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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on February 25, 2022

2022-02-25 21:35

AFP: Does China consider Russia’s action an invasion now? And if not, then what does China think the nature of this conflict actually is?

Wang Wenbin: The sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected and upheld. The purposes and principles of the UN Charter should also be jointly upheld. This is a principle China always follows and a basic norm governing international relations that all countries should adhere to. At the same time, we recognize that the Ukraine issue has a complex and special historical context and understand Russia’s legitimate concerns on security issues. China maintains that all should discard the Cold War mentality and eventually put in place a balanced, effective and sustainable European security mechanism through dialogue and negotiation.

ABC Spanish Daily Newspaper: In the light of the events that have taken place in Ukraine in the last 24 hours, has China’s position changed at all?

Wang Wenbin: China’s position on the Ukraine issue is consistent. We call on all parties to exercise restraint and prevent further escalation of the situation. 

Global Times: Yesterday, the Global Times launched a joint letter demanding the US to return life-saving money to the Afghan people unconditionally. Do you have any comment on this?

Wang Wenbin: I noted relevant reports. In just 24 hours, over 200,000 people signed the joint letter demanding the US to return the Afghan people’s assets unconditionally. This fully shows that the US’ robbery of Afghan assets has triggered strong indignation. 

The US is the culprit of the Afghan issue. It is reported that during the war in Afghanistan, more than 30,000 innocent civilians were killed by the US military or died of the war, and about 11 million people became refugees. The US withdrew its troops from Afghanistan in an irresponsible and hasty manner, leaving disaster and suffering to the innocent Afghan people, who are still facing a serious humanitarian crisis. With 22.8 million Afghans facing acute food insecurity and 3.2 million Afghan children under the age of five suffering from malnutrition, the country is facing an “avalanche of hunger and poverty”, according to the UN World Food Program. 

At this critical moment, instead of shouldering its due responsibility to help the Afghan people ease the humanitarian crisis, the US openly plundered the national assets of Afghanistan, further aggravating the suffering of the Afghan people. Such acts once again reveal that the “rules-based international order” touted by the US is in essence a set of rules and order to safeguard US hegemony and power. 

We call on the US side to immediately and completely unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets and lift unilateral sanctions on the country, unconditionally return the assets belonging to the Afghan people and take concrete actions to remedy the harm done to the Afghan people.

Bloomberg: Will China recognize the Donetsk and the Lugansk People’s Republics?

Wang Wenbin: The Ukraine issue has complex historical context and realistic factors. China’s position on the Ukraine issue is consistent and remains unchanged. We hope relevant parties, in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, are committed to resolving differences through negotiation, addressing the legitimate concerns of all parties and avoiding further escalation of the situation.

Reuters: How many Chinese nationals have been injured or killed as a result of this ongoing military conflict?

Wang Wenbin: I haven’t heard of that so far.

In order to proactively protect the safety of Chinese citizens in Ukraine under the current situation, the Chinese Embassy in Ukraine is working on the information registration of Chinese citizens in Ukraine to ensure that in case of emergency, it will be able to provide all necessary assistance to Chinese citizens there and make every effort to protect their safety. We are assessing all aspects of the situation and making appropriate arrangements accordingly.

The Foreign Ministry and the Chinese diplomatic and consular missions in Ukraine once again remind Chinese citizens in Ukraine to pay close attention to the development of the situation on the ground, stay vigilant and take safety precautions. Do not travel to unstable areas so as to avoid accidents.

Beijing Media Group: At the international symposium on the Afghan issue held the other day, Mr. Yue Xiaoyong, Special Envoy for Afghan Affairs of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, talked about China’s proposals and actions on helping Afghanistan achieve peace and reconstruction. Can you give us more details? What additional measures will China take to support and assist Afghanistan?

Wang Wenbin: Afghanistan is now at the critical stage of moving from chaos to stability. The Afghan people are presented with a historic opportunity to take their future into their own hands and seek a development path suited to their national conditions. At the same time, they also face multiple challenges, including with regard to the humanitarian situation, economy, counter-terrorism and governance. To overcome these difficulties, they need more understanding and support from the international community. The Afghan interim government should also further demonstrate openness and inclusiveness, pursue moderate and prudent domestic and foreign policies, firmly combat and eliminate all terrorist organizations, live on friendly terms with other countries, and build a modern country that meets the expectations of the people and conforms to the trend of the times.

Since the dramatic changes took place in Afghanistan, China has stayed in contact with relevant Afghan parties, provided urgent assistance to the Afghan people, actively promoted international coordination and helped Afghanistan maintain stability and prevent chaos. China will follow a friendly policy toward the entire Afghan people, respect Afghanistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and will not interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs. China will continue to help the Afghan people tide over the difficulties. China has already provided Afghanistan with nearly 300 million RMB in humanitarian assistance, including food, medicine, vaccines and winter supplies. We will continue to provide additional assistance based on what the Afghan people need most. China will offer strong support for Afghanistan to boost its self-reliant development capabilities. Last year, over a thousand tonnes of pine nuts from Afghanistan were sold out in China. We believe there will be more and more such popular stories of China-Afghanistan friendship. China will import more premium Afghan agricultural products to help the Afghan people increase incomes. Over the long term, we stand ready to enhance experience-sharing on state governance and connectivity building with Afghanistan. We will strive to synergize international forces in support of Afghanistan’s peace and reconstruction. China will work in close cooperation with regional countries and continue to convene meetings of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries’ foreign ministers to contribute its share to lasting peace and security in Afghanistan. At the same time, we will work for coordinated international action to help Afghanistan embark on a path of sound development.

In a word, China will continue to stand firmly together with the Afghan people and help Afghanistan realize development transformation and integrate into the big family of the international community at an early date.   

BBC: Overnight, the US president said that any nation which countenances Russia’s aggression against Ukraine will be stained by association. And he didn’t name any governments in particular. But what’s the Chinese government’s response to this comment?

Wang Wenbin: The truly discredited countries are those that wantonly interfere in other countries’ internal affairs and wage wars in the name of democracy and human rights.

MBC: The Chinese Embassy in Ukraine announced to the people that they can hold the Chinese flag when driving their cars. So I’d like to know how it can be a way of protecting Chinese people from any possible attack or threat? How does that work?

Wang Wenbin: The Chinese Embassy in Ukraine has issued relevant consular security alert. I want to reiterate that the Chinese Foreign Ministry and Embassy in Ukraine will take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens in the country. In case of emergency, Chinese citizens in Ukraine can use the hotline of our Global Emergency Call Center for Consular Protection and Services and stay in contact with the Chinese embassy and consulate. 

Bloomberg: A few moments ago, you said Chinese nationals should avoid going to “unstable areas”. Is that an accurate description of the situation in Ukraine today?

Wang Wenbin: I have already elaborated our the position on Ukraine. I won’t repeat it. 

AFP: Last night, the EU imposed what it called severe sanctions on Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Does China support these sanctions? And do you not think you risk damaging relations with your European partners by not coming out and explicitly condemning Russia?

Wang Wenbin: What is the result of sanctions? I believe we are no stranger to that. The US has imposed sanctions on Russia for more than 100 times since 2011. Facts show that sanctions are never the fundamental or effective way to solve problems. They will only bring serious difficulties to the economy and people’s livelihood of relevant countries and regions. We hope relevant parties will think about it carefully and strive to solve the problem through dialogue and consultation.

ABC Spanish Daily Newspaper: Does China believe that Russia’s military presence in Ukraine represents an interference in Ukraine’s domestic affairs? And also, does China still consider Ukraine a sovereign country?

Wang Wenbin: Ukraine is for sure a sovereign country. China’s position on the Ukraine issue is consistent and unchanged. 

TRT: Does China plan to lead a Security Council resolution or some other diplomatic initiative to prevent violence against civilians in Ukraine?

Wang Wenbin: We will handle relevant issues based on China’s consistent position and in keeping with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.

Reuters: What is China’s response to Taiwan deciding to sanction Russia?

Wang Wenbin: The Taiwan authorities won’t let go of any opportunity to chase the clout and assert themselves in a grandstanding manner. Such attempts are doomed to fail. 

CRI: According to reports, the UK Home Office said on February 24 that under a new plan to be rolled out in October this year, individuals aged 18 or over who were born on or after 1 July 1997 and who have at least one BNO parent to apply to the route independently, referring to its visa program. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: The Chinese side has repeatedly stated its position on this issue. I need to stress that the historical context of its issue is very clear. Prior to Hong Kong’s return, the British side explicitly committed not to grant BNO travel document holders the right of residence in the UK. However, over two decades after Hong Kong’s return, some in the UK, clinging to their nostalgic colonial dream, persistently concocted and rolled out the so-called new BNO passport scheme, and kept expanding the eligibility for application for BNO visa, trying to turn a large number of Hong Kong citizens into second class British citizens. The UK acts fundamentally contravene its commitment in the relevant memorandum, blatantly meddle in Hong Kong’s affairs, grossly interfere in China’s domestic affairs, and violate international law and basic norms governing international relations. We deplore and reject them.

China has announced its decision of no longer recognizing BNO passport as valid travel document and identification and reserving the right to take further measures. The British side shall bear all ensuing consequences. We urge the UK to grasp the overriding trend of history, give up the illusion of retaining colonial influence in Hong Kong, immediately mend its ways and stop meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs in any means, otherwise it would only hurt itself. Attempts aimed at messing up Hong Kong and undermining its prosperity and stability will never succeed.

Bloomberg: The UN Security Council is set to vote on a resolution condemning Moscow’ actions. Will China veto that resolution given its refusal so far to condemn Russia for its invasion?

Wang Wenbin: As I said just now, China will handle relevant issues based on its consistent position and the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.

AFP: Australia has criticized what it calls China’s lack of a strong response to the invasion of Ukraine. It’s also said that Beijing is offering Russia a lifeline by easing restrictions on imports of Russian wheat. What is the foreign ministry’s reaction to that?

Wang Wenbin: For some time, the Australian side, entrenched in the Cold War mentality and ideological bias, has time and again spread disinformation to smear and criticize China. Such irresponsible behavior is despicable.

China’s position on the Ukraine issue is consistent. At the same time, we conduct normal trade cooperation with Russia in the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.

Phoenix TV: White House spokeswoman Psaki said on February 24 that “This is really a moment for China, for any country, about what side of history they want to stand on here”, urging China to pick a side. Do you have any response to this?

Wang Wenbin: China always decides its position and policy based on the merits of the matter. We stand on the side of peace and justice.

We always maintain that the Ukraine issue has a very complex historical context and all parties’ security concerns should be respected. All should completely discard the Cold War mentality, seek comprehensive resolution of Ukraine and other related issues through dialogue and negotiation, and eventually put in place a balanced, effective and sustainable European security mechanism.

For some time, China has actively promoted the political settlement process of the Ukraine issue. During a telephone conversation with French President Macron, President Xi Jinping stressed all relevant parties should adhere to the general direction of political settlement, make full use of multilateral platforms including the Normandy format, and seek a comprehensive resolution of the Ukraine issue through dialogue and consultation.

Following the abrupt deterioration of the situation in Ukraine, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke with the foreign ministers of Russia and the US by phone respectively, pointing out that any country’s legitimate security concerns should be respected and the purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be upheld. He also called on all parties to exercise restraint, de-escalate the situation and resolve differences through dialogue and negotiation.

Going forward, China will continue to make its own effort to promote the political settlement of the Ukraine issue. Its practice stands in stark contrast to that of a certain country, who has created and shifted crisis to others, and reaped gains from it. I believe we will make a fair judgment as to which approach is more conducive to the security, stability and lasting peace in Europe.

At present, the door to peacefully resolving the Ukraine issue is not fully closed. We hope parties concerned will remain calm and rational, stay committed to the principles of the UN Charter and peacefully resolve relevant issues through negotiation. China will continue to promote peace talks in its own manner, and welcomes and encourages all efforts for advancing diplomatic settlement. 

BBC: Ukraine’s leader has said that this is definitely an attempt by Russia to overthrow his government. Given these comments, what’s China’s message to the government of Ukraine?

Wang Wenbin: We call on all sides to exercise restraint and avoid further escalation of the situation.

AFP: My question relates to the call between Ministers Lavrov and Wang Yi. The Russian readout of that call says that the two ministers expressed the common opinion that the reason for the current crisis was Ukraine’s refusal encouraged by the United States and its allies to implement the Minsk accords. The Chinese readout did not say whether Wang agreed with that position. Is the Russian statement accurate? Does China believe that Ukraine provoked this conflict in some way?

Wang Wenbin: You may refer to the Chinese side’s readout, which has already been released. China always respects all countries’ sovereignty and territorial integrity. That being said, we recognize the special historical complexities surrounding the Ukraine issue and understand Russia’s legitimate security concerns. We hold that the Cold War mentality should be completely discarded and efforts should be made to eventually forge a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture in Europe.

CCTV: The Chinese Embassy in Australia held a presentation ceremony of the Great Wall Commemorative Medal of the Ministry of Public Security of China yesterday. Ambassador Xiao Qian, who assumed his new post not long ago, awarded the gold medal and a commemorative certificate on behalf of the Government of China to the late NSWPF Senior Constable Kelly Foster who sadly lost her life trying to rescue a Chinese citizen in 2021. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: On February 24, the Chinese Embassy in Australia held a solemn presentation ceremony of the Great Wall Commemorative Medal of the Ministry of Public Security of China in honor and remembrance of the late NSWPF Senior Constable Kelly Foster who sadly lost her life trying to rescue a Chinese citizen in early 2021. The Great Wall Commemorative Medal was established by the Ministry of Public Security of China in December 2020, to be awarded especially to law enforcement officers from foreign countries who have made outstanding contributions towards protecting the safety of Chinese citizens. The Gold Great Wall Commemorative Medal for Senior Constable Kelly Foster, with the serial number of 0001, is the first one awarded globally.

The light of humanity transcends race, culture and nationality. Ms. Kelly and the Chinese citizen in danger didn’t know each other, but at the critical moment of life or death, Ms. Kelly made every effort to rescue the Chinese citizen until the very last moment. The Chinese people attach great importance to acts of friendship and kindness. Ms. Foster’s heroic act will not be forgotten.

What has happened is further proof of the unquestionable friendly sentiment between the two peoples. The two peoples’ shared wish is our command. I recall our remarks on the heroic act of Ms. Foster last year: the kindness and compassion of humanity shines brilliantly even in the harshest winter. It is China’s hope that the light will continue to warm the two peoples and nourish the tree of friendship between China and Australia.

Reuters: Is China prepared to increase purchases of Russian oil in response to US and EU sanctions?

Wang Wenbin: I just stated China’s position on sanctions on Russia. Sanctions are never effective means to solve any problem. We hope relevant sides will strive to resolve the issue through dialogue and consultation. I must also stress that we consistently oppose all illegal unilateral sanctions. We demand that relevant parties, in handling the Ukraine issue and relations with Russia, shall not harm the legitimate rights and interests of China and other parties. China and Russia conduct normal trade cooperation in the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.

BBC: You mentioned before the names of Chinese citizens in Ukraine are being collected by the embassy. Is that with a view to eventually getting those people out of Ukraine potentially? And also can you tell us a bit about the reports we heard of, that charter flights are being organized by the Chinese government to get Chinese citizens out of Ukraine? 

Wang Wenbin: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Embassy in Ukraine have both released relevant security alerts and notices with clear instructions. You may refer to them.

Reuters: The war over Ukraine is likely to cause prices for oil and other commodities to inflate. Is China worried about this? Is China prepared for this?

Wang Wenbin: We already answered relevant questions yesterday. You may check the answer.

AFP: Following on from my colleague’s question about charter flights out of Ukraine. Does that mean that China has received guarantees in some way from Russia that the flights will be able to leave Ukraine, given that there is a no-fly zone in place over Ukraine at the moment?

Wang Wenbin: You may check relevant notices issued by the Foreign Ministry and China’s Embassy in Ukraine.

Reuters: China has repeatedly called for a peaceful resolution to the Ukraine crisis. Unfortunately, Ukraine has been attacked by missiles and rocket strikes. Does this show the limit of the effectiveness of China’s diplomatic efforts?

Wang Wenbin: Under the current circumstances, the door to political resolution of the Ukraine issue is not completely shut. We hope relevant parties can remain calm and rational, stay committed to the principles of the UN Charter, and resolve relevant issues peacefully through negotiation. China will continue to facilitate peace talks in our own manner, and welcome all efforts dedicated to diplomatic resolution.

AFP: What’s China’s position on Belarus’ acting as a staging ground for the Russian invasion of Ukraine?

Wang Wenbin: I just shared China’s position on the Ukraine issue.

Reuters: President Xi Jinping said when exchanging congratulatory message on the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy in January that China and Ukraine enjoy deepening political mutual trust. Where do China and Ukraine relations stand in the wake of this crisis?

Wang Wenbin: China will continue to develop friendly and cooperative relations with Ukraine following the principle of mutual respect.

BBC: I was just wondering that you mentioned that the door is not completely shut to a potential diplomatic solution. And I think many people would love to see that, but possibly wondering how it could happen. Might China offer itself as an intermediary between the two parties to bring about an end to the fighting?

Wang Wenbin: We will continue to facilitate peace talks in our own way, and welcome all efforts that are committed to diplomatic solutions. 

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