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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on July 14, 2022

CCTV: The Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting released a document, which mentioned Japan’s plan to discharge nuclear-contaminated water into the sea. The foreign ministers reiterated that Japan’s discharge of ALPS treated water into the ocean could lead to transgenerational impacts of great concern to the peoples of the Pacific. The foreign ministers considered the scientific advice produced by the PIF Panel of Independent Experts, which indicate major gaps in data and information needed for further assessment of safety. What’s China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: The Chinese side has noted the statement by the foreign ministers of Pacific Island countries and shares their sentiments. Their statement reflects the world’s grave concern over Japan’s disposal of the nuclear-contaminated water from Fukushima and once again the fact that this matter is about the global marine environment and safety of public health in the countries that might be affected. This is not Japan’s own matter.

Regrettably, however, more than a year has passed and the Japanese government still hasn’t offered any science-based, convincing explanation on key issues such as the reliability of data on the nuclear-contaminated water, the efficacy of the treatment system or the uncertainty of environmental impact. On the contrary, it has been pushing through the review process for its ocean discharge plan and even started building facilities for the discharge. This could be aimed to create a fait accompli regardless of various parties’ concerns. This is an extremely irresponsible thing to do.

China again urges the Japanese side to take seriously the legitimate concerns many others have and stop pushing through the ocean discharge plan. Japan needs to have full consultation with its neighbors, the Pacific Island countries and other stakeholders and  the international institutions concerned to find a way to properly handle the nuclear-contaminated water.

Xinhua News Agency: According to research released recently by UK-based charity Debt Justice, citing data from the World Bank and the IMF, African governments owe three times more debt to Western private lenders than to China, and are charged double the interest. Debt Justice calls on Western countries to compel private lenders to take part in the G20’s debt relief scheme. What’s China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: I have taken note of the research report. According to data from the World Bank, of the $696 billion external debt of 49 African governments with data, about three quarters is owed to multilateral institutions and non-Chinese private creditors. Debt Justice found that for the 24 African countries with the highest debt burdens, the median share of their external debt payments from 2022 to 2028 to non-Chinese private creditors and multilateral creditors is projected to be 32% and 35% respectively. The average interest rate on loans from Western private lenders is almost twice that of Chinese lenders.

These facts and data show that the so-called “Chinese debt trap” is pure disinformation and a narrative trap created by those who do not hope to see China-Africa cooperation pick up speed. As Debt Justice’s head of policy said, “Western leaders blame China for debt crises in Africa, but this is a distraction. The truth is their own banks, asset managers and oil traders are far more responsible”. 

We call on developed countries, their private lenders and multilateral financial institutions to take more robust actions to give developing countries funding support and relieve their debt burden, so that the world economy will achieve inclusive and sustainable development. 

Bloomberg: Sri Lanka’s President is expected to submit his resignation after fleeing the country. His whereabouts right now are not known. There’s a power vacuum in Colombo. Does China’s foreign ministry want to comment on that?

Wang Wenbin: As a friend, neighbor and cooperation partner, China sincerely hopes that all sectors in Sri Lanka could bear in mind the fundamental interests of their country and people and work together in solidarity to overcome the current difficulties and strive to restore stability, revitalize the economy and improve people’s livelihoods at an early date.

Yonhap News Agency: After Ukraine announced the severance of diplomatic relations with the DPRK, the Ukrainian President vowed to react harshly to the DPRK’s move. Does China have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: China’s position on the Ukraine issue is consistent. We believe that disputes should be peacefully resolved in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and differences settled through negotiation to avoid further escalation of the situation. 

AFP: I have two questions. According to reports, two Chinese workers were shot in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and one of them died. Can China confirm this and share more details? Also, according to reports, the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands refused to have any foreign military base operated in his country, saying that it would make his country and people targets for potential military strikes. What is China’s response?

Wang Wenbin: On your first question, we have noted relevant reports. As has been verified by the Chinese Embassy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the attacked company is not Chinese and no Chinese nationals were killed or injured in the attack. China condemns violence against innocent civilians.

The attack happened in South Kivu Province where security risks are particularly high. China’s Foreign Ministry and Embassy in the DRC would like to remind Chinese nationals not to travel to the area any time soon. We also urge all Chinese nationals and institutions in the province to get into touch and leave their information with our embassy as soon as possible, and evacuate from the area or relocate to safety.

On your second question, China always respects Pacific Island countries’ position on pursuing cooperation with other countries. China and South Pacific island countries are good friends for common development and win-win cooperation. China has long provided substantial support and assistance to the best of our capacity for the island countries’ development. These efforts have helped boost local economic growth, improve people’s livelihoods and create jobs, and have been warmly welcomed by the governments and peoples of these countries. China stands ready to work together with all countries that truly care about the island countries to strengthen communication and pursue cooperation involving three or more parties on the basis of respecting the will of island countries to help them enhance capabilities for endogenous and sustainable development. 

I want to stress once again that the South Pacific region should be a stage for cooperation, rather than an arena for vicious competition. The relative advantages of various parties can well complement each other to form synergy and boost island countries’ development and vitalization. 

The Hindu: Does China have any plans to offer any new financial assistance to Sri Lanka and are you having any discussions with Colombo at the moment on this?

Wang Wenbin: As we have previously stated, China stands ready to work with countries and international financial institutions concerned to continue to play a positive role in supporting Sri Lanka’s response to current difficulties and efforts to ease debt burden and realize sustainable development. 

Bloomberg: Chinese officials studying the energy outlook for the country are proposing ending a nearly two-year ban on Australian coal as tensions apparently begin to ease between Australia and China. Does the foreign ministry have a comment on coal imports? Is it fair to say that ties between the two countries are getting better?

Wang Wenbin: I would like to refer you to the competent authorities on the specific question that you raised.

I’d like to reiterate that China’s position on practical cooperation with other countries, including Australia, is consistent and clear. China-Australia relations are presented with opportunities for improvement. We hope Australia will seize the opportunities, take concrete actions, shape up a right perception of China, work with China in the same direction to reduce liabilities and build positive dynamics for improving bilateral relations, and create enabling conditions for the sound and steady development of economic and trade ties.

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