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

2023-03-27 21:02

Premier of the State Council Li Qiang will attend the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2023 and deliver a keynote speech at the forum’s invitation in Hainan on March 30.

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire Patrick Achi and Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Kristalina Georgieva will attend the annual conference at the forum’s invitation.

At the invitation of Premier Li Qiang, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will pay an official visit to China on the margins of the annual conference.

CCTV: Could you share China’s expectations for the visit by leaders of Singapore, Malaysia and Spain? How do you see the current relations between China and these three countries?

Mao Ning: Leaders of the three countries will travel to Beijing after attending the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference in Hainan. The Chinese leadership will meet with and hold talks with them respectively for an in-depth exchange of views on bilateral ties and international and regional issues of mutual interest.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is one of the foreign leaders that have paid the most visits to China. He made his last visit to China four years ago. China and Singapore are each other’s friendly neighbors and important cooperation partners. Our practical cooperation is a pacesetter in the region. We hope to take this visit as an opportunity to elevate and upgrade bilateral ties and steer cooperation towards even higher quality.

This will be Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s first visit to China in his current capacity. Malaysia is an important developing country and emerging economy in the region. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of China-Malaysia comprehensive strategic partnership and next year we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties. We hope this visit will promote new progress in bilateral relations as our two countries work together towards a community with a shared future. 

For Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, this will be his first visit to China. Spain is China’s important partner in the EU. This year marks the 50th anniversary of China-Spain diplomatic relations. We hope this visit will be an opportunity to blueprint the future development of bilateral relations and bring our comprehensive strategic partnership to a new height.

Xinhua News Agency: You just made an announcement about the leaders who will attend the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2023. Do you have any expectations for the meeting this year?

Mao Ning: The Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2023 will be held in Boao, Hainan from March 28 to 31 with its opening ceremony to be held on March 30.

The international and regional environment for development is undergoing complex changes. The theme of this year’s annual conference “An Uncertain World: Solidarity and Cooperation for Development amid Challenges”, reflects the shared aspiration of the international community for peace, cooperation and development. As the host country, China hopes that the forum will provide participants with an international platform for exchanges to discuss how to advance peace, development and win-win cooperation and contribute insights to enhancing global governance and the well-being of people around the world.  

Reuters: China has established diplomatic relations with Honduras. So Honduras previously asked Taiwan for $2.5 billion in financial aid. Will China give Honduras this amount that it previously requested from Taiwan?

Mao Ning: Establishing diplomatic ties with China is a political decision made by Honduras on the basis of the one-China principle and based on no preconditions. China highly appreciates the decision of Honduras. Diplomatic relations are not a bargaining chip. Over the past few years, when Panama, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Nicaragua established or restored diplomatic relations with China, there were no preconditions whatsoever, neither were there any for Honduras.

Now that we have established diplomatic ties with Honduras, China will, on the basis of the one-China principle, act in the spirit of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit and common development, actively promote the mutually-beneficial cooperation in various fields with Honduras, and contribute to its economic and social development and the well-being of the local people. 

It is widely known that the DPP authorities are an expert of using dollar diplomacy. We would like to make this clear to the DPP authorities that “Taiwan independence” and dollar diplomacy have no future and any attempt to go against the trend of history will end in failure. 

RIA Novosti: Russian President Putin said earlier that Russia and Belarus had agreed on the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. Does the Chinese foreign ministry have any comment?

Mao Ning: In January last year, the leaders of the five nuclear-weapon states released a joint statement, in which they affirmed that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought and stressed the importance of the avoidance of war between nuclear-weapon states and the reduction of strategic risks. Under the current circumstances, all sides need to focus on making diplomatic efforts towards a peaceful settlement of the Ukraine crisis and work together for deescalation.

Asahi TV: A Japanese man was detained in Beijing last week. The Japanese side, Japanese nationals living in China in particular, are closely following this. Can you tell us the reason for his detention and his current conditions?

Mao Ning: It is learned that earlier this month, relevant Chinese authorities adopted compulsory measures in accordance with the criminal procedure law against a Japanese citizen for case examination. This Japanese citizen is suspected of engaging in espionage activities and violating the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China and the Counterespionage Law of the People’s Republic of China. In accordance with relevant stipulations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the China-Japan Consular Agreement, the Chinese side has notified the Japanese Embassy in China. I need to stress that China is a country governed by law. All foreigners living in and traveling to China must observe Chinese laws and those who violate the law and commit crimes will be held legally accountable. There have been similar cases involving Japanese citizens in recent years and the Japanese side needs to do more to ask their citizens not to engage in such activities. 

NHK: A follow-up on the Japanese citizen detained. The Chinese side often talks about abiding by Chinese laws, but in similar cases, authorities do not disclose relevant information. Foreigners in China find it frustrating. In this case, what exactly are the offenses and what laws are broken? There is also criticism about China’s investment environment among some companies. Since China has been stressing market openness and the need to attract foreign investment, a reliable business environment would be particularly important for China now. What’s your comment?

Mao Ning: I have shared the information I have with you. Let me stress that businesses and individuals need to abide by the law in their host countries, which is expected in all countries in the world. China is a country under the rule of law. The case concerned will be handled in accordance with the law and the lawful rights and interests of the people concerned will be protected accordingly. The rule of law is also an integral part of a sound business environment. 

The Paper: According to reports, in response to the joint statement by the heads of state of China and Russia which expressed serious concern over the planned discharge into the ocean of the nuclear-contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yasutoshi Nishimura said to the press after a Cabinet meeting on March 24 that the phrase “radioactive contaminated water” reflects a factual error and that the Japanese side will continue to release science-based information in a patient and meticulous way. Do you have any comment?

Mao Ning: In the spirit of science and out of a sense of responsibility for our people’s health and the global marine environment and public interests, China has expressed concerns repeatedly over Japan’s unilateral decision to discharge into the ocean the nuclear-contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Japan has been claiming that ALPS-treated nuclear-contaminated water is safe and harmless and that it opposes calling the water “nuclear-contaminated”. The fact, however, is that the water contains over 60 radionuclides, many of which cannot be treated effectively with existing technologies. Some long-lived radionuclides may spread with ocean currents and form a bioconcentration effect, which will multiply the total amount of radionuclides in the environment, causing unpredictable hazards to the marine environment and human health. The discharge will last as long as 30 years or even longer. The maturity and effectiveness of ALPS has not been evaluated or certified by a third party. There is no precedent to the handling of such a large amount of nuclear-contaminated water with such complex components, and whether ALPS will remain effective in the long run remains a question. According to data released by Japan earlier this month, nearly 70% of ALPS-treated nuclear-contaminated water failed to meet the standards. Moreover, relevant data were provided by TEPCO, which has been tampering with or covering up the data. How can the world be assured that the treated water is as safe as Japan claims?

What Japan needs to do now is to take seriously the legitimate concerns of the international community, faithfully perform its international obligations, and handle the nuclear-contaminated water in the safest and most prudent way, including fully studying alternatives to ocean discharge. Japan also needs to fully subject itself to international oversight, and avoid, to the maximum extent possible, imposing unpredictable risks on the international community. Japan must not seek to whitewash its ocean discharge decision and must not start discharging the nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean before reaching a consensus through full consultation with neighboring countries and other stakeholders as well as relevant international agencies.

Reuters: US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said yesterday that the House will bring forward legislation involving TikTok. What’s your comment? 

Mao Ning: We’ve stated our position on multiple occasions. The US side has provided no evidence or proof that TikTok threatens US national security, yet it has repeatedly suppressed and attacked the company based on the presumption of guilt. A professional issue should be addressed in a professional way. Keeping others down will not make oneself stronger. The US should respect the principles of market economy and fair competition, stop suppressing foreign companies and provide an open, fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for foreign companies investing and operating in the US.

Kyodo News: Also about the detained Japanese citizen. The Japanese side is calling for the release of the citizen as soon as possible and the government said that the consular access has not been realized yet. What’s China’s comment? Is the Beijing bureau for national security among the competent authorities you referred to? 

Mao Ning: The law will decide whether he can be released. China is a country governed by law. The case will be handled in accordance with the law. We will handle the matters concerning consular access in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the China-Japan Consular Agreement. By “competent authorities”, I was referring to the national security authorities.

Shenzhen TV: According to reports, Honduran Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina said that the Honduran government assured that they will not leave students who are studying in Taiwan with Taiwanese scholarships “helpless”, and a way to help them will be sought from China following the establishment of diplomatic ties. So will China allow these Honduran students to continue their study in the mainland?

Mao Ning: China cares deeply about Honduran students in Taiwan. The mainland is ready to receive every one of them if they wish to come to study in the mainland, which will become their new home. The establishment of diplomatic relations will serve as our new starting point, as we set out to broaden cultural, people-to-people and educational exchanges and cooperation and bring our peoples closer to each other with Honduras.

AFP: Former leader of the Taiwan region Ma Ying-jeou started a historic visit to the mainland today. Can the foreign ministry confirm that he will meet with senior officials? Do you have any comment on this visit?

Mao Ning: This is not a question about diplomacy. I’d like to refer you to the competent authorities.

CGTN: March 25 is the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Would you like to share your thoughts on the occasion?

Mao Ning: Transatlantic slave trade is one of the darkest chapters in human history. According to relevant data, more than 15 million people fell victim to the historical tragedy. In December 2007, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution designating March 25 as the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. It was a step to acknowledge the four-century-long transatlantic slave trade and its lasting consequences felt throughout the world and to strive to eliminate the legacy of slavery including racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance.

To eliminate all forms of racism and to ensure the dignity and equal rights of all human beings is to act on the spirit of the UN Charter and to deliver international fairness and justice. We regret to see that today, the elimination of the negative impact of slavery and slave trade remains an uphill battle. Racism, racial discrimination and inequality are still ingrained in some countries. Some Western countries resort to illegal military intervention, unilateral coercive measures and “democratic transformation” in other countries in an attempt to grab new markets, plunder resources and exploit the workforce. Various neo-colonial and hegemonic acts like this seriously violate the human rights of people in developing countries.

The shadow of colonialism and slavery still looms over the US society. According to the website of Mapping Police Violence, African Americans are 2.78 times more likely than white Americans to be killed by police from 2013 to 2022. Cries of despair like “I can’t breathe” have been echoing again and again in the US.

Forgetting history means betraying it. The US should think about how it should fulfill its international human rights obligations, address domestic systemic racism and racist discrimination, end impunity, stop interfering in other countries’ internal affairs and stop causing instability overseas.  

Reuters: On the visit of Ghana’s finance minister. Ghana’s finance ministry said last week that it expected to secure financing assurances from China very soon. Do you have any response?

Mao Ning: I’d like to refer you to the competent authorities.

NBC: Regarding President Putin’s decision on tactical nuclear weapons, do you think that will complicate China’s peace plan for Ukraine? In general, anyway, how can any peace plan make progress if major powers like the US and China are not even discussing this? Is there any possibility that in the reported next conversation between Chinese and US leaders, this issue will be touched on?

Mao Ning: China’s position on this issue is well articulated in China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis. On the issue of Ukraine, we have advocated a political settlement of the crisis and promoted talks for peace. China has been in communication with all sides and will continue to play a constructive role in our own way to help deescalate the situation. We hope that the US will also act responsibly to create the necessary environment and conditions for peace talks between the parties concerned, rather than add fuel to the fire.

China Review News: The American Institute in Taiwan said that while Honduras’ severing of ties was a sovereign decision, China often makes promises in exchange for diplomatic recognition that ultimately remain unfulfilled. They added that “We strongly encourage all countries to expand engagement with Taiwan and to continue to stand on the side of democracy, good governance, transparency, and adherence to the rule of law.” Do you have any comment?

Mao Ning: To quote a line from a Chinese poem, “Despite the incessant cry of apes from the banks, the swift boat has already sailed through thousands of hills.”

MASTV: On March 24, US President Biden released a joint statement with Prime Minister Trudeau while visiting Canada, in which they acknowledged the serious long-term challenge to the international order posed by China and stated that while they will cooperate with China in areas of mutual interest, such as on climate change, they remain committed to ensuring their ability to compete effectively with China on a level playing field. They also reiterated the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encouraged the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues. What’s China’s response?

Mao Ning: China is firmly against the unwarranted attacks and smears against China by the US and Canada.

China is committed to peace and development, advocates openness and inclusiveness and practices win-win cooperation. China has always been a force for world peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of the international order. In contrast, the US and Canada cling to the Cold War mentality, advance group politics and stoke bloc confrontation. It is plainly visible to the international community who is right and who is wrong. The US and Canada should reflect on what they have done rather than misrepresent the facts and shift the blame onto China.

We often hear these countries talking about upholding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a certain country, yet when it comes to issues concerning China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, these countries have openly applied double standards, which shows their hypocrisy. The Taiwan question is China’s internal affair and bears on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The US and Canada are in no position to point fingers.  

NBC: A US House committee held a hearing on a report called “Genocide in Xinjiang”. Would China be willing to invite a US congressional delegation, for example, to visit Xinjiang and see for themselves what’s happening there?

Mao Ning: The allegation of “genocide” in Xinjiang is a lie that stemmed from anti-China elements and has already been exposed by facts. Today’s Xinjiang enjoys social stability and economic prosperity. People there live a peaceful and happy life, and their human rights, regardless of their ethnic background, are under full protection. The door to Xinjiang is always open. People of all countries with no prejudice are welcome to visit Xinjiang and see the place with their own eyes. We believe that facts are the best way to debunk these lies and disinformation. 

AFP: Last Monday, Chinese authorities shut down the Beijing office of Mintz Group, a US corporate due diligence firm, and detained its five local staff. Do you have any update on that?

Mao Ning: Based on what we have learned from relevant authorities, the company is suspected of illegal business operations. Further investigation is underway. 

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