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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning’s Regular Press Conference on January 8, 2024

2024-01-08 19:24

China News Service: The US State Department on January 6 released the Joint Statement on the Trilateral US-Japan-ROK Indo-Pacific Dialogue, expressing their concerns over China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea and escalatory behavior, and saying that they will continue their trilateral maritime security and law enforcement cooperation in accordance with international law. The three countries also reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait as indispensable to security and prosperity in the international community. What’s China’s comment?

Mao Ning: China noted the US-Japan-ROK dialogue and their joint statement. We express serious concerns about the statement’s rhetoric on China. We firmly oppose relevant countries’ attempt to cobble together exclusionary groupings in the name of cooperation, grossly interfere in China’s internal affairs, attack and smear China and stoke confrontation and antagonism.

The situation in the South China Sea is generally stable. China is committed to safeguarding our own territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, while properly managing differences with countries directly concerned through dialogue and consultation. Certain non-regional country has sought to flex muscles and incite confrontation in the South China Sea, which is not conducive to peace and stability in the region.

I want to stress that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory and the Taiwan question is entirely China’s internal affairs that brooks no foreign interference. The key to keeping the Taiwan Strait peaceful and stable lies in upholding the one-China principle and firmly opposing separatist moves toward “Taiwan independence”.

The Asia-Pacific is a pacesetter of peace and development, not a chessboard for geopolitical contests. We urge relevant parties to earnestly respect regional countries’ effort for peace and stability, abandon the Cold War mentality, stop creating bloc confrontation and stop fueling tensions in the region.

Reuters: Taiwanese officials said three Chinese balloons detected flying over the Taiwan Strait on Sunday threatened aviation safety. Can the Foreign Ministry offer assurance that Chinese balloons flying over the Taiwan Strait are not a threat to international civil aviation?

Mao Ning: I’m not aware of the specifics you mentioned and it’s not related to China’s foreign affairs.

CCTV: The US has been tightening control over chip export to China and strengthening curbs on China’s semiconductor companies. Do you have any comment on this?

Mao Ning: The US has been stepping up control over chip export to China and going after China’s semiconductor industry in the name of national security. This is out-and-out economic bullying.

The US semiconductor export controls against China amount to discriminatory practices that violate the most-favored-nation principle stipulated in Article 1 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Blacklisting China’s telecom equipment companies and prohibiting Chinese-made telecom equipment from entering the US market in the name of protecting cyber security violate the principle of general elimination of quantitative restrictions stipulated in Article 11 of the GATT. The ban also contravenes stipulations in the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement. Despite its rhetorical emphasis on international rules, the US habitually ignores and breaks existing rules.

The US uses national security as a pretext to restrict chip export to China, but the measures it has taken clearly go beyond the realm of national security and have gravely hindered the normal trade of ordinary chips for civilian use. The Nvidia RTX 4090 is a consumer graphics card for video game enthusiasts. But the company has been forced to pull this product off the Chinese market due to US export controls. The US has been asking certain countries to join itself in curbing Chinese companies. This has nothing to do with security. This is pure economic coercion.

All of the above shows that the US is going after Chinese chip industry neither for national security reasons nor as part of a legitimate competition. This is unilateral bullying without principles or bottom lines that essentially denies emerging markets and developing countries the right to a better life for their people. The US behavior is taking a serious toll on the stability of the global industrial and supply chains. It poisons the atmosphere for international cooperation and fuels division and confrontation. This selfish move will inevitably backfire.

Danish Broadcasting Corporation: The Queen of Denmark Margrethe II announced her abdication of the throne on New Year’s Day. She’s set to give the position over to her son this week. She’s visited China quite a few times during the rein and met several Chinese leaders, including Xi Jinping. Does the Foreign Ministry have a comment on her abdication?

Mao Ning: Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark is the first western head of state to visit China after we began reform and opening up in 1978. She visited China twice in 1979 and 2014. She is an old friend of the Chinese people and made important contribution to China-Denmark relations and friendship. Our relationship with Denmark enjoys good momentum and we are ready to continue advancing our two countries’ comprehensive strategic partnership together with the Royal House and the Danish people.

AFP: According to the Ministry of State Security, China’s national security authority uncovered an espionage case involving the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service and has taken criminal compulsory measures against the suspect surnamed Huang. Apart from what has been released by the Ministry of State Security, can you provide more information about the case? Does the Foreign Ministry have any additional comment?

Mao Ning: You may refer to the information concerning the case released on the WeChat account of China’s Ministry of State Security. I have no additional information to offer.

Bloomberg: You just now had a long statement on how US export controls violate the principles of free trade in GATT. And you also said that the US is stretching national security. China has recently stopped the export of some kind of graphite or its licensing for national security reasons. There’s also been a ban on the export of some kinds of rare earth processing technologies and rare earth themselves. How is this different from what the US is doing in exporting US technology to China?

Mao Ning: On the Chinese export controls you just mentioned, you can find the reasons behind these measures in previous statements and announcements released by China’s competent authorities. Our measures do not target any particular country or company, which is fundamentally different from the measures deliberately imposed by the US to target particular countries and companies in the name of national security. You may ask the competent authorities for more information. 

AFP: The Ministry of Commerce announced an anti-dumping investigation into imported brandy originating from the EU. Is there a connection between this probe and the EU’s investigation into Chinese EVs?

Mao Ning: I would like to refer you to China’s competent authorities for your specific questions. More broadly, China is committed to high-standard opening up and the principles of market economy and the WTO rules. We are ready to provide an open, inclusive, transparent and non-discriminatory environment for EU and other international businesses that trade and invest in China. This has been our position all along and has not changed.  

Ukrinform News Agency: On January 6, Russian military attacked residential buildings in Pokrovsky district of the Donetsk region and killed 11 civilians, including five children. Several countries in the United Nations, particularly Denise Brown, Assistant Secretary General, Permanent Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs in Ukraine, condemned Russian strikes and expressed the condolences to the victims’ family. Does China support this position of the UN regarding the condemnation of the killing of Ukrainian civilians by the Russian military?

Mao Ning: China’s position on the Ukraine crisis is consistent and clear. We call on relevant parties to exercise maximum restraint, refrain from attacking civilian facilities and protect civilians. China always believes that dialogue and negotiation are the only viable solution to the Ukraine crisis. We hope all parties will work for a political settlement of the crisis, reach a ceasefire soon and jointly deescalate the situation.

Global Times: Al Jazeera released a statement on January 7 condemning Israel for killing its journalist Hamza Dahdouh during Israel’s attack against southeastern Gaza. Hamza is the son of Al Jazeera’s Gaza bureau chief Wael Dahdouh whose wife, son, daughter and grandson were killed during a previous Israeli air strike. It was reported that Mustafa Thuria, a video stringer for AFP, was also killed during the attack. What’s your comment?

Mao Ning: We mourn for the two journalists’ death and extend our deep sympathies to Mr. Wael Dahdouh for his loss.

During the past three months, the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict has taken nearly 23,000 lives in Gaza, including over 100 media workers. According to relevant UN agency, nearly 90 percent of people in Gaza have been displaced. Despite the repeated international call for ceasefire, the fighting is still raging and killing innocent civilians every day. China strongly calls on relevant parties to the conflict, especially Israel, to exercise restraint, faithfully implement relevant UN resolutions, start an immediate ceasefire, protect civilians and prevent such tragedies from reoccurring.

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