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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning’s Regular Press Conference on June 26, 2023

2023-06-26 19:09

The Paper: It’s reported that ROK Foreign Minister Park Jin commented on China-ROK relations in an interview on June 25, in which he said “the basic stance of the Yoon Suk Yeol government is to advance ROK-China relations into that of a mature and healthy one based on mutual respect, reciprocity and common interest.” He said the government of President Yoon Suk Yeol sees no need and has no intention to sour ties with China and will continue to step up communication with China to boost friendly ties. What’s your comment?

Mao Ning: We have noted Foreign Minister Park Jin’s comments. China and the ROK are friendly neighbors and each other’s important cooperation partners. The sound and steady growth of bilateral ties serves the interests of both countries. The crux of the current difficulties in bilateral relations is clear. China values the relations with the ROK and remains committed to growing those ties. There has been no change to that basic position. We hope the ROK will work with China to bring bilateral relations back to the track of sound growth.

Shenzhen TV: Responding to the COVID-19 Origin Act of 2023 signed by US President Biden in March, the US intelligence community declassified and made public some information related to COVID origins-tracing on June 23, which explored potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic. What’s your comment?

Mao Ning: On COVID origins-tracing, China believes in the need to respect science and facts. We have actively supported and participated in global science-based origins-tracing. We firmly oppose all forms of political manipulation. To date, China remains the only country that has invited more than once WHO expert groups to conduct joint SARS-CoV-2 origins study inside the country. China is also the only country that has organized multiple events for its experts to share progress on origins-tracing with SAGO. China has shared more data and research findings and contributed more to the SARS-CoV-2 origins study than any other country. This is a clear indication of China’s sense of openness, transparency and responsibility. “A laboratory origin of the pandemic was considered to be extremely unlikely” is a science-based, authoritative conclusion reached by the experts of the WHO-China joint mission following their field trips to the lab in Wuhan and in-depth communication with researchers. The conclusion is accurately recorded in the mission’s report and has been widely acknowledged by the international community and the science community.

The US needs to immediately stop politicizing and weaponizing origins-tracing, stop scapegoating others and keeping mum about the questions waiting for an answer about the US role in the spread of the virus, respond to the international community’s legitimate concerns, share data with the WHO on suspected early cases in the US, disclose what’s going on at Fort Detrick and US biological labs all over the world, and offer a responsible explanation to the world.

People’s Daily: At the recent UN Security Council open meeting on Afghanistan, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) offered a briefing on the latest developments in Afghanistan and international assistance to Afghanistan. The special representative said that despite the current macro-economic stability, Afghanistan remains the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. The Afghan Taliban’s restrictions against women and girls cost it both domestic and international legitimacy. The Afghan interim government issued a statement on Afghanistan’s position and its governance efforts. What’s China’s comment?

Mao Ning: Since the Afghan interim government was formed, it has been committed to the peaceful reconstruction and independent development of Afghanistan and actively engaged in exchanges and cooperation with other countries. A series of measures have been taken to grow the economy, eliminate corruption, ban drug cultivation and improve people’s wellbeing and public order, which has seen effective results. As we speak, Afghanistan still faces quite a number of challenges and the international community still has many concerns over the Afghan interim government’s governance approach. We hope that the Afghan interim government will take more solid steps in the direction that serves the interests of the Afghan people and meets the expectation of the international community, so as to gain more understanding, trust and support from the rest of the world.

AFP: Has President Xi had the opportunity yet to speak personally with Russian President Vladimir Putin about developments over the weekend involving the Wagner group? And if so, what exactly did they discuss?

Mao Ning: The Wagner Group incident is Russia’s internal affair. As Russia’s friendly neighbor and comprehensive strategic partner of coordination for the new era, China supports Russia in maintaining national stability and achieving development and prosperity, and we believe in Russia’s ability to do so. Our two countries have stayed in close and sound communication at various levels. As to your question about specific telephone conversations, I have nothing to share.

Yonhap News Agency: ROK Foreign Minister Park Jin said on Saturday that the ROK will enhance strategic communication with China, and promoting the mature and healthy development of China-ROK relations is the basic position of the ROK government. Regarding the recent remarks by Chinese Ambassador to the ROK Xing Haiming, Foreign Minister Park said that this is inappropriate for a diplomat. What is your comment?

Mao Ning: I shared China’s position on China-ROK relations just now. China’s basic position of valuing and growing this relationship remains unchanged. We hope the ROK will work with China in the same direction to bring the bilateral relations back to the track of sound growth.

You said Foreign Minister Park Jin commented on the remarks of the Chinese Ambassador. Let me reiterate that it is part of a diplomat’s job to engage extensively with people from various walks of life in the host country. There is no point in making an issue of the normal exchanges. 

TASS: According to a report by The Wall Street Journal citing US government sources and US intelligence, China and Cuba are close to a deal to establish a new joint military training facility on the island, which could lead to the stationing of People’s Liberation Army troops for the long term, even as members of the US Congress and the US Secretary of State continue to express concerns about this. Does the foreign ministry have any response to this? Will this have any impact on the normal exchanges between China and the US?

Mao Ning: We have made clear China’s position on multiple occasions. We hope relevant parties will focus their time and efforts on doing things that are conducive to mutual trust and regional peace, stability and development.

CCTV: According to reports, a statement from the Taiwan authorities said that the government of Fiji had recently decided to change their representative office in Fiji back to the name of “Taipei Trade Office in Fiji” and to halt its “diplomatic privileges”. What’s your comment?

Mao Ning: The one-China principle is a prevailing consensus among the international community, a basic norm in international relations, and the political foundation for the establishment and development of diplomatic relations between China and other countries. The government of Fiji has honored the one-China principle by deciding to correct the name of Taiwan’s representative office in the country and to remove its so-called diplomatic privileges. We welcome this decision. It reflects the fact that there is unshakable, overwhelming support for the one-China principle among the international community. This is also evidence that attempts to create “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan” will not succeed.

China Daily: From June 18 to 23, Premier Li Qiang paid an official visit to Germany and France. Could you share the outcomes of the visit? During the visit, Premier Li Qiang stressed that the biggest risk is non-cooperation and the biggest hidden security threat is non-development. This is an effective response to the “de-risking” rhetoric. Could you further elaborate on this?

Mao Ning: This is Premier Li Qiang’s first visit to Europe after taking office, which shows the importance China attaches to its relations with Germany, France and the EU. With a full program and fruitful results, the visit injected fresh dynamism for cooperation.

While visiting Germany, Premier Li Qiang co-chaired the seventh China-Germany inter-governmental consultation with Germany, had extensive exchanges of views with Chinese and German entrepreneurs, and visited BMW and Siemens. Companies of both countries expressed their full confidence in the prospects of China-Germany cooperation. China believes that de-risking and cooperation are not opposites. The biggest risk stems from non-cooperation and the biggest hidden security threat is non-development. Anyone seeking to “de-risk” against China is  getting their target wrong and will only create real risks.

During his visit to France, Premier Li Qiang, together with more than 60 heads of state and government and heads of international organizations, attended the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron. At the summit, Premier Li Qiang shared China’s proposition on global development and governance and made a three-point proposal well received by the audience. Premier Li Qiang proposed to firmly advance the global finance governance reform to create a stable financing environment for developing countries, firmly build a global development partnership to provide more development resources for developing countries and firmly boost economic globalization and free trade to inject new growth impetus for developing countries.

China stands ready to work with Germany, France and other European countries to follow through on the common understandings reached by the leaders and push for greater progress in China-Germany, China-France and China-EU relations.

CCTV: UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed is visiting China. Could you offer more details? 

Mao Ning: At China’s invitation, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed started an official visit to China on June 25. During the visit, the two sides will have in-depth exchange of views focusing on such issues as China-UN cooperation, sustainable development, financing for development and climate change. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed will also visit Shanghai, Zhejiang, and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region as well as Beijing to look at China’s economic and social progress and what China-UN cooperation has achieved.

As a strong supporter and key contributor to the work of the UN, we hope that this visit will further consolidate and deepen China-UN cooperation. China stands ready to work with the UN to jointly make even greater contribution to world peace, common development and efforts to advance the Global Development Initiative and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

AFP: A United States aircraft carrier arrived in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang on Sunday. Does the Chinese foreign ministry have any comment on this matter?

Mao Ning: We hope that efforts to grow relations and have exchanges and cooperation between relevant countries will be conducive to regional peace, stability and prosperity.

CGTN: According to some media reports, the US and Iran are having indirect talks through a third-party channel to seek to manage the situation surrounding the Iranian nuclear issue and they are possibly close to an informal understanding. Do you have any comment on this?

Mao Ning: The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is an important outcome of multilateral diplomacy. Resuming the effective implementation of the JCPOA in its entirety through dialogue and negotiation is the right and effective way to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue. The negotiations on the resumption of compliance have come to a standstill since last year. We have stayed in close contact with parties concerned and encouraged them to step up diplomatic efforts, help bring the JCPOA back to the right track at an early date, uphold the international non-proliferation regime and promote peace and stability in the Middle East.

We noted that parties concerned are actively seeking to manage the situation surrounding the Iranian nuclear issue. We support efforts that are conducive to easing the situation of the Iranian nuclear issue to gain time and create conditions for a political and diplomatic solution. In the meantime, relevant efforts need to uphold the common understandings reached in previous negotiations, address all parties’ legitimate and rational concerns in a balanced manner and aim at the prospective resumption of the JCPOA. Otherwise, no arrangement would last or provide a fundamental solution. China will continue to actively promote talks for peace and at the same time firmly uphold its legitimate and lawful rights and interests. 

TASS: US President Joe Biden met with visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The two countries announced a host of defense and commercial agreements to advance US-India military and economic ties. Biden and Modi negotiated a new defense agreement that allows US Navy ships to undergo major repairs at Indian shipyards. Do you have any comment?

Mao Ning: It has been China’s longstanding position that military cooperation between states should not undermine regional peace and stability, target any third party, or even harm the interests of any third party. We hope relevant countries will act in ways conducive to mutual trust between regional countries in the field of security and stability in the region. 

Reuters: Does China worry if the mutiny has weakened Russian President Vladimir Putin? And does China worry that a weakened Putin would weaken China?

Mao Ning: This is Russia’s internal affair. China supports Russia in maintaining national stability and achieving development and prosperity. 

Anadolu Agency: Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Rudenko visited China on the weekend just after the crisis caused by Wagner mercenaries’ attempted mutiny in the country. We have noticed a difference between Russian and Chinese statements about the interactions. Chinese statement didn’t refer to the events of June 24 whereas Kremlin statement did. Was this on the agenda during the talks? If it was, what was China’s assessments about these events?

Mao Ning: Yesterday, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko and Vice Minister Ma Zhaoxu held consultations with him. They exchanged views on China-Russia relations and international and regional issues of shared interest. On Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko’s visit to China, we have released a readout, which you may refer to.

Ukrinform News Agency: A question about Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. According to the Ukrainian side, the Russian military, which control Zaporizhzhya NPP, has placed explosive devices near four of the six power units and plans to detonate them to cause radioactive contamination and try to stop a Ukrainian counteroffensive. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the international community is not paying enough attention to the Russian threat at the Zaporizhzhya NPP. What will be your comment on this matter?

Mao Ning: I am not aware of the specifics you mentioned. China takes the safety and security of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities seriously and supports the IAEA in playing a constructive role in this respect.

The safety and security of Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant is just one aspect of the Ukraine crisis and the solution to this issue ultimately lies in the prospects of a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis. All parties need to bear in mind the larger picture of peace and common security, and create enabling conditions for resuming talks and properly resolving relevant issues including the safety and security of the nuclear power plant. China will remain committed to promoting talks for peace and playing a constructive role in seeking a political settlement of the Ukraine crisis. 

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