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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on June 13, 2022

2022-06-13 21:39

Phoenix TV: The recent comments about Prophet Mohammed by Nupur Sharma, the spokesperson of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has caused outrage in the Muslim community in India and Islamic nations. Do you have anything to say on this?

Wang Wenbin: We have noted relevant reports and hope that the situation will be appropriately resolved. China always believes that different civilizations and religions should respect each other and live together as equals. It is always important to discard pride and prejudice, better understand the differences between one’s own civilization and other civilizations, and promote exchanges, dialogue and harmonious coexistence between civilizations. 

China Daily: According to reports, Canada’s Defense Minister Anita Anand said during the Shangri-La Dialogue that, “The interceptions by the Chinese of our (aircraft) are very concerning and unprofessional and we need to ensure that the safety and security of our pilots is not at risk, especially when they are simply monitoring as required under UN-sanctioned missions (regarding sanctions on the DPRK)”. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: The remarks of the Canadian side seem to fit a Chinese saying: The villain becomes the accuser even before being accused.

A basic fact is that it is the Canadian military aircraft that flew thousands of miles to harass China at its doorstep, not the other way round. It is China, not Canada, that should feel threatened.

The Canadian side claims that its aircraft was “monitoring as required under UN-sanctioned missions” regarding sanctions on the DPRK, but none of the relevant Security Council resolutions mandated any country to deploy forces for surveillance operations in the sea or airspace under the jurisdiction of another country. The act of the Canadian aircraft is nothing but a provocation against a sovereign country.

The Canadian side claimed that interceptions by the Chinese jet were unprofessional. The fact was, however, that the Canadian aircraft had repeatedly and continuously approached China’s territorial airspace and engaged in frequent, large-scope and back-and-forth provocations at close distance. The area where the Canadian military aircraft conducted those activities hosts a web of civil aviation routes, which means those activities could severely disrupt the order and safety of civil aviation. It is the Canadian side’s behavior that was neither professional nor safe. Even so, the Chinese side exercised maximum restraint the entire time and handled the situation in a professional and safe manner, preventing further escalation of the incident.

We urge the Canadian side to respect facts, not take advantage of China’s restraint, immediately stop spreading disinformation and stop undermining China’s sovereignty and security in the name of implementing UN Security Council resolutions.

TASS: According to reports, US Secretary of Defense said in Singapore last Saturday that the US will abide by the one-China policy and the US does not support Taiwan independence. Do these remarks signal positive changes on the Taiwan question lately? Or does China think the US still falls short of real actions? 

Wang Wenbin: We noticed that the US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin said in his remarks at the Shangri-La Dialogue that China has adopted a more coercive and aggressive approach to its territorial claims in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, and the stakes are especially stark in the Taiwan Strait. He also said that the US remains committed to its one-China policy. The Chinese delegation attending the event has responded to Secretary Austin’s remarks. I would like to stress that by repeatedly spreading disinformation and painting an ugly picture of China, the US could only further expose its ill intention to sow discord and the true nature of its hegemonic practices and exercise of power politics.

The biggest threat to the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait does not come from elsewhere but the obdurate separatist activities of the “Taiwan independence” forces and the US’s connivance and endorsement of such activities. It is the US that has sought to obscure and hollow out the one-Chine principle and kept backpedaling on its commitments. It is the US that is relaxing restrictions on official interactions between the US and Taiwan and increasing the sales of weapons to Taiwan both in qualitative and quantitative terms. It is still the US that has been helping Taiwan expand the so-called international space and even acting openly to support Taiwan in “strengthening” its so-called “diplomatic relationships”. What could possibly be the US’s aim for these actions other than to send wrong signals to the “Taiwan independence” forces and undermine cross-Strait peace and stability?

The US is also the biggest factor fueling militarization in the Asia-Pacific. The US has deployed many military aircraft and warships in the South China Sea on a regular basis and its reconnaissance aircraft have electronically impersonated the civil aircraft of other countries there many times. Not long ago, a US nuclear-powered submarine even hit an “uncharted seamount” in the South China Sea. According to statistics from institutions with professional knowledge, the number of the US’s close-in military reconnaissance missions against China has more than doubled compared with a decade ago. Since the beginning of this year, the US naval ships have transited the Taiwan Strait once a month on average. US military aircraft have engaged in large-scope, frequent and provocative close-in reconnaissance to deter and pressure China. Apparently, “militarization” and “endangering freedom of navigation” are more accurate when used to describe the behavior of the US.

The international community will not be deceived by the US’s remarks to smear China. What the US has said will only chip away at the US’s credibility. We urge the US to match its words with action, including not seeking confrontation or conflict, not seeking a new Cold War, and not seeking an Asian NATO or a region split into hostile blocs. We also urge the US to stop saying or doing things that could create division and confrontation. 

Xinhua News Agency: Not long ago, Premier Li Keqiang sent a congratulatory message to Prime Minister of Australia Anthony Albanese on his election. As Premier Li noted in his letter, China is ready to work with Australia to take stock of the past and stay forward-looking, and uphold the principles of mutual respect and mutual benefit in advancing the sound and steady development of China-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership. The Australian side said it would respond appropriately. Has China received any response yet?

Wang Wenbin: The Chinese side has received Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s letter of reply to express appreciation to Premier Li Keqiang. I would like to reiterate that a sound and steady relationship between China and Australia meets the fundamental interests and common aspiration of the two peoples. As State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi pointed out in a recent interview with media, to improve China-Australia relations, there is no “auto-pilot” mode. A reset requires concrete actions. This meets the aspirations of people in both countries and the trend of our time. It is hoped that the Australian side can look at China and China-Australia relations in a sensible and positive way, work with China in the same direction in the spirit of mutual respect and seeking common ground while putting aside differences, in an effort to promote the sound and steady development of China-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership.

Dragon TV: Philippines President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said at an event on June 10 that “our strongest partner has always been ... our close neighbor and good friend, the People’s Republic of China. The relations between the Philippines and China are very important and serve the benefit of both sides. The Philippines will continue to uphold an independent foreign policy and develop ties with China, he added. Does the Chinese side have any response?

Wang Wenbin: China and the Philippines are close neighbors facing each other across the sea. Our two countries have a long tradition of good-neighborliness and friendship. In recent years, with the concerted efforts of both sides, the China-Philippines relations have enjoyed continued improvement, bringing tangible benefits to both peoples. Not long ago, President Xi Jinping held a telephone conversation with President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr., during which they reached important consensus on adhering to good-neighborly friendship and common development, charting the course for future development of bilateral relations.

China always sees the Philippines as a priority in its neighborhood diplomacy. Our friendly policy toward the Philippines is consistent and steady. We commend the Philippines for pursuing an independent foreign policy and look forward to working together with the new government led by incoming President Marcos to carry forward our friendship and cooperation, usher in a brighter future for bilateral ties to the benefit of both countries and peoples and safeguard the sound momentum for peace and development in the region.

AFP: Australia and China’s defense ministers have met for the first time in three years yesterday. The talks were described by Australia as an important first step”. What’s China’s view on this?

Wang Wenbin: As to the meeting between Chinese and Australian defense ministers, I would refer you to the Ministry of National Defense.

Here I would like to reiterate China’s position. We hope the Australian side will work with China in the spirit of mutual respect and seeking common ground while shelving differences to promote sound and steady development of China-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership. This meets the two peoples’ aspiration, and serves their fundamental and long-term interests.

Bloomberg: We reported that Chinese military officials have repeatedly asserted that the Taiwan Strait is not international waters in recent months during meetings with US counterparts. Does the foreign ministry have any comment on this?

Wang Wenbin: Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. The Taiwan Strait ranges in width from about 70 nautical miles at its narrowest and 220 nautical miles at its widest. According to UNCLOS and Chinese laws, the waters of the Taiwan Strait, extending from both shores toward the middle of the Strait, are divided into several zones including internal waters, territorial sea, contiguous zone, and the Exclusive Economic Zone. China has sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the Taiwan Strait. At the same time, it respects the lawful rights of other countries in relevant waters. 

There is no legal basis of “international waters” in the international law of the sea. It is a false claim when certain countries call the Taiwan Strait “international waters” in order to find a pretext for manipulating issues related to Taiwan and threatening China’s sovereignty and security. China is firmly against this. 

Beijing Daily: It is reported that Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attended the Shangri-La Dialogue via video link on June 11. When asked how Taiwan should respond if China seeks to take it, by force if necessary, Zelenskyy said that today’s example of Ukraine is an example for the whole world; no one benefits from war; if there is a way out diplomatically, we need to use the diplomatic way, but it must be a pre-emptive way, not the one that comes after the war has started. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: We have noted that President Zelenskyy didn’t mention the Taiwan question when answering the question. As some media pointed out, some people are simply raising the question about Taiwan in order to try to put words in President Zelenskyy’s mouth. The Taiwan question and the Ukraine issue are fundamentally different in nature. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and the Taiwan question is purely China’s internal affair that brooks no foreign interference. We will take strong measures to respond to all “Taiwan independence” attempts aimed at splitting China in order to firmly defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

Kyodo News: The Japanese Defense Minister had talks with State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe yesterday in Singapore. The Japanese side expressed concerns over China’s military activities surrounding Japan. What is China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: I would also refer you to the Chinese Ministry of National Defense for the meeting between Chinese and Japanese defense ministers.

I want to stress that China’s position on the Taiwan question and the issue of Diaoyu Dao is consistent and clear. Diaoyu Dao and its affiliating islands have been part of China’s territory since ancient times. Whatever the Japanese side says or does cannot change the fact that Diaoyu Dao is part of China. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. Japan bears historical guilt to the Chinese people on the Taiwan question. Japan needs to act and speak with extra prudence, refrain from meddling in the cross-Strait situation in any way, and not send wrong signals to “Taiwan independence” forces in any form. The Japanese side needs to do more things that would enhance mutual trust among regional countries and promote regional peace and stability.

Shenzhen TV: It is reported that on June 12 during the Shangri-La Dialogue, Indonesia’s Minister of Defense Prabowo Subianto talked about Asian countries’ experience of being exploited by imperialism and colonialism and said that China is a vanguard of the anti-imperialist movement and a good friend of Indonesia. The Defense Minister said he believes that China will hold its responsibilities with “wisdom and benevolence” and called on countries to respect China’s “rise back to its position as a great civilization”. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: Mr. Prabowo’s remarks remind me of the famous Bandung Conference held 67 years ago in Indonesia. Representatives of Asian, African and Latin American countries gathered together and put forward Ten Principles of Bandung on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. They also established the Bandung spirit of solidarity, friendship and cooperation. All of this is still of great relevance to the handling of international relations today.

At the moment, humanity is faced with common challenges in such fields as security and development. All countries should stick together and work with one another with solidarity, rather than seek decoupling, build walls, stoke division and incite confrontation. Having experienced hot wars and cold wars, people in Asia know better than any one that peace is precious and the future of all countries is closely linked. Asian countries should draw on the wisdom of Asian civilizations for harmonious coexistence, accommodate each other’s major concerns, respect each other’s development paths, and continue to promote sound development in Asia.

As a responsible major country, China will unswervingly stick to the path of peaceful development. China has always been committed to working with other Asian countries to adhere to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and the Bandung spirit, carry forward the Asian values of solidarity, coordination, harmony and inclusiveness, promote the building of an Asian community with a shared future,make Asia the pacesetter of peace and development in the world, and make new contribution to world fairness and justice and mankind’s wellbeing. 

AFP: According to a Reuters report, a committee of the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) has called for a mission to further review China’s labor policy in Xinjiang. Would China agree to such a mission?

Wang Wenbin: We have noted the conclusions reached by ILO’s Committee on the Application of Standards on China’s observance of the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958. We firmly reject the false accusations by the committee. I would like to stress that the Chinese government follows a people-centered development philosophy and attaches high importance to protecting the rights and interests of workers. We protect the equal right of workers from all ethnic groups to seek employment, to participate in economic and social life, and to share the dividends of socioeconomic progress. The Chinese government has worked actively to assume international obligations, conducted fruitful cooperation with ILO over the years and ratified nearly 30 international labor conventions. During the latest International Labour Conference, many countries fully recognized and highly commended China’s observance of ILO conventions. The Chinese government will stay committed to the people-centered development philosophy, actively fulfill its obligations under relevant conventions, and work toward higher-quality employment to a higher extent.

The US and a handful of other countries falsely alleged that there is “forced labor” in Xinjiang. Historically, it was in the US that the notorious slave trade thrived. Today, it is also in the US that human trafficking and forced labor have gone rampant. Nearly 100,000 people are smuggled into the US for forced labor every year. As we speak, there are at least half a million people enslaved in the US. There is a large number of child farmworkers in the US and many of them started working at the young age of eight. Roughly 240,000 to 325,000 women and children in the US are victims of sexual slavery. 

While falsely claiming that there are “detention camps” in Xinjiang, the US itself is an old hand at arbitrary detention and abuse of torture. The US also secretly controls a network of black sites overseas. Over the years, using the “war on terror” as a cover, the CIA has set up black sites in at least 54 countries and regions where hundreds of thousands of people are put under detention. Many US black sites including Guantanamo Bay prison, Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and Bagram prison in Afghanistan have been reported for scandals of torture and prisoner abuse. The level of cruelty exposed is simply horrifying. 

Despite its serious forced labor and child labor issues, the US has only ratified two of the eight core conventions of ILO and still has not ratified the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 or the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958. And yet the US has hyped up the Xinjiang issue at the conference and turned the solemn conference into a stage for political stunt. It fabricated lies to criticize China and made wanton comments on China’s compliance. This is typical politicization and double standard. We firmly oppose it. The US should be aware that attempts to use Xinjiang-related issues to meddle in China’s internal affairs and contain China’s development will never succeed.

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