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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on April 20, 2022

Vice Premier of the State Council Han Zheng will attend the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2022 and related activities upon invitation in Boao, Hainan on April 21.

CCTV: President Xi Jinping will attend the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2022 virtually upon invitation and deliver a keynote speech. Vice Premier Han Zheng will attend the opening ceremony and related activities upon invitation. Can you share China’s expectation of this annual conference?

Wang Wenbin: The Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2022 will be held online and offline from April 20 to 22. The opening ceremony will be held on April 21. 

As the once-in-a-century changes keep evolving, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, and geopolitical turbulence is unfolding, countries are facing an arduous and tortuous task of achieving economic recovery and sustainable development. In this context, the theme of this year’s conference “The World in COVID-19 & Beyond: Working Together for Global Development and Shared Future” reflects the international community’s shared aspiration for defeating the coronavirus at an early date, jointly promoting economic development, upholding solidarity and cooperation and improving global governance. As the host country of the Forum, China looks forward to having in-depth discussions with all participants under this year’s theme to pool wisdom, build consensus, and contribute to promoting common development of all countries and creating a brighter future. 

AFP: Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister said that his country’s security deal with China was signed a few days ago. Can the foreign ministry share any details of how and when the signing took place? You also mentioned yesterday that the security cooperation between China and Solomon Islands is open and transparent. When will China be making the signed version of the deal public?

Wang Wenbin: On your first question, I already gave my answer yesterday. As I said, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade Jeremiah Manele, on behalf of the governments of China and Solomon Islands respectively, officially signed the inter-governmental framework agreement on security cooperation between the two countries the other day.

On your second question, China and Solomon Islands will act according to customary international practice on the basis of consultation.

CRI: According to the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC), China’s trade with the other 14 member states of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership expanded 6.9 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2022, accounting for 30.4 percent of China’s total foreign trade. In the same period, China’s trade with countries including the ROK, Malaysia and New Zealand recorded double-digit growth. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is an important milestone in East Asian economic integration and marks a major step in promoting global trade and investment liberalization and facilitation. In addition to preferential tariff treatment, RCEP sets a benchmark for economic and trade rules in Asia-Pacific in terms of rules of origin, customs procedures and inspection and quarantine, giving a strong boost to regional economic integration with a higher quality and at a deeper level.

Since its entry into force three months ago, RCEP has played an important role in and made tangible contributions to boosting regional countries’ economic recovery, prosperity and development and maintaining peace and stability in the region. It has delivered benefits to companies and people in all participating countries. This has been commended by people in all sectors from countries in the region.

China is a champion for the signing and entry into force of RCEP and a participant in its high-quality implementation. Going forward, China will work with other parties to actively participate in the mechanism building of RCEP and jointly promote and improve its implementation. In this way, we will make new contributions to supporting the multilateral trading system, building an open world economy and promoting the strong, balanced, sustainable and inclusive growth of the world economy.

Al Jazeera: Recently, Israel’s incessant attacks on the Al Aqsa mosque, a holy site in Islam located in Jerusalem, have led to casualties. The attacks show no signs of abating. What’s China’s view on this? Does China believe Israel’s actions infringe on the Palestinian people’s human rights, violate international law and negatively impact the Middle East peace process? The world is sympathizing with the Ukrainian people, but little attention has been paid to the Palestinian people who are being killed by Israel. Could China play a substantive role in the current situation?

Wang Wenbin: China is deeply concerned about the escalating violence and conflict between Israel and Palestine recently, especially the tensions in Jerusalem. We oppose any unilateral attempt to alter the historical status quo of Jerusalem and hope relevant parties can stay calm, exercise restraint and prevent the situation from getting out of control. 

China holds that the Palestinian question should not be marginalized, still less forgotten, and the injustice lasting for over half a century should not continue. China’s position on the Palestinian question is consistent and clear. We have been playing a constructive role in its resolution. Last year, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi put forward a three-point proposal for the implementation of the two-state solution. We call on the international community to direct more attention and input to the Palestinian question. The international community, major countries in particular, should face up to the crux of the Palestinian question and work on Palestine and Israel to resume peace talks at an early date, so as to realize peaceful coexistence. China will not cease its support for the just cause of the Palestinian people until the Palestinian question is resolved. 

Reuters: Was the signing between China and Solomon Islands moved forward so it can be completed before the US delegation including Kurt Campbell arrive in Solomon Islands?

Wang Wenbin: I already elaborated on China’s position on relevant issues yesterday. Let me stress this once again: China-Solomon Islands security cooperation is open, transparent and inclusive, and does not target any third party. It proceeds in parallel with and complements Solomon Islands’ existing bilateral and multilateral security cooperation mechanisms.

Hubei Media Group: It is reported that far-right political party Stram Kurs (Hard Line) recently organized anti-Islam rallies in multiple places across Sweden and burned the Quran, which has triggered an outrage among the Muslim community. Large-scale unrest broke out in many places, resulting in the vandalism of public facilities and injuries of many people. Some Islamic countries have summoned Swedish envoys to protest. Do you have any comment? 

Wang Wenbin: We have noted the relevant reports. 

China always opposes extreme behavior of attacking different religious beliefs and instigating conflicts between civilizations. Freedom of speech should not be used as an excuse to incite racial or cultural discrimination and create division in society. No civilization is superior to others. They are different only in feature and geographical distribution. We advocate replacing clash of civilizations with exchange of civilizations. We oppose discriminatory rhetoric against certain religion and civilization. 

It is hoped that Sweden will draw a lesson from the matter and earnestly respect the religious beliefs of Muslims and other minority groups, protect their lawful rights and interests, and square their words of respecting and protecting freedom of religious belief with actions. 

Dragon TV: Sri Lanka has requested emergency financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to stave off an economic crisis. We noticed that China has decided to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to help Sri Lanka cope with the current difficulties. Can you offer more information on that?

Wang Wenbin: China and Sri Lanka are close neighbors enjoying traditional friendship. With mutual understanding, mutual support and mutual assistance, we have set an example of friendly coexistence and mutually-beneficial cooperation between countries different in size. China has always supported Sri Lanka’s socioeconomic development.

At present, Sri Lanka is faced with economic difficulties. The Chinese side has announced that it will provide emergency humanitarian assistance to Sri Lanka. We will continue to offer support and assistance to the best of our capability to help Sri Lanka reinvigorate its economy and improve people’s livelihood. We believe that the Sri Lankan government and people can surely overcome the temporary difficulties and realize socioeconomic stability and development.

AFP:  You mentioned that foreign ministers of China and Solomon Islands signed the security deal recently. Because you mentioned yesterday also that the Chinese foreign minister had not made a visit to the other side. Could we clarify if the Solomon Islands’ foreign minister then came to China to sign the deal? Could you provide any further details on this front?

Wang Wenbin: China and Solomon Islands maintain smooth communication and exchange. If there is information on any exchange of visit, we will release it in a timely manner.

Global Times: According to reports, China’s National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center alerted countries on cyberattacks by the US government and released a related report yesterday. It exposed the cyber weapon “Hive” used exclusively by the US government, cyberattack platforms deployed around the world, multiple jump servers and VPN channel placed in countries like France, Germany, Canada, Turkey and Malaysia. Does China have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: China is gravely concerned over the irresponsible malicious cyber activities of the US government. We urge the US side to explain itself and immediately stop such malicious activities.

The report released by the National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center points out that if existing international internet backbone network and critical information infrastructure contain software or hardware provided by US companies, it is highly likely that various types of backdoor could be installed, making them targets of US government cyberattacks wherever they are. 

For some time, in the name of enhancing capacity, the US has been trying to cajole relevant countries, especially China’s neighbors, into cybersecurity cooperation with it. It even pursues the so-called “Forward Deployment” of cyber military forces. Will such cooperation open backdoor for malicious US cyber activities? Will it be used by the US to instigate geostrategic rivalry? Relevant countries will judge for themselves.

Phoenix TV: On the signing of the security agreement between China and Solomon Islands, Spokesperson of the US National Security Council Adrienne Watson issued a statement on April 19 saying that the US, Japan, New Zealand and Australia shared concerns about this security framework agreement and its serious risks to a free and open Indo-Pacific. Do you have any response?

Wang Wenbin: China and Solomon Islands conduct security cooperation on the basis of equality, mutual benefit, openness and transparency, to help Solomon Islands maintain social order, tackle natural disasters and carry out humanitarian aid. The cooperation is not targeted at any third party and does not replace existing bilateral and multilateral mechanisms of Solomon Islands’ security cooperation. I don’t understand how our cooperation poses “serious risks” to the US. 

If the US line of argument is followed, does that mean the Pacific Island countries can only carry out security cooperation with the US and its few allies? Does that mean cooperation with other countries are deemed threats? Does the US see the Pacific Island countries as independent and sovereign states or its dependencies? Is the US seeking to develop equal-footed relations with the Pacific Island countries or control them? All these are questions for the US to answer.

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