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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning’s Regular Press Conference on December 29, 2023

2023-12-29 20:49

CNR: This year, President Xi Jinping visited Asia, Africa, Europe and America, received leaders from many countries in China, and chaired the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation and other major home-ground diplomatic events. How does China’s head-of-state diplomacy guide its major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics?

Mao Ning: Under the strategic guidance of head-of-state diplomacy, major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics embarked on a new journey and has written a splendid new chapter in 2023.

First, China has advanced major-country relations. This year’s head-of-state overseas visits kicked off with President Xi Jinping’s visit to Russia. The Chinese and Russian presidents had long, sincere, friendly, and fruitful talks and exchanges, and drew up a blueprint for the growth of China-Russia relations. President Xi was invited to hold the China-US summit meeting in San Francisco. The two sides had an exchange of views on strategic and overarching issues critical to the direction of China-US relations and on major issues affecting world peace and development to stabilize and improve the bilateral relations. President Xi had meetings with French president and EU leaders. They exchanged views and reached important common understandings on China-France relations, China-EU relations, and regional and international issues of mutual concern.

Second, China has enhanced solidarity and cooperation with neighbors and developing countries. In Xi’an, President Xi chaired the China-Central Asia Summit, where all parties jointly announced that they will build a closer China-Central Asia Community with a shared future. In Johannesburg, President Xi attended the 15th BRICS Summit, where BRICS expansion made a historic step forward. He co-chaired with South African President the China-Africa Leaders’ Dialogue, which demonstrated through concrete action that China and African countries will forever stand shoulder to shoulder. In Beijing, President Xi announced eight major steps China will take to support the joint pursuit of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation at the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to help developing countries speed up the process of modernization. In Hanoi, General Secretary and President Xi reached important common understandings with Vietnamese leaders to build a China-Viet Nam community with a shared future that carries strategic significance. It is another vivid illustration of the principle of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness in neighborhood diplomacy.

Third, China contributed its wisdom to the settlement of hotspot issues. Based on the common understanding reached by President Xi and Saudi and Iranian leaders and with China’s support and facilitation, Saudi Arabia and Iran reached a historic agreement to resume diplomatic ties.  To facilitate the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis, President Xi maintained communication with leaders from relevant parties to promote peace talks. Since the outbreak of the latest Palestinian-Israeli conflict, President Xi has outlined China’s principled position on multiple occasions. At the Extraordinary Joint Meeting of BRICS Leaders, he called for an immediate ceasefire and efforts for an early solution to the question of Palestine that is comprehensive, just, sustainable and based on the two-state solution.

Fourth, China has consolidated public foundation for friendly cooperation. President Xi Jinping personally reached out to the world to tell China’s stories and make friends across the globe. Earlier this year, President Xi met with Henry Kissinger, Bill Gates and several other US friends, had cordial conversations with old friends from various sectors of the US in San Francisco, and delivered a historic speech to the American public while he was there. He also exchanged correspondence with friends from various countries. The letters conveyed messages of goodwill. It showed the character of a statesman who has a common touch and values the bond with the people. This has won respect and friendship from the world.

President Xi Jinping once noted, “It’s hard work to travel all over the world, but we’ve made more and more friends because of it. This is our reward.” As we conclude 2023 with numerous highlights in head-of-state diplomacy, let us look forward to next year.

Bloomberg: Just on your earlier comments, I just wanted to ask about Ukraine and Russia and the visit by Envoy Li Hui to the region. Has there been any follow-up on that or is there a further trip planned? I just wanted to ask about the Li Hui delegation and future plans in 2024. Can we expect to see that continuing? Thats my first question. And secondly I just wanted to ask about the meeting on foreign policy conference this week that basically was setting the tone for China’s diplomatic activities going forward. I wonder if you could just tell us a little bit more about that. And for example, can you elaborate a little bit about the timing? Why was this happening around now? And what would be the key message for the international audience that they should take away from the conference on foreign policy?

Mao Ning: On your first question, China will continue to promote peace talks and facilitate the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis. About whether there are planned visits by Special Envoy Li Hui next year and China’s future mediation or actions, I have no information to share at the moment. If something is planned, we’ll release the information when appropriate. Please check back for updates.

On your second question, let me thank you for your interest in the conference. This has been indeed a very important event. The Central Conference on Work Relating to Foreign Affairs was held in Beijing on December 27-28. Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), President of the People’s Republic of China and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, delivered an important address. He gave a profound exposition on the international environment and historical mission of China’s external work on the new journey, and made comprehensive plans for China’s external work for the present and coming periods.

It was made clear at the conference that since the 18th CPC National Congress, historic achievements have been secured and historic changes have taken place in China’s external work on the great journey of advancing the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era. We have opened up new prospects in major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics. China has become a responsible major country with enhanced international influence, stronger capacity to steer new endeavors, and greater moral appeal. Changes of the world, of our times, and of historical significance are unfolding like never before, and the world has entered a new period of turbulence and transformation. Yet the overall direction of human development and progress will not change, the overall dynamics of world history moving forward amid twists and turns will not change, and the overall trend toward a shared future for the international community will not change. 

It was pointed out at the conference that a community with a shared future for mankind reflects the Chinese Communists’ worldview, perception of order, and values, accords with the common aspiration of people in all countries, and points the direction for the progress of world civilizations. It is also the noble goal pursued by China in conducting major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics for the new era. Given the series of major issues and challenges facing the world today, China calls for an equal and orderly multipolar world and a universally beneficial and inclusive economic globalization. An equal and orderly multipolar world is one in which all countries, regardless of size, are treated as equals, hegemonism and power politics are rejected, and democracy is truly promoted in international relations. A universally beneficial and inclusive economic globalization is one that meets the common needs of all countries, especially the developing countries, and properly addresses the development imbalances between and within countries resulting from the global allocation of resources.

On the new journey, major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics will enter a new stage where much more can be accomplished. We will be guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era and Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy in particular. We must focus on the central task of the CPC and the country, seek progress while maintaining stability, break new ground while upholding fundamental principles, and firmly safeguard China’s sovereignty, security and development interests. We will explore new frontiers in China’s diplomatic theory and practice, foster new dynamics in the relations between China and the world, and raise China’s international influence, appeal and power to shape events to a new level. We will create a more favorable international environment and provide more solid strategic support for building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects and advancing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through the Chinese path to modernization.

AFP: According to Tony Chung on social media who was convicted under the National Security Law, he has arrived in the UK to seek asylum. Does the Foreign Ministry have any comment?

Mao Ning: Hong Kong upholds the rule of law. All laws in Hong Kong must be observed and those who break the law must be held accountable. Those who think they can just use foreign support and get away with legal consequences will not have their way and will be held accountable.

RIA Novosti: In an interview with RIA news agency, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Western countries and some countries of the Global South met 10 days ago to discuss a “peace formula” proposed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He added that Russia’s close allies who attended the meeting did not promise anyone to keep secrets from Russia on issues concerning it. What’s China’s comment? Did China attend this meeting?

Mao Ning: China’s position on the Ukraine crisis is clear-cut and consistent. We have played a constructive role in bringing about a ceasefire and the political settlement of the crisis. The Chinese side will continue working in its own way to promote peace talks and facilitate political settlement at an early date.

NHK: A spokesperson of one of the local armed groups in Myanmar told NHK they communicated or coordinated with the Chinese authorities before they started the military operation in October against the Myanmar government. Can you confirm that? Is there any progress or updates on peace talks between Myanmar government forces and armed groups mediated by China?

Mao Ning: China’s position on the conflict in northern Myanmar is very clear. China firmly supports the peace process in northern Myanmar and does not support any party in provoking trouble. Ceasefire and peace talks serve the interests of relevant parties in Myanmar and are conducive to peace and stability in the China-Myanmar border area. We hope relevant parties in Myanmar will exercise maximum restraint, take the initiative in deescalating the situation on the ground and jointly bring about a soft landing of the situation in northern Myanmar. 

Dragon TV:It’s reported that the spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Aguilar said that the Philippino government is considering building a permanent civilian structure on Ren’ai Jiao, such as a lighthouse or marine science research center. He also said that Ren’ai Jiao lies in their Exclusive Economic Zone where only the Philippines can build structures. They will deliver civilian supplies rather than military supplies from now on. What’s your response?

Mao Ning: Ren’ai Jiao is part of China’s Nansha Qundao. China has indisputable sovereignty over Nansha Qundao, including Ren’ai Jiao, and their adjacent waters. This was established in the long course of history and is consistent with international law including the UN Charter. It is against the principles of international law and legally untenable for the Philippines to cite the “award” of the South China Sea arbitration, which is illegal, null and void, to claim that Ren’ai Jiao falls within its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf and deny China’s sovereignty over it.

Ren’ai Jiao is an uninhabited shoal. According to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed by China and ASEAN countries, parties should keep Ren’ai Jiao uninhabited and facility-free.

On the Ren’ai Jiao issue, the Philippines reneged on its words, changed its policy, infringed on China’s sovereignty and made provocations again and again and triggered complex situations. The spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines blatantly claimed that the Philippines will build a permanent structure. This would be another major move the Philippines could take to go back on its words, change its policy, and undermine the uninhabited and facility-free status of Ren’ai Jiao. This will severely infringe on China’s sovereignty, and violate international law and the DOC. China will take resolute measures against any violation of our sovereignty and provocation, and firmly safeguard our territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. 

The following question was raised after the regular press conference: It’s been learned that firing broke out in front of the Crown Hotel in Dong Chen, Laukkaing Township, Myanmar on the afternoon of December 25, causing casualties that included Chinese. The Myanmar government urged the Chinese nationals in Laukkaing to leave the country. China’s embassy and consulates have issued a consular notice on this. What’s your comment?

Mao Ning: China is closely following the conflict in northern Myanmar and strongly deplores the casualties of Chinese caused by the armed conflict. We have lodged serious protest to relevant parties. We once again urge parties to the conflict in northern Myanmar to stop the fighting at once, take concrete steps to protect the safety and security of Chinese projects and personnel in Myanmar and stop events endangering the safety of lives and property of Chinese nationals from happening again. 

The current security situation in the Kokang self-administered zone in Myanmar is severe and complex. The Foreign Ministry reminds Chinese citizens not to travel to northern Myanmar for the time being and calls on Chinese nationals in the area to take safety precautions.

It’s quite possible that those still in Laukkaing are telecom fraud suspects. What will China do with those people?

Mao Ning: China puts the people and their lives above all else. We have a responsibility to protect the lives and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese nationals overseas. We hope relevant parties in Myanmar to take China’s concerns seriously and take concrete steps to protect the safety and security of Chinese projects and personnel in Myanmar. We call on the telecom fraud suspects in Laukkaing to return to China and turn themselves in as soon as possible so that there is still a possibility of being granted leniency.


In observance of New Year’s Day holiday, our press conference will be in recess on Monday, January 1 and resumed on Tuesday, January 2. During the recess, you may still raise questions to the Spokesperson’s Office via fax, email or WeChat.

This concludes the last regular press briefing of 2023. This year, we held 229 press briefings and took more than 2,000 questions. I would like to take this opportunity to extend heartfelt thanks to you all for being here with us throughout the year. We look forward to working closely with you in the year ahead to communicate China’s foreign policy to the world and help it better understand China. On behalf of the Department of Press, Communication and Public Diplomacy of the Foreign Ministry and my colleagues, let me wish you a happy new year, good health and success, and your families every happiness and all the best in 2024. Thank you and see you next year.

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