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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning’s Regular Press Conference on October 20, 2023

2023-10-20 18:47

At the invitation of Prime Minister Akylbek Japarov of the Kyrgyz Republic, Premier of the State Council Li Qiang will attend the 22nd Meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of SCO Member States in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan and pay an official visit to the Kyrgyz Republic from October 24 to 27.

The International Symposium to Commemorate the 10th Anniversary of China’s Principle of Amity, Sincerity, Mutual Benefit and Inclusiveness in Neighborhood Diplomacy will be held in Beijing on October 24. Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will attend the opening ceremony of the Symposium and deliver a speech.

Political figures from neighboring countries, heads of international and regional organizations, diplomatic envoys of neighboring countries to China and renowned experts and scholars will attend the Symposium online or in person. They will have in-depth exchanges of views on topics such as good neighborliness, sincerity, mutual benefit, openness and inclusiveness at four sub-fora under the theme of “Amity, Sincerity, Mutual Benefit and Inclusiveness: New Dimensions, New Progress and New Vision”.

CCTV: You just announced that Premier Li will attend the 22nd Meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of SCO Member States. What’s China’s expectation for this meeting?

Mao Ning: Since its establishment, the SCO, guided by the Shanghai Spirit, has enhanced solidarity and mutual trust among member states, deepened cooperation in various sectors and played an important role in safeguarding the security and stability on the Eurasian continent and promoting development in regional countries.

At present, changes unseen in a century is unfolding at a faster pace. The situation in the region and the wider world remains complex and fluid. Countries in our region look to the SCO to play a bigger role in safeguarding national security and development interests of countries.

President Xi Jinping attended the SCO summit in July this year. He and other leaders reached important consensus on upholding multilateralism, international fairness and justice and the vision of building an even closer SCO community with a shared future, setting the direction for the SCO under new circumstances.

It will be the first time for Premier Li Qiang to attend the Meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of SCO Member States. Premier Li together with other participating leaders will follow through on the consensus reached at the summit in July, have in-depth exchange of views on the SCO Development Strategy and formulate concrete measures on cooperation in such areas as security, economy and trade, connectivity and people-to-people exchanges. We believe that the meeting will provide more impetus for security, stability and development in regional countries.

Reuters: China’s Special Envoy for the Middle East landed in Qatar yesterday. Why was Qatar his first stop? Does Zhai Jun plan to go to Gaza or the West Bank and will he pay a visit to Tel Aviv?

Mao Ning: Thank you for your interest in Special Envoy Zhai Jun’s visit to the Middle East. Special Envoy Zhai Jun is in the Middle East as we speak. He had a number of meetings in Doha on October 19, including with Qatar’s Minister of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Russian President’s Special Representative for the Middle East and Africa. We will release further information about Special Envoy Zhai Jun’s visit in a timely way. Please check back for updates.

China News Service: How do you see the current state of China-Kyrgyzstan relations? What’s your expectation for Premier Li Qiang’s visit?

Mao Ning: China and Kyrgyzstan are friendly neighbors and comprehensive strategic partners. Since diplomatic ties were established 31 years ago, our bilateral relations have maintained a momentum of sound and steady growth. Our two countries enjoy high-level political mutual trust, fruitful Belt and Road cooperation, close and effective coordination on the international stage, and a people-to-people bond strengthened by frequent exchanges. We have become good neighbors, good friends, good partners and good brothers.

This year is of milestone significance for China-Kyrgyzstan relations. In May, President Xi Jinping met with President Sadyr Zhaparov of Kyrgyzstan, who was on a state visit to China. They jointly elevated the bilateral relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership for a new era and announced the building of a China-Kyrgyzstan community with a shared future of good neighborliness and shared prosperity, charting the course for bilateral cooperation.

This upcoming trip will be Premier Li Qiang’s first visit to Kyrgyzstan and the second visit to the country by a Chinese premier in seven years. It will be of important significance for advancing the bilateral relations, deepening practical cooperation and bringing the two peoples closer.

During the visit, Premier Li Qiang will meet and hold talks with leaders of Kyrgyzstan for in-depth exchange of views on implementing the common understandings reached by the two Presidents. We believe the visit will further deepen the high-level political mutual trust between our two countries, boost all-round cooperation, and promote substantive and tangible progress in our comprehensive strategic partnership for a new era.

Reuters: China will require export permits for some graphite products to protect its national security. Could you elaborate on these national security concerns and did a particular event trigger this decision?

Mao Ning: The Ministry of Commerce has released information. For more specifics, I would refer you to the competent authorities.

AFP: US Defense Department issued its 2023 report on China’s military power yesterday, saying that China now owns more than 500 operational nuclear warheads and will grow its arsenal to over 1,000 by 2030. Are those claims true?

Mao Ning: This US report, like previous ones, is nonfactual and biased. It calls China a threat only to find a convenient pretext for the US to sustain its military hegemony. China is strongly opposed to this. 

China is firmly committed to a defensive nuclear strategy and has always kept our nuclear capabilities at the minimum level required by national security. We have no intention to get involved in any nuclear arms race with any country. China has a unique nuclear policy among nuclear weapon states and has maintained a high level of stability, consistency and predictability. 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.

The US sits on the largest and most advanced nuclear arsenal in the world. It follows a first-use nuclear deterrence policy, keeps making enormous investment to upgrade its nuclear triad, advances forward deployment of strategic forces, and strengthens extended deterrence for its allies. These policies and acts heighten the risk of a nuclear arms race and nuclear conflict, and will only adversely affect the global strategic security environment. China urges the US to abandon the Cold War mentality and hegemonic logic, view China’s strategic intention and defense development in an objective and rational way and stop issuing this kind of irresponsible annual report so as to keep mil-to-mil and overall relations stable between China and the US.

Reuters: Does President Xi Jinping plan to visit the Middle East following the visit of US President Joe Biden?

Mao Ning: China has shared its position on the current Palestinian-Israeli situation. We believe the pressing priority is to cease fire as soon as possible, protect civilians and avert a humanitarian crisis. We are in contact with all relevant parties.

Beijing Youth Daily: We have learned that recently the Chinese Embassy in Israel has been helping Chinese nationals stranded near the Palestinian-Israeli conflict area relocate. Can you share some details on that?

Mao Ning: After the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict broke out on October 7, more than 280 Chinese citizens were stranded in Sderot in southern Israel and faced high security risk. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs directed the Chinese Embassy in Israel to act swiftly to organize their relocation and evacuation. With the concerted efforts on the ground and back home, the stranded Chinese nationals have all left Sderot. Some have returned to China on commercial flights.

According to the numbers we have at this point, since the conflict broke out, over 1,000 Chinese nationals have left Israel for China or a third country. We will continue to work hard to assist our fellow citizens.

Shenzhen TV: The Iranian Foreign Ministry said on October 18 that UN Security Council restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missiles were lifted on that day. The US and some other countries issued a joint statement on the same day announcing sanctions on Iran’s missile activities. What’s China’s comment?

Mao Ning: The JCPOA and the Security Council Resolution 2231 are important outcomes of the political settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue and should be implemented fully and faithfully. China supports lifting relevant restrictions and unilateral sanctions on Iran as slated in the Security Council Resolution and the JCPOA and call on parties concerned to uphold the authority and effectiveness of the two documents with concrete actions, take constructive steps to advance diplomatic efforts to resume compliance with the JCPOA, and uphold the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and peace and stability in the Middle East.

Bloomberg: US Ambassador Nicholas Burns called on the Chinese government to denounce terrorism by Hamas. He also cited Beijing’s stance toward the group as yet another challenge in the China-US relationship. How do you respond to this? And why hasn’t China mentioned the word “Hamas” as far as I know since the attack on Israel? It is a group that governs Gaza.

Mao Ning: On the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict, China stands on the side of peace, equity and justice. We oppose all violent attacks against civilians and civilian facilities, condemn any violation of international law, and call on all parties to immediately stop fighting, protect civilians and avert a humanitarian disaster.

We always believe that in dealing with international and regional hotspot issues, major countries need to be objective and just, lead by example in abiding by international law and play a constructive role for a political settlement. We will continue to work with the international community to deescalate the situation.

Yonhap News Agency: According to reports, the ROK government has recently proposed to China and Japan of holding a trilateral foreign ministers’ meeting around November 26 in Busan and the three sides are working on the program of the meeting. Could you confirm this? Will China take part in the trilateral foreign ministers’ meeting?

Mao Ning: China, Japan and the ROK are close neighbors. Trilateral cooperation serves the common interests of all three countries. The three sides are in contact on the dates of the China-Japan-ROK foreign ministers’ meeting.

Bloomberg: I’m just curious why did China refuse to say the word “Hamas”? It’s the organization that runs Gaza.

Mao Ning: Our position on the current situation is very clear.

Reuters: Viet Nam’s President invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to Hanoi and Putin has accepted the invitation. Has Viet Nam invited President Xi to visit Hanoi too?

Mao Ning: The invitation to President Putin to visit Hanoi is a bilateral arrangement between Viet Nam and Russia. As to high-level visit between China and Viet Nam, I don’t have any specific information to share at the moment.

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