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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning’s Regular Press Conference on May 31, 2024

2024-05-31 18:37

From June 4 to 8, at the invitation of Premier Li Qiang of the State Council, Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan will pay an official visit to China.

From June 3 to 5, at the invitation of Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi, Türkiye’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan will pay an official visit to China.

Associated Press of Pakistan: A follow-up question on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to China. Could you share some detail of his visit? And how does China view the current relations between Pakistan and China? And what is China’s expectation for the visit?

Mao Ning: This is Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s first visit to China after the new Pakistani government came into office this year. During his visit, President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Qiang and Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Zhao Leji will meet or have talks with him. The leaders of the two countries will have an in-depth exchange of views on China-Pakistan relations and issues of mutual interest, and jointly draw up a blueprint for the growth of bilateral relations. In addition to Beijing, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will visit Guangdong and Shaanxi.

China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners and ironclad friends. Our friendship has stood the test of time and remained rock-solid and—to use a Chinese expression—“steady as Mount Tai.” Under the guidance of the leaders of the two countries, China and Pakistan have in recent years had close high-level exchanges, steadily advanced practical cooperation, conducted fruitful and high-quality cooperation on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and maintained sound communication and coordination in international and regional affairs. China stands ready to work with Pakistan through this visit to make greater progress in our all-weather strategic cooperative partnership and take new steps in the building of an even closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era.

Reuters: According to sources, China has confirmed that it will not attend the Ukraine peace conference to be hosted by Switzerland next month. China has declined the invitation, because the conditions for China’s participation are not met, including the participation of both Russia and Ukraine, the sources said. Would the Foreign Ministry like to comment on this matter?

Mao Ning: China attaches great importance to Switzerland organizing the first Summit on Peace in Ukraine and has been in close communication with Switzerland and relevant parties on this since early this year. China always maintains that the international peace conference needs to meet the three important elements of recognition from both Russia and Ukraine, equal participation of all parties, and fair discussion of all peace plans. Otherwise, the peace conference can hardly play a substantive role for restoring peace. These elements proposed by China are fair, legitimate and do not target any party. They are written into the Common Understandings on Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis jointly issued by China and Brazil recently and reflect the universal concern of the international community, especially the vast developing countries.

Based on what we have heard from various parties and the released arrangement for the meeting, it doesn’t seem that the three elements proposed by China will be met. There is an apparent gap between the meeting’s arrangement and what China stands for as well as the universal expectation in the international community. In this case, China is hardly able to take part in the meeting and has informed relevant parties of our consideration and concerns. We will continue to promote talks for peace in our own way, maintain communication with all parties and jointly accumulate conditions for the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis.

Kyodo News: When meeting with Premier Li Qiang, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida asked China again to resume the short-term visa-free policy as soon as possible. China previously said that Japan needs to take reciprocal measures. Has this position changed?

Mao Ning: China attaches importance to the hope expressed by various quarters in Japan for resuming visa-free entry into China. We hope that Japan will work with us in the same direction and jointly raise the level of facilitation for travel between our two countries.

Kyodo News: You just mentioned “work with us in the same direction.” Does it mean that Japan needs to adopt a reciprocal measure?

Mao Ning: It means working in the same direction. Both sides need to move forward.

Reuters: Former US President and Republican Party candidate Donald Trump has been convicted by a New York jury of felonies related to the 2016 election. If he is elected, would Trump’s conviction prevent him from visiting China if he was invited or present any other difficulties for Sino-American relations?

Mao Ning: I will not comment on the US presidential election or any other US domestic affair. We hope that whoever gets elected will be committed to growing sound and stable China-US ties, because it will be in the interest of both countries and both peoples.

Folha de S.Paulo: The Brazilian Vice President will lead a delegation of ministers next week to Beijing for trade and investment talks. What concrete steps do you expect from the meetings? And another question: An American envoy said in Brazil that “anyone who is thinking of joining the Belt and Road Initiative should think better and see how sovereignty is taken away.” In light of the Brazilian delegation coming to Beijing, how do you respond?

Mao Ning: On your first question, China and Brazil are comprehensive strategic partners. Relations between the two countries have registered continued and steady growth in recent years, with frequent high-level visits, fruitful cooperation in various areas, and close coordination on international and regional affairs, setting a fine example of major developing countries working together in solidarity for common development. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between China and Brazil. The two sides agreed to hold the meeting of the China-Brazil High-level Coordination and Cooperation Committee to discuss further expanding bilateral cooperation. Please stay tuned. 

On your second question, Belt and Road cooperation is an important measure of China’s high-standard opening up and an international cooperation platform for inclusive and universally beneficial economic globalization. It has made tangible development achievements and is widely welcomed by the international community. Facts prove that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) advocates extensive consultation and joint contribution for shared benefits instead of supremacy; it advances connectivity instead of decoupling and severing of supply chains; it pursues win-win cooperation instead of antagonism and confrontation. Over the past decade since the BRI was put forward, China has signed more than 200 Belt and Road cooperation documents with over 150 countries and over 30 international organizations, and set up close to 100 bilateral cooperation mechanisms. According to international institutions’ estimates, BRI will contribute US$1.6 trillion of annual global welfare by 2030.

Perhaps you could ask this American envoy, can he specify which country’s sovereignty was taken away by joining the BRI. As far as I know, many countries who have joined the BRI have actually become better able to protect their independence and sovereignty because of the economic and welfare benefits that the BRI has brought them.

China and Brazil are comprehensive strategic partners and are each other’s development opportunities. Both countries highly value independence. We believe that Brazil will not be misled by such baseless rhetoric and will make decisions independently in the interest of its own development. The BRI is highly compatible with Brazil’s development strategies such as the New Industry Brazil and the New Growth Acceleration Program. As we mark the 50th anniversary of China-Brazil diplomatic relations this year, China stands ready to work for greater synergy between the development strategies of the two countries and achieve more positive outcomes.

CCTV: Days ago, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) delivered an advisory opinion concerning the obligations of State Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as regard to the impact of their climate change response on marine environment. The opinion partly cited the award of the South China Sea Arbitration. The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement released days ago that this bolsters and reinforces the legitimacy of the 2016 Arbitration Award and its unassailable status as part of the corpus of international law. What’s China’s comment?

Mao Ning: China’s position on the arbitral award on the South China Sea is consistent and clear. The arbitral tribunal in the South China Sea Arbitration exercised its jurisdiction ultra vires and made an illegitimate ruling. The rendered award is illegal, null and void. The award does not constitute part of international law; instead it has had an adverse impact on the international rule of law. China neither accepts nor participates in that arbitration, neither accepts nor recognizes the award, and will never accept any claim or action arising from the award. Our attitude is only legitimate and just in order to uphold the integrity and authority of UNCLOS and the international rule of law. The world is not blind to the truth. China’s position has received understanding and support from the international community. The fair-minded in the world have criticized and called into question the arbitral award.

The advisory opinion issued by ITLOS focuses on climate change response and marine environment protection, and doesn’t cover issues of territorial and maritime disputes or the validity of arbitral award on the South China Sea. The advisory opinion bears on the overall interest of the international community and should not be used by some country as a tool to seek selfish gains. We believe that neither ITLOS or any other country would want to see the advisory opinion being distorted by that illegal, null and void award. Any hypes that seek to mislead the public will fail. They will not turn the null and void award into a legal one, nor could they ever weaken China’s firm resolve to defend our territorial integrity and maritime rights and interests. 

Reuters: How much of an achievement is it that Zambia’s debt restructuring deal is almost finalized? And what have been the learnings for China from being involved in an official creditor committee and the common framework?

Mao Ning: Congratulations on the important progress in the negotiations on Zambia’s debt restructuring. As Zambia’s good friend and good partner, China takes seriously Zambia’s concerns about the debt issue. China is the first international official creditor to provide debt relief for Zambia and, as the co-chair of the Official Creditor Committee for Zambia, has led its work which made significant progress in Zambia’s debt restructuring. Our contribution is well recognized by Zambia and the international community. China will continue to coordinate with relevant parties to move forward the follow-up work regarding Zambia’s debt treatment.

In handling the debt issues of developing countries, China has always acted with a long-term perspective of assisting the development of relevant countries. We call on the international community to work with China and continue to take concrete actions to support Zambia and other African countries in achieving greater economic and social progress.

AFP: A follow-up question on Donald Trump. Donald Trump mentioned Taiwan at a recent campaign event. Do you have any comment on this? And does China fear Trump may become the next US President?

Mao Ning: The US presidential election is the domestic affair of the US. I would not comment on campaign rhetoric.

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