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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on February 20, 2023

At the invitation of Minister for Foreign Affairs Retno L. P. Marsudi of Indonesia, Foreign Minister Qin Gang will visit Indonesia from February 21 to 23, chair the 4th meeting of the Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) between China and Indonesia and visit the ASEAN Secretariat.

CCTV: We noted the US observation that it was important that the US side and the Chinese side had the opportunity to meet during the Munich Security Conference. Could you offer more information on that?

Wang Wenbin: At the request of the US side, Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Wang Yi had an informal contact with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the margins of the Munich Security Conference.

Wang Yi set forth China’s strong position on the so-called “balloon incident” and pointed out that what the US side has done was apparently an abuse of force and violation of customary international practice and the International Civil Aviation Covenant. China deplores it and strongly protests it. The US itself is the number one country in conducting surveillance worldwide, whose high-altitude balloons have illegally flown over China multiple times. The US is in no position to smear China. The US needs to demonstrate sincerity, and acknowledge and resolve the damage its abuse of force has done to China-US relations. If the US side continues to fuss over, dramatize and escalate the unintended and isolated incident, it should not expect the Chinese side to flinch. The US side should be prepared to bear all consequences arising from an escalation. 

Wang Yi stressed that on the Ukraine issue, China stands by principles. China is committed to promoting peace talks and has played a constructive role. The China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination is built on the basis of non-alliance, non-confrontation and non-targeting of third countries, which is within the sovereign right of any two independent states. We do not accept the US’s finger-pointing or even coercion targeting China-Russia relations. The US, as a major country, has every reason to work for a political settlement of the crisis instead of fanning the flames or profiting from it.

Wang Yi pointed out that to preserve stability across the Taiwan Strait, one must firmly oppose “Taiwan independence” and uphold the one-China principle. On the Taiwan question, the US side should respect historical facts, honor its political commitments and follow through on its statement of “not supporting Taiwan independence”. 

CNR: We noted that on February 18 local time, Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Wang Yi attended the Munich Security Conference. Could you share any details?

Wang Wenbin: On February 18, Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Wang Yi delivered a keynote speech titled “Making the World a Safer Place” at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

Director Wang noted that humanity’s three-year fight against COVID tells us a simple truth: as President Xi Jinping repeatedly stressed, we are members of one global village, and we belong to one community with a shared future. Human society must not repeat the old path of antagonism, division and confrontation, and must not fall into the trap of zero-sum game, war and conflict. 

Director Wang said that making the world a safer place is the strong desire of all people, the common responsibility of all countries, and more importantly, the right direction for the advance of our times. For a safer world, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected. All countries should abide by the principle of sovereignty in both words and deeds, rather than apply it selectively, still less with double standards. For a safer world, disputes should be peacefully resolved through dialogue and consultation. However complex the issue is, dialogue and consultation should not be abandoned. However intense the dispute is, a political resolution should be pursued. However difficult the situation is, peace should be given a chance. For a safer world, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be upheld. It’s important for all to put the larger interest embodied in the purposes and principles of the UN Charter above one’s own lesser interest, and work together to oppose the Cold War mentality and bloc confrontation. For a safer world, the key role of development must be fully harnessed. We must firmly reject the attempts to politicize, weaponize and draw ideological lines in the cooperation on trade, science and technology. If security is to be firmly established and last, people in all countries should get to lead a better life.

Director Wang stressed that making the world a safer place is China’s abiding commitment. For China, keeping to peaceful development is a strategic choice informed by a deep grasp of the past, present and future. China will stay the course, and come together with more countries in the pursuit of peaceful development. Any increase in China’s strength is an increase in the hope for world peace. When all countries pursue peaceful development, the future of humanity will be full of promise.

Director Wang took questions about the Ukraine issue, China-US relations and the Taiwan question. He announced that China will put forth its proposition on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis, and stay firm on the side of peace and dialogue. Director Wang also said that China will soon be launching a Global Security Initiative Concept Paper, to lay out a more systemic approach and more practical measures to address global security challenges, and we welcome the active participation of all countries.  

Reuters: First, North Korea fired two more ballistic missiles off its east coast earlier today following the two it fired to the sea off Japan’s west coast on Friday. Is China urging North Korea to show restraint and do you have any broader comment on it? My second question is there are reports that the IMF is considering approving a loan to Sri Lanka, even though China has so far not given any assurances that it will support the country in restructuring the debt that it owes to Chinese lenders. Could you confirm that China would assure the IMF that it would help restructure the debt for Sri Lanka as a part of any IMF loans to Sri Lanka?

Wang Wenbin: On your first question, China is following the development of the situation on the Korean Peninsula. We have noted the announcement by the DPRK and several military drills and closer military cooperation undertaken recently by relevant parties in the region. The crux and history of the Korean Peninsula issues is clear. We hope that relevant parties will adhere to the direction of political settlement and resolve the concerns of each party in a balanced way through meaningful dialogue. China’s position on the issues concerning the Korean Peninsula has not changed. We will continue to follow the dual-track approach and the principle of phased and synchronized steps, and play a constructive role in promoting their political settlement.

On your second question, I would refer you to China’s competent authorities for the specifics. We can share with you some facts. The Export-Import Bank of China has already provided Sri Lanka with a letter to express support for its debt sustainability. The letter says that the Bank is going to provide an extension on the debt service due in 2022 and 2023, which means Sri Lanka will not have to repay the principal and interest due of the Bank’s loans during the above-mentioned period, so as to help relieve Sri Lanka’s short-term debt repayment pressure; meanwhile, the Bank would like to have friendly consultation with Sri Lanka regarding medium- and long-term debt treatment in this window period; and the Bank will make best efforts to contribute to the debt sustainability of Sri Lanka. The Bank also noted that it will support Sri Lanka in its loan application to the IMF; in the meantime, the Bank will continuously call on commercial creditors (including the International Sovereign Bondholders) to provide debt treatment in an equally comparable manner, and encourage multilateral creditors to do their utmost to make corresponding contributions.

China will continue to support relevant financial institutions in actively working out the debt treatment. We will work with relevant countries and international financial institutions to jointly play a positive role in helping Sri Lanka navigate the situation, ease its debt burden and achieve sustainable development.

CCTV: Could you share more details on the program of Foreign Minister Qin Gang’s upcoming visit to Indonesia? What expectations does China have?

Wang Wenbin: This will be Foreign Minister Qin Gang’s first outbound visit after the Chinese New Year and his first visit to a neighboring country after he took the post. During the visit, Foreign Minister Qin will meet with President Joko Widodo, meet with Indonesia’s Coordinator for Cooperation with China and Coordinating Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, jointly host and chair the 4th Meeting of the Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation between China and Indonesia with Minister for Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi, visit the ASEAN Secretariat and meet with Secretary-General Dr. Kao Kim Hourn and the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN (CPR) there.

In recent years, under the strategic guidance of the two presidents, China-Indonesia relations have shown remarkable resilience and vitality. In particular, President Xi Jinping and President Joko Widodo reached the important common understanding on jointly building a China-Indonesia community with a shared future last year, which opened a new chapter in our bilateral relations. In the meantime, China and ASEAN have entered a new phase of comprehensive strategic partnership. This year marks the tenth anniversary both of the establishment of the China-Indonesia comprehensive strategic partnership and of President Xi’s proposition of fostering a closer community with a shared future for China and ASEAN. China and ASEAN will also mark the 20th anniversary of China’s joining the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) with Indonesia serving as the rotating chair of ASEAN this year. We hope Foreign Minister Qin’s upcoming visit will further boost the efforts to deliver on the important common understandings between the two presidents, consolidate bilateral and multilateral strategic cooperation and result in more fruitful efforts to build a China-Indonesia community with a shared future. We look forward to working more closely with Indonesia and ASEAN to advance the building of a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, beautiful and amicable home, deepen the China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership, advance East Asia cooperation on the right course forward and promote regional peace, stability and prosperity.

Bloomberg: Two questions. The first one is that Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the US has information that China is considering whether to supply Russia weapons and ammunition for the invasion of Ukraine. The US already has evidence that Chinese companies are sending nonlethal support to Russia, but they may now send lethal support as well, Blinken told CBS in an interview. Does the foreign ministry have any comments on this? The second question is whether the foreign ministry could provide any more details on the Ukraine peace plan that will be proposed later?

Wang Wenbin: It is the US, not China, that has been pouring weapons into the battlefield. The US is in no position to tell China what to do. We would never stand for finger-pointing, or even coercion and pressurizing from the US on our relations with Russia.

On the Ukraine issue, China’s position boils down to supporting talks for peace. The international community is fully aware who is calling for dialogue and striving for peace, and who is fanning the flames and stoking confrontation. We urge the US side to seriously reflect on the role it has played, do something to actually help deescalate the situation and promote peace talks, and stop deflecting the blame and spreading disinformation. China will continue to stay firm on the side of peace and dialogue, and play a constructive part in easing the situation.

On your second question, Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Wang Yi elaborated on this at the Munich Security Conference.

The one-year mark of the Ukraine crisis is just days away. China will release a position document on seeking political settlement of the Ukraine crisis. The document will reaffirm President Xi Jinping’s important propositions, including respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, upholding the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, taking seriously the legitimate security concerns of all countries, and supporting all efforts conducive to a peaceful resolution of the crisis. The document will underscore again that a nuclear war must never be fought and can never be won. We also call for efforts to ensure the safety of civil nuclear facilities and stand against attacks on nuclear power plants, and jointly oppose the use of biochemical weapons.

The more complex the situation is, the greater the need to be calm and practical. The longer the fighting drags on, the more critical that we do not give up the effort to strive for peace. China hopes to work with all parties to continue the effort so that peace will prevail at an early date.

Xinhua News Agency: We have learned that a senior official of the foreign ministry will soon visit Japan and have bilateral dialogue and consultation. Can you confirm this and share some details with us? 

Wang Wenbin: As agreed between China and Japan, Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong will travel to Japan on February 21 and hold the 17th China-Japan security dialogue and the 29th regular consultation between the two countries’ diplomatic authorities with Senior Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Shigeo Yamada. The two sides will have an extensive and in-depth exchange of views on China-Japan relations, defense and security policies and international and regional issues of shared interest.

AFP: According to reports, Director Wang Yi is about to visit Russia. What’s your expectation for the visit? Which Russian officials will he meet with? And what will they discuss? Will he try to persuade Russia to end its aggression against Ukraine?

Wang Wenbin: Last week we announced the visit to Russia by Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Wang Yi. Details of the visit will be released in a timely manner. You may check back for the updates on that. As to China’s position on the Ukraine issue, I have covered it just now.

Dragon TV: It was reported that the 38th session of the China-EU Human Rights Dialogue was held recently. Can you share some details with us? 

Wang Wenbin: On February 17, the 38th session of the China-EU Human Rights Dialogue was held in Brussels. It was co-chaired by a leading official of the Department of International Organizations and Conferences of the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the official responsible for Asia and the Pacific in the European External Action Service, and was attended by representatives of the diplomatic and judicial sectors and women’s welfare from both sides.

During the dialogue, the Chinese side shared in detail its people-centered vision on human rights and stressed that human rights must have historical, specific and practical contexts. China always applies the principle of the universality of human rights in light of China’s realities and believes that the rights to subsistence and development are the primary basic human rights. China protects people’s political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights in a coordinated manner, and has made historic achievements in its human rights development. China asked the EU side to view China’s human rights development in an objective manner, stop politicizing human rights issues and practicing double standards, and to respect China’s judicial sovereignty. Issues related to Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong are not about human rights, but about major principles including China’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, which brook no foreign interference. China asked the EU side to take China’s concerns seriously, and act prudently on issues related to China’s core interests and major concerns.

The Chinese side shared details about China’s participation in the third review of its implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and stressed that China actively participates in global human rights governance and stands ready to engage in constructive exchange and cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, and the human rights treaty bodies, on the basis of equality and mutual respect. That being said, China will not accept any so-called “investigation” based on presumption of guilt. The Chinese side also raised human rights issues in the EU such as violation of the rights of refugees and migrants, growing xenophobia and racism, inadequate attention to economic, social and cultural rights as well as the right to development, the impact of unilaterally imposed measures on the human rights of people in foreign countries, selective application and double standards when it comes to freedom of the press and forced labor.

Both sides believed that the dialogue was candid and in-depth. Despite broad differences in the area of human rights, the two sides agree to avoid politicizing these differences and strive to enhance understanding through dialogue and exchanges and handle differences in a constructive manner. The two sides also agreed to conduct cooperation in protecting women and children’s rights and interests.

Reuters: Russian media are reporting that Wang Yi has arrived in Moscow for talks. Could you confirm whether he has arrived?

Wang Wenbin: We will release timely information on Wang Yi’s visit to Russia. Please check back for updates.

Beijing Youth Daily: We have noted that after well-known US investigative journalist Seymour Hersh disclosed details about the Nord Stream blast, many more reports and remarks supporting Hersh’s conclusion have emerged recently. US journalist John Dugan received an anonymous email from a member of the US military that during Baltops-2022, a NATO military exercise in Denmark held last June, US deep-sea divers went down with a box for six hours. Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University also said that the US “was basically the only country with the motive, the means” to end Nord Stream. Former Advisor to the French defense ministry Alain Corvez said that from the political and economic perspective, the US is the major beneficiary of the incident. What’s your comment? 

Wang Wenbin: The Nord Stream pipelines used to be considered Europe’s energy lifeline. The explosions dealt a severe blow to the global energy market and the global eco-environment. It also caused fear across Europe of a long, cold winter. An objective, impartial and professional investigation into the incident is clearly in order.

In the wake of these revelations, The US government and media have been mysteriously quiet and the countries concerned in Europe seem rather hesitant about how they would react. These unusual signs give people even more reason to believe that the truth behind the Nord Stream blast is more complicated than they can imagine. Given the gravity of sabotaging vital transnational infrastructure and the serious consequences arising thereof, the international community has every right to demand a thorough investigation into this.

Bloomberg: Reuters has reported that US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Chase has arrived in Taiwan. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: We are firmly opposed to official interaction and military contact between the US and the Taiwan region. This position is consistent and unequivocal. We urge the US to abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, deliver on US leaders’ commitment of not supporting “Taiwan independence”, stop all forms of official interaction and military contact with Taiwan, stop meddling in the Taiwan question, and stop creating new factors that could lead to tensions in the Taiwan Strait.

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