AFP: The New York Stock Exchange has abandoned plans to delist China Mobile Ltd., China Telecom Corp Ltd., China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd. after further consultation with relevant regulatory authorities. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Hua Chunying: I have noted that China Unicom and China Telecom have made initial responses to this development.
I talked about China's position when replying to a related question yesterday. I would like to stress again that the position of the United States as an international financial hub hinges on global companies and investors trusting the inclusiveness and certainty of its rules and mechanisms. Lately some political forces in the United States have been wantonly suppressing foreign companies listed in the country, exposing an arbitrary and capricious uncertainty in its rules and mechanisms. The suppression against Chinese companies will have very limited direct impact on them, but will harm the national interests and image of the United States and the global standing of the American capital market. We hope the United States will respect rule of law and market principles and do things conducive to upholding order in the global financial market, protecting investors' lawful rights and interests, and promoting the steady development of the global economy.
Phoenix TV: Media reports quoted the Iranian government spokesman as saying that President Hassan Rouhani has given the order for enriching uranium to 20 percent at Fordow. A U.S. State Department spokesperson called Iran's decision "a clear attempt to increase its campaign of nuclear extortion, an attempt that will continue to fail". Does China have any comment on this?
Hua Chunying: The Iranian nuclear issue has come to a crucial juncture. The situation is complicated and sensitive. China urges all parties to remain calm, exercise restraint, stay committed to the consensus on upholding the JCPOA, and avoid taking actions that will escalate tensions so that there will be room spared for diplomatic efforts to bring about a detente. The most pressing task at hand is for all parties to push for the unconditional return of the United States to the JCPOA and the lifting of all relevant sanctions so as to create conditions to bring the deal back on track.
China Daily: On January 1, 2021, the Free Trade Agreement between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the Republic of Mauritius entered into force. On the same day, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was also officially launched. Against the background of COVID-19 epidemic situation, what is the significance of the coming-into-effect and implementation of the China-Mauritius FTA? What is China's comment on the official launch of the AfCFTA?
Hua Chunying: You have the journalist savvy to notice these two pieces of news. On the official launch of the AfCFTA, we want to express our congratulations, as this marks another milestone in the process of African economic integration and fully reflects the firm determination and solid efforts of African countries to seek strength in unity, promote economic transformation and take the helm of their own future. With the impact of COVID-19 and against an unstable and uncertain international situation, the kicking-off of AfCFTA will also lend its strength to safeguard multilateralism and free trade and promote the stable recovery of the world economy.
The China-Mauritius FTA is the first FTA signed between China and an African country. China, Mauritius and other African countries are still facing the arduous task of controlling the pandemic, stabilizing the economy and ensuring people's livelihood. The China-Mauritius FTA coming into force on schedule reflects China's unswerving position of promoting mutually beneficial cooperation and deepening the traditional friendship between China and Africa, and further enriches the China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership.
Over the years, China and Africa have been working together and cooperating closely, setting a model of friendly cooperation and common development for developing countries. China has signed BRI cooperation documents with 44 African countries and the African Union Commission. This year, China and Africa will have FOCAC meetings on the three priority areas of vaccine cooperation, economic recovery and transformative development to build new consensus on solidarity and break new ground for cooperation. We believe that the entry into force of the China-Mauritius FTA and the formal launch of the AfCFTA will bring new historic opportunities to China-Africa cooperation. We will continue to support the AfCFTA, explore FTA building with African countries, and expand the import of African commodities to China to inject new impetus into the transformation and upgrading of China-Africa cooperation.
CCTV: According to media reports, on January 2, Senior Constable Kelly Foster in Australia's New South Wales gave her life trying to rescue a Chinese citizen in distress, who didn't make it, either, unfortunately. I wonder if you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: We have noted the sad news through media reports. We are grateful for Senior Constable Kelly Foster's admirable bravery and deeply mourn her passing. Our sincere condolences go to her family. We also regret the unfortunate passing of the Chinese citizen. The Chinese consulate-general in Sydney has extended condolences to the family of the Chinese citizen who has passed away and provided timely consular assistance. Once again we remind overseas Chinese citizens to take precautions and stay safe.
This news reminds me of a joint rescue mission of the Chinese and American expedition teams for a member of the Australian mission in Antarctica who suddenly fell ill in December last year. An Australian officer at the mission expressed gratitude for the international rescue, and said this joint rescue operation is a testament to the strong international cooperation that exists in Antarctica.
Such heroic acts fill us with greater faith in humanity, kindness and compassion.
Bloomberg: A Global Times piece citing analysts said that the Chinese government may require U.S. companies doing business in China to disclose links to the U.S. military. We are wondering if the foreign ministry has any comment on this?
Hua Chunying: I don't have any information to offer, but I would like to stress our firm opposition to the U.S. government's malicious slanders against China's civil-military integration policy, politicization of trade issues, and suppression of Chinese companies by abusing state power and stretching national security concept.
As is known to all, the United States has a very long history of civil-military fusion, with this practice dating back to a time before WWI. The U.S. government has been the major driving force for this process. In recent years, it has been pursuing all-dimensional integration in various sectors at an even faster pace. Many American multinational companies are the result of military-civil fusion themselves. On this issue, the United States is applying double standards to contain China's development in despicable means, in violation of the market principles and international trade rules it always claims to champion, which will eventually damage the image and interests of the United States itself.
It goes without saying that the Chinese government will not sit back when its legitimate interests are trampled upon by the U.S. side so willfully. We will take necessary measures to firmly defend Chinese companies' lawful rights and interests. We hope that the U.S. side will see reason and work together with us to create a fair, just, stable and predictable business environment for the normal exchange, cooperation and development of companies of both sides.
Beijing Youth Daily: On January 2, the twitter account of US MissionCN retweeted Michael G. Kozak, Acting Assistant Secretary for U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, saying that the illegal harvesting of sea cucumbers by Chinese fleets has impacted local livelihoods and economies, and "we must ensure the PRC abides by its stated 'zero tolerance' policy". What is your comment?
Hua Chunying: US MissionCN has been busy, but not busy strengthening friendship between China and the US, but busy spreading falsehoods and badmouthing China.
I must stress that China, as a responsible fishing country committed to the green path of sustainable development, attaches great importance to the science-based conservation and sustainable utilization of fishery resources, and has been cooperating with the international community in clamping down on IUU fishing activities. We adopt a "zero-tolerance" policy towards any law-breaking activities by distant-water fishing vessels and practice strict supervision on distant-water fishery. In fact, substantial and remarkable work has been done through international cooperation on jointly combating illegal fishing and promoting the sustainable development of fishery resources. For example, China has been faithfully fulfilling its duties stipulated in UNCLOS and multilateral fishery agreements it has signed onto and conducting fishing activities in high seas in accordance with measures established by regional fisheries management organizations, and our compliance records have been positively reviewed by all fisheries organizations. Besides, the Chinese side has been following bilateral arrangements it has reached with relevant coastal countries when conducting fishing activities in their EEZs. All these have produced good economic and social effects.
As for the accusation levied by the U.S. side on twitter, we have contacted the competent department and learned that sea cucumber is not a species harvested by China's distant-water fishing boats, and China has so far found no legally approved distant-water fishing boats engaging in sea cucumber fishing activities. The competent authority has taken note of reports on a Chinese fishing boat allegedly engaged in illegal harvesting of sea cucumber, and is carrying out thorough investigation on this. The Chinese side welcomes supervision on our distant-water fishing vessels, and please inform competent department if anyone has found out anything about our vessels engaging in illegal activities. The fishing vessels and their owners, as long as they break the law, will be punished severely. No such illegal activities will be tolerated under our "zero tolerance" policy. Once again, we urge the U.S. side to be discreet with its words and actions and stop trying to sour China's relations with the relevant countries through its tricks of political manipulation.
I'd like to add one more point. U.S. purse seiners far exceeded the number of days they are allowed to fish on the high seas, according to a relevant fishery management organization, and they have been doing this for many years, causing concern among other members at the organization. The United States owes to the international community to reflect upon its rules-breaking behavior and correct them.
The Paper: The U.S. Department of State published an article titled China's Nuclear Madness on its website on December 4, saying that COVID-19 has taught the world that the Chinese Communist Party's lies can have vast and terrible consequences. The United States urges Beijing to come clean about another danger: China's opaque and threatening nuclear weapons buildup. It is the least transparent of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. Beijing's nuclear posture is getting more aggressive, threatening even non-nuclear neighbors and undermining confidence in its so-called "No First Use" policy. Do you have any response?
Hua Chunying: Su Shi, a great scholars of Song Dynasty, once wrote a famous line in a poem, "Why can't I tell the true shape of Lushan? Because I myself am in the mountain.", which basically means that the position and angel you take will affect your ability to see the larger and whole picture. The U.S. side should be sober enough to see how the "lying diplomacy", practiced by Pompeo and the U.S. Department of State, has dented the United States' credibility and reputation with such a force that the consequences are simply horrible.
As is know to all, the United States owns the largest and most advanced nuclear arsenal. The U.S. administration has not only refused to fulfill its special and primary responsibilities in nuclear disarmament in violation of the consensus of the international community, but also wantonly pulled out of international treaties and organizations, spent trillions of dollars in upgrading nuclear arsenal, lowered the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons, and expanded the scope of nuclear strike, to the great detriment of global strategic security and stability. The world sees clearly who is possessed by nuclear madness. The playbook of slandering China and a thief crying "stop thief" can fool no one. Good luck entertaining themselves with such petty tricks.
China follows a defense policy that is defensive in nature, keeps its nuclear force at the minimum level required by national security, upholds the principle of no-first-use of nuclear weapon, and commits itself not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones. Of all five nuclear-weapon states in the world, China is the only one that follows the principle of no-first-use of nuclear weapon, and this policy will remain unchanged. We hope the U.S. side will also make the same commitment openly as China does. Will it?
In the meantime, we urge the U.S. side to make positive response to Russia's call and agree to extend the New START treaty as soon as possible and further drastically reduce its nuclear arsenal.
China Review: The incoming U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in an interview that what President-elect Biden wants to do is have a period where he can consult with our partners and allies in Europe and Asia and elsewhere to talk about how together we can bring leverage to bear on China to change its trade behaviors, including dumping, illegal subsidies for state-owned enterprises, and forced labor. It's a strategy that recognizes that China is a serious strategic competitor to the United States, but also a strategy that recognizes that there are areas where we will work with China when it's in our interest to do so on issues such as climate change. Do you have any comment?
Hua Chunying: Regarding so-called dumping and illegal subsidies, the Chinese competent authorities already made clear China's position on multiple occasions. We've also made clarifications on lies about forced labor many times. The facts are clear.
As to China-U.S. relations, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has stated China's position and proposition on bilateral relations on different occasions, including in video conferences with the US-China Business Council and the U.S. Asia Society, in the address at the Symposium on the International Situation and China's Foreign Relations in 2020, and in an interview with Xinhua News Agency and China Media Group. China's position is clear-cut.
We maintain that China and the United States, as two major countries, share extensive common interests in upholding world peace and stability and promoting global development and prosperity. Cooperation between the two sides can make good things happen for both countries and beyond. Under the current circumstances, China and the United States have enormous room for cooperation in such areas as epidemic response, economic recovery and climate change, if not in all fields.
As State Councilor Wang Yi pointed out, China-US relations have come to a new crossroads, and a new window of hope is opening. We hope the U.S. side will keep up with the trend of the times, heed the calls of the two peoples and the international community, work with the Chinese side to focus on cooperation and manage differences, and bring bilateral relations back to the normal track at an early date.
Global Times: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted on January 3 that if the Arctic region is to thrive, we've got to focus above all on Russian and Chinese threats, and that it is a communist fiction for China to be a "near-Arctic nation" when China is 900 miles from the Arctic. What is your response?
Hua Chunying: Mr. Pompeo is not bad at calculating distance. Since he has figured out that China is 900 miles from the Arctic Circle, has he ever measured the distance between the continental United States and the South China Sea? The South China Sea is more than 8,300 miles away from the continental United States, or 5,800 miles away from Hawaii. Despite such distance, the U.S. side has repeatedly sent warships and aircraft to the South China Sea for all kinds of military drills and close-in reconnaissance, without a break all year round. What's on its mind? The US Marine unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has carried out at least 9 recon missions over the South China Sea and East China Sea in December only in 2020. What fiction is the U.S. side weaving on the South China Sea issue?
Peace and cooperation still dominates the Arctic situation. It is issues like environmental protection and sustainable development that gradually stand out, as climate change speeds up ice-melting in the Arctic. These challenges need to tackled by all parties concerned working together. China is a "Near-Arctic State", a geological, natural and social reality that cannot be denied by anyone, nor changed just because someone or some organization does not like it. China is also closely involved in the trans-regional and global issues in the Arctic. China respects the sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction enjoyed by the Arctic States in this region, and stands ready to contribute to peace, stability and sustainable development in the Arctic. Meanwhile, the relevant party should respect the rights and freedom of non-Arctic States to carry out activities in this region in accordance with the law, and respect the overall interests of the international community in the Arctic. China looks forward to working with all parties concerned to promote sustainable development in the Arctic following the principle of mutual respect and win-win cooperation.
The reality is that the international community is enhancing cooperation in the Arctic, and Mr. Pompeo is so out of touch with this reality by ignoring basic facts, making an issue out of ideology, and sensationalizing security threats in the Arctic.