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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on February 17, 2022

Xinhua News Agency: Yesterday afternoon, President Xi Jinping spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron. Can you share more information?

Wang Wenbin: As comprehensive strategic partners, China and France maintain close high-level exchange and communication. Last year, President Xi Jinping spoke with President Macron twice, and attended two video summits with the leaders of France and Germany. At the beginning of the new year, the two heads of state spoke over the phone again and exchanged New Year greetings, which has sent a positive signal about the development of China-France and China-EU relations.

President Xi took stock of the fruitful cooperation between the two countries over the past year, and pointed out that in the new year, China and France should keep up with the positive, healthy and upward trajectory, strengthen dialogue and exchange at all levels, enhance understanding and mutual trust, and work for new outcomes in China-France cooperation. President Macron said, as the international landscape is fraught with tensions and turbulence, France expects to deepen comprehensive strategic partnership with China further. It hopes to discuss with China about overcoming the impact of the pandemic, strengthening personnel exchanges, enhancing friendship and mutual trust, and deepening mutually beneficial cooperation. The two sides have reached many important consensus on bilateral cooperation at the next stage, including implementing agri-tech cooperation and sub-national specialty agribusiness cooperation at an early date, deepening China-France green manufacturing partnership initiative and each providing a fair, equitable and non-discriminatory business environment for enterprises from the other country, supporting more French banks and financial infrastructure in joining the RMB Cross-Border Interbank Payment System, supporting aviation enterprises of the two countries in deepening cooperation in various forms and promoting mutual airworthiness certification for aircraft, accelerating the implementation of the Fourth Round China-France Third-Party Market Cooperation List, holding the space and cyber sub-group meetings of the China-France Strategic Dialogue at an early date, carrying out polar and maritime dialogues, and strengthening military dialogue and exchanges at all levels.

The two heads of state also had an in-depth exchange of views on deepening China-EU relations. President Xi stressed that China and the EU should follow correct mutual understanding, and uphold mutual respect, dialogue and cooperation, and win-win cooperation to find the greatest common denominator and promote new development of China-EU relations. President Macron said that during its EU presidency in the first half of this year, France will make every effort to advance the positive agenda between the EU and China. The two sides agreed to work together to ensure the success of the EU-China leaders’ meeting and work toward progress in the ratification and implementation of the EU-China investment agreement.

The two heads of state also exchanged views on issues of common concern including the Ukraine situation.

China is ready to work with France to follow through on the leaders’ consensus reached in the phone call, and promote continuous development of China-France and China-EU relations in the new year.

AFP: The US Treasury Secretary said in an interview today that China needs to be more active in G20 debt relief efforts and she also said the G20 needs to move faster to facilitate effective debt relief for low-income economies. Does the Foreign Ministry have any response?

Wang Wenbin: As we have repeatedly stressed, in line with the G20 consensus, China has fully implemented the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative for Poorest Countries. The total debt service payments suspended by China are the largest among G20 members. In addition, China’s non-official financial institutions have also taken debt service suspension actions in a comparable manner with reference to the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) provisions, which is rare among G20 countries. Besides, working together with other members, China also handled some countries’ debt on a case-by-case basis under the Common Framework for debt treatment. These measures China adopted have played a positive role in easing relevant countries’ debt burdens.

Meanwhile, I would like to point out that developing countries’ debt issue is a long-standing one. It is about development in essence. The issue has also been impacted by the macro-economic measures of major economies. According to authoritative international agencies, multilateral development banks and private creditors, mainly commercial institutions of developed countries, account for a large part of the debt structure of these heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC). For example, multilateral financial institutions and commercial creditors account for more than three quarters of the total external debt owed by African countries. Their claims are an important cause of these countries’ debt problems, and they bear a greater responsibility in helping developing countries reduce their debt burden. China calls on these institutions to contribute more to alleviating the debt burden of developing countries.

Dragon TV: It is reported that the US Department of Justice has recently launched a review of the China Initiative amid concerns that it may fuel anti-Asian rhetoric and acts. Separately, the ROK’s foreign ministry said that Chung Byung-Hwa, the country’s Consul General in New York, will meet with government officials of the New York City to request that the city government make proactive efforts to prevent the recurrence of anti-Asian hate crimes. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: Both the so-called China Initiative and the rampant anti-Asian acts and words in the US boil down to its systemic racial discrimination and reflect the entrenched social problem in the US. Statistics show that anti-Asian hate crimes rose 76 percent in 2020. A quarter of young Americans of Asian descent were targeted by racial discrimination and bullying over the last year. These numbers are shocking and present a cause for widespread concern in many Asian countries and the wider international community.

The US should do some soul-searching, earnestly address systemic racial discrimination, and ensure and safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of ethnic minorities including people of Asian descent. This way, the people can stay away from violence and fear and enjoy equal rights that they deserve. 

Bloomberg: A report by a US think tank called the Atlantic Council says that significant evidence suggests that several clients of the International Finance Corporation, which is an arm of the World Bank, are active participants in the implementation of the PRC’s campaign of "repression" against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang. Does the foreign ministry have a comment on the report?

Wang Wenbin: I have noted the report. This is a false report that is based on no evidence and maliciously fabricated. As we have learned, the institution that wrote the report has no staff in Xinjiang. And before releasing the report, it did not conduct any field trips or carry out research in a real sense. The content thus lacks factual support and is full of lies and groundless accusations.

The Chinese government attaches great importance to protecting human rights and worker’s rights and interests. For some time, certain countries have kept playing up Xinjiang-related lies, and extended their reach to multilateral development institutions. China calls on relevant bodies to stick to multilateral rules, uphold the principle of objectivity, impartiality and non-politicization, and refrain from discriminating against any companies of the member countries based on false accusations that may undermine the reputation of the body itself and its members. 

Jiji Press: Last December, a Japanese male was detained in Shanghai. Why was he detained and what law did he break? If he has not been released, how is his health at the moment? 

Wang Wenbin: I’m not aware of the specific cases you mentioned. I can assure you that when handling cases involving foreign nationals who have broken Chinese law, the Chinese side always act in strict accordance with relevant laws, and provide necessary assistance to the China-based diplomatic and consular officials of the countries concerned in fulfilling their consular duties in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and bilateral consular treaties.

CCTV: Yesterday, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova criticized the practices of hyping up “Russia’s invasion on Ukraine” again, saying that she has not seen such a number of disinformation, slander and lies in a concentrated form for a long time. However, the US side alleged that the risk of further Russian military “aggression” against Ukraine remains. What’s your take on that?

Wang Wenbin: Disseminating disinformation and creating an air of tension is not conducive to resolving the Ukraine issue. Clamoring for bloc confrontation and wielding the big stick of sanctions will only impede dialogue and negotiation. The US side should value and accommodate Russia’s legitimate and reasonable concerns over security guarantees and play a constructive role for all parties to seek a political settlement to the Ukraine issue on the basis of the Minsk-2 agreement, rather than hype up and sensationalize the crisis and escalate tensions. China supports all efforts in keeping with the direction and spirit of the Minsk-2 agreement. 

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