China FO Presser Mar 21, 2023
China Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin held a Regular Press Conference on March 21, 2023. Some Excerpts
Asahi Shimbun: Japanese Prime Minister visited Ukraine and met with the Ukrainian President today. What’s China’s comment?
Wang Wenbin: The international community needs to stick to the right path of promoting peace talks and create conditions for the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis. Japan is hoped to do more things that can help deescalate the situation, not otherwise.
CNR: President Xi Jinping arrived in Moscow and started his state visit to Russia yesterday. Is there anything you can share with us about the visit??
Wang Wenbin: On the afternoon of March 20 local time, President Xi Jinping arrived in Moscow on a special plane to pay a state visit to Russia. President Xi was warmly greeted by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko and other senior Russian officials by the ramp. The Russian side held a grand welcome ceremony at the airport.
President Xi Jinping delivered a written statement. He stressed that China and Russia are friendly neighbors connected by shared mountains and rivers. The two countries have consolidated and grown the bilateral relationship on the basis of no-alliance, no-confrontation and not targeting any third party, and set a fine example for developing a new model of major-country relations. The growth of China-Russia relations has not only brought tangible benefits to the people of the two countries, but also made important contributions to the development and progress of the world.
On the afternoon of 20 March local time, President Xi Jinping, upon invitation, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin. The two Presidents had an in-depth and candid exchange on China-Russia relations and issues of mutual interest. President Xi expressed his appreciation to President Putin for immediately sending him congratulatory messages on his reelection as General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee by the 20th CPC National Congress and on his reelection not long ago as Chinese President. He noted that Russia will hold the presidential election next year, and under President Putin’s strong leadership, Russia has made good progress in development and rejuvenation. President Xi said he is confident that the Russian people will continue to give firm support to President Putin.
President Xi stressed that there is a profound historical logic for China-Russia relationship to reach where it is today. China and Russia are each other’s biggest neighbor and comprehensive strategic partner of coordination. Both countries see their relationship as a high priority in their overall diplomacy and policy on external affairs. China always upholds an independent foreign policy. To consolidate and develop well China-Russia relations is a strategic choice China has made on the basis of its own fundamental interests and the prevailing trends of the world. China is firm in keeping to the general direction of strengthening strategic coordination with Russia. Both China and Russia are committed to realizing national development and rejuvenation, support world multi-polarity and work for greater democracy in international relations. The two countries should further deepen practical cooperation in various fields and strengthen coordination and collaboration on multilateral platforms such as the UN to boost their respective national development and rejuvenation, and be a bulwark for world peace and stability.?
President Putin said that in the past ten years, China made impressive and great achievements in all areas of development. This is attributable to the outstanding leadership of President Xi and proves the strength of China’s national political system and governance system. He was confident that under President Xi’s strong leadership, China will definitely continue to develop and prosper and successfully realize all the great goals that have been set. With concerted efforts by both sides, Russia-China relations in recent years have delivered fruitful results in various areas. Russia stands ready to continue to deepen bilateral practical cooperation, step up communication and collaboration in international affairs, and promote world multi-polarity and greater democracy in international relations.?
The two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on the Ukraine issue. President Xi stressed that, on the Ukraine issue, voices for peace and rationality are building. Most countries support easing tensions, stand for peace talks, and are against adding fuel to the fire. A review of history shows that conflicts in the end have to be settled through dialogue and negotiation. China released a document on its position on the Ukraine crisis, advocating the political settlement of the crisis and rejecting the Cold War mentality and unilateral sanctions. China believes that the more difficulties there are, the greater the need to keep space for peace. The more acute the problem is, the more important it is not to give up efforts for dialogue. China will continue to play a constructive role in promoting the political settlement of the Ukraine issue.?
President Putin said that Russia appreciates China for consistently upholding an impartial, objective, and balanced position and standing for fairness and justice on major international issues. Russia has carefully studied China’s position paper on the political settlement of the Ukraine issue and is open to talks for peace. Russia welcomes China to play a constructive role in this regard.?
The two Presidents will hold another talks today to draw up the blueprint for China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination in the years to come.
Sky News: All of the choreography and language that has come out of the summit between President Xi and Putin has been very warm and friendly and it may leave some outside observers to question China’s claim that it is genuinely neutral on the issue of Ukraine. Can I ask given China’s stated impartiality, why hasn’t the Chinese side yet spoken to President Zelenskyy of Ukraine???
Wang Wenbin: After the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis, President Xi Jinping put forward four principles, called for joint efforts in four areas and shared three observations on Ukraine, which point the right way forward for deescalating the situation and promoting the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis. Not long ago, we also released China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine crisis, which offers 12 principles including respecting the sovereignty of all countries, abandoning the Cold War mentality, ceasing hostilities, resuming peace talks and stopping unilateral sanctions. What we call for boils down to supporting talks for peace. China will continue to take an objective and just position and work with the international community to play a constructive part in the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.
As to your second question, our position on the Ukraine issue is consistent and clear. China maintains communication with all sides.CCTV: The US Department of State issued the 2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices on March 20. US Secretary of State Blinken delivered remarks on the release of the reports and once again criticized China’s human rights conditions. Do you have any comment? We noted that on the same day, the Foreign Ministry released a report titled the State of Democracy in the United States: 2022. Could you give us more information?
Wang Wenbin: The China-related content of the 2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices is fraught with political lies and ideological prejudice. Those platitudes have no merits at all. People can easily tell that these so-called country reports released throughout the years have never been about human rights issues, but about the US’s hegemonism and bullying practice as well as its hypocritical double standards.?
As a Chinese saying goes, it’s inappropriate not to reciprocate. Since the US enjoys finding fault with other countries so much, we thought it might be helpful to remove the facade of American democracy for the rest of the world. On March 20, the Chinese Foreign Ministry released a report titled “The State of Democracy in the United States: 2022” on its website. This report contains?a multitude of facts, media comments and?expert opinions to present a complete and real picture of American democracy over the year. What they reveal is an American democracy in chaos at home and a trail of havoc and disasters left behind as the US peddled and imposed its democracy around the globe. It reveals the US’s hypocritical practices including framing a narrative of “democracy versus authoritarianism” and splitting the world into two camps of what it defined as “democracies and non-democracies” to serve the interests of none other than itself. In a couple of days, the US will organize another edition of the?“Summit for Democracy” to check how various countries had performed on meeting US standards for democracy and to issue new orders. Be it high-sounding rhetoric or maneuvers driven by hidden agenda,?none can hide the real designs of the US — to maintain its hegemony by playing bloc politics and using democracy as a tool for political ends. ?
What?our world needs today is not to stoke?division in the name of democracy and?pursue de facto supremacy-oriented?unilateralism, but to strengthen solidarity and cooperation and uphold true multilateralism?on the basis of the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. What?our world needs today is not?to interfere in other countries’?internal affairs under the guise of democracy, but to advocate genuine democracy, reject?pseudo-democracy and jointly promote?greater democracy in international relations. What?our world needs today is not a “Summit for Democracy” that hypes up?confrontation and contributes nothing to the collective response to global challenges, but a conference of solidarity that focuses on taking real actions to solve prominent global challenges.
We urge the US to immediately stop pointing fingers at other countries and earnestly reflect on its own action, and change its moves of violating human rights in other countries and undermining democracy in the world under the pretext of human rights and democracy.?
Reuters: Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen will transit through New York and Los Angeles as part of a trip to Guatemala and Belize from March 29 to April 7. Sources say she may meet with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. How do you comment about this???
Wang Wenbin: We strongly oppose any form of official interaction between the US and Taiwan, strongly oppose any US visit by the leader of the Taiwan authorities regardless of the rationale or pretext, and strongly oppose all forms of US contact with the Taiwan authorities, which violates the one-China principle. China has made strong démarches to the US side on this matter. The reported trip is not so much a “transit”, but an attempt to seek breakthroughs and propagate “Taiwan independence”.
We urge the US to abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, earnestly deliver on its leaders’ commitment of not supporting “Taiwan independence” or “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan”, stop all forms of official interaction with Taiwan, stop upgrading its substantive exchanges with the region, and stop obscuring and hollowing out the one-China principle. Our message to the Taiwan authorities is clear: “Taiwan independence” is a dead end; any attempt to seek independence and make provocations together with external forces will fail. China will resolutely safeguard the nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
China News Service: Kazakhstan’s ruling Amanat Party has once again won more votes than others in the election for the lower house of parliament on March 19. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: We noted that the election of the lower house of parliament was smoothly held in Kazakhstan. We express warm congratulations on this. As a friendly neighbor and permanent comprehensive strategic partner of Kazakhstan, China firmly supports Kazakhstan in following a development path that suits its national realities. We believe that under the leadership of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kazakhstan will continue to maintain stability and achieve its development goals in various aspects. China stands ready to continue to work with Kazakhstan to continuously grow our bilateral ties, jointly build a China-Kazakhstan community with a shared future and deliver more benefits to the two countries and two peoples.?
NBC: Is China willing to work with the US to promote peace talks between Russia and Ukraine??
Wang Wenbin: China is ready to work with the international community to continue to play a constructive part in the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis. Perhaps you should ask the US side as well if they are willing to make peace talks happen.
Hubei Media Group: This past Sunday marked the one-year anniversary of the inauguration of the Belgrade-Novi Sad section of the Belgrade-Budapest railway. Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabi? said at a ceremony marking the occasion that the railway has become “the new face, the new image of Serbia” and that Serbia is “seeing the results of the Belt and Road Initiative”. What’s your comment?
Wang Wenbin: The Belgrade-Budapest railway, which links the capitals of Serbia and Hungary, is a key project under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and a flagship project of cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European countries. The inauguration of the Belgrade-Novi Sad section marked interoperability of Chinese and EU rail technical standards. It reduces travel time between Belgrade and Novi Sad from over 90 minutes to just 30 minutes. Over the past year since the railway went into operation, it has served more than 2.93 million passengers. Training opportunities have been provided to about 300 local technicians. The railway section has opened a new chapter of high-speed rail in the Balkans. When the whole railway is completed, a rail trip between Belgrade and Budapest will be shortened from the current 8 hours to around 3 hours. This is sure to contribute significantly to greater connectivity between Central and Eastern European countries and high-quality BRI cooperation between China and Europe.
Apart from the one-year anniversary of the inauguration of the Belgrade-Novi Sad section of the Belgrade-Budapest railway, the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway linking Ethiopia and Djibouti also recently marked its fifth anniversary. The latter is another trans-boundary railway in Africa built with Chinese assistance after the Tanzania-Zambia Railway and the first trans-boundary electrified rail project in Africa. Since its inauguration five years ago, the railway has served 530,000 passengers, shipped 7.43 million tonnes of goods, and provided 55,000 local jobs, giving a strong boost to local efforts to grow the economy and improve people’s livelihood.
The railway tracks are located on different continents, but they share one thing in common: being a source of opportunities for the local communities. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the announcement of the BRI by President Xi Jinping. Nothing, not even mountains and sea, can separate people with the same goals and vision. We are convinced that with the concerted efforts of China and partner countries, Belt and Road cooperation will yield more fruitful results, turn more vision into reality, and deliver benefits to more people.
RIA Novosti: Earlier on China decided to resume issuing visas to foreign nationals. Currently there is a high demand among Russians for Chinese visas. According to Russian media reports, due to a large number of applications, people need to wait for one to two months before receiving the visa documents. Can the Chinese side take measures to handle applications for Chinese visas from Russian nationals more efficiently?
Wang Wenbin: Given the increasingly frequent cross-border travels following changes in the COVID situation, quite a few countries have seen a surge of visa applications. Since last week, China has further optimized visa and entry policies for foreign nationals to facilitate cross-border travel. Chinese embassies and consulates are working extra hours to process visa applications from those wishing to travel to China. China and Russia are comprehensive strategic partners of coordination for a new era, with large numbers of people traveling both ways between the two countries. Recently the Chinese embassy and consulates in Russia have been working doubly hard to provide high-quality visa service by extending office hours, offering more spots for reservations and other means. We have learned that the length of visa-processing in the Chinese embassy and consulates in Russia has been greatly shortened. China’s Foreign Ministry and our missions in Russia will continue to work on this and provide facilitation for the sound and orderly people-to-people exchange between China and Russia.
Bloomberg: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the “world should not be fooled” by a potential Chinese-Russian peace plan. Does the foreign ministry have any comment? Secondly, does the foreign ministry have any comment on the IMF approving a $3 billion loan program for Sri Lanka?
Wang Wenbin: As I just said, the document released by China titled China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis elaborates China’s position in a comprehensive and systematic manner. It offers 12 principles, including respecting the sovereignty of all countries, abandoning the Cold War mentality, ceasing hostilities, resuming peace talks and stopping unilateral sanctions. The core stance is to promote talks for peace. Parties concerned need to look into it intensively and view it in a rational manner. On the Ukraine issue, voices for peace and rationality are building. Most countries support easing tensions, stand for peace talks, and are against adding fuel to the fire. We believe that the more difficulties there are, the greater the need to keep space for peace. The more acute the problem is, the more important it is not to give up efforts for dialogue. China will continue to play a constructive role in promoting the political settlement of the Ukraine issue.?
On your second question, we think this is good news and believe this will better help Sri Lanka address the crisis and get out of the difficult situation. The Export-Import Bank of China has provided financing support documents to Sri Lanka to help it address the debt issues swiftly and effectively, which fully speaks to China’s sincerity and effort to support Sri Lanka in achieving debt sustainability. China stands ready to work with relevant countries and international financial institutions and continue to play a positive role in helping Sri Lanka navigate the situation, easing its debt burden and helping it achieve sustainable development. In the meantime, we call on commercial and multilateral creditors to take part in Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring under the principle of fair burden-sharing.
Dragon TV: The US has accused the Chinese side of illegal fishing on multiple occasions. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: The US calls itself a champion of fisheries conservation. However, evidence has surfaced in recent years that US fishing vessels often practice illegal fishing on the high sea and in waters under the jurisdiction of other countries. For example, fishing vessels of the US-based South Pacific Tuna Corporation and the Trans-Global Products Inc. have been found to put fishing aggregation devices many times during moratorium, conducted illegal whale and shark fishing and harassed international observers on board. Some US fishing fleets have arbitrarily and illegally fished lobsters and rock shrimps in waters under the jurisdiction of South Africa and Canada and been arrested and fined by these countries.?
In terms of international fisheries compliance, the US selectively applies international fisheries regulations – a typical double standard. At the meetings of relevant regional fisheries organizations, US officials took a hard line against other countries and demanded that they abide by relevant laws and treaties, but failed to do so themselves. For instance, at the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), the US on the one hand kept accusing other countries of moratorium violations, but on the other hand insisted that its overseas territories including American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands are Small Island Developing States (SIDS), a status that guarantees the right to fish during moratorium they shouldn’t enjoy.?
China is a responsible country in distant-water fisheries. We conduct distant-water fishing in accordance with laws and regulations, adopt a zero-tolerance attitude towards illegal fishing and continue to improve compliance and regulation related to distant-water fisheries. We have also launched voluntary fishing moratoriums in certain parts of high seas, deepened bilateral fisheries cooperation, actively participated in international and regional fisheries management organizations and promoted science-based conservation and sustainable use of international fisheries resources.
We call on the US side to do its own part on the issue of distant-water fisheries first, rather than act as a judge or police to criticize other countries’ normal fishing activities and politicize and instrumentalize issues that are about fisheries in the name of environmental protection and human rights. We also hope that the US will work with other parties to jointly uphold the sound order of international fisheries through the means of candid communication and coordination and cooperation.?
AFP: The German education minister is visiting Taiwan today and tomorrow. That’s the first trip to Taiwan at this level for German delegation in 26 years. Do you have any comment on this??
Wang Wenbin: China firmly opposes the egregious act of the German official and has made serious démarches to the German side in Beijing and Berlin to express strong disapproval. The Taiwan question concerns China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is the core of the core interests of China. There is only one China in the world and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. The one-China principle is a universally recognized norm in international relations, a prevailing consensus among the international community, and the political foundation of China-Germany relations.
We call on the German side to abide by the one-China principle, immediately stop interacting with and sending wrong signals to “Taiwan independence” separatist forces, and stop using the Taiwan question as a pretext to interfere in China’s internal affairs. We will do what is necessary to resolutely defend China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Global Times: On March 20, US President Joe Biden signed into law the “COVID-19 Origin Act of 2023”, which asserts that there is reason to believe the COVID-19 pandemic may have originated in China and requires the Director of National Intelligence to declassify all information on the potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origin of COVID-19. What’s China’s comment?
Wang Wenbin: The China-related claims in this US legislation seriously misrepresent the facts and amount to disinformation. Without any evidence, the Act seeks to hype up the “lab leak” theory and smear and attack China. We deplore and reject this.
China’s position on the study of the origins of SARS-CoV-2 is consistent. We always support and participate in science-based global origins-tracing. At the same time, we firmly oppose all forms of political manipulation. The real obstacle thwarting global origins-tracing study is the US’s political manipulation. We have yet to see any responsible step taken by the US on origins-tracing. It has never invited WHO expert groups for joint study in the US or shared any early data. Instead, it has turned a blind eye to the world’s concerns about the bio-labs at Fort Detrick and the University of North Carolina as well as US bio-military bases around the world. On the contrary, it has been pointing fingers at WHO’s origins-tracing process, politically punishing scientists with conscience and attacking countries with lies that make no scientific sense.?
Politicizing origins-tracing would only hamper science-based cooperation on the issue, disrupt solidarity against the virus, undermine global health governance mechanisms, and will only be rejected by the world. We once again urge the US side to immediately stop its political manipulation, stop politicizing, instrumentalizing and weaponizing COVID origins-tracing, respond to the world’s legitimate concerns, voluntarily share the data of suspected early cases in the US with the WHO, disclose information about its bio-labs at Fort Detrick, the University of North Carolina and around the globe, and give the rest of the world the truth it deserves.?
CGTN: According to reports, some devices related to the discharge of nuclear-contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were activated on March 17 local time. The devices are used for stirring nuclear-contaminated water and test the density of radioactive substances except for tritium. Local media of Fukushima revealed that the stirring will last for six days and the density testing for about two months. What’s China’s comment??
Wang Wenbin: Last week, a Foreign Ministry official?from?the?competent?department elaborated on China’s position on the discharge of Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean. The Japanese government, in disregard of the legitimate concerns of the international community and Japan’s due international obligations, is pushing for the discharge of the nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean. This is an irresponsible act that will endanger the global marine environment and people’s health and infringe on the lawful rights and interests of neighboring countries.
Japan claims that ALPS-treated nuclear-contaminated water is safe and harmless. The fact is, the nuclear-contaminated water contains over 60 radionuclides, many of which cannot be treated effectively with existing technologies. Some long-lived radionuclides may spread with ocean currents and form a bioconcentration effect, which will multiply the total amount of radionuclides in the environment, causing unpredictable hazards to the marine environment and human health. The maturity and effectiveness of ALPS has not been evaluated or certified by a third party. There is no precedent to the handling of such a large amount of nuclear-contaminated water with such complex components, and whether ALPS will remain effective in the long run remains a question. According to data released by Japan earlier this month, 70% of ALPS-treated nuclear-contaminated water failed to meet the standards. Moreover, relevant data were provided by TEPCO, which has been tampering with or covering up the data. How can the world be assured that the treated water is as safe as Japan claims? Experts of the Pacific Islands Forum also noted that the independence and verifiability of discharge-related data is not satisfactory.
According to a poll in Japan, 43 percent of people in Japan are against the ocean discharge and over 90 percent believe that this move will lead to negative consequences. Apart from China, the ROK, Russia, the DPRK and the Pacific Island countries, more and more countries and international organizations have voiced concerns about the discharge of the nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean. The IAEA Task Force has yet to complete its assessment of Japan’s discharge plan, still less reach a final conclusion. It in fact pointed out many inconsistencies between Japan’s ocean discharge plan and the IAEA’s safety standards. Despite all this, Japan is still set on accelerating the ocean discharge and declared that it will be started in the spring and summer of this year and will not be delayed. Such practice does not reflect Japan’s sincerity about addressing other parties’ concerns or its respect for the authority of relevant international institutions. The Japanese leader talked about “the rule of law at sea” in India yesterday. But if Japan continues to push for ocean discharge, it is essentially telling the world that its actions don’t match its words.
China urges Japan to approach the issue in an objective and scientific manner, dispose of nuclear-contaminated water in a safe way that is consistent with its international obligations, international safety standards and international good practices, including fully studying alternatives to ocean discharge. Japan must not start discharging the nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean before all stakeholders and relevant international organizations can confirm that the discharge plan is safe. If Japan goes ahead with the discharge plan, the international community has the right to ask Japan to take responsibility for transferring the risks of nuclear contamination to the rest of humanity.
CCTV: According to reports, Honduran Foreign Minister Enrique Reina said after meeting with US officials on March 20 local time that the US side said that it’s the sovereign decision of Honduras to establish diplomatic ties with China and they respect that. What’s China’s comment?
Wang Wenbin: There is only one China in the world and 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. Standing up for the one-China principle is the right thing to do. It has the overwhelming support of the international community and represents the trend of the world. Every sovereign state has the right to independently choose to develop diplomatic relations with another sovereign country. We will welcome it if Honduras recognizes the trend of the world and makes the right decision that is consistent with where the trend is leading.?
Macau Monthly: On March 20, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that China, instead of even condemning Russia, would rather provide diplomatic cover for Russia. What’s your comment??
Wang Wenbin: China is not responsible for creating the Ukraine crisis. We are not a party to the crisis, and has not provided weapons to any party to the conflict. The US is in no position to point fingers at China, still less deflect blames on us.
The US says it wants to stop wars, but it has been involved in virtually all the conflicts and wars in Europe and indeed around the world with only few exceptions. The US says it wants to defend peace, but the world has seen no US effort yet that is actually meant for peace, as it continues to pour weapons into the battlefield.
Just as President Xi stressed, on the Ukraine issue, voices for peace and rationality are building. Most countries support easing tensions, stand for peace talks, and are against adding fuel to the fire. The US should view objectively the efforts of China and the wider world to promote peace talks, rather than hold on to the Cold War mentality, still less be a factor in the protraction and escalation of conflict.?
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