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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on June 14, 2023

2023-06-14 19:14

CCTV: Honduran President Xiomara Castro concluded her state visit to China this morning. How does China view this visit?

Wang Wenbin: President Castro’s first state visit to China has been a full success with fruitful outcomes. It is a visit that has opened up a new chapter for China-Honduras relations.

This is a history-making visit that boosted trust and expanded cooperation. The two presidents met for the first time and jointly charted the course for bilateral relations. President Xi Jinping noted that China will stay firmly committed to growing friendly relations with Honduras, staunchly support Honduras’s economic and social development, and seek to be good friends and partners of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit and common development with Honduras. President Castro noted that Honduras firmly supports and adheres to the one-China principle and that the rapid growth of bilateral relations since the establishment of diplomatic ties a little more than two months ago has given the Honduran people full confidence in the future of the relationship. Honduras is ready to work with China for the steady and sustained growth of bilateral relations.

A joint declaration was issued following the meeting. Honduras became a new member of the family of Belt and Road cooperation and expressed strong support for the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative and the Global Civilization Initiative put forward by President Xi Jinping. A total of 17 cooperation agreements were signed, covering political exchange, trade, quality inspection and quarantine, agriculture, science, technology, culture, education and media, which constituted the main sectors going forward for practical cooperation. Leaders of both sides agreed to launch the negotiation process for a free trade agreement at an early date to bring bilateral trade cooperation to a new height.

President Castro’s visit has attracted extensive attention in China, Honduras and the rest of the world. I heard that China became a trending topic in Honduran media. The Chinese public has also followed the visit closely. This speaks to both peoples’ high hopes for and confidence in the future prospects of China-Honduras ties. China will redouble its efforts of working with Honduras to act on the important common understandings reached by our presidents and give our relationship the strength it needs to cross mountains and oceans and sail towards an even brighter future.

Hubei Media Group: The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement entered into force for all its 15 signatory states not long ago. Anna Robeniol, Advisor to the Secretary-General of ASEAN and the Deputy Secretary-General for the ASEAN Economic Community, said that RCEP brings good opportunities for member states to open up their markets and seek greater market scope and can promote trade cooperation between member states. How do you see RCEP’s role in promoting trade cooperation in the Asia-Pacific?

Wang Wenbin: The entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement for all its 15 signatory states marks the beginning of a new phase of full implementation for RCEP, which covers more population, involves more trade and has more potential to grow than any other free trade area in the world.

RCEP is a milestone in Asia-Pacific economic integration. It is a great example of regional countries sharing opportunities for development. Since its implementation began, trade links between relevant countries have grown notably, trade within the region has become a key engine stabilizing and driving external trade, and the region has remained a popular destination for global investment.

RCEP has actually given a strong boost to regional integration, development and prosperity. It has delivered tangible benefits for participating states in terms of tariff concession, trade facilitation, greater transparency in investment policies and fewer technical trade barriers. Take China, the largest economy within RCEP, for example. In 2022, trade between China and other RCEP members reached RMB 12.95 trillion, up by 7.5 percent, while their investment in China, in actual use, went up 23.1 percent to USD 23.53 billion. 

The full entry into force of RCEP reflects regional countries’ strong aspiration for economic integration and common development. As a staunch supporter of trade liberalization and facilitation and an important participant in regional cooperation, China stands ready to work together with all relevant parties to advance high-quality implementation of RCEP and inject new impetus into economic recovery in the region and beyond.

Anadolu Agency: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Qin Gang on the phone this morning. Can you give any details about the exchange? The US media reported that Blinken will visit Beijing on June 18. Can you confirm that information? Is there any plan for the visit?

Wang Wenbin: State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang had a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at US request this morning. State Councilor Qin pointed out that since early this year, the China-US relations have encountered new difficulties and challenges, and the responsibility for this situation is clear. China has viewed and handled this relationship under the principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation proposed by President Xi Jinping. 

State Councilor Qin stated China’s strong position on its core concerns, including the Taiwan question. He stressed that the US needs to respect China’s concerns, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs, and stop undermining China’s sovereignty, security and development interests in the name of competition. It is hoped that the US will take concrete actions to deliver on the important common understandings between the two presidents in their meeting in Bali and the relevant commitments of the US, work with China to effectively manage differences, promote exchanges and cooperation, stabilize the relationship from further deterioration and bring it back to the track of healthy and stable development.

As for the visit you asked about, I have nothing to share at the moment. If we have anything, we will release it in a timely way.

AFP: We’ve seen media reports that British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has been formally invited to visit China. The trip is reportedly expected to take place this summer. Can you confirm this? 

Wang Wenbin: On the visit you asked about, I have nothing to offer.

Global Times: We have noted that recently Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on several occasions that she found US sanctions on Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) puzzling and that sanctions were like a game. “It has the power to topple the government in any country,” she said. Bangladesh is not afraid of sanctions and she has instructed the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Planning to stop buying anything from countries that impose sanctions on Bangladesh. What’s China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: We have noted the recent remarks by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Indeed, while turning a blind eye to its own racial discrimination, gun violence, drug proliferation and other domestic problems, a certain country has long been interfering in the internal affairs of Bangladesh and many other developing countries under the pretext of democracy and human rights. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina spoke not just the position of the Bangladeshi people, but also the mind of large part of the international community, especially the developing world.

China and Bangladesh have been traditional friendly neighbors. We firmly support Bangladesh in safeguarding its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, keeping domestic and foreign policies independent, and pursuing a development path that suits its national realities. We stand ready to work together with Bangladesh and other countries to oppose all forms of hegemonism and power politics, uphold the UN-centered international system, the international order underpinned by international law and the basic norms governing international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and build a community with a shared future for mankind.

TASS: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would not see itself bound by any agreement with Iran over its nuclear program. What comment does the Chinese foreign ministry have on this?

Wang Wenbin: China believes that to resume the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA is the right and effective way forward for resolving the Iranian nuclear issue and serves the common interests of the international community. Parties need to come to a political decision, step up diplomatic efforts, bring the implementation of the JCPOA back to the right track, uphold the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and help advance peace and stability in the Middle East.

The Paper: During yesterday’s briefing with Beijing-based foreign journalists, the Japanese Embassy in China lamented that Beijing has ignored its repeated proposals for a science-based dialogue on the ocean discharge plan, and expressed regret regarding speculation that Beijing might want to use this issue as a diplomatic card in a broader context of bilateral relations. The Japanese side also expressed concern about China’s description of the treated water as being “contaminated”, stressing the safety of the “treated water” that contains tritium. Do you have any comment? 

Wang Wenbin: What you mentioned shows that, rather than have a second thought on its wrong decision of ocean discharge, Japan again sold disinformation, hoping to mislead the public. The briefing of the Japanese Embassy kept focusing on China, but invited no Chinese media outlets. Either they had little confidence or there was some other motive.

Japan did not follow the principle of goodwill consultation and repeatedly attempted to mislead the international community. I want to stress again that if Japan has any sincerity about having consultation, it should announce a suspension of the ocean discharge, allow stakeholders, including neighboring countries and the Pacific island countries, to conduct independent sample analysis of the nuclear-contaminated water and agree to discuss alternatives to ocean discharge. If the so-called treated water is truly safe, Japan should dispose of it inside Japan instead of shifting risks to Pacific Rim countries.

China urges Japan to stop political manipulation and address the concerns of all sides as soon as possible, which is the right way forward. We hope that Japan will fulfill its international obligations in good faith, stop forcibly proceeding with its ocean discharge plan, fully evaluate the alternatives to ocean discharge, handle the nuclear-contaminated water in a science-based, transparent and safe way and subject itself to rigorous international oversight.

AFP: US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said yesterday that institutions like the IMF and the World Bank reflect American values and serve as a counterweight to unsustainable lending from others like China. She also said she doesn’t think China should qualify for the World Bank’s loans. Do you have any response to Yellen’s comments?  

Wang Wenbin: The IMF and the World Bank are multilateral financial institutions and platforms that reflect the trend towards greater democracy in international relations and advance international cooperation on the basis of fully taking into account the interests of all member states. The IMF is not the “International Monetary Fund of the United States”, neither is the World Bank for that matter.

China has always carried out investment and financing cooperation with developing countries in keeping with international rules and the principle of openness and transparency. We never attach any political strings to such cooperation, nor do we seek any selfish political interests. We have been helping developing countries relieve debt burdens, and made the biggest contribution to implementing the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative. 

I would also like to say that according to World Bank statistics, multilateral financial institutions and commercial creditors account for more than 80 percent of the sovereign debt of developing countries. They are the biggest source of stress on developing countries in terms of debt payment. Since last year, the US has launched unprecedented massive interest rate hikes, making the debt problems of certain countries even worse and sending more shock waves through the global financial market. The US needs to take concrete steps to help developing countries and engage multilateral financial institutions in being part of the solution to debt treatment, rather than introduce geopolitical confrontation into multilateral financial institutions.

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