Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin's Regular Press Conference on March 1, 2021
Bloomberg: The US is calling for the immediate release of pan-democratic election candidates in Hong Kong, according to a tweet from Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Does the foreign ministry have any comments?
Wang Wenbin: Will the US allow its normal law enforcement activities to be criticized unjustifiably and do nothing?
What governs China and its HKSAR is the law, and no one is above the law. The Hong Kong police has been carrying out normal law enforcement activities by arresting and prosecuting those criminal suspects who have sought to subvert state power in violation of the Hong Kong security law. We firmly support the Hong Kong police in executing their duties in accordance with law, upholding national security, and protecting Hong Kong's security and stability. We urge the US side to respect facts, respect rule of law, and stop interfering in Hong Kong's affairs and China's internal affairs in any way.
FSN: Australian media reports today said that the Australian government has granted its first humanitarian visas to Hong Kong passport holders since 2010. What is your comment?
Wang Wenbin: China's position on Hong Kong-related issues is consistent and clear. Hong Kong is China's Hong Kong, and every bit of Hong Kong affairs belongs to China's internal affairs, in which no other country has the right to interfere. The Chinese side urges the Australian side to stop meddling in Hong Kong's affairs and China's internal affairs in any way. Otherwise the China-Australia relations will only sustain further damage.
Global Times: According to reports, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on February 26 that the United States is in strong support of Canada's initiative against arbitrary detention and stands in absolute solidarity with Canada in insisting on the immediate and unconditional release of the two Canadian citizens. What is China's comment?
Wang Wenbin: Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been prosecuted on charges of undermining China's national security. China's judicial sovereignty brooks no interference.
As for the so-called "Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention" launched by Canada, it is nothing but a farce on the international stage. We noticed that the Canadian side has quietly removed some names including Ghana from the list of founding endorsers. Benin has informed the Chinese side explicitly through diplomatic channels that it has not participated in the initiative. However, you will still find its name kept on the list. Driven by selfish interest, Canada went around coaxing and beguiling other countries into endorsing its so-called declaration, even defying their will just to make up a list. Such futile and despicable tricks attempting to mislead the international community should be condemned.
NHK: First question, now one month has passed since the "military coup" took place in Myanmar. Several people have been shot to death recently by the Myanmar military. Myanmar's military stressed that they've been treating the protests cautiously. What's the comment of the Chinese side? The second question is that the EU floated the idea of holding talks that would include all of the remaining participants in the JCPOA as well as the US. The US government has also expressed its intention to join the talks, but the Iranian government has refused to participate. What is China's comment? The third question is that it has been a year since the US government and the Taliban reached a peace agreement for Afghanistan. As the US military withdraws, there are also terrorist attacks occurring occasionally. The long sought-after peace still seems elusive. What is China's comment?
Wang Wenbin: On your first question, as a friendly neighbor of Myanmar, China is following the current situation in Myanmar and hopes that each party will bear in mind the big picture of national development and stability, exercise restraint, properly handle differences under the constitutional and legal framework, and maintain political and social stability. At the informal meeting on the Myanmar issue held recently by the UN General Assembly, the Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations expounded China's position on the relevant issue. What I want to emphasize here is that cooling down the situation in Myanmar is a top priority and also a consensus of the international community. The international community should respect Myanmar's sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and national unity, and help all relevant parties in Myanmar engage in dialogue and reconciliation in accordance with the wishes and interests of the Myanmar people, properly handle differences, maintain political and social stability, resolve outstanding issues in a peaceful manner, and continue to promote domestic democratic transformation process in an orderly manner. Any action by the international community should contribute to Myanmar's political and social stability and peaceful reconciliation, avoid escalating conflicts and further complicating the situation. China is willing to continue to play a constructive role to ease up the situation on the ground in Myanmar.
Regarding the second question, the Iranian nuclear issue is at a critical juncture. The top priority is for the United States to take specific measures to lift sanctions against Iran while Iran resumes compliance reciprocally in order to jointly push the JCPOA back on track. It is for this reason that China proposes to hold an international conference participated by all remaining JCPOA parties plus the United States, and supports the specific ideas put forward by the EU. We call on the United States and Europe to refrain from taking confrontational actions at the International Atomic Energy Agency so that the aforementioned meeting will be materialized as soon as possible. China will continue to maintain contact with relevant parties and make joint efforts to this end.
Regarding the third question you mentioned, China is following the implementation of the US and Taliban peace agreement and the progress of the intra-Afghan negotiations. We have noticed that relevant parties and the international community have expressed concerns about the current direction of the evolving situation in Afghanistan. The security situation in Afghanistan is still complicated and severe. The intra-Afghan negotiations are moving towards substantive ones. We maintain that all parties and the international community should jointly and firmly advance the political settlement of the Afghan issue in a responsible and constructive way, thus helping Afghanistan realize peace, unity and development at an early date.
China firmly supports the "Afghan-led, Afghan-owned" process of peace and reconciliation that is extensive and inclusive. On the basis of respecting the wishes of all parties, China will act as a constructive party in upholding a fair and objective position and continuing to be a supporter, mediator and facilitator of the Afghan peace and reconciliation process.
CRI: According to reports, a batch of vaccines donated by China arrived in Manila on February 28. President Duterte, marking the event at the airport, called it a key step in the country's fight against COVID-19 and conveyed "sincere gratitude to the Chinese people and the government of China for this gesture of friendship and solidarity". Could you share more information about this?
Wang Wenbin: China and the Philippines are friendly neighbors. Since COVID-19 broke out, the two governments and peoples have been standing together and fighting shoulder-to-shoulder, forging a closer partnership. The Chinese government has decided to offer vaccines to the Philippines in free assistance. The Chinese military has provided emergency vaccine aid to the Philippine military. Besides, the Philippine government has also signed purchase contracts with Chinese business community. The shipment you mentioned is the first batch of foreign vaccines to have arrived in the Philippines. Just as President Duterte put it, this demonstrates the two sides' friendship and solidarity. We hope the Chinese vaccine doses could help the Philippines contain COVID-19, revive the economy and protect people's health.
Recently China-made vaccines have reached many countries, contributing to the local battles against the virus. China will continue to act on President Xi Jinping's pledge to make vaccines a global public good and conduct vaccine cooperation with other countries in various means to help them conquer the virus and boost post-pandemic growth. We also hope that all capable countries will take actions to contribute to the global fight, especially in developing countries.
Associated Press of Pakistan: Prime Minister Imran Khan has congratulated President Xi and Chinese government for taking over 700 million people out of poverty. Do you have any comment on that? Could you share more details about China's achievement in poverty alleviation campaign?
Wang Wenbin: China appreciates Prime Minister Imran Khan's positive comments on China's achievements in poverty alleviation. I have also noted that the UN Resident Coordinator in China Siddharth Chatterjee, among other senior officials of international organizations, said that China's great achievements in poverty reduction bring important inspirations to the world, and the first and foremost lesson is strong will and action as demonstrated by the Chinese government and people under the leadership of President Xi Jinping.
The elimination of absolute poverty is a milestone in the improvement of people's livelihood in China, a historic achievement in China's human rights development, and a magnificent chapter in the history of human progress. Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), China has lifted over 10 million people out of poverty every year on average, equivalent to the population of a medium-sized country, or one person being lifted above the poverty line every three seconds. Since the launch of the reform and opening up, 770 million impoverished rural residents have shaken off poverty. China has contributed to more than 70% of global total over the same period according to the World Bank's international poverty line. It is a miracle that a country has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty in such a short period of time.
The elimination of absolute poverty is also a good example in explaining the CPC's people-centered philosophy. It shows that in state governance, the CPC always holds close to heart the fundamental interests of the vast majority of the Chinese people, and takes realizing, protecting and developing these fundamental interests as its governance goals. It also demonstrates the political advantages of China's socialist system, which is pooling all necessary resources together to accomplish great tasks. Under the leadership of the CPC, the whole country has devoted a great deal of manpower, material and financial resources to poverty alleviation. A total of 255,000 village-based working teams and over 3 million first secretaries of CPC village committees and village-based officials have been sent to the frontline of poverty alleviation, along with nearly 2 million township officials and millions of village officials. My colleagues from the Foreign Ministry are also present at the frontline. Over the past 28 years, the Foreign Ministry has sent 38 poverty alleviation representatives and three first secretaries to villages in the poverty-stricken counties of Jinping and Malipo in Yunnan Province, making positive contributions to helping the local people shake off poverty. We are all very proud of their contributions.
China's achievement in poverty alleviation is also great news for the world, as it has contributed to the progress of international poverty reduction with China's solutions. We are ready to work with the rest of the world to help other developing countries eradicate poverty, achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and contribute to a better life for all and the progress of the global human rights cause.
CCTV: According to reports, on February 26, 23 United Nations human rights experts released a joint statement saying "We have repeatedly raised our concerns about the excessive force used by American police". In some U.S. cities, "police officers fired tear gas, rubber bullets and used pepper spray from close range against protesters, residents, and bystanders indiscriminately," the report states. "Tear gas canisters even landed in home yards hurting children." The experts call on the United States to address police brutality and systemic racism and to ensure that there is no impunity for any excessive use of force by law enforcement officials. I wonder if you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: I have noted this report. Over the past year, US law enforcement brutality has made many newspaper headlines. The choking cry of "I cannot breathe" remains a sobering call. According to data on the US website Mapping Police Violence, between January and November 2020, only 17 days passed without anyone being killed by the US law enforcement officials. Washington Post data shows nearly 1,000 were shot and killed by law enforcement personnel in the US in 2020, an average of three deaths per day. The underlying problem deserves our deep reflection.
Each and every life on earth, regardless of ethnicity, color of skin, gender and nationality, should be respected and cherished, and their human rights preserved and protected. We hope the United States will discard its double-standard approach, look hard at its own grave human rights violations such as racism and law enforcement brutality, and take concrete measures to promote and protect human rights at home.
AFP: The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China (FCCC) issued its annual report. What is your comment?
Wang Wenbin: We have never acknowledged this organization you mentioned. The so-called "report" is based on preconceptions rather than facts in an attempt to sensationalize and scare. I'd like to stress that China is a country governed by law. Anyone in China must abide by Chinese laws. We welcome media and journalists from different countries working in China in accordance with laws and regulations, and will continue to provide them with convenience and assistance. That being said, we reject ideological bias against China, fake news fabricated in the name of freedom of the press, and acts that violate professional ethics of journalism.
NHK: Regarding the issue of nucleic acid testing for Japanese people entering China, the Japanese Embassy in China believes that the use of anal swab testing may cause psychological burden on the tested persons, and hopes that the Chinese side will reconsider the relevant practices. What is your response?
Wang Wenbin: The Chinese side will make science-based adjustments to its relevant epidemic control measures in accordance with the changes in the epidemic situation as well as relevant laws and regulations. For specific information, I would refer you to the competent Chinese authority.
China Daily: According to a report released by the Institute of East Asian Economics at the Australian National University on February 28, China's direct investment to Australia dropped 61 percent to 783 million US dollars in 2020, hitting a six-year low. The report says this is partly due to the pandemic, and partly to Australia's tightened scrutiny of Chinese investment. Could I have China's comment on that?
Wang Wenbin: The figures you mentioned tell a lot about some practical problems in China-Australia relations. China-Australia trade is mutually beneficial in nature. Over the years, Chinese investment in Australia has given a great boost to local economic development and livelihood improvement. In 2020, while China's outward direct investment (ODI) grew by 3.3%, China's investment to Australia took a nosedive, a contrast that deserves some serious thoughts by the Australian side. In recent years, the Australian side has repeatedly used "national security" as an excuse to veto Chinese companies' investment projects and arbitrarily imposed restrictions on normal exchanges and cooperation between the two countries in various fields, which has seriously dampened the confidence of Chinese investors. Such practice of politicizing economic and trade issues runs counter to Australia's self-proclaimed commitment to market rules and the principle of free competition, and puts Australia's own interests and reputation in jeopardy. The Australian government should take steps to provide a fair, open and non-discriminatory investment environment for investors, who are from not only China, but also other countries, so as to facilitate practical cooperation between China and Australia in various fields.
Kyodo News Agency: The Japanese government said recently that if foreign public service ships forcibly land on the Diaoyu Dao, Japan may use weapons when necessary. What is China's comment?
Wang Wenbin: The Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands are China's inherent territory. The patrol and law enforcement by the Chinese Coast Guard in waters off the Diaoyu Dao is a legitimate measure taken by China to exercise its sovereignty in accordance with law. China is firmly resolved to safeguard its territorial sovereignty, and will resolutely respond to any provocative and dangerous action against the Diaoyu Dao.
We urge the Japanese side to earnestly abide by the spirit of the four-point principled consensus between China and Japan and stop saying or doing things that may complicate the situation on the Diaoyu Dao.
Reuters: According to the New York Times, studies show that Chinese hackers may have launched cyber attacks against India's power grid, as a way to "warn" India to stop acting aggressively on the border issue. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: As a staunch defender of cyber security, China firmly opposes and cracks down on all forms of cyber attacks. Speculation and fabrication have no role to play on the issue of cyber attacks, as it is very difficult to trace the origin of a cyber attack. It is highly irresponsible to accuse a particular party when there is no sufficient evidence around,. China is firmly opposed to such irresponsible and ill-intentioned practice.
Hubei TV: The China-EU geographical indications agreement takes effect today. What do you think is its significance for the bilateral economic and trade cooperation, and companies and people on both sides?
Wang Wenbin: The coming into effect of the China-EU Geographical Indications agreement is a good news for both China and the EU. As noted by the official from relevant department of the Ministry of Commerce several days ago, 100 GIs from each side came under protection upon the agreement's entry into force. The second GI list of 175 products from each side will be protected within the next four years. These products include food that are familiar to us such as Anxi Tie Guan Yin tea and Shaoxing wine from China, and Prosciutto di Parma and Champagne from Europe. They also include featured Chinese GIs such as Xuan paper and Sichuan brocade which have never been included in EU's GI agreements with other sides before. We believe that after the agreement takes effect, consumers from China and the EU can buy more quality products and get to taste more delicacies from the other side. Enterprises on both sides can also be given more protection in trade and exchanges in relevant sectors.
The China-EU Geographical Indications agreement is China's first comprehensive, high-level bilateral agreement on GIs. Its coming into effect fully testifies to China and the EU's commitment to upholding free and open trade, and supporting rules-based multilateral trading system. It will provide new impetus to China-EU economic and trade cooperation and be conducive to cementing the foundation, economic- and trade-wise, of China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership. In the end of 2020, China and the EU concluded the bilateral investment agreement as scheduled. We hope the agreement can be officially signed and take effect at an early date and deliver benefits to the enterprises and people on both sides. China is ready to work with the EU to continue to safeguard the rules-based multilateral trading system, jointly build an open world economy, and contribute to economic recovery and development of China, the EU and the world at large.
Beijing Youth Daily: At the UN Human Rights Council, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said that in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, information that is in the public domain indicates the need for independent and comprehensive assessment of the human rights situation such as arbitrary detention and forced labor. She's confident that through the on-going dialogue they will find mutually agreeable parameters for her visit to China. What is your comment?
Wang Wenbin: To our regret, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has succumbed to political pressure and launched unfounded and disinformation-based accusations against China. We firmly oppose the wrong actions of politicizing human rights issues and interfering in China's internal affairs under the pretext of human rights issues.
Let me first quote some articles from the Constitution of the People's Republic of China for you. "Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration", they "enjoy freedom of religious belief", and "freedom of the person of citizens of the People's Republic of China shall not be violated". The Constitution and Chinese laws protects citizens of the People's Republic of China in exercising their legitimate rights. I have another fact for you. During the drafting process of the 14th Five-Year Plan, extensive solicitations for comments and suggestions from various sectors were held online. Over 1 million comments were received, based on which relevant authorities sorted out more than 1,000 suggestions. The drafting process is vivid example of China's socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics. Since reform and opening-up began, 770 million rural residents living under the current poverty line have all been lifted out of poverty, which accounts for more than 70% of the total population shaking off poverty worldwide. This is a historic achievement for China's human rights cause, occupying an important place in the world's human rights progress.
When we consider a country's human rights condition, we should always listen to its people first and foremost, as no one knows it better than the people living in the country. They have first-hand experience of how good or bad their country's human rights condition is. A multi-year survey conducted by an international prestigious institution shows that Chinese people's satisfaction with the CPC-led government has been over 90% for many years. In a global survey by Singapore's leading social research agency which measured the sentiments of citizens from 23 countries towards their national COVID-19 management efforts, China's mainland tops the index with the most citizens rating its government's performance favorably.
China is always ready to have equal-footed and mutually respectful dialogues and exchanges with other countries on the human rights issues. Xinjiang's door to the world is always open. We welcome UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Xinjiang, and the two sides are in communication on this. But the purpose of the visit should be to promote exchanges and cooperation, not to carry out some kind of "investigation" with China already being presumed as "guilty". We firmly oppose political manipulation of such issues to strong-arm China.
Bloomberg: Sankei newspaper reported that Japan won't invite Chinese leadership for a visit this year. What is the foreign ministry's comment?
Wang Wenbin: I'd like to stress again that for a while, China and Japan have not held discussions on any relevant major agenda. It is utterly meaningless for a few Japanese media outlets to hype up issues relating to China in unpleasant and unfitting ways. We hope the Japanese side will work with China, help its public form correct opinions on relevant issues, create a favorable atmosphere and accumulate enabling conditions for the improvement and development of bilateral relations.