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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning’s Regular Press Conference on May 22, 2023

2023-05-22 20:54

Xinhua News Agency: China has announced that the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will visit China. Can you share more about the program of this visit and what does China expect to achieve through the visit? How does China view the current China-DRC relationship?

Mao Ning: The Democratic Republic of the Congo is an important country in Africa. China and the DRC enjoy a traditional friendship. In the past 50 years and more, our two sides have supported each other on issues concerning our respective core interests and major concerns. In recent years, the two countries have deepened political mutual trust, achieved fruitful outcomes in practical cooperation and maintained close cooperation in regional and international affairs.

President Tshisekedi values the DRC’s relationship with China and actively supports the advancement of bilateral ties. During the visit, President Xi Jinping will hold a welcome ceremony and a welcome banquet for President Tshisekedi. The two heads of state will hold talks and jointly attend a signing ceremony of cooperation documents. Premier Li Qiang and Chairman Zhao Leji will meet with President Tshisekedi respectively. We are confident that this visit will provide new impetus for the comprehensive and deep-going growth of the relationship between China and the DRC, and generate new outcomes in the friendly cooperation between the two countries. 

China Daily: The 32nd Ordinary Session of the Council of the League of Arab States at the Summit Level was held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on May 19. We noted that President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the rotating president King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on the convening of the session. Can you share more information with us? After many years without the presence of Syrian leaders at previous sessions, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attended this session at invitation. Do you have any comment? 

Mao Ning: The 32nd Ordinary Session of the Council of the League of Arab States at the Summit Level opened in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on May 19. President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the rotating president King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abudulaziz Al Saud on the convening of the session. President Xi said that he is glad to see that Arab countries have continuously taken new steps and made new achievements on the path of unity and self-improvement. China is ready to work with Arab countries to carry forward the spirit of China-Arab friendship, follow through on the outcomes of the first China-Arab States Summit, bring the China-Arab strategic partnership to a higher level, and continue to write a new chapter in China-Arab friendship.

We are glad to see that for some time, the spring breeze of reconciliation has been blowing across the Arab world. Countries in the region have put on a new look and people there are seeing new hopes. China offers congratulations on the reunion of the big family of Arab countries with President Bashar al-Assad attending the session. The return of Syria to the Arab League fully shows that enhancing solidarity and cooperation among Arab countries through dialogue and consultation is what the people aspire for and represents the trend of the times. It also fully proves that Arab countries have the capability to hold their future in their own hands.

As a sincere friend of Arab countries, China always supports Arab countries in strengthening strategic autonomy, and seeking strength through unity, and always supports the Arab world in playing a bigger role in regional and international affairs. China stands ready to work with the Arab side to deliver on the outcomes of the first China-Arab States Summit, unleash the strong resilience and vitality of the China-Arab relations and play a positive role in promoting peace, stability and development of the region.

CCTV: The G7 Leaders’ Hiroshima Vision on Nuclear Disarmament issued on May 19 said that “China’s accelerating build-up of its nuclear arsenal without transparency nor meaningful dialogue poses a concern to global and regional stability” and called on “China...to engage substantively in relevant multilateral and bilateral forums” and fulfill its nuclear disarmament obligations. Do you have any comment on this? 

Mao Ning: The international nuclear arms control rules are not the house rules set by the G7. The G7 has no right to dictate to other countries on arms control. China rejects the G7’s finger-pointing. The G7 abandons the basic principles including upholding global strategic stability, undermines the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, feigns innocence and attacks and smears other countries’ nuclear policy. This will only drive up antagonism and confrontation and create obstacles for the international nuclear disarmament process. 

The US possesses the biggest and most advanced nuclear arsenal in the world, but it obstinately insists on a policy of first use of nuclear weapons, invests heavily in upgrading its “nuclear triad”, withdraws from agreements on arms control including the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, seeks to forward-deploy strategic forces and spreads weapons-grade highly-enriched uranium to non-nuclear weapon states. Three of the G7 countries are nuclear weapon states, and the other four either have “nuclear-sharing” arrangements or sit under the “nuclear umbrella”.

What the G7 accuses China of is a false narrative. China is firmly committed to a defensive nuclear strategy and the only nuclear weapon state to pledge “no first use” of nuclear weapons and not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones. We have always kept our nuclear capabilities at the minimum level required by national security. For any country, as long as they do not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against China, they have nothing to worry about being threatened by China’s nuclear weapons. This is the most meaningful transparency a country can provide. I wonder which one of the nuclear weapon states among the G7 can make this pledge as China does?

Reuters: The Chinese cyberspace regulator said that US memory chipmaker Micron Technology has failed its network security review and China would ban operators of key infrastructure from buying from the company. We would like to ask which key infrastructure in particular will be impacted by this ban on Micron.

Mao Ning: China’s competent authorities have released information on the cybersecurity review on products sold in China by Micron Technology. I would like to stress that the goal of the review is to check cybersecurity issues of relevant products which might threaten the security of the nation’s key information infrastructure. This measure is necessary for safeguarding national security. As for the specifics, I would like to refer you to China’s competent authorities.

Reuters: Another question from Reuters. The Ministry has announced that the Democratic Republic of the Congo President will be visiting. There is a report saying that the President together with his ministers will be here looking to re-negotiate a mineral-for-infrastructure deal. Is there any confirmation on this report?

Mao Ning: I just shared information about the visit to China by President Tshisekedi and the relevant arrangement. 

China and the DRC enjoy long-term friendly relations and promising prospects for practical cooperation. The cooperation package of “resource for projects” between China and the DRC sets an example of the practical cooperation between the two countries. It not only gives a strong boost to the development of the DRC’s mining industry, but also delivers a large number of infrastructure projects such as roads, hospitals and power stations. During this visit, leaders of the two countries will have in-depth exchanges on all-round cooperation between China and the DRC and jointly chart the course for the future growth of bilateral relations.

Bloomberg: US President Joe Biden said he expected ties with China to improve very shortly and called the balloon incident silly, speaking to reporters at the end of the G7 Summit. Biden also said that his administration was considering whether to lift sanctions on Chinese Defense Minister, whom the US Defense Secretary requests to meet. Does the foreign ministry have any comments on the President’s comment and is there a phone call between Biden and President Xi in the future? 

Mao Ning: China and the US maintain necessary communication. However, now the US says it wants to speak to the Chinese side while seeking to suppress China through all possible means and impose sanctions on Chinese officials, institutions and companies. Is there any sincerity in and significance of any communication like this? China always firmly opposes illegal unilateral sanctions and has made clear its stern position to the US side. The US side should immediately lift sanctions and take concrete actions to remove obstacles, create favorable atmosphere and conditions for dialogue and communication.

China views and grows its relations with the US under the three principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation as proposed by President Xi Jinping. We urge the US to form a correct perception of China, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and harming China’s sovereignty, security and development interests, and work with China to bring China-US relations back to the right track with concrete actions.

As for your question regarding whether there is any specific arrangement between the two heads of state, I have no information to offer at present.

China News Service: We have learned that the China-ASEAN Senior Officials’ Consultation is going to be held. Can you share the main agenda of the conference and China’s expectation?

Mao Ning: As agreed between China and ASEAN, the 29th China-ASEAN Senior Officials’ Consultation will be held in Shenzhen, China from May 24 to 26. Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Nong Rong will lead a delegation to the conference and co-chair the conference with U Chan Aye, ASEAN-Myanmar SOM Leader of Myanmar, the ASEAN Country Coordinator for ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations.

The China-ASEAN Senior Officials’ Consultation is an important annual consultation mechanism between the foreign affairs departments of China and ASEAN countries, where preparations can be made for the China-ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the China-ASEAN Summit. This year marks the tenth anniversary of President Xi’s proposition of fostering a closer community with a shared future for China and ASEAN and the 20th anniversary of China’s joining the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC). This will present new opportunities for China-ASEAN cooperation. At this Consultation, the two sides will take stock and look to future growth of the China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership, especially with regard to delivering on the common understandings between the leaders of the two sides, and deepening practical cooperation in areas of political security, trade and economy, social, cultural and people-to-people exchange, agriculture and food security. Together the two sides can provide more positive energy for stability and development of the region. 

AFP: Papua New Guinea is signing a defense pact with the US today. This would give US forces access to airfields and ports and will expand the US’s military capacity in the South Pacific. How does China view this pact? 

Mao Ning: China is not opposed to countries’ efforts to grow ties with Papua New Guinea and other Pacific Island countries. We always advocate that the international community should give more attention and support to the economic development and improvement of people’s well-being in island countries and do more things that could contribute to regional peace, development and stability. The negotiation and signing of any cooperation document should help realize this goal. We should be on alert particularly for geopolitical games under the pretext of cooperation. At the same time, we also believe that any cooperation should not target at any third party. 

Anadolu Agency: It’s been reported that Japan’s ambassador to China has been summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to express China’s solemn representations about G7’s statement at the Hiroshima Summit. Can you give any information about the interaction?

Mao Ning: Japan, as this year’s G7 chair, joined others in smearing and attacking China and grossly interfering in China’s internal affairs in a series of events held during the Hiroshima Summit and the Leaders’ Communiqué. The Chinese side deplores and rejects this and has made serious démarches to Japan. The Japanese side needs to correct its perception of China, adhere to the principles in the four political documents between the two countries, and work for the steady development of bilateral ties in a truly constructive way.

KBS: I have two questions. First, after the Cyberspace Administration of China restricted the purchasing of products by US semiconductor maker Micron Technology, will it also look into companies of other countries, for example, the ROK, for cyber security risks? Second, earlier the US asked ROK businesses not to fill the Chinese market by selling semiconductors as an alternative of Micron products. What’s the Chinese government’s position on this? 

Mao Ning: To answer your first question, China’s competent authorities have released information on the cybersecurity review on products sold in China by Micron Technology. Let me stress, China is a country under the rule of law. Businesses operating in China need to conform with Chinese laws. Judicial authorities investigate offences in accordance with the law.

We are firmly committed to advancing high-level opening up and fostering a market-oriented, law-based and internationalized business environment. Foreign companies and their products are welcome to the Chinese market as long as they abide by Chinese laws and regulations. 

On your second question, we have made clear our position on the US’s chip export control targeting China. The US has coerced other countries into imposing export restrictions on China for the sole purpose of maintaining its hegemonic interests. Such practice runs counter to the market economy principles and international trade rules, destabilizes global industrial and supply chains, and serves no one’s interest. It not only hurts the interest of Chinese companies, but also that of relevant sides and companies concerned. We firmly oppose this. It is hoped that the governments and companies of relevant countries will work together with China to jointly safeguard the multilateral trading system and keep global industrial and supply chains stable.

Yomiuri Shimbun: Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy attended the G7 Summit. Do you have any comment on this?

Mao Ning: We noted that President Zelenskyy attended the G7 Summit.

China’s position on the Ukraine issue is consistent and clear. We always believe that the crisis should be resolved politically through dialogue and consultation. We also hope that G7 countries can work with the international community to play a constructive role in promoting the political settlement of the crisis.

Bloomberg: The US Department of Commerce released a statement saying that the actions against Micron along with recent raids and targeting of other US firms are inconsistent with China’s assertions that it is opening its market and committed to transparent regulatory framework. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?

Mao Ning: I just stated China’s position on Micron.

As to the rest of your questions, I would like to stress that China is a country under the rule of law. All businesses operating in China need to comply with Chinese laws. Judicial authorities investigate offences in accordance with the law.

We are committed to advancing high-level opening up and fostering a market-oriented, law-based and internationalized business environment. Products and services of foreign companies and various platforms are welcome to the Chinese market as long as they abide by Chinese laws and regulations.

Global Times: President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said at a G7 session that “Many emerging and developing countries are looking for sustainable funding opportunities. The Belt and Road Initiative looked like a good cheap offer. But many countries in the Global South...took Chinese loans and ended up in a debt crisis. ” She added that G7 should offer win-win partnerships to developing countries that are willing to work with them, and that “we have to be fast and we have to get concrete”. Do you have any comment?

Mao Ning: Hearing this rhetoric, we can’t help but ask what the G7, as the wealthiest countries in the world, has visibly contributed to the wellbeing of developing countries? Why is the G7 so obsessed with smearing and disrupting the normal cooperation between developing countries?

China will always be a member of the big family of developing countries. Our cooperation with fellow developing countries is aimed for common development, which has been highly commended by the latter. The reason why the Belt and Road Initiative has become a much welcomed public good is because it is committed to wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. We never impose our thinking onto others, nor do we slip into the initiative any selfish geopolitical agenda. We pursue mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation and common development that is more inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all. 

China attaches high importance to the issue of debt sustainability and has been helping fellow developing countries to ease their debt burdens to the best of its capability. According to the report by a relevant research institution, China has contributed more to the G20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) than G7 countries combined under. A recent report by the Boston University Global Development Policy Center noted that the investment and financing cooperation between China and fellow developing countries is driven by the recipient country’s vast and real demand, and such cooperation could help these countries to overcome bottlenecks in development, unlock growth potential and increase global real income by up to three percent. 

If the G7 really cares about developing countries, they need to deliver their promises including spending 0.7% of their Gross National Income (GNI) as Official Development Assistance (ODA) annually and mobilizing $100 billion per year for climate action in developing countries. They need to step up to more international responsibilities and obligations and do more concrete things for developing countries. 

Hubei Media Group: It was reported that on May 20 local time, at least 12 people were killed and more than 100 injured during a stampede at a football game at the Cuscatlan Stadium in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador. Do you have any comment?

Mao Ning: We mourn deeply for the victims and offer our sympathy to the injured and the families who have lost loved ones. According to preliminary information gathered by the Chinese Embassy in El Salvador, no Chinese casualties have been reported so far.

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