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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on December 19, 2023

2023-12-19 19:28

CCTV: Egypt’s National Elections Authority announced the result of the presidential election on the night of December 18, Beijing time. Incumbent Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was re-elected. What is China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: We would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations on the smooth presidential election in Egypt and on the re-election of President El-Sisi. We believe that under the leadership of President El-Sisi, Egypt will achieve greater success in its national development.

China and Egypt enjoy a traditional friendship. In recent years, under the strategic guidance of President Xi Jinping and President El-Sisi, bilateral relations have entered the fast lane, with fruitful practical cooperation in various areas and ever-deeper friendship between the two peoples. China views its relations with Egypt from a strategic height and long-term perspective. We would like to continue working with Egypt to firmly support each other, deepen and expand Belt and Road cooperation, and take the China-Egypt comprehensive strategic partnership to a new height.

Bloomberg: Can you comment on the UK government demanding consular access to Jimmy Lai, who is also a UK citizen?

Wang Wenbin: We have stated our position yesterday, and I would like to reiterate that Hong Kong follows the rule of law, any law in Hong Kong must be observed and those who break the law must be held accountable. Jimmy Lai is a major mastermind and participant of the anti-China riots in Hong Kong. He is an agent and pawn of the anti-China forces, and the person behind the previous instability in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong law enforcement and judicial authorities have handled and tried the case in accordance with the law. This is fully justified, legitimate and lawful. Attempts to smear, disturb and sabotage Hong Kong’s national security law will not succeed.

NHK: The Foreign Ministry Spokesperson said on December 14 that with China’s facilitation, Myanmar’s military and relevant parties reached agreement on a temporary ceasefire, but relevant UN agencies reported that the fighting still continues. How do you respond to this?

Wang Wenbin: China supports the peace process of northern Myanmar and has provided support and facilitation for dialogue and contact between relevant parties in Myanmar. Our position is consistent. China hopes that relevant parties in Myanmar can speed up efforts to implement what has been agreed, exercise maximum restraint, actively ease the situation on the ground, promptly manage sporadic confrontation events and together realize the soft landing of the situation in northern Myanmar.

Reuters: According to Philippine media, Philippine President Marcos said that Philippine diplomatic efforts with China is heading “in poor direction”. Has the Philippines invited China for a new round of talks? Will China invite the Philippines for talks? What does Marcos mean by saying “in poor direction”? 

Wang Wenbin: The recent events between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea are caused by deliberate infringement of China’s sovereignty and the provocations of the Philippines. The responsibility lies with the Philippines. We will resolutely protect our territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. 

At the same time, maritime disputes do not represent the entirety of China-Philippines relations. We stand ready to properly handle disputes through dialogue and consultation with the Philippines and will not close our door of dialogue and contact with the Philippines. We hope that the Philippines will make the right choice, seriously honor its commitment of properly handling disputes through dialogue and consultation and work with China to pursue the healthy and steady growth of bilateral ties and jointly safeguard peace and stability in the region.

Beijing Daily: It’s reported that on December 17 local time, Serbian President Vucic declared the victory of the coalition around the ruling Serbian Progressive Party in parliamentary elections, which won more than half of the seats in the National Assembly, the number needed to form a government. What’s China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: We congratulate Serbia on its smooth parliamentary and local elections. We believe that under the leadership of President Vucic and the new government of Serbia, Serbia will continue to make new progress in national development. China attaches great importance to the growth of China-Serbia relations. We look forward to working with Serbia to consolidate our political mutual trust, deepen practical cooperation in various areas and bring China-Serbia comprehensive strategic partnership to a higher level.

Hubei Media Group: It’s reported that US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns said at the Brookings Institution on December 15 that China has a wish to become more influential in the Middle East, but the work to end the conflict is really on US’ shoulders. What’s your comment?

Wang Wenbin: Since the Palestinian-Israeli conflict broke out, China has been committed to promoting a ceasefire, protecting the civilians and easing the humanitarian crisis. President Xi Jinping attended the BRICS extraordinary virtual summit on the Palestinian-Israeli issue, sent congratulatory messages to the UN special commemorative meeting in observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People for 11 consecutive years, and stated China’s position on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on multiple occasions. Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has had in-depth exchange of views with leaders and senior officials of more than 20 countries and international organizations and traveled to New York to chair the UN Security Council high-level meeting on the Palestinian-Israeli question. China’s Special Envoy for the Middle East issue visited countries across the region, attended international conferences and widely engaged relevant countries. As the president of the Security Council in November, China enabled the adoption of the first Security Council resolution since the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict broke out, submitted the Position Paper of the People’s Republic of China on Resolving the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict and worked to galvanize more support and action from the Security Council. China has provided multiple batches of aid, including humanitarian cash assistance, food and medicine, to the people in Gaza.

I want to stress that China does not have selfish interests in the Middle East and does not seek to form exclusive blocs in the region. China always supports the people in Middle East countries in keeping the region’s future in their own hands. China stands ready to work with Arab-Islamic countries to firmly support the Palestinian people’s just cause of restoring their lawful national rights. In recent years, China has proposed a five-point initiative on achieving security and stability in the Middle East, a four-point proposal for the political settlement of the Syrian issue, and a three-point vision for the implementation of the two-state solution to the Palestinian question. China successfully hosted the Saudi Arabia-Iran talks in Beijing which produced major outcomes. All the efforts are aimed to encourage regional countries to seek strength through solidarity and resolve disputes and differences through dialogue and consultation. China will continue to work relentlessly to that end with the international community.

The international community has been calling more strongly for a ceasefire. The UN General Assembly has adopted two resolutions with an overwhelming majority. We hope the US will listen to the voice of the international community, stop single-handedly blocking Security Council resolutions, and play its due role to promote an immediate ceasefire and prevent an even larger humanitarian catastrophe.

Bloomberg: The US military commander in the Indo-Pacific has said that China has reduced the number of the so-called “dangerous fighter jet intercepts” against US aircraft since the summit meeting between President Biden and President Xi Jinping last month. Can you respond to that?

Wang Wenbin: I refer you to competent Chinese authorities for the specifics. Let me say more broadly that China is firmly opposed to the frequent close-in reconnaissance conducted by US warships and aircraft around China’s airspace and waters. We urge the US to stop those dangerous activities which threaten and undermine China’s security and heighten the risk of regional conflict.

CCTV: It’s reported that on December 14, the European Parliament adopted a resolution criticizing the Chinese government’s forced assimilation of Tibetan children through boarding schools in Xizang, and called on the European Union and its member states to take actions. What’s China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: We have noted relevant reports. What’s said in the relevant resolution of the European Parliament is disinformation. It smears China’s image and interferes in China’s internal affairs. We deplore and strongly oppose this. We urge the European Parliament to stop spreading disinformation, stop using Xizang-related issues to interfere in China’s internal affairs and stop all words and deeds that might undermine the mutual trust and cooperation between China and Europe.

Xizang now enjoys a booming economy, harmonious and stable society, and effective protection and promotion of cultural heritage. The rights and freedoms of all ethnic groups, including the freedom of religious belief and the freedom to use and develop their own spoken and written languages, are fully protected. The human rights conditions in Xizang are better than ever, as witnessed by the international community. In the case of Xizang, due to highly scattered population, children have to travel long distances to get to school, which is very inconvenient. If schools were to be built in every place the students live, it would be very difficult to ensure adequate teachers and quality of teaching in each school. That is why local governments set up boarding schools according to actual needs to ensure all children’s equal right to education. It is entirely up to the students and their parents whether to go to boarding schools or not. Students can choose to go home on every weekend, holiday and festival, as well as during the winter and summer breaks. Parents can visit their children at school any time and take their children home whenever needed. Besides, relevant schools open courses of traditional culture, such as Tibetan language and literature and folk dance, provided traditional food unique to the Xizang Plateau, and students are allowed to wear traditional dresses at school. The European Parliament’s attacks and smears against these boarding schools in Xizang are actually a kind of violation of the children’s right to education, which is damaging to the human rights conditions in Xizang.

In recent years, in European countries, we have seen growing violation of the rights of refugees and migrants, growing xenophobia and racism, inadequate attention to economic, social and cultural rights as well as the right to development, and selective application and double standards when it comes to freedom of the press and forced labor. If the European Parliament truly cares about human rights, it should address Europe’s own issues first and pay attention to human rights violations in places like Gaza, rather than apply double standard and selective negligence, and instrumentalize and weaponize the human rights issue.

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