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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on August 28, 2023

2023-08-28 19:42

Starting from August 30, 2023, inbound travelers will no longer be required to take a pre-entry nucleic acid or antigen test for COVID-19.

Xinhua News Agency: General elections were held throughout Zimbabwe on August 23 and 24. On August 27, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission declared incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa the winner with 52.6 percent of the vote. President Mnangagwa has delivered a victory speech, calling for efforts to continue the country’s growth trajectory as one united nation. But some candidates refuse to accept the result and said they would challenge it in the Constitutional Court. What’s China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: As a friend to Zimbabwe, China has been closely following the general elections in the country. At Zimbabwe’s invitation, China sent an observer mission there. The mission believes that the elections were held in a peaceful and orderly fashion with active participation by the people. We have noted the result released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and extend congratulations to President Mnangagwa. We stand ready to work with the new government to bring our two countries’ comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership to new heights.

We have noticed reports on some disputing the election result. It is our hope that parties in Zimbabwe will put people’s interests first and resolve differences properly through legal means. China adheres to the principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs. We respect the Zimbabwe people’s choice, wish the country continued stability after the election and greater progress in pursuing national development and prosperity.

Reuters: China’s “aggressive behavior” in the South China Sea must be challenged and checked, Commander of the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet Karl Thomas said in the Philippines yesterday. What’s your comment?

Wang Wenbin: We find it hard to understand why the US commander made the remarks that distort facts, sow discord and flex muscles. China Coast Guard takes necessary measures to safeguard China’s sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. This is beyond reproach. The US has no right to interfere.

It needs to be pointed out that it is the frequent muscle-flexing and discord-sowing by US warships in the South China Sea that truly fits the description “aggressive behavior”. We urge the US to respect China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea, earnestly respect regional countries’ efforts to safeguard peace and stability in these waters, stop words or actions that are not conducive to regional peace and stability, and avoid being a disrupter and saboteur of peace and stability in the South China Sea.

TV Asahi: Since Japan started discharging treated radioactive water into the ocean, some people in China have thrown stones at Japanese schools and made harassing calls to Japanese restaurants. What measures will China take in response to this?

Wang Wenbin: First, China protects and ensures the safety and lawful rights and interests of foreign nationals in China in accordance with laws. 

I would also like to stress that in disregard of the international community’s strong criticism and opposition, the Japanese government unilaterally started the release of the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean. Japan’s neighboring countries and the international community have criticized this selfish and highly irresponsible action and taken precautionary measures. The DPRK’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that in disregard of the strong protest, opposition and warning from both at home and abroad, the Japanese side unilaterally started the release of the nuclear-contaminated water, calling that a “crime against humanity” that would cause “catastrophic consequences” only to serve Japan’s selfish interests. Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister expressed strong opposition to Japan’s decision of ocean discharge, saying that it “has an impact on our people, ocean, economy and livelihood.” Vanuatu’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister called for efforts to reject Japan’s discharge. Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said that the ocean discharge will force regional countries to increase the scale and intensity of detection of radiation concerning the marine environment and living resources. ROK Prime Minister said that the country will demand an immediate halt of the release and file an international lawsuit in the event that the concentration level of a single nuclide goes beyond the standard, and ROK will also keep in place its import ban on fishery products from eight Japanese prefectures, including Fukushima. The ROK’s Democratic Party called the release of the nuclear-contaminated water an act of “environmental terrorism”. Germany’s Federal Environment Minister said that she is extremely critical of any additional discharge of radioactive substances into the sea. Only when all other possible means have been exhausted can the last resort of ocean discharge be considered, and any plan like that must be carried out on a scientifically sound basis and the process must be transparent. Malaysia’s health director-general said that the country will impose higher-level inspection on high-risk food products imported from Japan. Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration said it will strengthen examination of seafood imported from Japan and double the collection of samples for examination.

The beginning of discharge of the nuclear-contaminated water into the sea also met with strong opposition in Japan. The Democratic Party of Japan raised concerns over the discharge plan of the government which violated its commitment. The Social Democratic Party of Japan said that the outrageous act of deliberately dumping radioactive material into the sea is unforgivable. The National Fisheries Cooperative Federation of Japan and the fisheries cooperative of Miyagi have jointly reiterated their opposition to the plan. Organizations including the Hiroshima nuclear bombing victims group rallied to stop the ocean discharge plan. According to a Japanese poll, about 40 percent of the people surveyed oppose the plan, 88.1 percent are worried that it will damage Japan’s image and potential economic benefits, and 81.9 percent think that the Japanese government’s explanation is insufficient.

Even the US, who has said it’s “satisfied” with Japan’s ocean discharge plan, has actually reduced imports of agricultural, forestry and fishery products from Japan over the first half of this year, as has been reported. You may ask the US what it’s worried about.

We strongly urge Japan to take seriously the legitimate concerns of all sides, stop dumping the nuclear-contaminated water into the sea, engage in full consultation with its neighbors and other stakeholders, and dispose of the nuclear-contaminated water in a truly responsible way.

China News Service: We have learned that the FBI recently stole a Chinese student’s personal information from his study application materials and arrested and charged him with “visa fraud”. Also, three Chinese students were detained, interrogated and deported by US Customs and Border Protection without valid evidence or basis. What’s the foreign ministry’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: The US has detained, interrogated and deported Chinese students without cause and trumped up charges against them. This is wanton suppression and persecution motivated by political purposes. We firmly oppose it.

People-to-people exchanges form the foundation for public support to China-US relations, of which academic, educational, scientific and technological exchanges are an important part. The US side claims to support educational and other people-to-people exchanges between the two countries and welcome Chinese students, but in fact has continued the wrong practice of the previous administration of overstretching the concept of national security and restricting and thwarting Chinese students planning to study or do research in the US. This seriously harms the lawful rights and interests of the Chinese students and undermines normal people-to-people exchanges and educational cooperation between the two countries.

We urge the US to genuinely welcome Chinese students as it has said, withdraw the biased and discriminatory Proclamation 10043, and stop going after Chinese students in the US in the name of national security. China will continue to take necessary measures to defend Chinese citizens’ lawful rights and interests and remind our students heading for the US to be mindful of such risks.

CCTV: Recently Japan’s ocean discharge of nuclear-contaminated water has drawn high attention from the Chinese people, who expressed in various ways their concern over the safety of marine environment and aquatic products. Are China and Japan in communication on the ocean discharge through diplomatic channels? 

Wang Wenbin: China has all along been opposed to Japan’s decision to discharge the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean, which spreads the risk of nuclear contamination to the whole world. Recently China has consistently communicated its stern position to Japan through diplomatic channels and asked Japan to stop pushing through the ocean discharge plan. Competent authorities of the Chinese government have taken measures to monitor the risks of nuclear contamination on marine radioactivity and aquatic products, so as to ensure the health and safety of the Chinese people.

Reuters: Yang Jun, an Australian citizen detained in China said yesterday that he has a medical condition that is not being properly treated. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: We have repeatedly made clear China’s position on this individual case. We would like to stress again that China is a country under the rule of law. The Chinese judicial authorities try cases in strict accordance with the law. They fully protect the legal rights of the individual concerned and respect and safeguard Australia’s consular rights including the right to visit. 

Global Times: The US DoD and Indonesia MoD Joint Press Statement issued on the website of the Pentagon claims that the two sides shared the view that China’s “expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea are inconsistent with international law as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea”. What is China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: We noted that no such content can be found in the press release by the Indonesia MoD on the same meeting. The Chinese Embassy in Indonesia has communicated with the Indonesian side, who said that what the US side described is not true. This is not the first time such things happen. I wonder if this is yet another example of the US’s coercive diplomacy or lying diplomacy or instigation diplomacy.

Countries in the region share common aspirations and interests to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea and work together for development. The US needs to earnestly respect regional countries’ effort to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea, stop meddling in South China Sea issues, stop sowing discords and creating trouble, and refrain from disrupting peace and stability in the region.

AFP: The ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit will be held in Jakarta next week, and there will be an ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting next Sunday. Are you able to identify who will be representing China at these meetings?

Wang Wenbin: Regarding the upcoming leaders’ meetings on East Asia cooperation you mentioned, we’ll release information in due course. Please check back later.

TV Asahi: Some Chinese have been posting videos with anti-Japan sentiments on social media, and many Japanese people living in China are worried that anti-Japan actions may gain more momentum. Do you have any comment? What measures will China take in response to this?

Wang Wenbin: As I just said, China protects and ensures the safety and lawful rights and interests of foreign nationals in China in accordance with laws. 

The Paper: We noted that the BRICS expansion has attracted wide attention from the international community. International media outlets say that it is an important milestone for the development of the BRICS mechanism. It represents the historical trend of the rise of the Global South and the common expectation from countries in different regions for a multipolar international order. Some also say that the BRICS countries are increasingly capable of wrestling with the West, which will intensify bloc confrontation. Do you have any comment? 

Wang Wenbin: Last week, during the 15th BRICS summit, leaders of BRICS countries unanimously agreed to invite Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Argentina, Iran and Ethiopia to become members of the BRICS family and welcome other willing and eligible developing countries to become BRICS partners. It is a historical moment for the development of BRICS.

The expansion accords with the historical trend and the common aspiration of developing countries. It will certainly promote multi-polarity in the world and greater democracy in international relations, contribute to making the global political and economic governance system more just and equitable, and increase the representation and voice of emerging markets and developing countries in international affairs.

BRICS advocates openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation for common development and prosperity, not bloc confrontation. It is fundamentally different from small circles or exclusive blocs. 

The dynamic development of the BRICS mechanism is an expansion of the platform for South-South cooperation, a boost to the force for peace and justice and another important milestone in the solidarity and cooperation among developing countries, which has been welcomed by most countries. Together with our BRICS partners, we will continue to deepen the BRICS strategic partnership, expand the BRICS Plus cooperation model, enrich the cooperation architecture featuring three main drivers, namely, political and security cooperation, economic cooperation, and people-to-people exchanges, and continue to open new chapters of solidarity and cooperation for development among emerging markets and developing countries, so as to contribute to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

Reuters: Has China asked Chief Representative of Komeito to postpone his visit originally scheduled to start today? If so, why did China ask him to postpone the visit?

Wang Wenbin: According to what we learned from competent authorities, in light of the current China-Japan relations, the two sides have agreed to postpone the Komeito delegation’s visit to China. Komeito is long committed to promoting friendship between China and Japan. We attach high importance to exchanges and dialogue with the party and stand ready to work with it to make active efforts for improving and growing China-Japan relations.

Reuters: Is the British foreign secretary going to visit China? Could you share some information with us?

Wang Wenbin: I have nothing to share at the moment.

Fuji TV: What you answered just now was about issues between the Japanese and the Chinese governments. I want to ask about the harassing calls from some in China to Japanese nationals. Do you have any comment on that? 

Wang Wenbin: I am not aware of what you mentioned. I want to stress that the international community have expressed criticism extensively and taken relevant preventative measures in response to the selfish and irresponsible act of the Japanese government to forcibly start discharging nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean. The attitude of criticism and opposition to the Japanese government is highly representative in the world. This calls for serious reflection from Japan.

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