and develop submarine-launched hypersonic missiles with a range of 3,000 km by the early 2030s. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: This has come to our serious attention. China will closely follow the developments.

In recent years, Japan has constantly hyped up the “China threat” narrative, repeatedly breached its commitments under the pacifist constitution and exclusively defense-oriented policy, greatly increased defense expenditure, developed offensive weapons, and sought “strike capabilities against the enemy”. Japan is moving further down the path of military expansion. This has sent out a dangerous message to countries in the region and the wider world that Japan is attempting to subvert the post-war international order. The international community needs to stay on high alert against this.

We strongly urge the Japanese government to deeply reflect on the history of its aggression, earnestly respect the security concerns of its Asian neighbors, remain true to its exclusively defense-oriented policy, keep to the path of peaceful development, and act prudently on military and security issues.

Kyodo News: In the past few days, we have seen a dust storm in Beijing. The dust has spread to Japan and affected the lives of Japanese people. Could you tell us what China is doing or will do in the future to deal with the dust storm?

Wang Wenbin: In recent years, China has taken desertification control very seriously, and notable progress has been achieved through years of efforts. The areas of desertified and sandified land has shrunk for four consecutive monitoring periods. In recent years, dusty weathers have dropped significantly compared to the end of last century, and they have become weaker and less harmful. The repeated dusty weathers this year once again show that stepping up sand control, conducting multi-pronged science-based desertification control, enhancing ecological conservation and building a beautiful China remain uphill and long-term tasks that call for persistent and unremitting efforts.

China’s efforts to combat desertification and control air pollution have not only benefited our own people, but also contributed enormously to the air quality in Northeast Asia as a whole. China makes annual voluntary contribution to the budget of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and has taken concrete action to support collaboration on desertification control led by the UNCCD Secretariat. Through regional mechanisms including the Northeast Asia Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought Network, China has stepped up regional cooperation in Northeast Asia, actively promoted information-sharing on sandstorm monitoring technology and early warning, and shared sand and dust prevention and control experience, practices and technologies with other countries. In the future, China will continue to implement well its national plan for sand control covering the period from 2021 to 2030, ensure effective desertification control at home and make our best effort to contribute to global sandstorm prevention and control.

Hubei Media Group: The China-Laos Railway between Kunming and Vientiane opened for cross-border passenger service this morning. The journey will be completed within one day. Recent years have seen increasingly closer and more convenient connectivity between China and its neighboring countries, especially Southeast Asian countries. Can you share more information on this?

Wang Wenbin: As you just said, starting from today, cross-border passenger trains will be running in opposite directions departing from Kunming of China and Vientiane of Laos respectively. The journey will be completed within one day. This will further facilitate cross-border travel and trade between China and Laos and accelerate recovery of tourism and other sectors. It will also improve connectivity between the two countries and boost their common development. By April 9 this year, the China-Laos Railway has served 13.93 million passengers and shipped 18.38 million tons of freight. The potential of this golden route for international logistics is further unleashed.

The China-Laos Railway is an epitome and good example of China-ASEAN cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and regional economic integration. In recent years, the new western land-sea corridor is growing fast as more and more new lines are being added to the train service. In the first three months of this year, the sea-rail combined transport trains on the corridor have shipped 191,000 TEUs of cargo, up by 11.7% year-on-year. From the successful trial operation of the Jakarta-Bandung High-speed Railway, the first of its kind in ASEAN, to the inauguration of Vietnam’s Hanoi Metro Line 2A, from the opening of the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway, the first highway in Cambodia, to the accelerated construction of the China-built East Coast Rail Link in Malaysia, China and ASEAN countries have further drawn synergy from their development strategies and jointly set up a model for high-quality BRI cooperation.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping. China always sees ASEAN as a priority and important partner in BRI cooperation. We will further match the BRI with the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, continue to share the new opportunities brought by Chinese modernization with ASEAN countries, and develop the Belt and Road into a “belt of prosperity” for the 11 countries and a “road to happiness” for the 2 billion people of China and ASEAN.

Reuters: The Japanese government has demanded an explanation from China about the no-fly zone near Taiwan. What is China’s comment? And if there is a no-fly zone, how would you ensure the safety of civilian and commercial air and shipping traffic in the area?

Wang Wenbin: I refer you?to China’s competent authorities.

Beijing Youth Daily: Delegations from Saudi Arabia and Oman recently held talks with the Houthis in Yemen’s capital Sanaa to seek an end to the long-running conflicts in Yemen. The Saudi Foreign Minister received the visiting Syrian Foreign Minister yesterday, in the first such trip since the Syrian crisis broke out 12 years ago. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: We welcome and commend the efforts of regional countries including Saudi Arabia and Oman to ease the situation in Yemen and seek a permanent ceasefire. We support parties concerned in seeking a political settlement of the issue of Yemen through dialogue and consultation. We stand ready to continue to play a constructive role in advancing the political settlement of the issue and upholding regional peace and stability.

China welcomes the improvement of relations between Syria and other Arab countries and supports Syria in returning to the Arab family at an early date. This is conducive to the solidarity and rejuvenation of Arab countries, to stronger strategic independence of countries in the region and to regional peace, stability and development. China stands ready to continue to play a positive role in helping Arab countries achieve greater solidarity.

Reuters: Germany is reviewing its decision to allow China’s COSCO to take a stake in three terminals at Hamburg Port, according to the German Ministry of Economy. Does China have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: We noted the reports. Practical cooperation between China and Germany is based on voluntary business choices and mutually beneficial. The German side knows full well the details of COSCO’s acquisition of the stake in the Port of Hamburg. We hope that Germany will not politicize normal business cooperation or make it an issue about ideologies and security. There should be no man-made barriers for such cooperation. We once again urge Germany to view the practical cooperation between the two countries from an objective and rational perspective, and provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese companies.

Reuters: Japan, France and India will announce a new platform for creditors to coordinate restructuring of Sri Lanka’s foreign debt. Japan said it would be very welcome if China joins the platform. Will China join and what is China’s response?

Wang Wenbin: You may refer to what I said about China’s position on related issues yesterday. I would like to reiterate that we continue to support Chinese financial institutions in actively working out the debt treatment. We will work with relevant countries and international financial institutions to jointly play a positive role in helping Sri Lanka navigate the situation, ease its debt burden and achieve sustainable development. At the same time, we call on commercial and multilateral creditors to take part in Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring based on fair burden-sharing.

Bloomberg: A recent poll by Pew Research shows that some 38% of US respondents in a survey labeled China as an enemy and this was up 13 percentage points from last year. How does MOFA respond to this sort of polls?

Wang Wenbin: Normally we do not comment on specific polls. I would like to stress that China is committed to a path of peaceful development. China’s development is an opportunity for the world, not a challenge to anyone or any country. We will continue to be open-minded and welcoming towards having more cultural exchanges with other countries and bringing people from different countries closer to each other.

For some time, lies, rumours and disinformation from anti-China forces have seriously misled public opinion and clouded people’s judgement in relevant countries. We hope people will keep their eyes open, see through such disinformation, and make an independent judgement based on reality and facts.