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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on March 28, 2022

2022-03-28 21:17

1. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will chair the third Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan in Tunxi, Anhui on March 30 and 31. Foreign Ministers or representatives of Pakistan, Iran, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan will attend the meeting. Subsequently, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will chair the “Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan Plus Afghanistan” Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue. Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi of the Afghan interim government will attend the Dialogue upon invitation, and the foreign ministers of Indonesia and Qatar will be invited as guests. 


2. At the invitation of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Minister for Foreign Affairs Retno L. P. Marsudi of Indonesia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Don Pramudwinai of Thailand, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. of the Philippines and Union Minister for Foreign Affairs U Wunna Maung Lwin of Myanmar will visit China respectively from March 31 to April 3. Minister of Foreign Affairs Erika Mouynes of Panama will visit China on April 4.

Xinhua News Agency:What is China’s expectation of the third Foreign Ministers’ Meeting among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan under the current circumstances?

Wang Wenbin: The Afghan situation is now in a critical transition from chaos to order, with the Afghan people still facing multiple challenges from within and outside that need to be addressed with more support and help from others. By hosting the third Foreign Ministers’ Meeting among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan, China looks forward to pooling more consensus on the Afghan issue from neighboring countries, discussing ways to jointly stabilize the Afghan situation and support and help the Afghan people, and share our voice with the rest of the international community as neighbors of Afghanistan. By hosting the “Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan Plus Afghanistan” Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue, we hope to further understand the Afghan people’s difficulties and needs, convey neighboring countries’ concerns on the Afghan issue, and work on the Afghan side to build an open and inclusive political structure, follow moderate and prudent domestic and foreign policies and earnestly combat terrorism. In the meantime, we also expect the international community to give greater support to Afghanistan and call on the US to shoulder the primary responsibility for Afghanistan’s economic reconstruction in real earnest. 

The Paper: What is China’s consideration behind its inviting of the four ASEAN countries’ foreign ministers for a visit? Does China have any expectation for this visit?

Wang Wenbin: Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Myanmar are important ASEAN members and China’s friendly neighbors and important partners for high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. Since COVID-19 broke out, China has maintained regular exchanges and communication with ASEAN countries in a flexible manner, continuously deepened cooperation on COVID-19 and economic recovery, stood together to overcome difficulties and seek common development. The upcoming visit of the four foreign ministers again demonstrates the close and friendly relations between China and its ASEAN neighbors and the high importance all sides attach to advancing China-ASEAN cooperation.

This year marks the starting year of the China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership. Through this visit, China hopes to work with all parties to ensure the sound implementation of the outcomes and consensus of the ASEAN-China Special Summit to Commemorate the 30th Anniversary of ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations last year, promote the materialization of the Global Development Initiative in neighboring countries first, and jointly build a peaceful, tranquil, prosperous, beautiful and friendly homeland. China will also have in-depth exchanges of views with all parties on the current regional and international situation and contribute more positive energy to regional peace and stability and global prosperity and development. 

Reuters: On Sunday, US President Joe Biden clarified that the United States does not have a policy of regime change in Russia after its declaration that Russian President Vladimir Putin cannot remain in power. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: We noted relevant reports. I want to stress that dialogue and negotiation is the only right path to resolving the Ukraine issue. It’s a pressing task for all parties to ease the situation, promote peace talks and stop the fighting, rather than escalate tensions. On major issues concerning peace and stability in Europe and the world at large, all parties should speak and act responsibly and play a constructive role.

CCTV: An ad hoc flight carrying Chinese citizens evacuated from Ukraine landed safely in Fuzhou this morning. This one from Bucharest, Romania’s capital, is the 20th flight that has taken Chinese citizens home from Ukraine. Can you share more information? 

Wang Wenbin: The CPC Central Committee and the State Council deeply care about the safety of every Chinese citizen in Ukraine ever since the situation there deteriorated. General Secretary Xi Jinping gave personal attention to and repeatedly inquired about the issue, demanding that the safety of our citizens must be ensured with all-out efforts. In his phone conversation with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed the hope that the Ukrainian side will take all necessary measures to protect Chinese citizens’ safety and provide guarantee and convenience for their evacuation. Committed to serving the people with real actions, the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the Chinese Embassy in Ukraine and the Chinese Consulate General in Odessa immediately activated the emergency mechanism for consular protection, contacted Chinese compatriots in Ukraine and went to great lengths to mobilize resources with a view to protecting the safety of Chinese citizens and helping them evacuate in an orderly and safe manner in various ways. The Chinese embassies in Ukraine’s neighboring countries including Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and Belarus worked closely with the embassy and consulate in Ukraine to facilitate the customs clearance and temporary settlement of Chinese citizens and the operation of relevant ad hoc flights.

Over 5,200 Chinese citizens have been safely evacuated to Ukraine’s neighboring countries. Except for one individual who got injured while trying to drive away from the country and has now been cured, all Chinese compatriots who wanted to leave are safe and sound. During this evacuation process amid the fighting, not a single Chinese citizen was killed and no mass injury incidents happened. The Chinese government has sent a total of 20 ad hoc flights to bring back more than 4,600 Chinese citizens who had earlier been relocated to Ukraine’s neighboring countries. In the meantime, all Chinese compatriots in Ukraine and neighboring countries have stood together to overcome the difficulties with mutual support. Organizations of Chinese students and associations of overseas Chinese in Ukraine have pitched in to help with the evacuations. They have carried forward the Chinese nation’s best tradition of helping those in distress and aiding those in peril and demonstrated the Chinese people’s fine character of solidarity and mutual assistance. 

As we worked on the safety and evacuation of Chinese nationals, the government and various sectors of society in Ukraine showed goodwill and provided facilitation. Countries including Russia, Moldova, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Belarus also provided invaluable support. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to governments and peoples of those countries. 

Now, the evacuation work has basically come to an end, but protecting the safety and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese nationals overseas is always an abiding commitment. Looking forward, the Foreign Ministry and Chinese diplomatic missions abroad will continue to actively improve the consular protection mechanism and build a system for the protection of Chinese nationals and interests overseas. With everything we do, we will show every one of our compatriots overseas that we stand with you at all times, wherever you may be, and your motherland will always have your back. 

AFP: The Philippine Coast Guard said that a China Coast Guard ship steered meters from one of its patrol vessels on March 2 in the South China Sea. And the Philippines and the US are set to stage war games. What’s your response to this?

Wang Wenbin: Huangyan Dao is China’s inherent territory. China has sovereignty over Huangyan Dao and its adjacent waters as well as sovereign rights and jurisdiction over relevant waters. We hope that the Philippine ships will earnestly respect China’s sovereignty and rights and interests, abide by China’s domestic law and international law, and avoid interfering with the patrol and law enforcement of the China Coast Guard in the above-mentioned waters.

Kyodo News: With regard to the Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan, does State Councilor Wang Yi have any plan to hold a bilateral meeting with the Russian foreign minister? Will they talk about the Ukraine issue?

Wang Wenbin: I announced the relevant information just now and have nothing more to add. 

CNR: According to reports, the IAEA said at an online news conference on March 25 that its technical working group visited Japan from March 21 to 25 and had meetings with Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority to review whether the monitoring activities over the discharge plan of Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water conform to IAEA’s safety standards. The assessment report of this visit is expected to be released in two months. What is China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: China has been following the developments of the disposal of Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water. A comprehensive, science-based and rigorous monitoring plan is conducive to the safe disposal of Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water. In this regard, the Japanese side should closely cooperate with the IAEA working group. It is hoped that the IAEA can inform the international community, especially stakeholders, of the assessment on a timely basis.

It is true that monitoring the disposal plan of the nuclear-contaminated water is important, but the crux of the issue is choosing the right plan to dispose of the nuclear-contaminated water. We hope the discussion of relevant monitoring arrangement can make Japan actively respond to the concerns of all parties and make the decision after fully assessing the advantages and disadvantages of all disposal plans, instead of sticking to the ocean discharge plan. I also want to stress again that China’s support for the work of the technical working group does not mean we endorse Japan’s decision to release the nuclear-contaminated water into the sea.

MASTV: In response to the security cooperation agreement signed by China and Solomon Islands, some officials of the US and Australia have expressed their concerns, saying they don’t believe China’s police forces need to be exported and claiming that it may undermine the current security cooperation mechanism in the Pacific region and may do no good to the island nations. What is China’s comment on this?

Wang Wenbin: I stated China’s position on this issue last week. Normal law enforcement and security cooperation between China and Solomon Islands, two sovereign and independent countries, is consistent with international law and customary international practice. It is beyond reproach as it is beneficial to social stability and lasting security of Solomon Islands and the common interest of regional countries. I also noted that the government of Solomon Islands issued a statement which elaborated on the country’s security strategy and cooperation with other countries, expressed gratitude to the support and assistance of all development partners, and emphasized the country’s need for expanding diverse cooperation. Relevant countries should earnestly respect Solomon Islands’ sovereignty and its independent decisions instead of deciding what others should and should not do self-importantly and condescendingly from a privileged position.

Why are some individuals concerned about China-Solomon Islands cooperation when the government and the people of Solomon Islands genuinely welcome it? Who has been sending military aircraft and vessels right to others’ doorsteps and flex muscles for years that severely threaten relevant countries’ sovereignty and security? Who has been forming military circles that bring nuclear proliferation risks to the Pacific Ocean? And who has been deliberately hyping up tension and stoking bloc confrontation that cast a pall on regional peace and stability? The international community can make a fair judgement, and the people of Solomon Islands and other Pacific island countries can see this clearly. Any attempt to disrupt and undermine mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Pacific island countries is doomed to fail.

Bloomberg: Over the weekend, the Australian foreign ministry said that it had been notified by Chinese authorities that Cheng Lei will face trial on March 31. Does the foreign ministry have any more information on this trial? The second question, Bloomberg has reported that Chinese diplomats in Washington have been in contact with US counterparts asking for details on US sanctions on Russia. This has encouraged the US officials according to people familiar with the situation, though they remain wary that China may be looking for loopholes to help Russia according to the people. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: On your first question, we have repeatedly stated our position on the individual case involving the Australian citizen. China’s judiciary handles cases in accordance with law and fully protects the lawful rights of the person involved. As for the specifics you mentioned, I have nothing to offer you at present.

Now coming to your second question, China always holds that sanctions are not  fundamentally effective ways to solve problems. China stands firmly against unilateral sanctions and long-arm jurisdiction with no basis in international law and no mandate of the UN Security Council. This is China’s consistent position in both open and closed-door meetings. History has proven once and again that instead of solving problems, sanctions create new problems.  It is the ordinary people that suffer from comprehensive and indiscriminate sanctions. If ratcheted up, sanctions can also trigger serious crisis on a global scale in such fields as economy, trade, finance, energy, food, industrial and supply chains. This will make the already struggling world economy even worse and cause irreparable losses. 

Among the 190-plus UN member states, more than 140 did not take part in sanctions on Russia. This fact shows that the overwhelming majority of countries are handling issues related to sanctions in a prudent and responsible manner. As pointed out by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, most countries, including China and many fellow developing countries, share the view that war and sanction are not the only two choices when handling international and regional hotspot issues. It is not incumbent on the people to pay the price for geographic conflicts and major-power rivalry. The more complex the situation is, the greater the need to remain cool-headed and deliberate the consequences of actions. It is hoped that all sides can calm down to focus on promoting peace talks, rather than escalate sanctions and aggravate disputes. 

I have also taken note of some US media calling the US the only “sanctions superpower” in the world. According to the 2021 Sanctions Review published by the US Treasury, by fiscal year 2021, the US has over 9,400 effective sanction designations, which is almost 10 times the number 20 years ago. However, although the US imposes sanctions repeatedly, such moves did not help to solve problems, but only aggravate disasters and chaos. It is estimated that following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the economic sanctions on the country could take the lives of more civilians than 20 years of war in Afghanistan. 

I would like to stress that the problem now is not about who wants to help Russia circumvent the sanctions, but about the fact that the normal trade and economic exchanges between countries, China included, and Russia have already been unnecessarily hurt. We urge the US to take China’s concerns seriously when handling the Ukraine issue and its relations with Russia and avoid undermining China’s legitimate rights and interests in any way. China will take all necessary measures to firmly uphold the legitimate and lawful rights and interests of Chinese companies and individuals. 

Shenzhen TV: When meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on March 27, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas stressed that the Biden administration needs to fulfill its commitment to Palestine, including its commitment to a two-state solution on the Palestine-Israel issue. On the current events in Europe, the US has shown blatant double standards, and the international community should not be silent about what’s happening in Palestine. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: The Palestinian question should not be marginalized or forgotten, and the injustice lasting for over 50 years should not continue. Guided by the four-point proposal on the Palestinian question put forward by President Xi Jinping, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi came up with three specific approaches for implementing the two-state solution. China will continue to stand firmly with the Palestinian people.

I want to stress that the international community should not adopt double standard on the Palestinian question and other international and regional hotspot issues.

It is unacceptable double standard to sympathize with refugees in Ukraine while turning a blind eye to refugees from countries in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

It is unacceptable double standard to call acts harming civilians in Ukraine war crimes, while allowing harm done to civilians in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria to go unpunished. 

It is unacceptable double standard to say the attacks on Ukraine undermine the principle of respect for sovereignty, while claiming the attacks on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are legitimate and lawful.

It is unacceptable double standard to stress that sovereignty is inviolable on the Ukraine issue while claiming that human rights precede sovereignty when it comes to issues related to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Iraq.

The sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected. The purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be observed. The legitimate security concerns of all countries should be taken seriously. Only when double standard is discarded can regional hotspot issues be addressed in a just manner and the enduring peace achieved in Europe and other places of the world. 

Reuters: Australia’s foreign minister on Saturday said that she hoped that Australian officials would be allowed to attend the hearing of arrested Australian journalist Cheng Lei in line with a consular agreement between the two nations. Can the foreign ministry confirm that this will be the case?

Wang Wenbin: I have answered a relevant question already. 

AFP: On the Afghan neighboring countries’ meeting this week, can you confirm whether Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will be attending?

Wang Wenbin: I have released the relevant information just now. Foreign Ministers or representatives of Pakistan, Iran, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan will attend the third Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan in Tunxi, Anhui on March 30 and 31. Foreign Minister Lavrov will attend the meeting upon invitation. 

Global Times: US Indo-Pacific Command Admiral John C. Aquilino reportedly said in an interview that the Ukraine issue has underscored the serious threat that China poses to Taiwan, and that Asian allies must take seriously the possibility. What is your comment on this?

Wang Wenbin: We have stated on multiple occasions that the Taiwan question is essentially different from the Ukraine issue. The two are uncomparable. Some people in the US repeatedly link up the two unrelated things with the real agenda to smear and attack China. Such an act is ill-intentioned. 

As a Chinese proverb puts it, it takes more than one cold day for the river to freeze three feet deep. The current Ukraine issue is an outbreak of tension that has built up for years with Europe’s security as the root cause. NATO’s unchecked eastward expansion warrants reflection. Facing the current situation in Ukraine, the US did nothing to reflect on the responsibility it should assume, or make efforts to cool down the situation and promote talks for peace. Instead, it has been adding fuel to the flame. When European countries are paying the price for refugees and economic volatility due to the conflict, US arms dealers and oil and gas industry have made a fortune. 

Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory. This makes it fundamentally different from a sovereign country like Ukraine. Those in the US who deliberately compare the Taiwan question with the Ukraine issue harbor a vile intention rather than lack common sense. Their real agenda is to create a new crisis across the Taiwan Strait to serve US geopolitical and economic interests at the expense of the wellbeing of people across the Strait and regional peace and stability.

But Taiwan is not Ukraine. The Chinese people’s resolve and determination to uphold national sovereignty and territorial integrity is invincible. Those who play with and fan up the fire on the Taiwan question will only wind up burning themselves.

Reuters: Regarding the investigation of the MU5735 plane that tragically crashed, US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on Wednesday that he was very encouraged by the fact that Chinese authorities had invited the US National Transportation Safety Board to take part in the investigation of the crash. However, the National Transportation Safety Board later said that it had not yet determined if the American investigators would travel to China due to visa and quarantine requirements. Does the foreign ministry have any updates on the visa situation and the visit of these US investigators?

Wang Wenbin: I would like to refer you to competent authorities for the specifics you asked. What I can tell you is that China will provide necessary facilitation to foreign personnel who are approved by the Chinese side to travel to China to assist in the investigation. 

Bloomberg: I just wanted to check if representatives from India will participate in the Afghan neighbors forum later in March?

Wang Wenbin: I have just released the relevant information. 


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