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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning’s Regular Press Conference on February 27, 2023

2023-02-27 18:46

The 52nd session of the UN Human Rights Council will be held in Geneva from February 27 to April 4, of which the high-level segment will be held from February 27 to March 2. Foreign Minister Qin Gang will address the event via video link on February 27.

CCTV: To follow up on your announcement of Foreign Minister Qin Gang’s video remarks to the high-level segment of the 52nd session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), what are China’s considerations for addressing the event, and what’re China’s expectations for the work of the UNHRC?

Mao Ning: We are committed to a Chinese path of human rights development. We have actively participated in global human rights governance and made historic achievements in advancing human rights in China. At the moment, the international human rights cause is faced with serious challenges and calls urgently for consensus and cooperation. Against this backdrop, Foreign Minister Qin Gang will attend the high-level segment of the UNHRC via video link, where he will elaborate on China’s vision and measures on human rights and share China’s proposals for global human rights governance, which will contribute China’s insight to the sound development of the international human rights cause.

The UNHRC is an important platform for constructive dialogue and cooperation on human rights issues. China will take an active part in the discussions of all agenda items at this session, work with all parties to advance impartiality, objectivity, non-selectivity and non-politicization at the UNHRC, abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, oppose certain countries’ moves to politicize, weaponize and instrumentalize human rights issues, and work with all parties for fairer and more equitable, reasonable and inclusive global governance on human rights.

Global Times: On February 24, the US sanctioned Chinese companies for involvement with Russia. What’s China’s comment?

Mao Ning: The US actions lack both the basis in international law and UN Security Council mandate. They are typical unilateral sanctions and illegal “long-arm jurisdiction” and detrimental to Chinese interests. We deplore and reject this move and have made serious démarches to the US side.

On the Ukraine issue, China’s position has been objective and fair and we have actively promoted peace talks and sought a political solution. The US, however, has been fanning the flame and fueling the fight with more weaponry. To date, it has provided Ukraine with over $32 billion worth of military aid, including large quantities of advanced armament. Just days ago, the US announced yet another tranche of military aid for Ukraine worth $2 billion. The US has been pouring weapons into one side of the conflict, thus prolonging the fight and making peace elusive, while spreading disinformation that China would supply weapons to Russia and sanctioning Chinese companies under that pretext. This is out-and-out hegemonism and double standard, and absolute hypocrisy.

I wish to point out that on the one-year mark of the full escalation of the Ukraine crisis, China issued its position paper on the political settlement of the crisis, whereas the US imposed sanctions on Chinese and other foreign companies. Who is promoting peace and deescalation, and who is fueling the tension and making the world more unstable? The answer is fairly obvious.

We call on the US to reflect on its behavior, bear in mind what is good for the world, and do something that will actually help deescalate the situation and get peace talks going. The US also needs to stop spreading disinformation and withdraw the sanctions on Chinese companies. The Chinese side will continue to do what is necessary to firmly safeguard the lawful rights and interests of Chinese companies. We will take resolute countermeasures in response to the US sanctions.

China News Service: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China has been providing nonlethal assistance to Russia through its companies, and is now considering a provision of lethal aid. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan warned that there would be “real costs” for China if the country went forward with providing lethal aid to Russia. Do you have any comment?

Mao Ning: On the Ukraine issue, China has been actively promoting peace talks and the political settlement of the crisis. The US is in no position to point fingers at China-Russia relations. We do not accept coercion or pressure from the US. 

In addition to pouring lethal weapons into the battlefield in Ukraine, the US has been selling sophisticated weapons to the Taiwan region in violation of the three China-US joint communiqués. What exactly is the US up to? The world deserves to know the answer.

Dragon TV: It was reported that ROK Foreign Minister Park Jin mentioned Taiwan in an interview with CNN. Park said that peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is essential for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, and it’s indispensable for security and prosperity of the region as a whole, and that the ROK is opposed to unilateral change of status quo by force. So in that sense, the ROK will make sure that if something happens in the Taiwan Strait, they have to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula because this has a direct impact on the ROK. Do you have any comment on this?

Mao Ning: The Taiwan question is China’s internal affair, we do not need to be told what should or should not be done. If the ROK needs to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, it needs to respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, follow the one-China principle and be prudent on the Taiwan question.

AFP: Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy said on Friday that he plans to meet President Xi Jinping. He also said that only a country whose territory is under attack can initiate “any peace initiatives”. Do you have any comment on his remarks? 

Mao Ning: China’s position on the Ukraine crisis is consistent and clear, which boils down to promoting peace talks and working for a political settlement. We have maintained communication with all parties concerned, including Ukraine.

Xinhua News Agency: China announced that the President of Belarus will pay a state visit to China. How does China see its relations with Belarus and what are China’s expectations for the visit?

Mao Ning: China and Belarus are all-weather comprehensive strategic partners. Since establishing diplomatic ties 31 years ago, the two countries have enjoyed stronger political mutual trust, deepening mutually-beneficial cooperation across the board, and ever-closer coordination on international and regional affairs. In September 2022, President Xi Jinping met with President Lukashenko on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Samarkand, during which they drew a new blueprint for the development of China-Belarus relations. China looks forward to working with Belarus and taking this visit as an opportunity to pursue further progress in the all-round cooperation between the two countries.

Bloomberg: The IMF chief said she welcomed China’s latest participation in the sovereign debt roundtable talks in India while urging Beijing to do more under the Common Framework so that all parties can reach agreement on Zambia’s debt. What’s your response to this? How would China help push the debt talks on Zambia toward a resolution as soon as possible?

Mao Ning: China takes the debt issue of developing countries seriously and has actively contributed to alleviating developing countries’ debt burden and promoting their sustainable development. As Zambia’s friend, China attaches high importance to Zambia’s concerns about the debt issue. China is the first international official creditor to provide debt relief for Zambia, and facilitated the success of three meetings of the Creditor Committee for Zambia as a co-chair. China will continue to maintain close communication and friendly consultation with Zambia and other relevant parties and continue to play a constructive role in resolving Zambia’s debt issue.

It is our belief that finding the best solution to Zambia’s debt restructuring requires the understanding, trust and concerted efforts of all stakeholders. According to the data released by Zambia’s Ministry of Finance and National Planning, predominantly Western commercial lenders and multilateral financial institutions account for 70 percent of Zambia’s foreign debt. They need to take up due responsibilities and take stronger actions to relieve Zambia’s debt burden.

AFP: The US Energy Department said on Sunday that they have new evidence indicating that COVID most likely arose from a laboratory leak from China. What’s your response?

Mao Ning: The origins-tracing of SARS-CoV-2 is about science and should not be politicized. China has always supported and participated in global science-based origins-tracing. “A laboratory origin of the pandemic was considered to be extremely unlikely” is a science-based, authoritative conclusion reached by the experts of the WHO-China joint mission after field trips to the lab in Wuhan and in-depth communication with researchers. It was accurately recorded in the mission’s report and has received extensive recognition from the international community.

Certain parties should stop rehashing the “lab leak” narrative, stop smearing China and stop politicizing origins-tracing.

PTI: You have already answered a question regarding G20 and the IMF. There was a greater discussion in G20 countries about the debt burden, especially related to several of these developing countries. Reports say that there is a greater understanding between the G20 countries on how to move forward on this issue, especially helping countries like Sri Lanka, Zambia and other countries. What exactly is China’s stand on this particular G20’s approach towards reducing the debt burden, with rather the help of the IMF?

Mao Ning: I have just shared with you China’s position on the debt issue of developing countries. We attach great importance to easing the debt burden of developing countries and have been making constructive efforts in this respect, and we have been actively participating in debt relief efforts, including those under the G20 framework. If you want more information, I would refer you to the competent authorities.

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