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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on October 11, 2023

2023-10-11 18:37

At the invitation of Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, will pay a visit to China and the two sides will hold the 12th round of China-EU High-level Strategic Dialogue from October 12 to 14.

China News Service: You just announced that EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell will visit China. How does China view the current China-EU relations and what does China expect to achieve through the dialogue?

Wang Wenbin: This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the China-EU Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Since this year began, Chinese and EU leaders have had frequent exchanges. Dialogue and cooperation has been carried out across the board at various levels. China-EU relations have shown a positive momentum of growth. China welcomes High Representative Josep Borrell to visit China and the opportunity to hold a new round of China-EU High-level Strategic Dialogue. This will contribute to the sound and steady growth of China-EU relations, lay the ground for future high-level interaction and invigorate joint response to global challenges and efforts for global peace and stability.

In a turbulent world and in the face of mounting global challenges, solidarity and cooperation is the only viable option for the world to better meet the challenges. China and Europe are the world’s two major forces, mega markets and great civilizations. We share extensive common interests in the world’s peace, stability and development and human progress. Our relations have global influence and significance. China stands ready to work with the EU to stay committed to our comprehensive strategic partnership, enhance strategic communication and policy coordination, increase mutual trust, expand cooperation, overcome disturbances, properly settle differences and deliver more benefits to our two peoples and the world.

The Wall Street Journal: The Australian Prime Minister announced that Australian journalist Cheng Lei had returned home to Australia after three years in prison in China. Could you clarify whether she was sentenced, why she was released now and any discussions between the Australian government and the Chinese government over this issue?

Wang Wenbin: Relevant Chinese authorities have released the information on this, which you may refer to. After a trial, the Beijing No.2 Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Cheng Lei to two years and 11 months of imprisonment and deportation for illegally providing state secrets to an overseas party. After serving her sentence, Cheng Lei was deported out of the country by the Beijing Municipal State Security Bureau in accordance with the law. 

I would like to stress that China’s judicial authorities tried the case and delivered the sentence in accordance with the law. The rights of the individual concerned under the law were fully protected, and Australia’s consular rights including the right to visit and the right to be notified were respected and implemented.

The Paper: During the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day holiday, China’s domestic and outbound tourism experienced significant rebound and consumer spending continued to go up. Some foreign media commented that the new record-setting boom of Chinese tourism shows the vitality of China’s economy and consumer market. Do you have any comment on this?

Wang Wenbin: The Chinese enthusiasm for traveling and spending during the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day holiday reflected once again the strong resilience, potential and vitality of the Chinese economy. Statistics show that during the eight-day holiday, domestic tourist trips and tourism revenue surged year-on-year and rose by 4.1 percent and 1.5 percent respectively from the levels of 2019 on a comparable basis. Daily service retail spending on certain e-commerce platforms in China soared by 153 percent compared to the same period in 2019. During the “Golden Week” holiday, the number of passenger train trips made nationwide reached 195 million, and for the first time ever, that number for a single day exceeded 20 million.

The performance of China’s holiday economy is evidence that the Chinese economy on the whole has been steadily recovering and on an upward trajectory, which is being felt by the international community. Lately, international financial institutions including J.P.Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Citibank, Deutsche Bank and ANZ Bank have all revised up their forecast for China’s economic growth this year to between 5 percent and 5.5 percent. A report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development says that China will remain a major contributor to global growth this year.

China is the world’s second largest consumer market and a mega-market with unparalleled potential. The robust holiday spending offers a glimpse of China’s promising market prospects and vast domestic demand potential. The macro economic policies that have kicked in will continue to unlock the potential for consumption. China’s economy will continue to look up and serve as the world’s important growth engine and source of opportunities for shared prosperity.

China Review News: We noted that the official website of the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was launched today. Can you share more information?

Wang Wenbin: As you rightly said, the official website of the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (http://www.beltandroadforum.org) has been officially launched today.

The website will release timely information about the forum in both Chinese and English. Its interactive section “Belt and Road: Connecting the World” provides users with an immersive experience while exploring the network of friends to the Belt and Road Initiative on a three-dimensional globe with Q&As to help people learn about the achievements of Belt and Road cooperation over the past decade.

The website of the BRF Media Center (http://www.brfmc2023.cn) has also been launched to provide information and services to Chinese and foreign journalists.

You are welcome to visit the websites and help spread information about the third BRF.

NHK: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said recently that IAEA scientists and international scientific observers will visit Japan next week to take marine samples near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. It said experts from laboratories in countries including China will participate in the sample collection. China has been calling for an international monitoring arrangement that will stay effective for the long haul. Do you think this sampling can be seen as such an arrangement? What’s China’s expectation?

Wang Wenbin: China remains unequivocal about our opposition to Japan’s ocean discharge of the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water. As to the planned collection of marine samples near Fukushima next week and laboratories’ analysis and comparison of those samples, these are again carried out by the IAEA Secretariat under its bilateral arrangement with Japan and therefore fall short of an international monitoring arrangement with the full and substantive participation of all stakeholders that will stay effective for the long haul.

It has been nearly two months since Japan began the discharge. The international community requires immediate establishment of an international monitoring arrangement with substantive participation of all stakeholders including Japan’s neighboring countries that will stay effective for the long haul. The IAEA needs to play its due role and work constructively for this, and step up to its responsibility of providing rigorous supervision on Japan’s ocean discharge. China urges Japan to seriously respond to international concerns and seriously establish an international monitoring arrangement that will stay effective for the long haul.

AFP: A follow-up question on the BRI summit, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he will visit China during that time. Will Russian President Vladimir Putin attend the BRI summit as well?

Wang Wenbin: We will release information in due course.

AFP: China has good ties both with Israel and Palestine and supports a two-state solution in the Middle East. How does China see and qualify Hamas?

Wang Wenbin: We have stated a few times China’s position on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I’d like to reiterate that to end the cycle of conflict between Palestine and Israel, it is essential to restart the peace talks, implement the two-state solution and seek a comprehensive and proper settlement of the Palestinian question through political means at an early date, so that the parties’ legitimate concerns can be taken care of.

CCTV: On October 10, China was elected Member of the Human Rights Council for the 2024-2026 term at the 78th session of the UN General Assembly. How will China promote further progress of the international human rights cause?

Wang Wenbin: On October 10, the UN General Assembly elected members of the Human Rights Council for the term 2024-2026. China was re-elected, marking the sixth time of its election to the Human Rights Council and making it one of the most frequently elected countries.

China holds a people-centered human rights philosophy and believes that a happy life for the people is the most important human right. We have found a path towards better human rights that follows the trend of the times and fits our national realities. We have made historic progress in our human rights cause. China’s re-election shows the international recognition on China’s human rights progress, active participation in international human rights exchanges and cooperation and important role in the global human rights cause.

We view the re-election as a good opportunity to continue China’s active participation in global human rights governance and extensive exchanges and cooperation with other countries to contribute even more to the sound advancement of the international human rights cause and the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

The Wall Street Journal: From a diplomatic perspective, the Cheng Lei case has been a major source of tension between China and Australia for three years now. Is it China’s hope that with this case now resolved there’s an opportunity for better relations between Australia and China going forward?

Wang Wenbin: China’s position on the growth of China-Australia relations is consistent and clear. A sound and stable China-Australia relationship is in the interest of both countries and peoples. It is also conducive to peace and stability of the region and beyond. China stands ready to work with Australia to continue to improve and grow the bilateral relationship and bring more benefits to the two peoples.

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