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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin's Regular Press Conference on February 2, 2021

FSN: Reports say Chinese police cracked a fake vaccine ring. Could you give us a little bit more details on that?

Wang Wenbin: The Xinhua News Agency has released information about the Ministry of Public Security instructing the public security departments nationwide to carry out the special operations to combat and prevent vaccine-related crimes, as well as on police in Jiangsu and other provinces and regions jointly solving a case of manufacturing and selling fake vaccines. As we understand, the Chinese side has notified relevant countries of the situation. I'd like to stress that the Chinese government attaches high importance to vaccine safety and will continue to take measures in accordance with law to crack down on illegal production and sale of counterfeit vaccines, smuggling, illegal vaccination and other vaccine-related crimes. In the meantime, we will enhance law enforcement cooperation with relevant countries to prevent the spreading of such crimes.

Xinhua News Agency: We understand China and Japan are expected to hold the 12th round of high-level consultations on maritime affairs shortly. Could you give us the time, venue and agenda?

Wang Wenbin: As agreed by the two sides, the 12th round of high-level consultations on maritime affairs between China and Japan will be held virtually on February 3. Officials from departments covering foreign affairs, defence, maritime law enforcement and marine management will attend the event. Earlier on January 20, the two sides' heads of delegation already held a dialogue under this mechanism.

The high-level consultations were established as an integrated mechanism of communication and coordination for maritime affairs between the two sides. We look forward to having a thorough exchange of ideas on maritime issues of mutual concern with the Japanese side to enhance mutual understanding and trust and expand practical cooperation.

Phoenix TV: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview that the US should follow the UK in letting in those repressed fleeing from Hong Kong. He also said that "we have to be able to approach China from a position of strength......and that strength, I think, comes from......actually engaging in the world and showing up in these international institutions. He also brought up the WHO expert team in Wuhan, alleging that China's arrangement lacks transparency. What is your response?

Wang Wenbin: On your first question, China's position on Hong Kong-related issues is consistent and clear. Hong Kong is China's Hong Kong, and Hong Kong affairs are China's internal affairs. No foreign country has the right to interfere in them.

All illegal activities will be punished by law. This is the case in all countries and regions governed by rule of law. If the US side agrees that this basic principle also applies to what happened at the Capitol Hill, then it should seriously think about its behaviors, including emboldening law-breakers in Hong Kong and using Hong Kong affairs to interfere in China's internal affairs, and correct its wrong words and actions, so as to avoid damaging China-US relations and cooperation.

On your second question, China is committed to upholding and practicing multilateralism. As an active participant in global governance, China is and will always be a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development, and a guardian of international order. The international community bears witness to this. Meanwhile, China maintains that only when all parties practice genuine multilateralism can world peace, stability and development be safeguarded.

On your third question, since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Chinese side has maintained close communication and cooperation with WHO on global origin-tracing in an open and transparent manner. WHO experts have made three visits to China for exchanges and communication on relevant issues. The visit this time is part of global science and research cooperation on origin-tracing, and the Chinese side has provided strong support and assistance to make this visit happen and work. Chinese experts have shared loads of information and research outcomes and conducted rounds of in-depth exchanges on scientific issues of mutual interest with their counterparts. The WHO and international experts all speak highly of China's efforts.

I need to point out that origin-tracing is a complex scientific issue which involves many countries and places. More and more clues, reports and studies have indicated that the infections broke out in multiple places in the world in the latter half of the year 2019. According to a US CDC report, Covid-19 antibodies were detected in blood donations collected in December 2019, which means that the virus may have already been spreading in the United States by then, earlier than January 21 when the first official confirmed COVID-19 case was reported in the country.

We hope that following China's example, the US will act in a positive, science-based and cooperative manner on the origin-tracing issue, ensure transparency, and invite WHO experts in for an origin-tracing study. This is what the US can do to promote international anti-epidemic cooperation and science-based origin-tracing.

Prasar Bharati: The question is related to China's vaccine exports. China has started exporting its vaccines to many countries, but these vaccines have not yet been approved for use in people younger than 18 and older than 59 due to insufficient clinical data. Also, data for phase three clinical trials have not been published yet. So, how do you see this situation?

Wang Wenbin: You raised a similar question yesterday. I can assure you that the Chinese government always regards vaccine's safety and efficacy as the top priority. China's vaccine R&D companies have been advancing their work and conducting international cooperation in strict accordance with scientific rules, regulatory requirements and relevant laws and regulations. At the current stage, several China-made vaccines are undergoing phase III clinical trials overseas, and judging from the data generated by these trials that have been released so far, Chinese vaccines are safe and effective. At the end of last year, China's National Medical Products Administration granted conditional marketing authorization to Sinopharm's inactivated vaccine. Plus, many countries including the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Brazil have approved the use of Chinese vaccines. All these testify to the safety and efficacy of Chinese vaccines. If you are interested in getting more details, I would refer you to the competent authority.

FSN: Yesterday you mentioned the issue regarding T-shirts that were printed by a member of staff from the Canadian embassy. A spokesperson for Canada's foreign services said that the graphic that was on the shirt wasn't a bat; and it was in fact of an American rap group, the Wu-Tang Clan, that may have looked a bit like a bat. What is your comment? Has that matter been cleared up satisfactorily in China's view?

Wang Wenbin: I stated China's position on this issue yesterday. The Chinese side has lodged stern representations with the Canadian side, demanding that the Canadian side thoroughly investigate the incident and give China a clear explanation.

AFP: The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting later today on the situation in Myanmar. What are China's expectations for it?

Wang Wenbin: We have noted what happened in Myanmar. China is a friendly neighbor of Myanmar. We hope that all parties in Myanmar will properly handle their differences under the constitutional and legal framework and maintain political and social stability.

We are in communication with relevant parties of the Security Council on this issue. Whatever actions taken by the international community shall contribute to Myanmar's political and social stability, promote its peace and reconciliation, and avoid escalating the conflict and complicating the situation.

Prasar Bharati: China International Students Union has said in a statement that foreign students should be allowed to return to China step by step based on COVID tests and antibody tests, like how business people have been allowed. They also say online studies are not practically possible and their diplomas will not be recognized in their countries. They said that they are ready for vaccination if that helps them get back to China. Will China consider their plea for their return based on these measures? Second, China allowed certain foreign students to return. What is the issue in allowing students from other nationalities?

Wang Wenbin: I remember you have raised this question here many times, and each time we gave you a response. Here I would like to recap our position.

First, as COVID-19 situation remains severe, all countries are taking prevention and containment measures based on their own conditions. This is to protect the safety and health of all citizens, including students. I'm sure everyone will understand this.

Second, we hope the international community will strengthen anti-epidemic cooperation to win the fight as soon as possible so that students can return to campus sooner rather than later.

Third, on the precondition of observing containment protocols, the Chinese authorities will study in a coordinated manner the matter of allowing foreign students to come back for their studies and maintain communication with relevant parties. I'll refer you to the competent department for more details.

NHK: US President Biden said that the "military's seizure of power" in Myanmar is "a direct assault on the country's transition to democracy and the rule of law" and called on the military to "immediately relinquish the power they have seized", otherwise they will face sanctions from the international community. Does China have a comment?

Wang Wenbin: I just stated China's position on this issue. Any action by the international community should be conducive to Myanmar's political and social stability, peace and reconciliation, and avoid escalating tensions and complicating the situation.

AFP: I have one question about Iran. Yesterday, Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif asked the European Union to coordinate US return to the nuclear deal. He said that the EU should play a role. Do you have any comment on that? And could China help the US to return to the nuclear deal as well?

Wang Wenbin: The Iranian nuclear issue is at a crucial juncture. The imperative at the moment is for all parties to accelerate implementation of the consensus reached at last December's foreign ministers' meeting, push for the unconditional return of the United States to the JCPOA as early as possible, its resumption of compliance and elimination of all relevant sanctions. On this basis Iran should resume full compliance. China is following the situation closely and maintaining close communication with all relevant sides. We support a step-by-step and reciprocal approach and will continue to work with relevant parties and the international community to bring the JCPOA back on track and promote the political settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue.

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