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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on January 13, 2023

2023-01-13 21:13

At the invitation of Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, and the government of the Swiss Confederation, Vice Premier of the State Council Liu He will attend the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023 and visit Switzerland from January 15 to 19. 

Xinhua News Agency: We have noted that Foreign Minister Qin Gang, who is on a visit to Africa, said that, Africa is a big stage for international cooperation, not an arena for major-power rivalry. Could you offer more information?

Wang Wenbin: When Foreign Minister Qin Gang met the press with Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) Moussa Faki Mahamat the other day, he stressed that the world would not be stable and prosperous without a peaceful and growing Africa. What Africa needs is solidarity and cooperation, not bloc confrontation. No country or individual has the right to force African countries to pick sides. Africa should be a stage for international cooperation, not a wrestling ground for major-power rivalry. Even if there is competition, it should be about who has done more for Africa’s peace and development and for Africa to increase representation and say in international governance. 

Minister Qin said that China and Africa enjoy a profound traditional friendship. Since the beginning of the new century, China has undertaken various projects in Africa. They symbolize what cooperation with China has delivered for Africa and have played an important role in elevating Africa’s economic and social progress and living standards. They signify the strength of China-Africa relations and depth of China-Africa friendship, and are warmly welcomed by countries and people in Africa. China welcomes any country genuinely committed to supporting Africa’s peace and development. If it is the desire of our African friends, China is also ready for trilateral or multi-party cooperation in Africa with any country to make joint contribution to Africa’s development and rejuvenation.

Let me also share some latest details about his Africa trip.

Yesterday, Minister Qin arrived in Gabon and paid a courtesy call on President Ali Bongo Ondimba. Minister Qin shared with the president the essential requirements and unique features of Chinese modernization, and said that the China-Gabon friendship, forged by the older generation of leaders on both sides, is time-tested and rock-solid. China will continue to support Gabon in pursuing a development path suited to its national realities. The two countries could strengthen experience-sharing on state governance, seek greater synergy between the two countries’ development strategies and enhance high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. China will support Gabon in advancing its Emerging Gabon Strategic Plan and seek win-win cooperation and shared development with Gabon. President Ali Bongo said that Gabon shares China’s development philosophy and looks forward to deepening cooperation with China to deliver greater benefits for both peoples. Gabon commends China for upholding international justice and appreciates China’s strong sense of responsibility as a major country. Gabon will always be China’s reliable friend and hopes to strengthen coordination and cooperation with China to jointly safeguard developing countries’ legitimate rights and interests and increase African countries’ say in international governance. 

During the visit, Foreign Minister Qin also held talks with Gabonese Foreign Minister Michael Moussa-Adamo. Both sides agreed to continue offering each other firm support, further tap into cooperation potential and create more bright spots in our cooperation.

Hubei Media Group: We noticed that the UAE will host the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from November 30 to December 12 this year. It also announced recently the appointment of Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the UAE’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy for Climate Change, as President-Designate for COP28. What’s China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: We have noted relevant reports. We applaud the UAE’s contribution to advancing the global climate governance process and extend congratulations to Mr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber on his appointment as President-Designate for COP28.

China is committed to ecological conservation and actively participates in global climate governance. As fellow developing countries, China and the UAE have conducted close practical cooperation on climate response, which has contributed to green and sustainable development in both countries and beyond. China will actively support the UAE in hosting COP28 and work together with President-Designate Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber to focus on the aim and objective of the UNFCCC, respond to developing countries’ core concerns, work for positive outcomes at COP28, and strive to foster an equitable and fair global climate governance system featuring win-win cooperation.

Bloomberg: I have two questions. President Joe Biden will discuss cooperation on limiting China’s access to semiconductor technology with leaders of Japan and the Netherlands who are visiting Washington in the coming days. Does the foreign ministry have any comment? The second question is that the head of the International Monetary Fund has urged China to move forward with reopening its economy, saying the nation’s transition from COVID zero is likely the single most important factor for global growth in 2023. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: On your first question, the US, in order to perpetuate its hegemony and selfish interests, has repeatedly abused export controls and politicized technology and trade issues by using them as a weapon to exert economic coercion over its allies, maliciously block and hobble Chinese companies and deliberately promote “decoupling” and breaking of industrial and supply chains. This severely violates market rules and disrupts the international trade order. It not only harms the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies, but also destabilizes the global industrial and supply chains.

China will closely follow the developments and resolutely safeguard our own interests. We hope the relevant countries will do the right thing and work together to uphold the multilateral trade regime and safeguard the stability of the global industrial and supply chains. This will also serve to protect their own long-term interests.

On your second question, we noted relevant reports. Following scientific assessment, the Chinese government took the initiative to adapt the COVID response, which has been widely welcomed by the international community. The prevailing view is that China’s measures will help boost confidence in world economic growth and bolster world economic recovery and development. Recently, many international investment institutions have revised up their forecast for China’s economic growth rate in 2023. The US, UK, German and many other countries’ chambers of commerce in China noted that China’s COVID policy adaptation helps restore cross-border travel, particularly business travel, and market optimism. They believe that China will continue to be a priority destination for foreign investment. China’s further adaptation of its entry policy has significantly boosted regional economy and global trade.

Since the start of this year, China has made big strides in promoting high-level opening-up. On January 1, the 2022 edition of Catalogue of Industries Encouraged for Foreign Investment came into force, which has more newly-added items than previous editions in recent years. China started to implement provisional import tax rates lower than the most-favored-nation tariff rates for 1,020 commodities. Starting from July 1, China will make the eighth reduction of most-favored-nation tariff rates for 62 IT products. After the adjustment, China’s overall tariffs level will drop from 7.4% to 7.3%. A few days ago, the Ministry of Commerce and the People’s Bank of China jointly issued a notice to support foreign trade companies in expanding the use of RMB in cross-border business and improve trade and investment facilitation. These measures testify to the firm will of China to advance opening-up and share opportunities with all parties.

At the moment, the overall COVID situation in China is improving. Many provinces and cities have gone through the peak of infections, where life and work are coming back to normal at a faster pace. As demand resumes and new policies begin to take effect, economic and social vitality in China will be further unleashed, which will provide strong impetus for world economic recovery.

CCTV: The US and Japan released a joint statement following the Security Consultative Committee (“2+2”) on January 11, calling China “the greatest strategic challenge in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond” and criticized China on Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and maritime issues. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: The wording on China in this joint statement smacks heavily of a zero-sum Cold-War mentality and contains groundless smears and attacks on China. We are firmly against it.

The US and Japan claim to advance regional peace and security, but what they do is finding pretexts for military build-up and wilful use of force. They claim to champion a free and open Indo-Pacific region, but what they do is putting up various exclusionary blocs to create division and confrontation. They claim to uphold the rules-based international order, but what they do is trampling on international law and the basic norms governing international relations and grossly interfering in other countries’ internal affairs. What they have done poses a real challenge to regional peace, security and stability.

The Asia-Pacific is an anchor for peace and development, not a wrestling ground for geopolitical competition. Countries in the region are for justice and against hegemonism. They hope to engage in cooperation, not confrontation. They aspire for true multilateralism and reject small circles that incite bloc confrontation. We urge the US and Japan to abandon the Cold-War mentality and ideological bias, stop creating imaginary enemies and stop trying to sow the seeds of a new Cold War in the Asia-Pacific, and not to become disrupters of a stable Asia-Pacific.

Kyodo News: It is reported that leaders of the US and Japan will hold a meeting on January 13 to discuss the matter of Japan acquiring the so-called “counterstrike capabilities”. Both see China as a threat in East Asia. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: Questions about the upcoming US-Japan summit might better be asked after the meeting is held.

Shenzhen TV: The UK government issued a six-monthly report on Hong Kong which contains criticism on Hong Kong affairs. What’s the foreign ministry’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: The Hong Kong SAR government has released a press statement to refute the so-called six-monthly report on Hong Kong published by the UK. We stress again that the UK has been ignoring the fact that Hong Kong has long returned to its motherland. It keeps publishing the so-called six-monthly reports on Hong Kong. This grossly interferes in Hong Kong affairs, which are China’s internal affairs, and seriously violates international law and basic norms governing international relations. China firmly rejects it.

Since Hong Kong’s return, the Chinese government has fully, faithfully, and resolutely implemented the policy of One Country, Two Systems, under which the people of Hong Kong administer Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy. Hong Kong residents enjoy far more rights and freedoms in accordance with the law than they did before 1997. Anyone unbiased would agree that the national security law and the improved electoral system for Hong Kong has enabled it to enter a new stage in which Hong Kong has restored order and is set to thrive. This has effectively protected national security and social stability in the SAR. International investors share the view that Hong Kong’s business environment has become safer, more stable and more predictable.

The UK has no sovereignty, no jurisdiction and no right of supervision over Hong Kong after its return to China. The legal basis for the Chinese government’s governance of Hong Kong is China’s Constitution and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR, not the Sino-British Joint Declaration. Despite Hong Kong people’s shared desire for a safe and stable Hong Kong, the UK continues to smear the Central Government’s governance of Hong Kong, denigrate the SAR government’s lawful administration, undermine the rule of law in the SAR and openly endorse illegal anti-China elements who attempt to create chaos in Hong Kong such as Jimmy Lai, all in the name of democracy, freedom, human rights and rule of law. Such hypocrisy will lead nowhere. We urge the UK to grasp the historical trend, wake up from its colonial dream, respect China’s sovereignty, and stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs, which are China’s internal affairs, otherwise it will only end up shooting itself in the foot. 

CCTV: According to reports, an ROK defense ministry spokesperson said at a regular press briefing that the ROK defense ministry is compiling a report on the environmental impact of the THAAD base. The report will be made public in accordance with relevant laws, regulations and procedures and public opinions will be solicited. On that basis, necessary consultation and other procedures will be performed. ROK media assess that relevant work can be completed by March this year, when formal procedures for the deployment of THAAD in the ROK will be completed. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: China is closely following THAAD-related developments in the ROK. We are in communication with the ROK side at various levels on this issue. We hope the ROK will stick to the common understanding on THAAD reached between State Councilor Wang Yi and Foreign Minister Park Jin during their Qingdao meeting in August last year and continue to properly handle and manage this issue to make sure it does not become a stumbling block in bilateral relations.

Beijing Daily: Some Western media have doubted the efficacy of China-made vaccines after comparing them with products made by other countries such as the Pfizer vaccine. What’s China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: The State Council joint prevention and control mechanism against COVID-19 has responded to similar questions. We would like to underscore that China is the only country with COVID vaccines developed via multiple technical routes. This provides the public with several choices for getting primary and enhanced immunity. To date, 13 vaccines covering four technical routes have been approved for use in China. Vaccines and medical material are in overall adequate supply, allowing all people eligible for vaccination the access to COVID vaccines.

A WHO official recently said that there are very high coverage levels of vaccination in China and that inactivated vaccines, viral vector vaccines, and mRNA vaccines have all demonstrated high performance of protection against the severe end of the disease spectrum and death. Research also shows that three doses of inactivated vaccine and three doses of the Pfizer mRNA vaccine offer basically equivalent protection against severe or fatal outcomes among adults aged 60 years or older. China-made inactivated vaccines can induce strong cellular immune response and immunological memory. They play an important role in preventing illness, severe cases and death. China always puts first the safety of vaccines. China-made vaccines have a good safety record with overall low adverse event rate.

At present, 92.9% of the Chinese population has been fully vaccinated, with more than 90% of people aged above 60 covered by vaccination. We have provided over 2.2 billion doses of COVID vaccines to more than 120 countries and international organizations. Chinese vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective. We will continue to enhance communication and cooperation with the international community to tackle the COVID challenge and protect people’s health more effectively.

Bloomberg: Two more questions. The first is that Uganda said it terminated a deal with a Chinese contractor to build a railroad. Does the foreign ministry have any comments? And the second is that US lawmakers voted to pass legislation to ban sales from the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve to China. And we’re also seeking comments on that.

Wang Wenbin: On your first question, China and Uganda have a comprehensive cooperative partnership and the practical cooperation between the two countries is a pacesetter for China-Africa cooperation. Over the past few years, thanks to concerted efforts, China and Uganda have conducted a series of fruitful cooperation on railways, hydropower stations, expressways, oil and gas development and infrastructure, bringing tangible benefits to the two peoples. President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni said that China has been focusing on Uganda’s priority needs, such as infrastructure, investment attraction and technology transfer. He thanked China for the support that Uganda and other African countries have received in light of their needs. Going forward, China stands ready to work with the international community to continue to carry out infrastructure, investment and financing cooperation with African countries and remove the major bottlenecks hindering Africa’s independent development.

On your second question, we urge relevant US politicians to abandon the zero-sum Cold-War mentality and ideological bias, form a right perception of China and China-US relations, and contribute to the mutual trust and cooperation between China and the US, not otherwise.

CNR: A delegation of world-renowned Islamic experts and scholars recently visited Xinjiang. Could you share more details with us?

Wang Wenbin: From January 8 to 11, a delegation of world-renowned Islamic figures and scholars, led by Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi, chairman of the World Muslim Communities Council, paid a visit to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region upon invitation. The delegation consists of more than 30 members from 14 countries, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. During the trip, the delegation visited Urumqi, Altay and Kashgar, saw an exhibition on counter-terrorism and de-radicalization and visited mosques, the Xinjiang Islamic Institute, local companies and old streets and towns. They also visited Uyghur families, prayed together with local Muslims at a mosque and participated with locals in a workshop on rural revitalization and poverty alleviation.

Members of the delegation said they were deeply impressed by Xinjiang’s achievement in development and stability over the past decade. They saw a safe, prosperous and stable Xinjiang where Muslims can freely exercise their ethnic and religious rights, and people from all ethnic backgrounds live in harmony as equals. The Chinese government has made enormous efforts to protect Xinjiang’s multi-ethnic culture. China’s counter-terrorism and de-radicalization policies have been very successful and delivered benefits to people of all ethnic groups. Members of the delegation said that what they saw in Xinjiang is entirely different from what has been painted by some media, and the accusations against Xinjiang’s human rights situation and so-called Uyghur cultural genocide are nothing but distortion of facts. The Islamic civilization and the Chinese civilization have interacted with each other amicably throughout the ages. They expressed readiness to deepen cooperation between the Islamic world and China and firmly support China’s position on Xinjiang-related issues.

Seeing is believing. People can tell right from wrong. The experience of the world-renowned Islamic religious figures in Xinjiang once again shows that truth will not be hidden by lies, and those who seek to smear China by manipulating Xinjiang-related issues will not have their way. China welcomes friends from all countries to visit Xinjiang and experience first-hand Xinjiang’s social stability, economic prosperity, ethnic harmony and freedom of belief.

Global Times: According to reports, a US State Department spokesperson said that the United States is requiring that travelers from China take pre-departure tests because of the “spread” and “prevalence” of infections in China and “the lack of adequate and transparent epidemiological and viral genomic sequence data being reported” from China. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: Since the onset of COVID, China has been sharing information and data with the international community in a timely, open and transparent manner in accordance with the law. We have also continued to share the genome sequences of the virus from COVID cases in China with the WHO and via the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID), which has contributed to vaccine and drug research and development.  

According to the WHO and GISAID, the genome data of the virus provided by China share the composition with the sequences submitted by other countries which are collected from travelers arriving from China, and no new variant or mutation of known significance was noted. WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge said that he shares the view of the European Centre for the Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) that the SARS-CoV-2 virus variants circulating in China are those that have already been seen in Europe and elsewhere; the situation in China is not anticipated to significantly impact the COVID-19 epidemiological situation; and precautionary travel measures should be rooted in science, proportionate and non-discriminatory. 

According to data released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the new variant XBB.1.5 is spreading rapidly in the US and has become the fastest-spreading variant in the country, causing more than 40.5% of infections. The WHO called XBB.1.5 “the most transmissible Omicron sub-variant” detected so far, which is more contagious and immune evasive. The US should share its domestic COVID situation and virus data with the WHO and the international community in a timely, open and transparent manner, actively respond to the concerns of the international community and work with the rest of the world in responding to the variant’s spread.

Reuters: Will China consider approving the use of mRNA COVID vaccine for its citizens?

Wang Wenbin: I have just now answered this question. China-made vaccines, be it inactivated vaccines, viral vector vaccines, or otherwise, have all demonstrated basically as much protection as mRNA vaccines against the severe end of the disease spectrum and death. This is reflected in both the views expressed by WHO officials and existing research results. In China, vaccines and medical material are in overall adequate supply, allowing all people eligible for vaccination the access to COVID vaccines. We will continue to enhance communication and cooperation with the international community to tackle the COVID challenge more effectively and further enhance the protection of people’s health.

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