|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on September 21, 2022|
CCTV: The CSIS, a US think tank, recently held an online seminar on the new Global Development Initiative. Some experts said at the meeting that the Global Development Initiative (GDI) is framed around accelerating the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It can help all parties pool strength, increase the efficiency of the use of development resources and can form synergy with developing countries’ development strategies. The experts also noted that the West should not “throw the baby out with the bath water” when it comes to the GDI, but engage with China through communication and coordination to ensure that the initiative can truly play its part. What is China’s comment?
Wang Wenbin: I have noted the relevant reports. We appreciate the experts’ objective and fair view of the GDI. A year ago today, President Xi Jinping put forward the GDI at the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. Over the past year, the GDI has encouraged the international community to take the issue of development seriously once again and reaffirm its commitment to realizing the sustainable development goals on schedule. The GDI has put forward a viable pathway, created a cooperation platform, and pooled development resources to accelerate the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and responded to the most pressing challenges to development. Over the past year, the number of countries and international organizations supporting the GDI has grown to more than 100, and the Group of Friends of the GDI on the UN platform now has more than 60 member states. China has been working with other countries in actively following through on the pragmatic steps to achieve the 32 deliverables of the High-level Dialogue on Global Development to advance GDI cooperation and has achieved many early harvests. We launched an International NGOs Network for Poverty Reduction Cooperation, which is joined by organizations from 17 countries and regions already as the first batch. We are working with 150 institutions from nearly 40 countries and regions to jointly establish a World Technical and Vocational Education and Training League. The Group of Friends has made clear the joint proposition on food security at the UNGA. The China-Pacific Island Countries Climate Change Cooperation Center has been established. China has conducted joint production of COVID vaccines with 13 countries, including nine members of the Group of Friends. We have provided training for more than 40,000 people in developing countries through 1,000 capacity-building programs.
The GDI is centered around the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and is led by practical cooperation programs in key areas. It seeks better alignment with the UN and attaches importance to the role of the UN development system. It is dedicated to forging greater synergy with the development process of regions, subregions and country blocs, pooling and leveraging resources, and better serving the actual development needs of developing countries. In line with the GDI’s spirit of open and inclusive partnership, we welcome partners including developed countries’ participation in cooperation under the initiative to jointly bring global development to a new height, and forge the broadest synergy possible to meet all sustainable development goals on schedule.
Bloomberg: Earlier, President Vladimir Putin said in a televised address that he would use all available means in the fight over Ukraine. What’s the foreign ministry’s comment on Vladimir Putin’s latest words about the escalation of force on Ukraine?
Wang Wenbin: China’s position on the Ukraine crisis is consistent and clear. We call on the parties concerned to resolve the issue through dialogue and negotiation and find a solution that accommodates all parties’ legitimate security concerns. We also hope the international community will create conditions and space for that.
Xinhua News Agency: The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently issued the Global guidance framework for the responsible use of the life sciences. The framework noted the high-level principles of the Tianjin Biosecurity Guidelines for Codes of Conduct for Scientists spearheaded by Tianjin University, which outlines a set of ethical norms proposed by the Chinese side. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: I’m glad to note that the Global guidance framework for the responsible use of the life sciences recognizes the Tianjin Guidelines as high-level principles. This WHO document is the first global, technical and normative framework in biorisk management. The fact that it has included and introduced the Tianjin Guidelines as high-level principles is of great significance for promoting responsible biological research around the world. It fully demonstrates the international science community’s resolve to better regulate and promote biological research.
The Tianjin Guidelines is the first international initiative on biosecurity that is named after a Chinese locality with Chinese proposals as the main content. It was developed collaboratively by Tianjin University of China and Johns Hopkins University of the US with input from scientists from multiple countries. It consists of 10 guiding principles and norms. It calls for stronger biosecurity awareness among researchers and responsible bioscience research from such perspectives as responsibilities of researchers, research findings dissemination, public engagement in science and technology, and international cooperation. It also encourages governments and research institutions to strengthen supervision and self-discipline to better translate bioscience progress into benefits for mankind.
Biosecurity knows no borders. It is China’s hope that through the concerted efforts of the international community, biological science and technology will flourish along the right path of greater safety and security.
TASS: The People’s Republic of Donetsk and Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia said that they will hold referendums on joining Russia from September 23 to 27. Do you have any comments on this?
Wang Wenbin: China’s position on the Ukraine issue is consistent and clear. We believe that all countries deserve respect for their sovereignty and territorial integrity, that the purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be observed, that the legitimate security concerns of any country should be taken seriously, and that support should be given to all efforts that are conducive to peacefully resolving the crisis. We call on the parties concerned to properly address differences through dialogue and consultation. China stands ready to work with members of the international community to continue to play a constructive part in deescalation efforts.
CRI: According to reports, there has been continued armed conflict along the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan since September 14. The two sides have reached a ceasefire agreement, but the border situation remains tense. Does China have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: Both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are China’s friendly neighbors and comprehensive strategic partners. We hope and believe that the two countries have the ability to work through their differences and disputes properly in the spirit of mutual respect and friendly consultation and keep the region peaceful and stable.
Associated Press: I’d like to ask about the joint military exercises in Fiji. The United States, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji have been holding joint military exercises since last week, and this is set to conclude this Friday. Some see this as an effort to counter China’s influence in the region, and we’d like to ask the Chinese foreign ministry for any comments on this ongoing military exercise.
Wang Wenbin: We do not oppose normal defense cooperation between relevant countries. But such cooperation should not target any third parties.
Bloomberg: According to a report issued today by the European Chamber of Commerce in Beijing, China is losing its appeal among many European companies who are rethinking their future investments. Does the foreign ministry have a comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: We noted the relevant report. First of all, if you look at the statistics released by China on inbound foreign investment for the first eight months of this year, you will find that European countries are among the fastest growing sources of investment in China. In a world still struggling to fight the pandemic and lift the global economy, China has both brought COVID under control and achieved social and economic progress. China was the first major economy in the world to register positive growth, providing strong assurance for foreign companies to do business in China. When all things are considered, China’s COVID measures have worked best and been most cost-effective.
China is actively building a new development paradigm. China’s efforts to build a new system of an open economy at a higher level and a market-oriented, world-class business environment governed by a sound legal framework will create broader development opportunities for businesses from Europe and elsewhere, and open up new prospects for China-Europe economic and trade cooperation. We hope that relevant parties including Europe will provide an open, transparent and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies as well.
Bloomberg: There have been some reports of a visit to China by German Chancellor Scholz in early November. Does the foreign ministry have any details on that proposed visit? Can you confirm that this is happening? Secondly, in an address to the UN, German Chancellor Scholz said that China should implement the recommendations of the recent report by the United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet. Can you comment on the trip’s possibility and also the remarks made about the Xinjiang report?
Wang Wenbin: On your first question, I have nothing to share.
On your second question, we have made China’s position clear. I would like to reiterate what we have said previously. The so-called assessment is orchestrated and produced by the US and some Western forces and is completely illegal, null and void. It is a patchwork of disinformation that serves as a political tool for the US and some Western forces to strategically use Xinjiang to contain China. The OHCHR’s so-called assessment is predicated on the political scheme of some anti-China forces outside China. This seriously violates the mandate of the OHCHR and the principles of universality, objectivity, non-selectivity and non-politicization. It once again shows that the OHCHR has been reduced to an enforcer and accomplice of the US and some Western forces in forcing the developing countries to fall into line with them.
In recent years, nearly 100 countries, including Muslim countries, have spoken out at the Human Rights Council, the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly and on other public occasions to support China’s justified position on issues including Xinjiang and oppose interference in China’s internal affairs in the name of so-called Xinjiang-related issues. They are the mainstream of the international community. The US and some Western forces seek to destabilize Xinjiang and use it to contain China. Their unjust, pernicious political agenda will not have people’s support and will only fail.
Reuters: Just to follow up on the questions about President Vladimir Putin’s televised address today, in these remarks, he also said that Russia would launch a partial military mobilization. This is Russia’s first mobilization since World War II. Is the foreign ministry concerned about how the situation is developing given that a military mobilization hasn’t been announced in such a long time?
Wang Wenbin: I already stated China’s position on the Ukraine crisis and I’m not going to go over it again.
Bloomberg: Also there are reports of a visit to China by French President Emmanuel Macron. Can you comment on that report? Is it accurate that this is going to happen?
Wang Wenbin: I have nothing to share at the moment.
Reuters: Top adviser to US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Counselor Brent Neiman, said in a speech seen by Reuters on Tuesday that China’s debt practices were “unconventional” and that they had failed to provide meaningful debt relief to low and middle-income countries. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: China has always taken seriously the debt issue of developing countries.
I need to underscore the following points.
First, developing countries mainly borrow from commercial and multilateral lenders. According to the World Bank’s International Debt Statistics, by the end of 2020, commercial and multilateral creditors accounted for 40% and 34% respectively for the public external debt of 82 low-income and lower-middle-income countries. Bilateral official creditors took up 26% and China less than 10%. In recent years, developing countries have mainly borrowed their new debts from Western commercial creditors and multilateral institutions. The developing countries’ medium- to long-term debt payment mainly flows to Western commercial creditors and multilateral institutions. What you quoted from the US side is not based on facts.
Second, China has been doing its utmost to support developing countries as they seek to address their difficulties in line with the principle of joint actions and fair burden-sharing. China is part of the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative for Poorest Countries and the agreement on its extension. China has fully implemented them and ranked first among G20 members in terms of deferral amount. By contrast, Western commercial creditors and multilateral institutions, who hold the biggest share of debts, refuse to be part of the effort, citing a need to maintain their credit rating, and have thus failed to make proportionate contributions to relieving the debt burden of developing countries.
We call on the US to earnestly fulfill its due responsibilities, and make real contributions to easing the debt burden of developing countries instead of deflecting blame.
Global Times: According to a report by SANA on September 20, the illegal US occupation forces in the north-eastern Syrian governorate of Hasakah looted new quantities of Syrian oil via 60 tankers, bringing them out to the north of Iraq. Do you have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: I noted relevant reports. This is not the first time that US troops stole oil from Syria. Their banditry has only grown more reckless. According to a statement from Syria’s Ministry of Oil and Mineral Resources, the average daily oil production during the first half of 2022 was around 80,300 barrels, while the US occupation forces and their mercenaries stole up to 66,000 barrels every single day, or 82% of total oil production. According to reports, since the beginning of August, there have been at least 10 oil thefts by US troops in Syria. Some 800 tankers were used to transport stolen oil to US bases outside of Syria. In the meantime, Syrian people have had to queue for hours to fill up at gas stations. A senior Syrian official said in an interview that the estimated value of direct losses resulting from the US military’s extraction, smuggling and illegal trade in Syrian oil, gas and mineral resources amounted to $18.2 billion by the end of the first half of 2022. Also, more than 14 million civilians in Syria are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. What the US troops have done has made the humanitarian disaster even more devastating for Syria.
Syria is yet another victim of the US’s “rules-based order”, just like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Under this order, the Syrian people are being deprived of their rights and lives, instead of being protected. We urge the US to respect Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and respond to the call of the Syrian people. The US needs to at once lift the unilateral sanctions on Syria, stop plundering Syria’s national resources, hold the US troops legally accountable, compensate the Syrian people and take concrete action to remedy the pain they have inflicted on Syria.
Associated Press: The United States has promised greater engagement with the South Pacific, in particular, after China and Solomon Islands had signed a bilateral security treaty earlier this year. This also includes a comment by US Vice President Kamala Harris that they would open new embassies in Tonga and Kiribati. I’d like to first ask for your comments on such increased engagement in the region by the US and also Australia, which is also taking steps to do so. Second question, a destroyer USS Higgins and a Canadian frigate HMCS Vancouver had traversed the Taiwan Strait. The US Navy has said in a statement that the joint maneuver is a demonstration and commitment of the United States and the allies to a free and open Indo-Pacific. Do you have any comments about that?
Wang Wenbin: On your first question, let me first say that Pacific Islands Countries (PICs) are independent sovereign countries and they have the right and freedom to develop friendly cooperation with other countries which should not be constrained or denied.
Secondly, China never attaches any political strings to its friendly and cooperative ties with the PICs. Growing relations with the PICs is not about seeking a “sphere of influence” and does not target any third party. As noted by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi during his meeting with Foreign Minister of Solomon Islands Jeremiah Manele in New York yesterday, developing countries have the right to development as much as anyone else, and their people are entitled to a happy life. China’s cooperation with the PICs is about promoting common development and improving people’s wellbeing. It is warmly welcomed by the local people.
On your second question, the spokesperson for the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese PLA has issued a statement on that. According to the spokesperson, the Chinese troops tracked and monitored the US and Canadian warships the entire time and stayed on high alert at all times to resolutely counter any threat or provocation and safeguard China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The current situation in the Taiwan Strait is complex and sensitive. Recently, US warships have repeatedly flexed muscles and made provocations in the Taiwan Strait under the pretext of “freedom of navigation”. The US has also been ganging up with other countries and resorting to pressure and intimidation. This is worsening the tensions and hurting the peace and stability in the region.
We urge the US side to clean up its act, rectify its erroneous practice and stop being a troublemaker for regional peace and stability. We also urge other countries to act prudently and not to seek to pull chestnut out of the fire.
Reuters: On Tuesday, the US Federal Communications Commission named Chinese telecom companies China Unicom and Pacific Networks Corp and its wholly-owned subsidiary ComNet as threats to US national security. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: This is yet another example of the US overstretching the concept of national security and abusing state power to suppress Chinese companies. What the US did violates the rules of the market economy, undermines international economic and trade order and seriously hurts the interests of Chinese companies. China firmly rejects this. We urge the US side to immediately change its wrong course of action and stop hobbling and suppressing Chinese companies. We will continue to take necessary measures to firmly uphold the lawful rights and interests of Chinese companies.