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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on June 15, 2022

The 12th Meeting of BRICS National Security Advisers and High Representatives on National Security will be held virtually on June 15. Yang Jiechi, Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, will chair the meeting in Beijing. National security advisers and high representatives on national security of South Africa, Brazil, Russia and India will attend the event.

Al Jazeera: It is reported that the US Air Force’s RC-135V reconnaissance aircraft today conducted what was suspected to be reconnaissance on China over the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: For quite some time, the US side has frequently sent aircraft and vessels to conduct close-in reconnaissance on China. Such acts cause serious danger to China’s defense security. China urges the US to immediately stop such dangerous acts of provocation. We will continue to take necessary measures to firmly safeguard our sovereignty and security interests.

People’s Daily: Could you share with us China’s expectations for the 12th Meeting of BRICS National Security Advisers and High Representatives on National Security? 

Wang Wenbin: The Meeting of BRICS National Security Advisers and High Representatives on National Security is an important platform for BRICS countries to enhance political and security cooperation. At the upcoming meeting, national security advisers and high representatives on national security of the five BRICS countries will have an in-depth exchange of views, coordinate positions and build consensus on a range of issues including multilateralism and global governance, new threats and challenges to national security, and governance in new domains.

With profound changes in the international landscape interwoven with a pandemic unseen in a century, our world has entered a new phase of turbulence and transformation. As the current BRICS chair, China looks forward to working with fellow BRICS members to achieve positive results through this meeting, further consolidate political mutual trust, deepen political and security cooperation, uphold the five countries’ security and development interests, and contribute to world peace and stability.

Associated Press of Pakistan: The seventh China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Media Forum was recently held offline and online. Leaders and officials from China and Pakistan attended the forum. Do you have any comment on that?

Wang Wenbin: The seventh CPEC Media Forum was recently hosted by the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan and sponsored by China Economic Net and Pakistan-China Institute in an online plus offline format. Around 200 people from various sectors in China and Pakistan including senior officials, diplomats, media practitioners and think tank representatives attended the forum virtually. The theme of this forum is “Enhance New Media Cooperation to Depict the Multidimensional and Comprehensive CPEC”. In-depth exchange and discussion was held on such topics as “Pakistan, Global Development Initiative, and the Role of Media”, the latest update on the Belt and Road Initiative and CPEC development, and “Give Scope to Media to Objectively and Fairly Report CPEC”. A ceremony was held to present the book “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: Stories Behind” and the “CPEC Communication Award”. The Chinese Embassy in Pakistan has put out a press release on the event.

We hope Chinese and Pakistani media will continue to be a bridge connecting the two countries, do a good job in telling the story of China-Pakistan cooperation, jointly reject disinformation, and contribute more to CPEC development, socioeconomic progress in both countries and closer people-to-people exchange.

Reuters: Officials in Taiwan have complained to organizers of the 2022 Qatar World Cup about the fact that football fans for the World Cup currently have to select an option saying that they are part of Taiwan as a province of China. And there’s no option for Taiwan being a separate option when they buy their tickets. And they have asked the Qatar World Cup organizers to rectify this. Does the Chinese foreign ministry have a comment?

Wang Wenbin: I am not aware of what you mentioned. I would like to reiterate that Taiwan is part of China and adhering to the one-China principle is a basic norm governing international relations and shared consensus of the international community. 

CCTV: According to US media reports, during the US troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan last August, at least two Afghans fell to their deaths from a US C-17 cargo airplane which hastily took off from Kabul airport. Nearly 10 months later, the US military announced the conclusion of investigations of the incident which said that the aircrew was in compliance with applicable rules. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: Impunity of US military personnel over wrongdoings is nothing new. There have been too many cases where the US shields and exonerates the military from its crimes. 

On August 29, 2021, the US military stationed in Afghanistan launched a drone attack on a civilian residence in Kabul on counter-terrorism grounds which killed 10 civilians, the youngest of whom were only two years old. However, the US announced that US military personnel involved in this drone attack in Kabul would not face any form of punishment. 

In September 2020, in retaliation to the International Criminal Court’s investigation into the US military’s war crimes in Afghanistan, the US announced sanctions against two ICC high-ranking officials. 

In November 2019, the US granted clemency to three US service members who had committed war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

These cold, ruthless cases are evidence that the US couldn’t care less about lives in other countries and their people’s human rights. The reality seems to suggest that the US military can enjoy impunity over wrong killings simply because the US is a mighty power, while people in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq are wrongly killed and yet cannot receive justice just because their countries are weaker. This is what the US’s rules are really about -- a 21st-century law of the jungle. 

However, hegemony will not last and justice will prevail. People across the world have now seen through the hypocrisy of the US on “protecting human rights”. The US must and will be held accountable and duly punished for the harm it has done to the human rights of people in other countries. 

Bloomberg: Do you have any comment on the recent Sheffield Hallam University report that polyvinyl chloride factories in Xinjiang are employing forced labor?

Wang Wenbin: The so-called “forced labor” in Xinjiang is a big lie made by anti-China forces. It is a lie against logic, against facts and against legal principles.

No one have been forced to become “transferred laborers” in Xinjiang. Workers of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang choose their professions according to their own will. Labor contracts are signed between workers and companies on an equal and voluntary basis in accordance with laws and regulations, including the Labour Law of the People’s Republic of China, and the workers are paid accordingly. They are free to choose where they want to work. Their right to obtain remunerations for labor, take rests, have holidays and leaves, receive labor safety and sanitation protection and enjoy social insurance and welfare treatment are protected in accordance with law.

For many months, anti-China forces have falsely alleged that the cotton industry in Xinjiang uses “forced labor”. The fact, however, is that large-scale mechanized and industrialized production has become the norm in Xinjiang. In cotton production for example, more than 98 percent of seed-sowing is done through comprehensive mechanized methods in most areas. In some places, BeiDou Navigation and auto pilot technologies have been applied to sowing machines. Cotton farming has evolved from using primitive methods such as irrigation ditches and manual harvesting in the early days to today’s modern methods of efficient drip irrigation and mechanical harvesters. It is absurd to create the false impression that today’s Xinjiang is like the US in the 19th century where plantation owners forced black slaves to pick cotton. Are those responsible for the allegations indicating that mechanical labor is also a type of forced labor?

As we have seen, some people have lately come up with new lies about “forced labor” in the building material industry in Xinjiang. Although the script keeps changing, their approach and narratives are similarly clumsy. 

I must point out that the term “forced labor” has a clear legal definition. It is stipulated in the International Labour Organization’s Forced Labour Convention (1930). According to the convention, “the term forced or compulsory labour shall mean all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily”. The Chinese government has ratified 28 ILO conventions including the Forced Labour Convention (1930) and is in faithful compliance with the obligations of international conventions. China applies international labor and human rights standards in its legislation, policymaking and policy implementation, to effectively safeguard workers’ rights. China opposes forced labor. Article 29 in the Regulations of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on the Protection of Labor Rights and Interests explicitly prohibits employers and management personnel from forcing employees to work with violence, threats and by other illegal means. It is a far cry from facts to say that there is “forced labor” in Xinjiang. 

I noticed that the report you cited also mentioned the US’s Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. The so-called act is not based on facts at all. Under the legislation, importers are required to provide evidence that demonstrates that relevant goods do not involve forced labor. Such acts of presumption of guilt runs counter to the basic legal principle of presumption of innocence. This only serves to prove that the allegation of “forced labor” is nothing but a pretext used by the US side in an effort to seek political manipulation for the sheer purpose of destabilizing Xinjiang and containing China’s development. 

The fact is, forced labor exists not in Xinjiang, but in the US. The US still has not ratified the Forced Labour Convention (1930). In the US’s immigration detention system, over 70 percent of detainees are held in private detention centers, where they are required to participate in labor through the so-called “voluntary work programs”. Voluntary in name, the program is in fact about forced labor, as inmates who do not take part will be deprived of the access to necessities and put in solitary confinement as criminals. And those who comply are only paid one dollar for every eight hours of intensive labor. The US is also the only country in the world that has not ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. And still about 500,000 child farmworkers are toiling in the fields. The Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations of ILO has criticized child labor and forced labor in the US for many years running. And the Committee on the Application of Standards of ILO examined the US among individual country cases related to the observance of the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention at the 103rd Session of the International Labour Conference.

We urge the international community to look into the crimes of forced labor in the US so that justice can be upheld.

Shenzhen TV: We have noticed that the International Forum for Trilateral Cooperation 2022 was held in the Republic of Korea (ROK) on June 14. Foreign ministers of China, Japan and the ROK sent congratulatory messages to the Forum. Can you share more information on that? What’s China’s expectations for the trilateral cooperation?

Wang Wenbin: The International Forum for Trilateral Cooperation 2022 was held in the ROK on June 14 in an online and offline format. China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the ROK’s Foreign Minister Park Jin and Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi sent congratulatory messages to the Forum. The three foreign ministers agreed that as permanent close neighbors and important cooperation partners, China, Japan and the ROK need to enhance mutual trust, work in solidarity and coordination, jointly inject more positive energy into regional peace and economic recovery and friendship between the peoples, and continuously move forward the trilateral cooperation. Renowned representatives in the political, business and academic sectors attended the Forum and former Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Zhang Ping attended the opening ceremony via video link and delivered a keynote speech. Participants of the three countries had in-depth discussions under the theme “Future-Oriented Trilateral Cooperation: Lasting Peace, Common Prosperity, Shared Culture” and put forward suggestions for improving the cooperation mechanism, promoting inclusive growth and stepping up cultural exchanges. 

China, Japan and the ROK are close neighbors and important development partners. Since its inception more than 20 years ago, the trilateral cooperation has played a positive role in maintaining peace and stability in Northeast Asia, guiding regional economic cooperation and promoting world development and prosperity. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and the ROK and the 50th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan relations. As important countries in the region and major economies in the world, the three countries need to enhance mutual trust, actively conduct positive interactions and release useful messages of long-term peace, friendship and cooperation among the three countries. We need to expand common interests and make the pie of cooperation bigger in digital economy, green development and public health. We need to promote closer people-to-people ties, guide people of the three countries, especially young people, to enhance mutual understanding and friendship, and create a positive, steady and healthy social atmosphere. 

China is ready to work with the ROK and Japan to advance the trilateral cooperation with an eye on the fundamental and long-term interests of the people in the three countries and the region and in the spirit of partnership, and help build a more secure, stable, open and prosperous Northeast Asia.

Reuters: Comments have emerged from the White House suggesting that the US is considering changing some of what it calls “irresponsible tariffs on Chinese goods”. What’s Chinese foreign ministry’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: I would like to refer you to competent authorities for these specific questions. 

To reiterate our principled position, China-US economic and trade cooperation is mutually beneficial and win-win in nature. No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war or tariff war. With inflation rates running high across the globe, the US needs to lift all the additional tariffs imposed on China, as this will serve the interests of businesses and consumers and benefit both countries and the world at large. 

Beijing Youth Daily: It is reported that in its latest report, Anzer, a cybersecurity information platform, revealed that the Office of Tailored Access Operations (TAO), a unit under the US National Security Agency (NSA), has indiscriminately “grabbed” data from internet users around the world and that the US uses submarines to tap undersea fiber-optic cables and cables. TAO has handed cyber weapons over to the US and other “Five Eyes” countries, and the British government has engaged in cyber theft against the EU headquarters through infiltration into its telecommunications provider. Besides, the US government has also asked American Internet companies to work with them in the research and development of cyber weapons, including those targeting Chinese telecommunications equipment. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: We’ve noted the report. It shows once again that the US has become the primary threat to cybersecurity for not only China, but also the world at large. 

The information revealed by the report demonstrates that the cyber agencies of the UK and other “Five Eyes” countries as well as some European countries have assisted and participated in the US’s cyber theft operations around the globe. This indicates that the US has been building an “axis of cyber theft” with the US at its center.

It is worth noticing that the report pointed out that some US-based software and hardware companies have been involved in almost each and every stage of the US’s cyber weapons research and development. A report released by China’s National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center not long ago points out that for the existing international internet backbone network and critical information infrastructure that contain software or hardware provided by US companies, it is highly likely that various types of backdoor could be installed, making them targets of US government cyberattacks wherever they are. It’s obvious that the US’s attack and smear against China citing national security grounds is aimed for nothing but facilitating its irresponsible cyber theft.

China urges the US to immediately stop malicious cyber activities around the world and be responsible in cyberspace.

China News Service: At the 50th session of the UN Human Rights Council on June 14, Cuba delivered a joint statement on behalf of nearly 70 countries to voice support for China’s position on issues related to Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet and to express opposition to interference in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of human rights. Do you have any comment on this? 

Wang Wenbin: On June 14, Cuba delivered a joint statement on behalf of nearly 70 countries at the 50th session of the UN Human Rights Council. The joint statement stressed that Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibetan affairs are China’s internal affairs; we oppose politicization of human rights and double standards, or interference in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of human rights; we maintain that all parties should abide by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and respect the right of the people of each state to choose independently the path for development in accordance with their national conditions; the international community should uphold multilateralism, strengthen solidarity and coordination, respond jointly to global challenges, advance world peace and development, and promote and protect human rights. Dozens more countries either have voiced or are ready to voice their support to China’s justified position in their separate statements or by sending joint letters.

As an old Chinese saying goes, “A virtuous mind is not alone. It can always find company.” Once again, nearly a hundred countries at the Human Rights Council spoke up for justice. And once again, the attempt of a handful of Western countries to attack and smear China on Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Tibet has been thwarted. This fully shows that political manipulation through human rights issues and interference in other countries’ internal affairs will find no support and will never succeed. For those very few Western countries, desperately repeating the lies and rumors only further exposes their hidden political agenda and malicious intention. Whatever stunt they pull, they would never stop the Chinese people’s solid steps toward development and progress. China will not waver in its resolve to uphold its sovereignty, security and development interests. 

There is a Chinese proverb, “A thief crying ‘stop the thief’.” Facts show that it is those few Western countries that ignore and trample upon human rights. Oblivious to the serious human rights problems at home, they often criticize and lecture other countries condescendingly on human rights. They have waged numerous wars to invade other countries that killed nearly a million people and displaced tens of thousands. They are the No.1 origin of human rights tragedies in the world. A word of advice for these Western countries: Please keep your hypocrisy, arrogance and prejudice to yourselves and stop using human rights as a pretext to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs and hold back their development. The days are over for you to ride roughshod over the developing countries. 

Phoenix TV: According to a Bloomberg report, a study by the University of Chicago found that “China has reduced air pollution nearly as much in seven years as the US did in three decades, helping to bring down average global smog levels in the process”. This “would add about two years to average life expectancy if sustained”in China. It is “a strong indication of the opportunities that could lie ahead for other nations if they were to impose strong pollution policies”. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: The report provides evidence of the good progress China has achieved in reducing its air pollution and its significant contribution to global environmental governance. For those of you who are posted here foreign journalists, I’m sure you have also seen and felt the improvement in China’s air quality. We are seeing fewer hazy days, more clear blue skies, cleaner waters and greener hills. People are benefiting tangibly from the conservation efforts. I would like to share with you some figures. In 2021, across 339 cities at or above the prefecture level, the air quality was either good or excellent on 87.5 percent of the days, 0.5 percentage point higher than 2020; Up to 64.3 percent of Chinese cities met the national air quality standard; The average PM2.5 concentration was 30 micrograms per cubic meter, down 9.1 percent year-on-year. 

I would like to take this opportunity to say that this week is the 32nd National Energy Conservation Week in China. Today, June 15, is this year’s national low-carbon day with the theme of “actions toward carbon peak and carbon neutrality to jointly build a beautiful homeland”. Improving the awareness and capacity of the whole society in energy conservation, promoting a green way of living and production, and encouraging the whole society to take part in low-carbon actions is a vital part of the efforts to build an ecological civilization and build a beautiful China. China upholds the vision to build a community of life for man and Nature, and follows a development path that prioritizes ecological conservation and pursues green and low-carbon growth. A clean, beautiful and green planet is an ideal shared by people of all countries. We will join this common effort, start by making personal contribution and start with small things in our daily life to raise the awareness of energy conservation and emission reduction and lead a green and low-carbon lifestyle. Let’s each play our part in protecting the planet we all call home and promoting sustainable development.

Reuters: The British government has decided to buy 20 percent stake in the Sizewell nuclear power plant, which would mean that it no longer requires the funding from the China General Nuclear Power. What’s the Chinese foreign ministry’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: I am not aware of what you mentioned. We hope the UK will provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies. 

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