|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on February 7, 2024
Reuters: China today started operations at its fifth Antarctic station in the Ross Sea, just south of Australia and New Zealand. Last year, a US think tank said the station is well positioned to collect signals intelligence over Australia and New Zealand, and telemetry data on rockets launched from Australia’s new Arnhem Space Centre. How will China address the concerns of countries like Australia and New Zealand?
Wang Wenbin: As a consultative party to the Antarctic Treaty, China always makes sure that our activities are consistent with the stipulations of the Antarctic Treaty System. China’s new Antarctic station is built and operated in full compliance with international rules and procedures. The station will contribute to humanity’s scientific understanding of the Antarctic, provide a platform for joint scientific exploration and cooperation between China and other countries, and help advance peace and sustainable development in the region.
CCTV: To help foreigners get a mobile number easier upon arrival, carriers including China Telecom, China Mobile, and China Unicom recently set up nine new shops at airports in such cities as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Kunming, Chengdu and Xiamen, and six new shops in popular destinations for foreign travelers in cities including Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Xi’an and Qingdao. Can you give us more details?
Wang Wenbin: China is committed to high-level opening-up and expanding people-to-people exchange with the rest of the world. Responsible government agencies and telecom operators in China recently took steps to enhance telecom service, easing the access to such service for foreigners traveling, working, studying or living in China.
Recent efforts by China to facilitate cross-border travel have made it safer and easier for Chinese people to travel abroad, and for foreigners to come to China. China recently announced five new measures, including shortening visa application forms, lowering visa fees for the entire year, exempting some applicants from fingerprinting, providing walk-in without appointment visa application service and extending unilateral visa-free policy to France, Germany and some other countries on a trial basis. So far, China has signed mutual visa exemption agreements with 157 countries that cover different types of passports, and has reached agreements or arrangements to simplify visa procedures with 44 countries. China has a complete mutual visa exemption with 23 countries.
As the Lunar New Year approaches, we welcome more foreign friends to come to China, to see China with their own eyes and travel the expanse of the country with their own feet and experience a true, multi-dimensional and panoramic China.
NRC Handelsblad: The Dutch Minister of Defense Ollongren has declared that Chinese state actors spied on the computer networks of the Dutch Ministry of Defense through the software of the company Fortinet. These state actors are also probably spying in Europe, she said. Is that indeed the case? And secondly, what can you tell us about the relationship between Fortinet and the Chinese government?
Wang Wenbin: We oppose any groundless smears and accusations against China. In fact, China is a major victim of cyber attacks. We keep a firm stance against all forms of cyber attacks and resort to lawful methods in tackling them. China does not encourage, support or condone attacks launched by hackers.
Keeping the cyberspace safe is a global challenge. As is the case with other issues, false accusations or bloc confrontation will only damage the collective response to the threats the world faces on cybersecurity. We hope relevant parties adopt a constructive and responsible stance and work with China to protect cybersecurity.
Rudaw Media Network: China’s representative at the United Nations Security Council stressed the support of the Iraqi government. How do you support the Kurdistan Regional Government to improve the situation, especially the relations between the Iraqi Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government?
Wang Wenbin: China respects and stands for upholding Iraq’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. We stand ready to enhance exchanges and cooperation with Iraq’s central government and subnational governments at various levels with a view to advancing the China-Iraq strategic partnership.
Kyodo News: Governor of Tokyo Koike Yuriko is visiting Taiwan today and will meet Tsai Ing-wen and Lai Ching-te. What’s your response?
Wang Wenbin: Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. The Taiwan question bears on the political foundation of China-Japan relations, and basic trust between the two countries. China strongly opposes official interaction of any form between Taiwan and countries that have diplomatic relations with China. Regarding what you asked, we have expressed concerns to Japan and hope that the relevant party will stay alert and distance themselves from the possibility of being used by “Taiwan independence” forces for political purposes.
Shenzhen TV: The Chilean government announced the passing of former President Sebastián Piñera on February 6 local time. Has China expressed condolences to Chile over President Piñera’s passing?
Wang Wenbin: Mr. Piñera was an outstanding statesman and entrepreneur deeply loved by the Chilean people. He was also a dear old friend of the Chinese people. He visited China multiple times. He was committed to advancing Chile’s ties and mutually beneficial and friendly cooperation with China and did a lot to contribute to the friendship between our two countries. We express deep condolences over the unfortunate passing of Mr. Piñera and extend sincere sympathies to his family and the people of Chile.
Dragon TV: This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France. This year is also the Year of Culture and Tourism between China and France. Events have been held in Harbin and Paris to kick off the Culture and Tourism Year. Could you elaborate on the significance of the Culture and Tourism Year as China and France mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties? Any major events to look forward to?
Wang Wenbin: France is one of the countries that have the longest record and closest cooperation with China on cultural and people-to-people exchanges. To organize the China-France Year of Culture and Tourism as our two countries mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties is an important common understanding reached by the two heads of state during President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to China last year to promote bilateral cultural exchanges and people-to-people connection. Back in 2003 and 2005, China and France held culture years in each other’s countries. In 2014, our two countries celebrated the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties with the “China-France 50” program. The current Year of Culture and Tourism is yet another major program to promote our cultural and people-to-people ties.
Both sides attach great importance to the China-France Year of Culture and Tourism. The presidents of our two countries sent video messages to the launch of the program, stressing that the Year of Culture and Tourism and the 60th anniversary are an important opportunity to enhance exchanges between the two peoples, especially for the young generation, and build a stronger foundation for the future of bilateral ties. Back in November, at the sixth meeting of the China-France high-level dialogue mechanism on people-to-people exchanges, the foreign ministers of the two countries oversaw the release of a list of 16 well-selected people-to-people and cultural exchange activities between China and France in 2024. In addition to a showcase of ice sculptures in Harbin and a concert series by the orchestra of the Palace of Versailles, the list also includes an exhibition about the Palace of Versailles and the Forbidden City, the “China House” at the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, the Chinese lantern festival, and cultural exhibitions of Tang dynasty relics and Jingdezhen porcelain. Moreover, local governments, civil groups, art institutions and so on in China and France are enthusiastically participating in the Year of Culture and Tourism and the 60th anniversary. They are working hard to prepare hundreds of cultural and people-to-people activities covering performing arts, visual arts, cultural heritage and tourism promotion.
China would like to take the China-France Year of Culture and Tourism and the Paris Olympic Games in 2024 as an opportunity to carry out more exchanges and interactions with France to enhance mutual understanding and build a closer bond between the two peoples. China has granted a 15-day visa-free policy to France. We welcome more friends from France to come to China this year, to see the diverse landscape, experience the rich local cultures, have a taste of traditional cuisines, learn about the Chinese civilization, witness China’s development and transformation, and feel the reservoir of goodwill between the Chinese and French people.
Global Times: It’s reported that on February 7, 360 Digital Security Group released an analysis report on US Capacity to threaten cybersecurity and an analysis report on relevant US APT groups, which disclosed in detail the US government’s global implementation of its cyber deterrence strategy and indiscriminate cyberattacks against US allies and other countries. What’s China’s comment?
Wang Wenbin: We noted the two analysis reports. The large number of cases and evidence enumerated in the reports provides a powerful account of how the US government uses its supremacy and predominance to act wantonly in cyberspace that puts the international rules and order on cyberspace in jeopardy, endangers cyber peace and security, and harms the security and development interests of China and other countries.
With an unparalleled control over critical global Internet resources, the US government is known to have disconnected countries from the Internet, causing severe damage to their social stability and economic security. The US government uses its dominance over global operating systems and Internet services to carry out massive, indiscriminate surveillance and data theft, infringing on the right to privacy of many countries’ citizens. The US government has established a large cyber arsenal, and developed and spread advanced weapons used to attack key foreign infrastructure, putting the global key infrastructure at great risk.
The US government has blatantly supported cyberattack organizations to carry out long-lasting, continuous cyberattacks against government agencies, important organizations and critical infrastructure of many countries in the world, including US allies. Without exaggeration, the US is the number one source of cyber risks and challenges. No country in the world can ever insulate itself from the threat of US cyberattack.
Cyberspace should not be a battlefield. It is not a grey area for the US to rise above the rules and act wantonly without any consequences. And it still less should become the US’ tool to kneecap other countries’ development and disrupt world peace. The international community has a common responsibility to uphold the international order in cyberspace and safeguard its peace and security. We urge the US to immediately stop its dangerous, irresponsible behavior, and join the international community’s collective effort toward a cyberspace featuring peace, security, openness and cooperation.
Bloomberg: The Swiss government is going to hold a peace conference for the Ukraine-Russia war soon. Does China have any intention to attend that?
Wang Wenbin: China’s position on the Ukraine crisis is consistent and clear. We have played a constructive role in advocating an end to the fight and a political settlement of the crisis. We will continue to promote peace talks and work for a political settlement of the crisis in our own way.
Bloomberg: Did you say you will use this forum to promote the settlement or you said you’ll use any forum to promote the settlement of the crisis?
Wang Wenbin: We will continue to play a constructive role in promoting the political settlement of the crisis in our own way.
NRC Handelsblad: What relationship the Chinese government might or might not have with the company Fortinet?
Wang Wenbin: I have made clear that we are opposed to any unwarranted accusation and smear against China. They are not helpful for the international community to unite against cyber security threats.