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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on February 14, 2022

2022-02-14 21:26

Xinhua News Agency: Today marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Mexico. How does China view the bilateral relations over the past five decades? Will there be any commemorative activities today?

Wang Wenbin: Today marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Mexico. President Xi Jinping and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador sent each other congratulatory messages. As pointed out by President Xi in his message, over the past 50 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, especially since 2013 when the two countries became comprehensive strategic partners, bilateral relations have embarked on a fast lane of growth, with political mutual trust deepened and friendly exchanges across the board enhanced. Facing the once-in-a-century pandemic, China and Mexico rendered each other assistance at trying times, thus setting a good example of international solidarity against the coronavirus. China-Mexico friendship has grown into an exuberant tree laden with fruits. It is delivering tangible benefits to people in both countries. China sets great store by its relations with Mexico and is ready to work with the country to capitalize on the 50th anniversary to build on past achievements by enhancing the long-standing friendship, deepening mutually beneficial cooperation and promoting common development. We will continuously enrich the China-Mexico comprehensive strategic partnership so that our two peoples can always be each other’s trustworthy friend and good partner sharing prosperity.

To commemorate this important milestone of the bilateral relations, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard published signed articles on mainstream media of the other side’s country today. China Post and Mexico Post jointly launched the commemorative stamps for the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and held a launching ceremony on the issuance. Besides, 15 pairs of sister province/state and cities will have their landmark buildings lit up with the colors of the national flag or hold light show in celebration of this occasion. Please stay tuned.

TASS: According to foreign media reports, the US is evacuating almost all the staff from its embassy in Ukraine. Does China plan to act similarly?

Wang Wenbin: China is closely monitoring the development of Ukraine’s situation. The Chinese Embassy and Consulate-General in Ukraine are working normally, and the Embassy has issued a consular advisory that reminds Chinese citizens and institutions to closely follow the developments and increase their safety awareness. The Chinese Foreign Ministry and our Embassy in Ukraine will stay in close contact with Chinese citizens and institutions there, provide timely consular protection and assistance, and earnestly protect their safety and legitimate rights and interests.

Bloomberg: The Committee of Experts of ILO issued a report that expressed deep concern over the treatment of ethnic and religious minorities in China, and in particular in Xinjiang. And the report called on the government of China to review or change several of its national and regional policies on Xinjiang with regard to “forced labor”. Does the Foreign Ministry have a comment on the recent report from ILO as it pertains to the issue of forced labor?

Wang Wenbin: I noted the annual report released by the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

I want to point out that the so-called “Xinjiang Victims Database” cited by the International Trade Union Confederation in the report is actually a tool used by anti-China forces to attack China by smearing Xinjiang.

The Chinese government pays great attention to protecting the rights and interests of laborers. We protect the right to equal employment, the right to equal participation in economic and social life, and equal access to development outcomes of laborers of all ethnic groups.

The Chinese government actively shoulders international obligations. For years, China has conducted fruitful cooperation with ILO. We have ratified 26 ILO conventions including the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 which was ratified in 2005. China’s laws including the labor law and employment promotion law have clear stipulations on advancing the right to equal employment and eliminating employment discrimination among laborers of all ethnic groups. The Convention is effectively implemented in China, and there is no discriminatory policies and practices targeting ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.

Some comments and recommendations of the Committee are not objective or fair. The Chinese government regrets that its statement in reply is not fully accepted by the Committee and will maintain communication with ILO on the report of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations.

CCTV: According to reports, Ambassador Chen Xu, head of the Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations Office at Geneva, signed an agreement with GAVI CEO Seth Berkley on February 11 donating $100 million to COVAX on behalf of China to promote vaccine access in developing countries. Do you have more information on that?

Wang Wenbin: President Xi Jinping announced at the first meeting of the International Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Cooperation that China decided to donate $100 million to COVAX. We always honor our solemn commitment with concrete actions. China has supplied more than 200 million doses of vaccines to COVAX, playing a constructive role in promoting vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries. As the pandemic continues to spread with new flare-ups, realizing the equitable and accessible distribution of vaccines and bridging the immunization gap remains the imperative task at hand. China will follow the concept of a global community of health for all, uphold true multilateralism, continue to support anti-COVID mechanisms within multilateral frameworks to the best of its capability, and contribute to mankind’s early victory over the pandemic.

Reuters: So again about Ukraine, does China plan on evacuating its citizens at any point? What might lead China to counsel its citizens to evacuate the country as other countries have done already?

Wang Wenbin: I just shared China’s position on your question when answering the previous one from TASS. I’d like to reiterate that China’s position on the Ukrainian issue is consistent and clear, and remains unchanged.

To solve the issue, it is necessary to return to the starting point of the Minsk-2 agreement, which is endorsed by the UN Security Council. As a fundamental political document recognized by all sides, the agreement should be earnestly implemented. All parties should work for the comprehensive resolution of the Ukraine crisis and issues concerned through dialogue and negotiation. We call on all parties to remain rational and refrain from making moves that may escalate the tensions and play up and sensationalize the crisis.

China Daily: The Olympic Broadcasting Service (OBS) announced a few days ago that the Beijing Winter Olympic Games had become the most watched Winter Olympic Games in history. It had also been followed by over two billion people on social media platforms worldwide. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: Over the past couple of days, many foreign media outlets have been referring to the Beijing Winter Olympics as the most watched Winter Olympics. Ratings grew dramatically and even broke records in some countries in North America and Europe with a strong Winter Olympic tradition. Besides, in some tropical countries where ice and snow is rarely seen, many viewers are also following the Games. This shows that despite the raging pandemic, people in every corner of the world share the passion, joy and friendship brought by winter sports, and the solidarity, cooperation and hope demonstrated by the Beijing Winter Olympics is injecting confidence and strength into all countries of the world.

I have also noticed that heads of the national Olympic committees of many countries as well as people from the sports community have all said that it is a beautiful thing for athletes to compete in sports and embrace and salute each other at the end of the games.

People from all countries are cheering for the Winter Olympics, rooting for Beijing, and working together for a shared future. This is exactly an embodiment of the Olympic spirit.

Kyodo News: According to reports, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) allows Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva who tested positive for a banned drug to compete at the Olympics. Now the international community is following how the Beijing 2022 treats doping. What is China’s attitude toward doping?

Wang Wenbin: I would refer you to the IOC for the question.

Yonhap News Agency: Foreign Minsters of the ROK, the US and Japan condemned DPRK’s missile launches and urged the DPRK to return to dialogue and consultation in a recent meeting. What is China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: China has noted the relevant situation. There is a reason why the Korean Peninsula situation has developed to this point. We hope relevant parties can bear in mind the big picture of peace and stability of the Peninsula, take the DPRK’s legitimate concerns seriously, and make concrete efforts for resuming dialogue and consultation, instead of escalating tensions and confrontation.

NHK: The Biden administration released the Indo-Pacific strategy of the US last week, which mentioned that the US will build ties with its allies and partners and strengthen security safeguards. The US also announced that it will open an embassy in Solomon Islands as part of its Indo-Pacific strategy. What is China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: First I want to point out that ill intentions underlie the so-called “Indo-Pacific strategy” devised under the pretext of “the China threat”. What the US says in its “Indo-Pacific strategy” is different from what it is actually doing. The US claims to advance “freedom and openness” in the region, but is in fact forming an exclusive clique through AUKUS and QUAD. It asserts to strengthen regional security, but is generating grave nuclear proliferation risks that would undermine regional peace and stability. It professes to promote regional prosperity, but is stoking opposition and confrontation between regional countries which undercuts the ASEAN-centered regional cooperation architecture that has formed over the years, and poses a serious threat to regional cooperation outcomes and development prospects.

This “strategy” that resurrects the Cold War mentality and bloc politics has nothing new and no future, but will only bring division and turbulence to the Asia-Pacific. It will surely be greeted with nothing but vigilance and rejection from regional countries.

As to your specific question, we hope the country concerned could do more things that benefit regional peace, stability and development with the interests of Pacific island countries and their people in mind.

Global Times: Kyodo News posted a picture showing 65 volunteers of the Tokyo Olympics sending best wishes to the volunteers of the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in an article on February 13. The wishes include “Fight on but don’t forget to enjoy” and “Leave no regret as this will be part of your memory”. What is China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: We are thankful for these blessings.

Both the Tokyo Olympic Games and the Beijing Olympic Winter Games are sports events held amid COVID-19. Facing this global challenge, the acts of solidarity, cooperation and friendship between countries that lit the torch of hope have become more precious than ever.

For some time, we have seen many touching stories about the deep friendship forged between volunteers and athletes from many countries and regions. These moments that glitter with humanity’s faith in solidarity at the Beijing 2022 will always bring warmth to our hearts.

Reuters: You were talking about Beijing 2022 just now. Is one of Team China’s athletes, Eileen Gu, according to Chinese government records, a Chinese citizen or an American citizen or both?

Wang Wenbin: I have noted that Gu Ailing Eileen has responded to a relevant question at a press conference. If you have other questions regarding the specifics, I suggest you ask the Chinese Olympic Committee.

Bloomberg: Just on the ILO report, a follow-up, related question. In an interview with Bloomberg TV the former South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said that there is space for ILO to work with Chinese authorities on the issue of forced labor. Do you have a comment on the former South Korean Foreign Minister’s words, bearing in mind that she’s also a candidate for the leadership of ILO?

Wang Wenbin: I just introduced China’s position on this issue.

The Paper: According to reports, Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said on February 13 that “The work of Iranian negotiators toward progress is becoming more difficult every moment ... while Western parties ‘pretend’ to come up with initiatives to avoid their commitments”. On the same day, Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s envoy to the talks in Vienna, said that “significant progress has been made in the course of negotiations”. Does China have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: Negotiations on resuming compliance with the JCPOA have entered the final stage, presenting an important opportunity to bring the agreement back on track. At the same time, there are still some important issues that need to be resolved. All parties are conducting intensive consultations to seek a package solution.

As a Chinese saying goes, ninety miles is only half of a hundred-mile journey, for the going is toughest toward the end. In the final stage of negotiations, all parties should persevere, uphold mutual respect, think out of the box, gather consensus and strive for breakthroughs on outstanding issues. It is incumbent on the US, the culprit of the Iranian nuclear crisis, to take further active measures in exchange for reciprocal steps by the Iranian side so that all remaining issues may be resolved at an early date.

China always adopts an objective and just position, constructively participates in negotiations, actively mediates on sticking points, and works toward all parties’ reaching practical and reasonable solutions. Going forward, we will continue to work with all relevant sides to advance the compliance resumption talks and also resolutely safeguard our own legitimate and lawful rights and interests.

Reuters: Again on the Ukraine crisis, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said China has been “chillingly silent” on the large number of Russian troops amassing on the Ukraine border. What’s China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: We urge the Australian side to abandon the Cold War mentality and ideological bias and stop making belligerent rhetoric that will escalate the tensions. Such acts of seeking selfish political gains by clamoring for confrontation are unethical and dangerous.

Bloomberg: Just a few points about the Indian Foreign Minister Jaishankar. While he was visiting Australia, he criticized China’s economic actions toward Australia. And then separately, he mentioned the clash between India and China on the border had been discussed during Quad meetings. And at that time, he put the blame on China for the ongoing border conflict. Does the Foreign Ministry have any comments on the Indian Foreign Minister’s comments during the recent visit to Australia?

Wang Wenbin: With regard to the rights and wrongs of China-Australia relations, we have elaborated on China’s position many times and I will not repeat it here.

The ins and outs of the situation on the China-India border are very clear and the responsibility does not lie with China. At present, China and India are in communication on further improving border management and control and confidence-building measures. We hope that the Indian side will strictly abide by a series of agreements signed by the two sides, refrain from making irresponsible remarks and take concrete actions and work with China to jointly safeguard peace and tranquility of the border area.

China News Service: A handover ceremony was held on February 11 for China-assisted machinery for Tonga including more than 110 bulldozers, trucks and excavators. Tonga’s Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni said, “We are fortunate to have among our good friends countries like China to support us” in the wake of the disasters. What is China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: The shipment of 119 pieces of heavy machinery from China to Tonga is another major assistance from China in light of Tonga’s needs following the volcano-related disasters. The equipment is expected to help Tonga accelerate its post-disaster reconstruction, and promote infrastructure construction and socioeconomic development. Besides, bulky equipment including portable cabins and tractors and relief supplies provided by China at Tonga’s request will be delivered soon by military vessels.

For years, China has provided assistance that meets the development needs of Pacific island countries including Tonga in line with the principle of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith. Such support has been truly welcomed by the governments and people of Pacific island countries. As Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni said, China has given full support to Tonga for emergency disaster relief and post-disaster reconstruction, which is a real testament to the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Tonga. China will provide support and assistance to the best of our capability with Tonga for reconstruction, and continue to work with Pacific island countries to strengthen friendly exchange and mutually beneficial cooperation in various areas to build a community with a shared future for China and Pacific island countries.

Shenzhen TV: It is reported that US President Joe Biden signed an executive order on February 11 allowing half of the $7 billion Afghanistan’s central bank assets now frozen in the US to be used to compensate the relatives of victims who died in the September 11 terrorist attacks and the rest of the frozen amount for the benefit of the Afghan people through a trust fund. On February 12, Afghanistan’s central bank said in response that the funds belong to no government, party or organization, but to the people of Afghanistan. It called on the US to return the assets. On the same day, demonstrators took to the streets in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, to condemn the US move. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: Afghanistan’s assets overseas belong to the Afghan people and should be returned to Afghanistan for the benefit of the Afghan people. The US is now trying to allocate the assets and even claim them as its own. This once again exposes the US’ true face of seeking hegemony by using its power under the disguise of the so-called rules-based international order.

The US is the culprit of the Afghan crisis. We urge the US to make deep reflection, earnestly assume its due international obligations, free up Afghanistan’s frozen assets and lift unilateral sanctions on the country. It should take concrete actions to make up for the harm done to the Afghan people and avoid making things worse for the Afghan people.  

PTI: In your response to a previous question on the Indian Foreign Minister’s comments, you referred to respecting the border agreements between the two countries. That’s precisely the allegation against China that China has amassed troops along these disputed areas in disregard of the agreements between the two countries. I just would like to ask you what exactly China’s position is on all these agreements that the two countries signed on border-related issues?

Wang Wenbin: On the China-India boundary issue, it is China’s consistent view that both sides jointly safeguard peace and stability in the border area following the agreements already signed. We hope the two sides will keep up communication through military and diplomatic channels to properly resolve remaining boundary issues.

Reuters: Earlier you mentioned that one of Team China’s athletes Eileen Gu has spoken at length about the nationality issue. There are other athletes representing Team China who weren’t born in China. Are all of these foreign-born athletes representing Team China permanent residents of China or Chinese nationals?

Wang Wenbin: I’ll refer you to the Chinese Olympic Committee.

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