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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on September 1, 2023

2023-09-01 21:49

At the invitation of President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, the current ASEAN chair, Premier of the State Council Li Qiang will attend the 26th China-ASEAN Summit, the 26th ASEAN Plus Three (APT) Summit and the 18th East Asia Summit to be held in Jakarta, Indonesia from September 5 to 8, and pay an official visit to Indonesia. 

At the invitation of Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi, Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, will pay an official visit to China from September 3 to 5. During the visit, the two foreign ministers will attend the 11th Joint Meeting of the China-Italy Government Committee.

Reuters: As is customary, Pope Francis issued a greeting to China as he flew over the country this morning, extending good wishes to all of its people and divine blessings of unity and peace. How does China respond to the Pope’s message?

Wang Wenbin: China noted the reports. The greetings from the Vatican embody friendship and goodwill. China and the Vatican have maintained communication in recent years. China would like to continue the constructive dialogue with the Vatican, enhance understanding, build up mutual trust and advance the process of improving the relations between the two sides.

CRI: You just announced that Premier Li Qiang will attend the leaders’ meetings on East Asia cooperation. How does China see the current East Asia cooperation? What’s your expectation for the upcoming meetings?

Wang Wenbin: The international and regional landscape is undergoing profound changes with rising instability and uncertainty. East Asia has maintained the overall momentum of stability and development. Regional countries’ aspiration for peace and development has become even stronger.

China supports the theme of this year’s leaders’ meetings on East Asia cooperation “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth”. We hope the meetings will promote solidarity, deepen cooperation, focus on development, and inject more stability and positive energy into the international and regional landscape. First, strengthen cooperation in such areas as trade and emerging sectors and jointly foster regional epicentrum of growth to promote common development. Second, resume people-to-people exchange at a faster pace and enhance exchange between cultural and educational institutions, media and think tanks, to consolidate the public foundation. Third, advance the regional economic integration process, keep regional industrial and supply chains stable and unfettered, and build an open regional economy. Fourth, safeguard the ASEAN-centered, open and inclusive regional cooperation architecture, uphold true multilateralism, and reject acts of forming exclusionary cliques to create division and undermine regional peace and stability.

Beijing Daily: You just announced that Premier Li Qiang will pay an official visit to Indonesia. How does China view the current China-Indonesia relations? What expectations does China have for this visit?

Wang Wenbin: Under the strategic guidance of the heads of state of the two countries, China-Indonesia relations have sustained strong momentum for growth and opened up a new chapter of building a China-Indonesia community with a shared future. China attaches high importance to the good neighborliness, friendship and all-dimensional cooperation with Indonesia. This is Premier Li Qiang’s first visit to an Asian country after he took the post and the first visit to Indonesia by a Chinese premier in five years, and this visit is also paid on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, which is of vital importance to the growth of bilateral relations. Premier Li will have talks with President Joko Widodo and exchange views on China-Indonesia relations and international and regional issue of mutual interest. He will also attend side events including a welcome banquet with the business community, which we believe will give a new boost to the bilateral trade and practical economic cooperation. 

We hope that this visit will be an opportunity for both sides to speed up the building of a China-Indonesia community with a shared future, deepen the synergy of development strategies, expand practical cooperation in various fields, boost each other’s modernization and promote regional development and prosperity. 

Yonhap News Agency: According to reports, the ROK and Chinese foreign ministers talked to each other on the phone yesterday. That phone call took a relatively long time. Could you share more details with us?

Wang Wenbin: Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a phone call with ROK Foreign Minister Park Jin upon invitation yesterday. I would like to brief you on the call.

Wang said that China maintains continuity and stability in its policy toward the ROK. The growth of China-ROK relations has an internal driving force and is logically natural, and should not be influenced by a third party. China and the ROK should stay committed to the original aspiration of the establishment of our diplomatic ties, stick to the right direction of friendly cooperation, continue to enhance mutual understanding between the two peoples, guard against interference from external factors, refrain from drawing ideological lines, jointly work for the sustained steady growth of bilateral relations and usher in the next three decades for our bilateral ties that are more sustainable, resilient and characterized by closer cooperation. Mutually beneficial economic and trade cooperation is the bedrock of China-ROK relations. China’s economy has huge development potential and a vast market. It is speeding up the building of new systems for a higher-standard open economy, and expanding China-ROK cooperation will help the ROK achieve sustainable prosperity and development. It is hoped that the ROK will strengthen its strategic independence, resist all actions of de-globalization and decoupling and supply chains disruption, deepen mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields with China, and bring more benefits to the two peoples. China supports the ROK in playing a positive role in promoting trilateral cooperation as the chair of the China-Japan-ROK cooperation. 

Park Jin expressed sincere condolences over the recent floods in some parts of China and wished the 19th Asian Games to be held in Hangzhou a complete success and a grand event of peace and solidarity. Park said that the ROK and China are close neighbors and important partners. This year marks the commencement of the second 30 years of China-ROK diplomatic relations. The Yoon Suk Yeol administration speaks highly of the fruitful results achieved in bilateral relations since the establishment of the diplomatic ties between the ROK and China, and will continue to attach great importance to and develop the bilateral relations. The ROK looks forward to increasing high-level exchanges and communication with China, strengthening cultural and people-to-people exchanges, improving mutual understanding and actively building a sound and mature ROK-China relationship. Park said the ROK has no intention to decouple from a certain country with regard to industrial and supply chains, and “cutting China out” is neither possible nor feasible, adding that the ROK is willing to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation with China, keep the industrial and supply chains stable and unimpeded, and jointly promote economic growth in the region.

During the phone conversation, the two sides also exchanged views on Japan’s discharge of nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean and the Korean Peninsula issues.

Dragon TV: According to reports, the 14th ministerial meeting of the signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Drug Control in the Greater Mekong Sub-region will be held in China next week. Could you offer more information?

Wang Wenbin: The 14th ministerial meeting of the signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Drug Control in the Greater Mekong Sub-region will be held in Beijing on September 6. Government delegations from Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam will attend the meeting, where the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will also be represented.

The Mekong MOU on Drug Control was jointly launched and improved by Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam and UNODC to address the prominent narcotics challenge in the region. The upcoming ministerial meeting, which coincides with the MOU’s 30th anniversary, will be of great significance for identifying the mechanism’s future course, deepening regional counternarcotics cooperation, and improving global governance on drugs.

China News Service: As cross-border travel resumes, the ease of travel to China for foreigners has drawn wide attention. What policies and measures has the foreign ministry taken to facilitate travel to China by foreigners, and how are the effects?

Wang Wenbin: Since early this year, to support China’s high-quality development and high-level opening-up, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been improving visa and other relevant policies, worked with competent departments to roll out a number of facilitation measures, and asked our diplomatic missions overseas to make all-out efforts to ensure unimpeded channels for foreigners to travel to China.

Following the decision to manage COVID-19 with measures against Class-B infectious diseases, competent authorities and diplomatic missions of China resumed the issuance of multiple-entry visas and port visas as well as the policy of visa-free transit. Starting from March 15, issuance of tourist visas, visa exemption for certain regions and the use of multiple-entry visas issued before the pandemic are fully resumed; a number of measures have been adopted to improve visa issuance efficiency and green channels have been provided for groups for important and urgent business and humanitarian affairs. Starting from May 1, foreigners are allowed to enter China with virtual APEC Business Travel Cards. From July 26, unilateral visa-free policy for Singapore and Brunei is resumed. From mid-August, temporary exemption from fingerprinting is provided for eligible applicants for commercial, tourism and family-visiting purposes. From August 30, inbound travelers will no longer be required to take a pre-entry nucleic acid or antigen test for COVID-19. In addition, China has signed visa-exemption agreement with Kazakhstan, Madagascar and other countries this year, increasing the total number of mutual visa-exemption agreements to 155.

These measures have received positive response. Visa issuance by diplomatic missions has rebounded rapidly and the number of foreigners traveling to China has risen steadily. Going forward, the Foreign Ministry will continue to improve visa policies and work actively to create favorable conditions and provide more facilitation for cross-border travel.

The Paper: We noted that US media reports on China-US relations this year focus far more on competition than cooperation, with over 70 percent talking about competition. Meanwhile, there have been rational voices from the US political, business and academic sectors calling for closer cooperation with China. They expressed the hope that China and the US will promote development through reasonable competition, and strengthen, rather than weaken economic inter-dependence. They also expressed their opposition to decoupling, severing of industrial and supply chains, and a “Cold War” with China. What is your comment?

Wang Wenbin: Currently, every time the US talks about its relations with China, it mentions competition, as if China-US relations are mainly about, or even, all about competition.

China’s attitude and position is clear. Competition should help promote each other’s progress and improvement and meet the common interests and aspirations of both sides and the wider world. It is not about using every means possible to trip up or thwart the other side. The US talks about competition at every turn. What the world has seen, however, is that in order to gain an edge, the US has resorted to state power under the pretext of competition to contain and suppress China by all government departments, on all fronts and in all areas, waging wars of tariffs, trade, science and technology, chips and rules. What the US does is nothing about competition, but about zero-sum and Cold-War mentality. It is in nature depriving the Chinese people of their rights to independently choose development path and pursue a better life, and China’s legitimate rights to development and national reunification. China firmly opposes moves to contain and suppress China in the name of competition. What the US does will only push the two countries to confrontation and conflict and bring the world a “new Cold War” with division and turmoil.

We never shy away from or fear competition, but competition should be fair and reasonable; it should be healthy and rule-based; there should be red lines and restricted zones; market economy rules and basic norms governing international relations should not be ignored; and issues bearing on core interests should not be used as tools for competition or means of provocation. As two major countries, China and the US should, from the height of the common interests of both countries and the future of mankind, compete on who can govern its country better and ensure a happy life for its people, who can provide greater impetus for global post-pandemic economic recovery, who can provide more public goods for climate response, who can come up with better solutions for regional hotspot issues, and who can make both countries and our planet that is home to eight billion people more secure, peaceful and prosperous.

Competition is not the sum total of China-US relations. We oppose using competition to define the whole of China-US ties. In fact, complementarity far outweighs competition in the economic relations between the two countries, and cooperation in this area is in nature mutually beneficial. Last year, China-US trade volume hit a record high of close to USD 760 billion. Given the size of economic ties, it is normal that differences and frictions may arise. The right way to resolve these is to find win-win solutions through equal-footed consultation. China and the US have different social systems, but this does not prevent the two sides from engaging in cooperation based on common interests, and doesn’t need to be the cause of confrontation and rivalry. Under the current circumstances, China and the US share more, not less, common interests. It is in our mutual and fundamental interest to prevent conflict and confrontation and achieve peaceful coexistence. The two economies are deeply integrated, and both face new tasks in development. It is in our mutual interest to benefit from each other’s development. It is also in our mutual interest to promote post-COVID global recovery, tackle climate change and resolve regional hotspot issues through China-US coordination and cooperation.

Playing up competition does all harm and no good, and seeking cooperation is a necessity not a choice. Facts prove once and again that China and the US stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation. With cooperation, many big things can be accomplished that are good for both countries and the world, while confrontation spells disaster for both countries and the world. The two countries need to avoid the way of thinking focusing only on competition and confrontation, accommodate each other’s interests and concerns, seek the broadest areas of exchanges and cooperation, pursue the biggest common ground for win-win cooperation, and jointly contribute the wisdom and strength of two major countries to the development and common prosperity of the two countries as well as world peace and development.

Dragon TV: You just announced that Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, will pay an official visit to China. How does China comment the current China-Italy relations? What’s China’s expectation for this visit?

Wang Wenbin: China and Italy are comprehensive strategic partners and China-Italy relationship is an integral part of China-Europe relations. In recent years, China and Italy have maintained close high-level interactions, deepened practical cooperation and people-to-people exchanges, and demonstrated a positive momentum of growth. China stands ready to work with Italy to take this visit as an opportunity to further deliver on the important common understandings between leaders of the two countries, cement political mutual trust, deepen practical cooperation, enhance multilateral coordination, promote the sound and steady development of China-Italy and China-Europe relations and jointly address global challenges.

Global Times: On August 31, Japanese Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Nomura Tetsuro called the water being released from Fukushima as “contaminated water” rather than “treated water”, the term often used by Japan. Prime Minister Kishida instructed Nomura to withdraw the statement and apologize. What’s China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: It is extremely selfish and irresponsible for the Japanese government to forcibly start the ocean discharge of the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water in disregard of strong international opposition. The term “treated water” does not reflect facts and is nothing more than Japan’s attempt to downplay and covering up the danger of the ocean discharge and misguide the public and international public opinion.

By calling the water contaminated, relevant Japanese official is just telling the truth. Isn’t it true that what Japan really needs to withdraw is its wrong decision of pushing through the ocean discharge and what Japan really needs to apologize for is its selfish acts of spreading nuclear contamination risks to the rest of the world? 

Bloomberg: Former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the relations between the US and China are hindered by a lack of shared values and that the Chinese government violated almost every trade standard. Can you respond?

Wang Wenbin: China grows its relations with the US in accordance with the three principles of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation proposed by President Xi Jinping. The remarks you mentioned are a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of China’s US policy and inconsistent with facts. We hope the US will work with China in the same direction, act on its commitments of not seeking a decoupling from China and not seeking to contain China’s development, and jointly bring our bilateral relations back to the track of sound and steady development.

CCTV: Since Japan started releasing the nuclear-contaminated water into the sea, Japanese officials have repeatedly said that the ocean discharge is based on science and fully transparent. The Japanese side has also on many occasions said that China’s ban on aquatic products from Japan is not based on science and that China is the only country that opposes Japan’s ocean discharge. Japan has asked China to lift the ban. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: These remarks of the Japanese side are a clear misrepresentation of the facts. 

If the Japanese side respects science, why has it strictly limited the scope of the IAEA review, which has no mandate to evaluate other disposal options than ocean discharge? Why has Japan launched a cute mascot representing radioactive tritium and deliberately compared the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water with water released by nuclear power plants in normal operation across the world?

If the Japanese side respects science, why has the release of the nuclear-contaminated water into the sea been strongly criticized by the international community and sparked widespread indignation? Why have so few countries openly expressed support to Japan’s ocean discharge so far? In fact, the countries which have expressed support are exactly those who have witnessed the biggest drop in Japanese seafood imports.

If the Japanese side respects science, why have up to 40 percent of the Japanese people are against the ocean discharge of the nuclear-contaminated water and as much as 80 percent raised concerns or discontent over this move?

China’s competent authorities have taken urgent measures against aquatic products originating from Japan, which is a justified, reasonable and necessary action to safeguard food safety and public health. Countries in the region, including the ROK, Russia, Malaysia and Thailand, have also taken corresponding preventive measures. How could it be possible that other countries are not allowed to take urgent protection measures to protect the marine environment and public health while Japan is spreading the risk of nuclear pollution to the world? This is just illogical. 

Let me point out that the publicly available data of the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water so far is all provided by the Japanese side unilaterally. The webpage on the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water of the IAEA official website also clearly states that “information and data on this webpage are provided by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Incorporated (TEPCO)”. Don’t forget that TEPCO has been repeatedly involved in scandals of tampering with, covering up and falsifying the data. In absence of a long-term international monitoring mechanism, the Japanese side, who should have been placed under monitoring, is now the only one that tests and provides the data concerning the nuclear-contaminated water. How could anyone expect such test to be science-based, transparent and reliable?

The Japanese side claims that China is the only country that opposes Japan’s ocean discharge, which is nothing but distortion of the facts and deliberate dishonesty. I need to make it clear that the disposal of the nuclear-contaminated water is not Japan’s domestic affair and not only an issue between certain countries. This is about polluting or protecting the ocean, undermining or protecting the environment and harming or protecting the health of humanity. On this major issue, what Japan needs to face is not a single country, but the whole international community. What Japan should do is reflect on its wrongdoing and show repentance rather than pose as a victim and try to gain sympathy with complaint.

We urge the Japanese side to face squarely up to the concerns of its neighboring countries and the international community, immediately stop spreading the risk of nuclear pollution to the world, and stop taking a stand against the international community, otherwise it will be held morally and legally responsible for generations to come.

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