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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on August 29, 2023

2023-08-29 16:22

At the invitation of Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi, James Cleverly, Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs of the UK, will pay an official visit to China on August 30.

CCTV: The Chinese Ambassador to Switzerland Wang Shiting last week attended the ceremony for the return of China’s lost cultural relics held by the Swiss Federal Office of Culture, signed a return agreement with Switzerland and received five lost cultural relics. Can you give us more details and what’s your comment on this?

Wang Wenbin: We appreciate Switzerland’s returning the Chinese cultural relics. Our two countries signed the Agreement Between the Federal Council of the Swiss Confederation and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Illicit Import and Export and Repatriation of Cultural Property in 2013 and have since carried out a series of practical exchanges and cooperation under this framework. In December 2014, Switzerland returned the first item, a piece of pottery figure of the Han Dynasty, to China. Last week, Switzerland returned to China another five cultural relics confiscated in four criminal proceedings in the past two years, including four pieces of chinaware and one coin. This marks another successful practice in cultural heritage protection cooperation between the two countries, contributes to deepening mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples, and sets a fine example of combating cultural relics smuggling, ensuring the safety of cultural relics and expanding inter-governmental cooperation globally. China stands ready to deepen cooperation with Switzerland in such areas as the recovery and return of cultural relics, ancient civilizations studies, joint archaeological research, and the restoration of historical sites, in an effort to jointly bolster cultural exchange and mutual learning and create more highlights for the growth of China-Switzerland relations.

AFP: The Japanese foreign minister said earlier today that it’s extremely regrettable and worrying that a brick was thrown at the Japanese embassy in Beijing. He urged the Chinese government to call on its people to remain calm on the issue regarding the ocean discharge of the treated water from Fukushima. Will China call on its people to remain calm on this matter?

Wang Wenbin: We’ve responded to and made clear our solemn position on Japan’s so-called concerns and made serious démarches over the harassment to the Chinese diplomatic and consular missions in Japan. China protects and ensures the safety and lawful rights and interests of foreign nationals in China in accordance with laws. In disregard of the international community’s strong criticism and opposition, the Japanese government unilaterally started releasing the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean, which has sparked indignation over the world. This is the root cause of the current situation. If Japan’s release of nuclear-contaminated water into the sea is based on science, why is the public’s opposition still mounting in Japan?

In response to Japan’s extremely selfish and irresponsible wrong act, China and other stakeholders have the right and responsibility to take legitimate, reasonable and necessary preventive measures to safeguard the marine environment, food safety and people’s health. What Japan should do is immediately correct its wrongdoing and stop discharging the nuclear-contaminated water into the sea, not otherwise.

China Daily: Following on your announcement about the visit to China by Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs of the UK James Cleverly, can you share with us China’s view on the current China-UK relations and expectation for the visit?

Wang Wenbin: As permanent members of the UN Security Council and major economies in the world, China and the UK shoulder the common responsibility of promoting world peace, stability and development. Maintaining and growing bilateral relations serves the common interests of the peoples of both countries.

During Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs James Cleverly’s visit to China, the two sides will have in-depth communication on bilateral relations and international and regional issues of mutual interest. We hope the UK will work with China to deepen exchanges and enhance understanding in the spirit of mutual respect, so as to promote the steady development of China-UK relations.

Kyodo News: Also on the release of the Fukushima treated water. How do you comment on the rising negative sentiment in China towards Japan, with some even calling for a boycott of Japanese products?

Wang Wenbin: As I just said, China protects the safety and lawful rights and interests of foreign nationals in China in accordance with the law. Japan needs to immediately correct its selfish and irresponsible act of dumping nuclear-contaminated water into the sea and earnestly respond to the international community’s concerns.

Global Times: According to reports, in July this year, US Customs and Border Protection personnel forcibly boarded Zhenhua 28, a Hong Kong-registered Chinese cargo ship under Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Company, for inspection in Jacksonville, Florida. Does the foreign ministry have any comment? Has China expressed its concern to the US?

Wang Wenbin: The vessel Zhenhua 28 encountered unreasonable searches and harassment by US law enforcement in Jacksonville, Florida. Some of the crew members’ personal electronic devices were confiscated and seized. The ship’s departure plan from the US had to be postponed, disrupting its subsequent operations and the crew’s work and life. China has made serious démarches to the US side.

It must be pointed out that in recent years, the US has placed barriers to the entry of Chinese citizens under various pretexts, including unreasonable interference in the entry of Chinese students holding valid visas. In particular, it has often interrogated and harassed Chinese nationals on the grounds of their political beliefs or Communist party membership. This is a stark manifestation of ideological bias and Cold War mentality. We deplore and reject it. We call on the US to correct its wrong practice and stop the unjustified interrogation and harassment targeting Chinese citizens traveling to the US, stop infringing on their lawful rights and interests, stop using national security as a pretext to thwart and undermine people-to-people and cultural exchange and economic and trade cooperation between our two countries, and make sure the above-mentioned incidents won’t be repeated. China will do what is necessary to firmly safeguard the lawful rights and interests of Chinese nationals. 

Hubei Media Group: The Chinese embassy and consulates in Japan have reportedly received a barrage of harassing calls from Japanese numbers recently. Do you have any information on that?

Wang Wenbin: China has made serious démarches to Japan over the harassment to the Chinese embassy and consulates in Japan and urged the Japanese side to handle the matter in accordance with the law to effectively ensure the safety of the Chinese embassy and consulates and Chinese institutions, companies and nationals, including tourists, in Japan.

AFP: In my previous question I mentioned someone throwing a brick at the Japanese embassy in China. I wonder if you are for or against such moves?

Wang Wenbin: I just covered this and made clear China’s position.

CRI: According to reports, the Japanese side has said recently that the US, for example, has expressed its satisfaction with Japan’s discharge of the nuclear-contaminated water into the sea. “In this context, we would like to convey to the Chinese government these voices of the international community.” What’s your response?

Wang Wenbin: Of the close to 200 countries in the world, I wonder if Japan can name any other country beside the US that has voiced support for its plan to dump the nuclear-contaminated water into the sea.

That list, I’m afraid, is very short. The overwhelming majority of countries have criticized and made clear their opposition to the ocean discharge process, a position shared by many in Japan itself, and taken preventative measures. This is the plain fact. Japan shouldn’t ignore this or worse, resort to self-deception and try to fool others. 

Particularly, I would like to point out that the ocean discharge concerns the marine environment and public health. It is by no means the private matter of Japan itself. Nor can it simply be “greenlighted” by any individual country out of political calculations. What Japan did further reveals its nature of valuing only might in disregard of the wider international community, and putting its selfish interests above international public interests.

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