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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on March 23, 2022

2022-03-23 19:30

Bloomberg: Why hasn’t the Chinese leader reached out to President Zelenskyy of Ukraine? Is there any plan to do so? The reason why I ask is because there’s been a report that such a call might happen very soon. Do you have any more details on that?

Wang Wenbin: China maintains smooth communication with relevant sides on the Ukraine situation.

China’s position on the Ukraine issue is consistent and clear. We always make independent judgement based on the merits of the matter itself. China advocates a vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. We support all parties in following the indivisible security principle and establishing a balanced, effective and sustainable European security architecture. China will continue to play a constructive role in deescalating the situation in Ukraine.

Xinhua News Agency: The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the world. In this grave situation, the launching ceremony for the BRICS Vaccine R&D Center was held online yesterday, marking another solid step forward in fighting the coronavirus together. Could you brief us on this?

Wang Wenbin: On March 22, the online launching ceremony for the BRICS Vaccine R&D Center and workshop on vaccine cooperation was successfully held. Ministers of science and technology from China and South Africa, ministers of health from Brazil, Russia and India, heads of national centers for vaccine R&D from the five BRICS countries, and experts from vaccine R&D institutions attended the event to witness the launching of the Center and discuss ways to promote cooperation among BRICS countries in vaccine research and development. It is learned that at the present stage, the national centers will build Internet-based virtual centers to form a network of BRICS vaccine R&D centers. When conditions are ready, the establishment of physical centers will be started after comprehensive feasibility assessment. 

As the BRICS Chair for this year, China will host the 14th BRICS Summit under the theme of “Foster High-quality BRICS Partnership, Usher in a New Era for Global Development”. Public health and vaccine cooperation are among the key areas of BRICS cooperation this year. At present, the pandemic is still dragging on across the world. The establishment of the BRICS Vaccine R&D Center demonstrates the determination of BRICS countries to focus on vaccine cooperation, deepen public health cooperation and build a “BRICS line of defense” against COVID-19. We hope that the vaccine R&D center will pool the strengths of BRICS countries, further promote scientific and technological cooperation among BRICS countries, enhance the five countries’ capability of preventing and controlling infectious diseases, contribute to the global fight against COVID-19 and make new contributions to international public health cooperation.

I also want to share that the official website for the 14th BRICS Summit (brics2022.mfa.gov.cn) has been launched recently. Information on related events, including the launch of the BRICS Vaccine R&D Centre, can be found on the website. You are welcome to learn more about BRICS activities under China’s chairship on the website. 

Reuters: Sources say the US and its Western allies are assessing whether Russia would remain within the G20 grouping, with one source saying G20 will become a less useful organization if Russia would remain in it. Does China have a position on whether Russia can remain in G20 and whether President Putin can attend the G20 summit in Indonesia at the end of this year?

Wang Wenbin: The G20 is the premier forum for international economic cooperation. It brings together major economies in the world, including Russia, which is an important member of the group. No member has the right to strip another country of its membership.

With the global fight against COVID-19 at a critical stage and a struggling world economic recovery fraught with rising instability and uncertainties, the G20 shoulders important responsibilities in leading global anti-pandemic efforts, improving global economic governance and promoting the steady recovery of the world economy. It should practice true multilateralism, strengthen solidarity and cooperation, jointly deal with prominent challenges in economic, financial, sustainable development and other sectors, and contribute to robust, green and sound global development.

China supports Indonesia, this year’s President of the G20, in advancing cooperation in various sectors according to the established agenda surrounding the theme of “recover together, recover stronger”.

Beijing Daily: We noticed that the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published a volume of studies detailing China’s policy and experience in such areas as “macroeconomic and finance, industrial development, international trade and the digital economy”since its reform and opening-up. It says that China has achieved remarkable economic growth and attained its main development targets, and concludes that its structural transformation provides other developing countries with an important learning opportunity that can help them progress in light of their own national realities. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: I have also noted the report you mentioned. We appreciate UNCTAD’s active efforts to present in an objective and comprehensive light China’s economic structural transformation, promote South-South policy experience sharing, and enhance developing countries’ capability to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

As the volume points out, China’s successful economic structural transformation, industrial transformation in particular, has been exemplary in the world. China has realized fast economic growth, lifted more than 700 million people out of poverty, and upgraded its industrial structure three times. In 1990, the GDP of the primary industry accounted for 27 percent of the total. The figure has been lowered to around 7 percent. The proportion of the secondary industry remains steadily around 40 percent. Value-added by services as a percentage of the GDP increased from 32 percent to 54 percent. The digital economy has become the new driver of China’s economic growth. At the same time, China has actively integrated into globalization and become an important participant in the global value chains and supply chains. In particular, amid COVID-19, China has played an important role in stabilizing global market supply.

The volume believes that China’s experience since the beginning of reform and opening-up has shown that high-speed growth and structural transformation can be realized concurrently. While it may not be possible to replicate China’s policy experience, many policy lessons can be helpful for other developing countries. For example, developing countries could follow the principle of pragmatism, flexibility and gradualism, build a macroeconomic policy framework that is public investment-led and flexible enough to adapt to changing circumstances, and maintain flexibility to react to shocks from business cycles that emerge in the global economic system.

In recent years, we have firmly promoted high-quality development, deepened reform and opening-up, advanced supply-side structural reform, built a business environment that is based on market principles and rule of law and up to international standards, actively participated in regional economic cooperation and shared China’s new development opportunities with the rest of the world. Looking ahead, the fundamentals sustaining China’s long-term economic growth will remain unchanged, the dividends of economic structural transformation and upgrading will continue to be unleashed, and there will be many enabling conditions for the Chinese economy’s sustained and sound development. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics of China show that from January to February China’s economic development enjoyed sound momentum with major economic indicators at higher levels than expected, which demonstrates strong resilience. 

China is ready to enhance communication and cooperation with all sides to jointly foster an enabling environment for the steady recovery of the world economy and inject more positive energy into its stable, sound and sustainable development.

Bloomberg: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi is expected to visit India on Friday, according to one person familiar with the matter. Can the foreign ministry confirm this and provide additional details? 

Wang Wenbin: I don’t have any information to release at the moment.

Shenzhen TV: This week we observe the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Week of 2022. On March 23, 2016, the LMC, a new-type sub-regional cooperation mechanism, was officially launched at the First LMC Leaders’ Meeting in Sanya, Hainan. Today marks the sixth anniversary of the LMC. How do you comment on the progress of the LMC? What expectations does China have for the LMC going forward?

Wang Wenbin: As you noted, the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) is a new-type sub-regional cooperation mechanism featuring extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits among the riparian states. With the concerted efforts of the six countries, the LMC has achieved rapid development over the past six years with a wider range of cooperation fields, more participating departments and growing endogenous driving force. It has become the most dynamic sub-regional cooperation mechanism with the strongest potential, which has injected impetus into the development of various countries and set an example for the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. 

Since last year, amid the flare-ups of COVID-19 and the sluggish world economic recovery, the LMC has continued to maintain high-level development. During the sixth LMC Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in Chongqing, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and the foreign ministers of the five Mekong countries agreed to deepen cross-board cooperation in a wider range of areas and usher in another “Golden Five Years” of the LMC. The six countries have maintained close exchanges at various levels, achieved fruitful outcomes in anti-epidemic cooperation and had active interactions both online and offline. We have successfully held a variety of activities including the first Lancang-Mekong Tourist Cities Cooperation Alliance Conference, the first Forum on Lancang-Mekong Local Government Cooperation and the second Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Cooperation Forum. In 2021, trade between China and the five Mekong countries reached nearly $400 billion, registering an increase of around 23 percent and making positive contributions to promoting the economic recovery of the countries and prosperity and revitalization of the region.

The six LMC countries are close neighbors connected by mountains and rivers and natural cooperation partners. China will actively act on the Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy and pursue neighborhood diplomacy featuring amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness, work together with the Mekong countries to deepen good neighborliness and practical cooperation, actively build the Lancang-Mekong Economic Development Belt, continue to foster a community with a shared future of the Lancang-Mekong countries, and create a better future for people of all countries in the sub-region.

During the LMC Week this year, more than 20 central government agencies and over 10 provinces and cities on the Chinese side will hold over 80 diverse activities including youth exchanges, forums of think tanks, movie shows and events on rural revitalization. In this way, we will celebrate with the five Mekong countries the sixth anniversary of the launch of the LMC. You are most welcome to follow them. 

PTI: Further to what you said about the BRICS vaccine research center. Eventually, where will it be located? Will it be headquartered in one of the five countries or function just as they are from different countries with effective communication?

Wang Wenbin: As I said earlier, at the present stage, the national centers will actively build virtual centers based on Internet platforms to form a network of BRICS vaccine R&D centers. 

All parties will conduct joint assessment and make decisions when conditions are ready. 

CCTV: On March 22, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended and addressed the opening ceremony of the 48th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). We noticed this is the first time for a Chinese foreign minister to participate in the OIC-CFM meeting. Does this have any special significance? How does China plan to advance relations with Islamic countries? 

Wang Wenbin: Yesterday, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended and addressed the opening ceremony of the 48th session of the CFM of the OIC in Islamabad upon invitation. This is the first time for a Chinese foreign minister to participate in the OIC-CFM meeting. It demonstrates China and the Islamic world’s sincere wish to strengthen exchange and cooperation as well as the two sides’ growing relations and deepening mutual trust. It will surely help bring relations to a new height.

State Councilor Wang Yi pointed out in his speech that the exchanges between the two sides, which have lasted for thousands of years and withstood the test of international changes, have a profound historical heritage and a solid foundation of popular support. The two sides always respect and trust each other and support respective core concerns; always stand in solidarity with mutual assistance and strive for common development; always learn from each other and act as guardians for diversity of civilizations in the world.

State Councilor Wang Yi pointed out that China would like to develop a partnership with Islamic countries in four aspects. First, solidarity and coordination. We will firmly support each other in defending national sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, in independently seeking a development path consistent with national realities, and in safeguarding each other’s legitimate development rights and interests as well as the vast developing world’s common interests. Second, development and revitalization. We will continue to stand with each other in the fight against COVID-19. China will provide 300 million more doses of vaccines to Islamic countries. We will further dovetail our development strategies and make full use of the twin engines of high quality BRI development and GDI cooperation to consolidate traditional cooperation and foster new highlights to boost shared development and revitalization and spearhead South-South cooperation. Third, security and stability. China will continue to support the Islamic countries in drawing on Islamic wisdom to resolve hotspot issues, taking the key to maintaining stability and promoting peace firmly in their own hands, and facilitating a comprehensive and just settlement of the Palestinian issue. We support Afghanistan in establishing an inclusive political structure, exercising moderate governance, and writing a new chapter of peace and reconstruction. We support Russia and Ukraine in keeping up peace talks to cease hostilities, end the fighting, bring peace, avert a humanitarian disaster, and prevent the Ukraine crisis from spilling over. Fourth, mutual learning of civilizations. We will uphold peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom, which are values shared by all humanity. We will oppose acts that create division and confrontation based on ideology, oppose theories on superiority of certain civilizations or clash of civilizations, and oppose misrepresentation and denigration of non-Western civilizations. We will oppose linking terrorism with specific ethnic or religious groups, deepen preventive counter-terrorism and deradicalization cooperation, and reject double standard on combating terrorism. State Councilor Wang’s remarks elicited positive responses from others attending the session.

Besides attending the session, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi also met with OIC Secretary-General Hussein Ibrahim Taha and foreign ministers attending the session including Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Somali Foreign Minister Abdisaid Muse Ali. The Chinese side expressed its support for Islamic countries in safeguarding sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and seeking development paths suited to their own national conditions. China will continue to stand firmly with the vast number of Islamic countries, safeguard the two sides’ legitimate development rights, expand common voice in the international community, and enhance positive energy in the international community. Secretary-General Taha said that the presence of Chinese foreign minister at the session will further boost bilateral relations. The OIC is ready to strengthen political consultation with China, expand channels for exchanges, and deepen exchanges and cooperation in such fields as economy and trade, finance, people-to-people and cultural affairs, and inter-civilizational dialogue, thus bringing more benefits to the two peoples. 

Bloomberg: The US and the Philippines will hold their biggest military drills in around three decades. This comes as the tension with China rises. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on the military drills to be held by the US and the Philippines?

Wang Wenbin: We do not oppose relevant countries’ military drills within their borders, but we hope the exercises will not target any third party and they will not do things detrimental to regional peace and stability. I would also like to stress that there is no tension between China and the Philippines. We hope relevant sides will not create tension.

Bloomberg: Just a question on a virtual call between former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Tuesday evening where they discussed various topics, including COVID, Ukraine, the CPTPP and peace in the Indo-Pacific region. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on this virtual meeting?

Wang Wenbin: First of all, I must correct you on one point. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory and there is no “president” whatsoever of the Taiwan region. China firmly opposes any official interaction between Taiwan and countries having diplomatic ties with China and the Taiwan region’s accession to any agreement or organization of official nature. This is our consistent and clear-cut position. 

During its colonial rule over Taiwan for half a century, Japan committed innumerable crimes, over which it bears grave historical responsibilities to the Chinese people. Some political forces in Japan openly colluded with “Taiwan independence” forces and made wanton remarks on the Taiwan question. China rejects and deplores such moves and has lodged solemn representation with the Japanese side.

The Taiwan question and the Ukraine issue are different in nature and are not comparable at all. The Taiwan question is purely China’s own affair and none of Japan’s business. It is dangerous and futile for some people in Japan to mention Taiwan and Ukraine in the same breath and incite “breakthroughs” in the relations with Taiwan. We seriously urge the Japanese side and certain politicians to make deep reflection on history, earnestly abide by the principles stipulated in the four political documents between China and Japan and Japan's commitments, avoid any official interaction with the Taiwan authorities, refrain from emboldening “Taiwan independence” elements, speak and act prudently on the Taiwan question and stop making provocations.

We have also noted that since the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis, the DPP authorities have manipulated the issue to sway public opinion and embolden “Taiwan independence” propositions. Such moves are futile. No matter what trick the DPP authorities play, the fact that Taiwan is part of China can never be changed, the overriding trend of Taiwan being reunited with the motherland can never be held back, and the defeat of “Taiwan independence” forces can never be reversed.

Beijing Youth Daily: According to reports, on March 22, Gou Zhongwen, Director of the General Administration of Sport of China and President of Chinese Olympic Committee, met with Susanne Lyons, President of US Olympic Committee, via videolink. He also received an honorary trophy from the US side. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: I noted relevant reports. For a period of time, the Chinese side has maintained close communication and cooperation with sports departments, organizations and institutions of various countries, the US Olympic Committee included, and jointly presented a streamlined, safe and splendid Winter Olympics to the world, winning wide acclaim from the international community. During the Beijing Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, Chinese and American athletes competed with each other and also had friendly interactions, fostering sincere friendship. Also, the Chinese side received an honorary trophy given by the US Olympic Committee to Cai Qi, President of the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. All this shows that enhancing sports and people-to-people exchanges between China and the US meets the people’s aspiration and serves the common interests of both sides. We hope that the two sides will work together to continuously advance cultural and people-to-people exchanges and cooperation, enhance mutual understanding between the two peoples, and cement public support for the sound development of China-US relations.

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