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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on August 23, 2023

外交部-新闻司

2023-08-23 22:32

CCTV: President Xi Jinping held talks with President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday during his state visit to South Africa. Can you give us more details?

Wang Wenbin: It was President Xi Jinping’s fourth state visit to South Africa. On yesterday morning local time, President Xi held fruitful talks with President Ramaphosa in Pretoria, and the two presidents jointly met the press. The two heads of state had an in-depth exchange of views on the development of China-South Africa relations in the new era and international and regional issues of mutual interest, and they reached important common understandings. They agreed to work together to take the China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership to a new height and build a high-quality China-South Africa community with a shared future.

President Xi Jinping made a four-point proposal on elevating China-South Africa relations and building a high-quality China-South Africa community with a shared future. First, China and South Africa should be strategic partners with a high degree of mutual trust. Comradeship and brotherhood are inherent to the bilateral relationship. The two sides need to step up exchange and cooperation between legislatures, political parties, the military and subnational governments, and continue to support each other on issues concerning their respective core interests and key concerns. Second, China and South Africa should be development partners making progress together. Mutual benefits and win-win are defining features of our cooperation. With a focus on Belt and Road cooperation, implementation of the nine programs of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation as well as the 10-Year Strategic Program of Cooperation, the two sides need to consolidate cooperation in areas of strength and foster new growth points for cooperation. Third, China and South Africa should be friendly partners enjoying mutual understanding. Close ties between the two peoples are a vivid example of amity between the two countries. China is ready to strengthen exchange and cooperation with South Africa on vocational education, culture and tourism, support closer technological cooperation and joint research by scientific research institutions and businesses, and deliver more benefits of cooperation to the two peoples. Fourth, China and South Africa should be global partners with a commitment to justice. Independence is a principle upheld by both countries. China is ready to work with South Africa and other developing countries to jointly implement the Global Development Initiative, the Global Security Initiative, and the Global Civilization Initiative, practice true multilateralism, increase the representation and voice of the Global South in global governance, and safeguard the shared interests and development space of developing countries.

President Xi Jinping pointed out that, in recent years, BRICS countries have acted on the BRICS spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation, and have written a splendid chapter of countries with different systems and cultures and in different regions joining hands for development, which has become a signature of South-South cooperation. The President said that he looks forward to working with BRICS leaders to explore ways for the unity and development of BRICS countries in the new era, push for more fruitful outcomes of the Summit and facilitate the building of a more just and equitable global governance.

President Xi Jinping emphasized that China and Africa have always been a community with a shared future. China firmly supports African countries in seeking strength through unity, firmly supports the African Union to achieve substantive progress this year in joining the G20, and firmly supports Africa in promoting its industrialization and agricultural modernization. He looks forward to co-hosting the China-Africa Leaders’ Dialogue with President Ramaphosa to draw up a new blueprint together with other participating African leaders for China-Africa unity and cooperation and to take the China-South Africa community with a shared future to a higher level.

President Ramaphosa noted that China lent precious support to South Africa during its struggles for national independence and liberation and in its pursuit of national development. China gave South Africa much-needed support in difficult times such as during the COVID-19 pandemic. China is a true friend, brother, and partner of South Africa. Over the past 25 years after the establishment of the diplomatic relations, South Africa has been committed to the one-China principle. The two countries have enjoyed vibrant relations, close interactions at various levels and fruitful cooperation in many fields. South Africa commends the huge development feats achieved by the Chinese people under the leadership of the Communist Party of China. It is ready to develop closer exchanges between political parties, deepen experience sharing on the governance of political parties and countries, carry out pilot programs for poverty reduction with Chinese features, and expand cooperation on trade, investment, energy, infrastructure, manufacturing, and science and technology. He welcomes more Chinese businesses to invest and do business in South Africa. He fully agrees with President Xi Jinping’s proposal for win-win cooperation. South Africa and other countries in the Global South all hope to strengthen solidarity and cooperation with China to better meet challenges together, and promote an international order that is more egalitarian, just and equitable. South Africa is ready to work with other BRICS countries to resolutely uphold multilateralism, advance reform of the global governance system, and safeguard the common interests of the developing countries. He looks forward to co-hosting the China-Africa Leaders’ Dialogue with President Xi Jinping to take Africa-China relations to new heights. 

The two presidents agreed to further advance the China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership in the new era, increase the representation and say of the Global South in global governance, and lend fresh impetus to the endeavor to deepen solidarity and cooperation of BRICS countries and bring China-Africa comprehensive strategic partnership to new levels.

Following their talks, President Ramaphosa bestowed to President Xi Jinping the Order of South Africa. The two presidents witnessed the signing of bilateral cooperation documents on Belt and Road cooperation, new energy, agricultural product, special economic zone, industrial park, blue economy, technological innovation and higher education. The two sides issued a Joint Statement Between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and South Africa. Over the past 25 years, our relationship has achieved leapfrog development--from a partnership to a strategic partnership, and then to a comprehensive strategic partnership. It is one of the most vibrant bilateral relations in the developing world and is taking on greater global influence. President Xi’s successful state visit has opened up a new chapter in the China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership and will guide bilateral exchange and cooperation across the board to new heights, achieve new results and inject strong impetus into building a high-level China-South Africa community with a shared future. Our relationship has entered a “golden era”, enjoying broad prospects and a promising future.

AFP: AFP reporters onboard the Philippine Coast Guard vessel BRP Cabra witnessed eight Chinese ships chasing and blocking Philippine boats during a mission to resupply the Sierra Madre in the South China Sea. One of the Chinese ships came within several meters of the vessel that AFP journalists were on. Can you explain the actions of the Chinese ships?

Wang Wenbin: The spokesperson of China Coast Guard (CCG) has issued a statement regarding the Philippines’ illegal trespassing into waters near China’s Ren’ai Jiao, and you may refer to that. Let me stress that in response to what the Philippines did, China Coast Guard took necessary law enforcement action in accordance with the law. We also demand that the Philippines immediately stop any action that may complicate the situation on the ground.

Dragon TV: Srettha Thavisin, a key member of Thailand’s Pheu Thai party, was elected the country’s 30th prime minister on August 22. What’s your comment on this and what’s your expectation for China-Thailand relations?

Wang Wenbin: As Thailand’s friendly neighbor and being part of a community with a shared future with Thailand, China is glad that Thailand is advancing its major political agenda, including the election for the prime minister, with good progress. We congratulate Mr. Srettha Thavisin on his election as the new Prime Minister. We believe the Thai people will achieve even greater success on its national development path that suits their country’s realities.

China and Thailand are as close as one family. Over the past half a century and more since the establishment of diplomatic ties, our two countries have always stood together and pursued shared development no matter how the international landscape evolves. We are ready to work together with Thailand to focus on building a community with a shared future and pass on our close bond as good neighbors, friends, relatives and partners from generation to generation.

CCTV: According to foreign media reports, the EU submitted a working document to the UN Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) reducing space threats through norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviours earlier this week, announcing that all EU members have committed to a US proposal not to conduct tests of destructive, direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missiles. According to the document, the EU considers such commitment as an urgent measure aimed at preventing damage to the outer space environment, while also contributing to the prevention of an arms race in outer space. What is your comment? 

Wang Wenbin: China noted relevant reports.

The US commitment is limited to tests of destructive, direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missiles and does not mention the research and development, production, deployment and use of such weapons, or any other activity that threatens or disrupts the normal operation of satellites. In fact, Since the US first tested DA-ASAT missiles in 2008, it has repeatedly carried out anti-missile tests of anti-satellite nature, developed directed energy weapons, and deployed offensive weapons such as the Counter Communications System (CCS). All these show that that kind of commitment does not actually limit its space military strength. This is not about arms “control”, but about arms “expansion”—keeping the US the No.1 militarily in the world and expanding that lead through multilateral commitments.

The current grave security situation and heightening arms race in the outer space is not caused by tests of a particular kind of anti-satellite weapon per se, but by the US quest for space dominance, its characterization of space as a “battlefield”, and all the steps it has taken to pour resources into space military capabilities, build space military alliances and stoke major-country rivalry. The US commitment does not address the real threat to outer space security. It solves neither the symptoms nor root causes.

The fundamental solution to the issue of outer space security is to reach a legal instrument on outer space arms control through negotiations, which could prohibit the deployment of weapons and the use or threat of use of force against objects in the outer space in a legally-binding way. We hope relevant countries will listen carefully to the call from the international community for peace in the outer space, abandon the Cold-War mentality, end offensive outer space military policies, return to the right track of negotiations on an outer space arms control legal instrument, and make concrete efforts to safeguard peace and stability in the outer space.

Kyodo News: According to Japanese media reports, the Japanese government plans to start discharging the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water from 1 p.m. local time on August 24. What’s your comment on this?

Wang Wenbin: I shared with you yesterday China’s position on the Japanese government’s decision to start releasing the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean from August 24. 

Yesterday Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong summoned Japan’s Ambassador to China Hideo Tarumi to make serious démarches to the Japanese side on this. He noted that in disregard of the strong criticism and opposition from the international community, the Japanese government announced the decision to start releasing the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean soon. This is extremely selfish and irresponsible, as the discharge will spread the risks of nuclear contamination to its neighbouring countries, including China, and the rest of the world, and by doing so, Japan is putting its selfish interests above the long-term wellbeing of people in the region and beyond. China is gravely concerned and strongly opposed to this. 

The ocean sustains humanity. It is not a sewer for Japan’s nuclear-contaminated water. Japan’s pushing for the ocean discharge plan is no doubt a huge gamble that ventures the global marine environment and people’s health. If Japan sincerely wants to address the concerns of neighboring countries, it should stop insisting on dumping nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean, communicate with other parties without taking the decision in advance and fully discuss all potential options for disposing of the water safely.

China strongly urges Japan to cancel its wrong decision, stop pushing for the ocean discharge plan, carry out communication with neighboring countries with sincerity and good will, dispose of the water in a responsible manner, and avoid creating unpredictable damage and harm to the global marine environment. If Japan is bent on proceeding with its discharge plan, the Chinese government will take necessary measures to firmly protect the marine environment, food safety and people’s health.

The negative impact of the ocean discharge cannot be undone. We don’t want August 24, 2023 to be a disaster day for marine environment. If Japan does not change course, it must bear the historic responsibility for this decision.

AFP: Independent nuclear experts have told AFP that the levels of tritium expected to be released by Japan are well below the WHO drinking water standards. And Japanese media have also reported that levels of tritium recorded in wastewater from Chinese nuclear plants in 2021 exceeded the maximum levels for the treated water that will be released by Japan. So in this case, can you tell us what’s the scientific basis for China’s opposition to Japan’s plan?

Wang Wenbin: Like we have said many times, there is a fundamental difference between the nuclear-contaminated water that came into direct contact with the melted reactor cores in the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the water released by nuclear power plants in normal operation. They are different in nature, come from different sources and require different levels of sophistication to handle. Japan deliberately compares the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water with water released by nuclear power plants in normal operation, which only proves that Japan is not handling the issue scientifically and is deliberately misleading the international community. 

I need to stress that for the past two years and more, the legitimacy, legality and safety of Japan’s ocean discharge plan has been questioned over and over again by the international community. Japan has yet to address major international concerns such as the long-term reliability of the purification facility, the authenticity and accuracy of the nuclear-contaminated water data, and the effectiveness of the monitoring arrangement. China and other stakeholders have pointed out on multiple occasions that if the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water is truly safe, Japan wouldn’t have to dump it into the sea—and certainly shouldn’t if it’s not. It is unjustified, unreasonable and unnecessary for Japan to push through the ocean discharge plan. We urge Japan not to shift the risk of nuclear pollution onto the rest of humanity in pursuit of its selfish interests.

Ukrinform News Agency: The spokesman of the UN Secretary General told reporters yesterday that the UN along with its partners launched a fundraiser to support Ukraine. It is planned to raise about USD 270 million to support more than one million people in Ukraine with specific assistance in the cold winter months. What’s China’s comment? Can China join this humanitarian initiative?

Wang Wenbin: China has played a constructive role in our own way to help ease the humanitarian situation in Ukraine. We put forward China’s proposals including a six-point initiative on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine and sent multiple batches of humanitarian supplies to the country. We are ready to continue making our efforts in this regard.

Bloomberg: The US said on Tuesday that it will impose visa limits on some officials in China for their part in allegedly forcing Tibetan children to assimilate into mainstream Chinese society. What is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ response?

Wang Wenbin: The US imposed those illegal sanctions on Chinese officials under the pretext of Tibet-related issues and in disregard of the facts. This move gravely interferes in China’s internal affairs, harms China’s interests, and violates basic norms governing international relations. We firmly oppose and strongly condemn it.

The human rights conditions in Tibet are at their historical best, as witnessed by the international community. The region has long enjoyed 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 ethnic groups’ spoken and written languages, are fully protected. As is commonly seen around the world, there are boarding schools across Chinese provinces and regions to meet the need of the local students. In the case of China’s Tibet, this is a region of high altitude and highly scattered population in many areas. For children from herding families in particular, they have to travel long distances to get to school. 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 boarding schools have been set up as a practical way 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 (including traditional Tibetan festivals such as the Tibetan New Year and the Shoton 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. Courses of traditional culture, such as Tibetan language and literature and folk dance, are widely available, traditional food unique to the Tibet Plateau is provided, and students are allowed to wear traditional dresses at these schools. The boarding schools in Tibet are examples of human rights and cultural heritage protection. The so-called “forced assimilation” is pure fabrication.

In contrast, throughout the US history, more than 4.7 million Native Americans were slaughtered, and people of Asian and African descent and other ethnic communities suffer daily from the scourge of racial discrimination. In recent years, the US’s armed invasion has led to millions of casualties in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. The US needs to reflect on itself, instead of styling itself as a judge and wantonly meddling in other countries’ internal affairs by wielding the big stick of “human rights”.

I need to stress that Tibet-related affairs are purely China’s internal affairs that brook no foreign interference. The US needs to respect facts, fulfill its commitment on Tibet, stop using Tibet-related issues to meddle in China’s internal affairs and undermine China’s interests, and immediately withdraw its wrong decision. Otherwise, there will be a resolute response from China.

AP: The Philippine government issued a statement saying that the Chinese Coast Guard has repeatedly attempted to block Filipino supply missions in the Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea. The Philippine Coast Guard has also said two supply boats have maneuvered past the Chinese Coast Guard blockade, as earlier mentioned in an earlier question. We would like to ask if you have any comments related to the incident and the Philippine government statement?

Wang Wenbin: I made clear China’s position just now. We ask the Philippines to immediately stop any actions that may complicate the situation on the ground.

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