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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on August 16, 2022

CCTV: Not long ago, fresh avocados from Kenya started to enter the Chinese market and have been well received. The African side hopes to see more agricultural products find their way to China. What steps will China take in this regard? We noted that at the eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), China announced that it will open “green lanes” for African agricultural exports. Could you share more information with us?

Wang Wenbin: The Chinese government values agricultural cooperation with Africa and has actively promoted agricultural import from Africa. Since the FOCAC Beijing Summit in 2018, China has given market access to 25 kinds of food and agricultural products from 14 African countries, including Kenya, South Africa, Benin and Egypt. China is the second largest destination country for African agricultural exports. In recent years, Africa’s agricultural exports to China have grown at an average rate of 11.4% annually. In 2021, African agricultural exports to China grew by 18.2% year-on-year.

At the eighth Ministerial Conference of FOCAC in November last year, China announced that it will open “green lanes” for African agricultural exports. The General Administration of Customs of China (GACC) has actively followed up on that and formulated specific and practical measures to facilitate easier access to the Chinese market. The first measure is to consider African countries’ market access applications for agricultural products on a priority basis. Once the technical materials are received, the GACC will immediately start risk assessment and proceed with the work on quarantine access expeditiously. The second measure is to combine the risk assessments for certain agricultural products from the same country with similar processing techniques, and for the same type of agricultural products originating in different countries, provided that the risk is under control. The third measure is to make the registration easier for African companies whose agricultural products have gained market access, using flexible methods like virtual inspection or document review to speed up assessment and registration, for instance. As we understand, the Chinese competent authorities will hold a sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) cooperation forum between China and Africa to support and facilitate easy access of more unique and high-quality African food and agricultural products to the Chinese market.

We believe that with the joint efforts of both sides, China-Africa trade in food and agricultural products will flourish and deliver more tangible benefits to the Chinese and African peoples.

Reuters: An official from Taiwan’s air force said on Monday that a video released by China’s Eastern Theater Command manipulated footage to make it seem like Chinese military planes were close to the area around Penghu Islands. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: I would like to refer you to the Ministry of National Defense for your specific question. Let me just say that the “Taiwan independence” separatist forces can certainly feel the Chinese side’s resolute measures to uphold national sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

People’s Daily: According to reports, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a virtual meeting on August 15 with Geneva-based envoys from developing countries in Asia and Africa who are visiting China. Can you share more with us?

Wang Wenbin: Upon China’s invitation, the delegation of Geneva-based envoys from Asian and African developing countries including Sierra Leone, Lesotho, Eritrea, Côte d’Ivoire, Zimbabwe, Iraq, The Gambia, Somalia, Cameroon and the Laos arrived in China recently and will visit Guangdong and Xinjiang. Yesterday, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a virtual meeting with these envoys.

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang recalled President Xi Jinping’s visit to the UN Office at Geneva in 2017 and his historic speech there, in which the president fully outlined the objectives and the substance of building a community with a shared future for mankind, and pointed the way forward for common efforts to achieve progress of human civilization and world peace and development. China will uphold the vision of a community with a shared future for mankind, and work in solidarity and coordination with fellow developing countries for common development and shared prosperity.

Wang Yi shared the achievements of human rights development in China. He said that on the basis of equality and mutual respect, China is ready to stay open-minded and conduct exchange and cooperation on human rights for mutual learning and common progress. Wang Yi put forward four suggestions on strengthening global human rights governance and improving the work of multilateral human rights institutions. First, countries need to uphold mutual respect and oppose imposition of one’s own will onto others. Given countries’ different national conditions, histories and cultures, it is important that all countries are allowed to explore their own paths for human rights development that best serve the interest of their respective peoples based on their unique national conditions. No country should force its own will or standards on others. Second, countries need to advance human rights development in a systemic way rather than selectively. For the people in developing countries, ensuring their right to subsistence and development is what matters most. Multilateral human rights institutions need to take the legitimate concerns of developing countries seriously, and channel more attention and input to their economic, social and cultural rights and right to development. Third, countries need to stand for openness and inclusiveness, and against interference in others’ internal affairs. The claim that “human rights is above sovereignty” is nothing but a false pretext for interfering in others’ internal affairs. The idea of so-called values-based diplomacy is nothing but a cover for forcing other countries to pick a side in the name of human rights. Forced democratic transformation has achieved nothing but turmoil, conflict and humanitarian disaster. Multilateral human rights institutions are supposed to be platforms for constructive exchange and cooperation, not a battlefield for fierce political confrontation. Fourth, countries need to uphold fairness and justice and oppose double standards. Some Western countries see themselves as the judge on human rights, criticizing others while being oblivious to the human rights problems of themselves and their allies, like holding a “flashlight” only to check out on the behavior of others and not themselves. Countries need to jointly say no to such double standards and to such selective oblivion. 

During the virtual meeting, State Councilor Wang Yi mentioned the historical ins and outs of the Taiwan question and China’s stern position. He stressed that each time the US made a blatant provocation, it was met with a necessary and legitimate response from China. This is China exercising its legitimate right to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and safeguarding the principle of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, which is both the golden rule in state-to-state interactions and what underpins the survival of any developing country.

The envoys from Asian and African developing countries said that the one-China principle reaffirmed by UNGA Resolution 2758 is an international consensus and a political foundation for countries to develop bilateral ties with China. Taiwan and Xinjiang are part of China. China’s internal affairs brook no interference, and human rights issues should not be politicized. The legitimate measures China has taken should be firmly supported by the international community. The envoys fully recognized China’s achievement and the leading role China has played, and said they look forward to broad communication with Chinese departments. They are ready to continue to advance friendly relations with China, strengthen multilateral coordination and improve humanity’s wellbeing.

Hubei Media Group: The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination recently conducted a periodic review of the US’s compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. Publicly available records indicate that UN experts have criticized the US for its deep-seated problem of racial discrimination during the review process. Do you have any comment on that?

Wang Wenbin: Despite being a State party to the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, the US has long been spreading lies and rumors about racial discrimination against other countries and turned this practice into a tool for subjecting countries to US hegemony and political manipulation. The US’s persistent oblivion to the pervasive domestic racial discrimination has become a serious problem. The review by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination once again sounded the alarm to the US government. 

We noted that the experts of the Committee pointed out in the review that, although the Declaration of Independence of the US claims that “all men are created equal”, the harsh reality is that there is serious discrimination against people of African descent in US laws and public policies. The US claims to be committed to advancing the global elimination of racial discrimination, but fails to prevent tragedies like the death of George Floyd. The US should start by working on its own problem and taking concrete actions to lay the scourge of racism to rest at home. The experts also criticized specific problems of racial discrimination in the US. For example, people from ethnic minorities and the indigenous people are killed by police over 300% more frequently than white people. They are also much more likely to be wrongly convicted and there has been underparticipation and underrepresentation among these groups in the country’s political life. While hate crimes against ethnic minorities have risen significantly, a large fraction of cases reported as hate crimes are considered not qualified as such by the police and declined in federal prosecution. Also, US border officers in their law enforcement process have overused force, forcibly detained migrants and deported non-citizens without any trial being conducted. As the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Human Rights Program (HRP) Jamil Dakwar said, the US has failed on almost all issues concerning racial justice.

The US probably considers itself a superior country entitled to lecturing others on human rights, but all the world has seen is the US’s failed compliance with human rights rules. According to reports, the CERD is scheduled to issue its concluding observations on the report of the US in September. Let’s wait and see what the results will be.

Reuters: The Pentagon said on Tuesday that the United States, South Korea and Japan participated in a ballistic missile defense exercise off Hawaii’s coast last week, the first time the three countries have held such drills since 2017. Does the foreign ministry regard such drills as in some way directed at China? And if so, do you have any further comment?

Wang Wenbin: About whom the drills are directed at, you might want to ask the US side. Relevant parties need to act with prudence and stop actions that could escalate tensions and antagonism and sabotage mutual trust.

Global Times: The Sri Lankan foreign ministry said recently that the government officially cleared the port call by the Chinese research ship Yuanwang-5 at the Hambantota port from August 16 to 22 for replenishment purposes. According to reports, Yuanwang-5 berthed at the port on August 16. Can you verify this?

Wang Wenbin: What you said is true. At the noon of August 16 Beijing time, with active cooperation from the Sri Lankan side, the Chinese research vessel Yuanwang-5 successfully berthed at Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port. Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong hosted the on-site welcoming ceremony, which was attended by Member of Parliament Mahinda Wijesekera as representative of the Sri Lankan President and more than ten heads of parties and heads of friendly communities. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming, as Chinese and Sri Lankan national anthems were played, and the Sri Lankan people performed traditional folk dance on the red carpet. It will take some time for the Yuanwang-5 research ship to complete the replenishment of necessary supplies after the docking.

China and Sri Lanka are traditional friendly neighbors. And the two countries are both committed to all-round, mutually beneficial and friendly cooperation in various areas. For years, the two countries have maintained close cooperation in marine scientific research. China is ready to work with the Sri Lankan side to consolidate political mutual trust, deepen win-win cooperation and promote the sound and steady development of the bilateral relations.

I want to stress again that the marine scientific research activities of the Yuanwang-5 ship are consistent with international law and international customary practice. They do not affect the security and economic interests of any country and should not be obstructed by any third party.

PTI: Regard to what you said about the Chinese ship docking at the Sri Lanka port, now that the Sri Lankan government has cleared the docking and the ship docked at the port, is China considering stepping up its monetary assistance to Sri Lanka?

Wang Wenbin: Let me start by stressing one more time that the marine scientific research activities of the Yuanwang-5 ship are consistent with international law and international customary practice. 

On what you asked about China-Sri Lanka cooperation, as we have stressed many times, as Sri Lanka’s friendly neighbor, China feel deeply for the economic and social difficulties facing Sri Lanka at the moment. China has been doing its utmost to support and help Sri Lanka pull through the difficulties. This is what we have been doing and what we will continue to do. 

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