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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on March 17, 2023

2023-03-17 21:37

CCTV: China announced today that President Xi Jinping will pay a state visit to Russia. Could you share the program of the visit? What goals does China hope to achieve through this visit?

Wang Wenbin: In recent years, President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin have maintained close exchanges. They have charted the course and provided guidance for the sustained sound and steady growth of the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era. The two sides have found a path of major-country relations featuring strategic trust, good neighborliness and cooperation, setting a new model for international relations. During his upcoming state visit to Russia, President Xi will have an in-depth exchange of views with President Putin on bilateral relations and major international and regional issues of mutual interest, boost strategic coordination and practical cooperation between the two countries and inject new impetus into the growth of bilateral relations.

At present, the situation unseen in a century is evolving at a faster pace and the world has entered a new period of instability and transformation. China and Russia are permanent members of the UN Security Council and major countries, and the significance and influence of the China-Russia relationship goes far beyond the bilateral scope. 

President Xi’s upcoming state visit to Russia will be a trip for friendship. It will further deepen mutual trust and mutual understanding between China and Russia and cement the political foundation and public support for the long-standing friendship between the two peoples.

President Xi’s visit will be a trip for cooperation. It will boost mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation across the board, form greater synergy and deepen cooperation between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union, and help both countries achieve our respective goals of development and rejuvenation.

President Xi’s visit will be a trip for peace. On the basis of no-alliance, no-confrontation and no-targeting of any third party, China and Russia will continue to practice true multilateralism, promote greater democracy in international relations, work towards building a multi-polar world, improve global governance and contribute to development and progress in the world. China will uphold an objective and fair position on the Ukraine crisis and play a constructive role in promoting talks for peace. 

China News Service: On March 16, ROK President Yoon Suk-yeol started his two-day visit to Japan. On that day, he held talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and jointly met the press. The summit was viewed differently in the ROK. Some people believed that the ROK government made too much concession unilaterally on issues like forced recruitment of laborers, and that the servile, humiliating diplomacy was not reciprocated by Japan, as Japan was reluctant to repeat its remorse and apology. What’s China’s comment? 

Wang Wenbin: We have noted the different views in the ROK on the leaders’ meeting between the ROK and Japan.

As to the issue of forced recruitment of laborers, China’s position is consistent and clear. Forced recruitment and enslavement of laborers is a grave crime against humanitarian law committed by the Japanese militarism during its aggression and colonial rule against the people of Asian countries, including China and the ROK. The facts are backed by ironclad evidence and shall not be denied or altered. Japan should face its history squarely and deeply reflect on it, properly handle historical issues with an honest and responsible attitude, and on that basis, grow normal state-to-state relations with its Asian neighbors.

Xinhua News Agency: Despite the world economy in the doldrums, practical cooperation across the board between China and Russia has maintained steady development. What effect will President Xi Jinping’s upcoming visit to Russia have on enhancing bilateral practical cooperation? What expectations does China have?

Wang Wenbin: China and Russia are each other’s largest neighbors and major emerging markets, and the cooperation between the two countries boasts strong resilience, ample potential and wide space. China and Russia have continued to deepen and expand practical cooperation across the board guided by the principle of mutual respect and mutual benefit. This is in the fundamental interest of the two countries and the two peoples.

This year marks the beginning of China’s new journey of building a modern socialist country in all respects. We will accelerate high-quality development, expand high-standard opening-up and foster a new development paradigm. We believe that this will provide new opportunities for countries in the world, including Russia. 

During President Xi’s visit to Russia, the two heads of state will have an in-depth exchange of views on issues of mutual interest related to practical cooperation. Following the principle of mutual respect and mutual benefit, the two sides will continue to take concrete steps to seek greater synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union, jointly keep the industrial and supply chains stable and unimpeded, step up exchanges at various levels, cement the public support for friendly relations between the two countries, work together for the sustained progress in China-Russia cooperation, bring more benefits to the two peoples and inject more positive energy into the world economic recovery. 

The Hindu: We’ve seen the readout of the phone conversation Foreign Minister Qin Gang has had with his counterpart from Ukraine. I just wanted to ask, did they discuss any potential phone conversation between President Xi Jinping and President Zelenskyy? Is that something that might take place next week? 

Wang Wenbin: You must have learned what the two sides mainly talked about since your have gone through the readout. China’s position on the Ukraine crisis is consistent and clear. We maintain communication with all parties.

The News York Times: The Atlantic reported that several foreign scientists’ analysis of genetic samples from the Huanan Seafood Market may point to raccoon dogs at the market as a possible intermediary host for COVID. Does the ministry have any response? 

Wang Wenbin: I would refer you to the experts. What I can say is that China always supports and participates in the global cooperation on science-based origins-tracing. We have invited WHO experts to China for cooperation on COVID origins-tracing, and facilitated the sharing of data and research results between competent authorities and experts and the WHO several times, making important contributions to the global origins-tracing. We will continue to do so. Many clues from the international science community are pointing the origins of virus to sources around the world. We also expect that the WHO and relevant countries can share with us the research results of origins-tracing in other parts of the world in a timely manner. 

AFP: New Zealand and the UK have both announced over the past day that they will ban TikTok on government devices citing security concerns. How does China view this? 

Wang Wenbin: We have noted relevant reports. China always believes that data security should not be used as a tool to overstretch the national security concept to hobble foreign companies. 

We call on countries concerned to earnestly abide by the rules of the market economy and the principle of fair competition, stop overstretching and abusing the concept of national security, and provide a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory environment for foreign businesses. 

CGTN: Some Western politicians describe China’s relationship with Russia as an alliance of evil or an alliance of autocracy, believing that closer China-Russia relations will pose a challenge to the international order. During President Xi’s visit to Russia, will he talk with President Putin about forming an alliance? And will they discuss the establishment of an international order that is dominated by China and Russia?

Wang Wenbin: The China-Russia relationship is built on the basis of no-alliance, no-confrontation and no-targeting of any third party. The two countries always follow the path of partnership over alliance and dialogue over confrontation, and grow a new type of major-country relations featuring mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation.

China has been committed to the UN-centered international system and the international order underpinned by international law. We uphold true multilateralism, work for a multi-polar world and greater democracy in international relations, and make global governance more just and equitable. The way China and Russia develop our strategic partnership of coordination will benefit the two peoples and the world at large. It is entirely different from what certain countries have been doing, including holding on to the Cold War mentality, ganging up with other countries, putting up cliques and stoking bloc confrontation, and engaging in hegemonic, domineering and bullying practices.

During President Xi’s visit to Russia, he will have an in-depth exchange of views with President Putin on bilateral relations and major international and regional issues, jointly draw a new blueprint for the development of bilateral relations, and further deepen China-Russia mutually beneficial cooperation across the board.

NBC: Back to TikTok. Will China allow the sale of TikTok with its advanced technology by the Chinese owner to American or foreign buyers? 

Wang Wenbin: We’ve stated China’s position on this issue on multiple occasions. I’d like to reiterate that data security should not be used as a tool to overstretch the national security concept and abuse state power to hobble foreign companies. It also needs to be stressed in particular that the US has yet to prove with evidence that TikTok threatens its national security. 

We firmly oppose the US’s overstretching of the concept of national security and its abuse of state power to hobble and plunder foreign companies. The US should respect the principles of market economy and fair competition, stop suppressing foreign companies and provide an open, fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for foreign businesses to invest and operate in the US.

CCTV: The Chinese side has announced the visit by Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to China. How does China see the current China-Brazil relations? Can you share the program of this upcoming visit and China’s expectations?

Wang Wenbin: China and Brazil are both major developing countries and important emerging markets and each other’s comprehensive strategic partners. Since diplomatic relations were established nearly half a century ago, China-Brazil relations have maintained steady growth amid changes in the international landscape and achieved fruitful outcomes in practical cooperation across the board, setting a good example for major developing countries pursuing joint development through solidarity and cooperation.

We believe President Lula da Silva’s visit this time will open up new prospects in China-Brazil relations in the new era at the heads-of-state level, bring our comprehensive strategic partnership to a new height, and make new contributions to regional and global stability and prosperity.

Shenzhen TV: Recently some media reports have alleged that China is providing military aid and dual-use articles to Russia and assisting it with systematic sanctions evasion. Will the issue of various sorts of Chinese assistance to Russia come up in the meeting between the two presidents?

Wang Wenbin: China engages in normal economic and trade cooperation with all countries, including Russia, on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. China-Russia cooperation is completely aboveboard. It serves the purpose of delivering benefits to both peoples and promoting global growth. It shall be free from disruption or coercion from any third party.

I would like to reiterate that China always handles export of military items in a prudent and responsible manner and regulates export of dual-use articles in accordance with relevant laws and regulations. At the same time, we are consistently opposed to unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction with neither basis in international law nor UN Security Council mandate. China’s consistent position and practice stands in sharp contrast with the acts of certain countries that apply double standards on arms sales and keep adding fuel to the fire on the Ukraine crisis. 

Beijing Youth Daily: According to reports, a Japanese foreign ministry spokesperson said that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will travel to India on March 19. During the visit, he will make a policy speech on a “free and open Indo-Pacific” and announce a new action plan. Reports also said that Japan probably aims to further boost infrastructure cooperation with and economic assistance for ASEAN and Pacific island countries to counter China’s influence. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: The Asia-Pacific is not an arena for geopolitical games. Cooperation between certain countries should be conducive to enhancing mutual understanding and trust between regional countries and regional peace and stability, rather than target any third party or harm its interest. Certain countries have been vocal about promoting “freedom and openness” in what they called “Indo-Pacific”, but they are in fact putting up a small circle featuring bloc confrontation. We have no interest in such action plans. What we are concerned about is Japan’s plan to willfully discharge the nuclear-contaminated water into the Pacific.

The New York Times: Since China resumed visa applications this week, what kind of demand has the government seen for visitors to come to China? And will there be new measures to meet that demand with flights, especially from the US?

Wang Wenbin: As we have shared with you, recently the Chinese government rolled out a series of measures to facilitate cross-border travel, which has been widely welcomed. China resumed outbound group tours on a pilot basis. We improved pre-departure COVID protocols for some countries, and allowed the replacement of nucleic acid tests with antigen tests before boarding. These policies are in sound implementation. In light of the evolving COVID situation, China will continue to better facilitate the safe and orderly cross-border travel of Chinese and foreign nationals based on scientific assessment. At the same time, we hope other parties will also make cross-border exchange much easier. As to the matter of flights you were referring to, I have noted that not long ago, the competent Chinese authorities have released relevant information. Generally speaking, the number of international flights is on steady rise. I would refer you to the competent authorities for the specifics.

AFP: The Federal Political Negotiation and Consultative Committee in Myanmar has called on China to help end domestic conflicts. What’s China’s response to this? And does China have any plans to be involved in conflict resolution in Myanmar? 

Wang Wenbin: As Myanmar’s friendly neighbor, China has been closely following the situation in Myanmar. We hope all parties and factions in Myanmar can find a proper solution through dialogue and consultation, restore stability as soon as possible, and resume the political transition process within the framework of the Constitution and laws with an eye on the long-term interests of the country and the nation. China stands ready to work with the rest of the international community to play a constructive part in this process.

Hubei Media Group: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said recently that the AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation is the advancement of NATO military infrastructure into Asia, which makes a serious bet on many years of confrontation in the region. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: The US, the UK and Australia are putting up an Anglo-Saxon clique and creating the so-called AUKUS trilateral security partnership to advance nuclear submarine cooperation and other cutting-edge military technology cooperation. This is typical Cold War mentality and a move that opens a Pandora’s box, which will seriously impact regional and global peace and security.

First, it will seriously impact the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. The AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation marks the first time for nuclear weapon states to transfer naval nuclear propulsion reactors and weapons-grade highly enriched uranium to a non-nuclear weapon state. There is nothing in the current IAEA safeguards system that can ensure effective safeguards. Therefore, such cooperation poses serious nuclear proliferation risks, seriously compromises the authority of the IAEA and deals a blow to the Agency’s safeguards system. If the three countries are set on advancing the nuclear submarine cooperation, other countries will likely follow suit, eventually leading to the collapse of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.

Second, it will seriously impact the ASEAN-centered regional cooperation architecture. The AUKUS cooperation is designed to serve the US’s geopolitical agenda with the means of military deterrence. It runs counter to the ASEAN way of mutual respect, openness and inclusiveness, consensus through consultation, and accommodating the comfort levels of all sides, undercuts ASEAN countries’ effort to establish a Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone and seriously undermines the ASEAN-centered regional cooperation architecture in East Asia.

Third, it will seriously impact peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific.  AUKUS introduces group politics and Cold War confrontation into the Asia-Pacific, and is aimed to create a NATO-replica in the region. If this attempt succeeds, it forebodes unprecedented threats and challenges to the decades-long stability and prosperity in the region. 

The US, the UK and Australia should listen to the call of the international community and countries in the region, stop pursuing bloc politics and confrontation, stop putting their selfish geopolitical agenda above nuclear non-proliferation obligations and stop coercing the IAEA into endorsing their nuclear submarine cooperation.  

Bloomberg: The US State Department has approved a potential sale of Tomahawk missile system to Australia. That deal is worth $895 million. How does the foreign ministry respond to that?

Wang Wenbin: We have noted relevant reports. Defense and security cooperation between countries should be conducive to regional peace and stability and should not target any third party or harm its interest. The sale you mentioned will exacerbate tensions and undermine peace and stability, and could trigger an arms race in the region. We call on relevant sides to discard the obsolete Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow geopolitical mindset.

China Daily: Not long ago, China released a document titled “China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis”. Russia responded positively to it. Will President Xi further elaborate China’s position and proposal to Russia during the visit, and try to influence Russia for a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis?

Wang Wenbin: President Xi’s visit to Russia is also about peace. Safeguarding world peace and promoting common development is our foreign policy goal. On the Ukraine issue, China always stands on the side of peace and dialogue and stands on the right side of history. The recently-released China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis reiterates the core ideas of President Xi’s call for joint efforts in four areas, four principles and three observations. It fully lays out China’s objective and fair position on the Ukraine issue. What we call for boils down to supporting talks for peace.

We always believe that political dialogue is the only way to resolve conflicts and disputes. Fanning the flames, fueling the fight, unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure will only fuel the tension and make matters worse. This does not meet the interest and the expectation of the vast majority of countries in the world. China will uphold the objective and fair position on the Ukraine crisis and other international and regional hotspot issues, and continue to play a constructive role in the political settlement of the crisis.

RIA Novosti: Will President Xi visit any other city apart from Moscow when he is in Russia?

Wang Wenbin: As to the program of President Xi’s visit to Russia, we will release information in a timely manner. Please check back for updates.

NBC: The US-proposed budget for fiscal year 2024 has been released. It has over $800 billion defense spending in response to China’s increase in defense spending, some $9 billion Pacific deterrence and $400 million to counter China’s influence and other items that apparently target China. Do you have any comments?

Wang Wenbin: President Xi Jinping has pointed out on multiple occasions that China-US relations should not be a zero-sum game where one side out-competes or thrives at the expense of the other. The two sides should respect each other, coexist in peace, and pursue win-win cooperation. To “outcompete” China means to contain and suppress China in all respects as the biggest geopolitical challenge and competitor. It is a huge gamble that ventures the fundamental interests of the two peoples and the future of humanity. China firmly rejects this.

China always follows the principle of mutual respect, equality, win-win cooperation, and openness and inclusiveness in growing its relations with Asia-Pacific countries. We do not target any third party and have no interest in geopolitical contests. The US needs to abandon the Cold War mentality rather than seek bloc confrontation in the name of cooperation.

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