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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on April 11, 2023

At the invitation of the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan Bakhtiyor Saidov, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang will attend the fourth Foreign Ministers’ Meeting among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan in Samarkand, Uzbekistan and visit Uzbekistan from April 12 to 13.

CCTV: We have noted that tomorrow Brazilian President Lula da Silva will pay a state visit to China shortly after his recovery. Can you share more information about this?

Wang Wenbin: Since President Lula da Silva postponed his visit to China due to medical reasons, the two sides have maintained close communication about the visit. The fact that President Lula da Silva will lead a large delegation to China on his state visit so soon after his recovery speaks to the high importance both sides attach to this visit and our bilateral relations.

China stands ready to work together with the Brazilian side and take this visit as an opportunity to upgrade our mutually-beneficial friendly cooperation in various sectors and bring more positive energy to developing countries’ solidarity, cooperation and joint response to global challenges.

CCTV: In March last year, China successfully hosted the third Foreign Ministers’ Meeting among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan in Tunxi, Anhui Province, and issued the Tunxi Initiative of the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan on Supporting Economic Reconstruction in and Practical Cooperation with Afghanistan (Tunxi Initiative), which won extensive recognition from the international community. Given the current circumstances, what expectations does China have for the fourth Foreign Ministers’ Meeting among the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan?

Wang Wenbin: China looks forward to having in-depth exchanges of views with participating parties on the current situation in Afghanistan at the meeting, so as to cement the consensus among neighboring countries on the Afghan issue, and make concrete efforts to deliver on the outcomes and consensus reached at previous meetings, especially the Tunxi Initiative. We will support the Afghan interim government and the Afghan people in overcoming difficulties and challenges to realize peaceful reconstruction, economic development, security and stability, and in the meantime responding earnestly to the legitimate concerns in the world so that there will be more favorable conditions for expanding bilateral cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbors and for making Afghanistan part of the regional connectivity network and economic integration process. By making those common efforts, we hope to make this region more peaceful, stable and prosperous.

CGTN: Could you share more about the background and China’s considerations and expectations for the visit by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang to Uzbekistan?

Wang Wenbin: This is State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang’s first visit to Uzbekistan. During the visit, he will meet with President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev and hold talks with Acting Foreign Minister Bakhtiyor Saidov. They will exchange views on bilateral relations, high-level exchanges between the two sides, and international and regional issues of shared interest. We believe this visit will fully deliver on the common understandings between the presidents of the two countries, deepen mutually beneficial cooperation in various areas, and contribute to the growth of China-Uzbekistan relations.

RIA Novosti: According to media reports, the US administration is trying to restart high-level talks with China, including rescheduling the visit of Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Beijing, which was called off after the incident with the Chinese balloon. But Beijing has frozen high-level diplomatic contacts with Washington. Do you have any comments on this?

Wang Wenbin: The responsibility for the current difficulties in China-US relations does not lie with China. The US needs to stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and harming China’s interests, and stop undermining the political foundation for our bilateral relations while stressing the need to put “guardrails” on the relationship. The US needs to work with China to bring the bilateral relations back onto the right track of sound and steady growth.

AFP: French President Macron’s recent comment that Europe must not follow either Washington or Beijing on the Taiwan issue has sparked some criticism in Europe. The director of the Polish Institute of International Relations said that a brain death has occurred somewhere. What’s China’s view on the controversy?

Wang Wenbin: We have stated China’s position on the issue. Let me reiterate that the Taiwan question is entirely China’s internal affair. The one-China principle is a prevailing consensus among the international community and a basic norm in international relations. The biggest threat facing peace in the Taiwan Strait is the “Taiwan independence” separatist activities and foreign forces’ connivance and support for those activities. We hope all parties will understand the true nature of the Taiwan question, continue to follow the one-China principle and firmly oppose “Taiwan independence” separatist activities.

China Daily: On April 10, World Bank Group President David Malpass said that due to an improved outlook for China’s recovery, World Bank has revised China’s growth prospects for 2023 from 4.3% to 5.1% and the 2023 global growth outlook from 1.7% to 2%. A latest OECD report also raised China’s economic outlook to 5.3%. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: Since early this year, the Chinese economy has continued to show sound momentum of recovery with strong impetus for growth. Main economic indicators such as consumption and investment have picked up, and market expectation has significantly improved. Recently, many international organizations have revised up their forecasts for China’s economic growth this year. Mainstream international media organizations and renowned economists also said that China’s economic data are messages of hope, and that the rebound of China’s economic activities and demand will further galvanize world economic growth.

China cannot develop in isolation from the world, and the world also needs China for its development. As President Xi Jinping said, China will accelerate the development of its domestic market, while vigorously advancing high-standard opening up, and steadily expanding institutional opening up in terms of rules, regulations, management and standards. China stands ready to share with countries in the world the new opportunities presented by Chinese modernization. The third China International Consumer Products Expo opened in Haikou yesterday. The 133rd China Import and Export Fair will be held in Guangzhou this weekend. Later this year, China will host the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation and the sixth China International Import Expo. China will open its door wider, with better environment and more quality services. In a world fraught with uncertainties, the certainty China provides becomes a bulwark for world peace and development. We have the confidence and ability to sail the giant ship of the Chinese economy steadily ahead against all winds and waves, and make even greater contributions to the global economy.

Bloomberg: The first question is on Ghana. Ghana is poised to secure approval from the IMF for $3 billion bailout. We’re wondering if China will be providing financing insurance to Ghana. The second question is on Australia. Australia has reached an agreement with China that creates the pathway for the resolution of the dispute over barley, according to the Australian foreign minister. Could the foreign ministry provide any more information on it?

Wang Wenbin: About your first question, China attaches high importance to developing countries’ debt issues and have taken real actions both bilaterally and multilaterally to play a constructive role. As Ghana’s friend, China understands its current difficulties. Relevant financial institutions are working with Ghana to find a proper solution. As to your specific question, I would refer you to the competent authorities.

On your second question, I would also refer you to the competent authorities. Let me say broadly that China and Australia are each other’s important trade and economic cooperation partners. Our two economies have a lot to offer each other and such cooperation is good for both sides. To improve and ensure a sound China-Australia relationship is not only in the fundamental interest of both peoples, but also conducive to peace and development in the Asia-Pacific and beyond. 

China is ready to work with Australia to further implement the important common understandings reached between the leaders at their Bali meeting and the outcomes of the China-Australia Foreign and Strategic Dialogue. By following the principles of mutual respect, mutual benefit and seeking common ground while shelving differences, we aim to reestablish trust between the two countries and bring bilateral relations to the right track and, in this process, resolve our respective concerns on trade and economic issues in a balanced way through constructive consultation to the benefit of both peoples.

TASS: Japan’s Foreign Ministry released this year’s Diplomatic Bluebook today. It expresses serious concerns about the joint activities of Russian and Chinese armed forces near Japan’s borders. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: As for China-Russia military cooperation, we have stated our position on many occasions. Relevant cooperation is not targeted at any third party and is in full compliance with international law and practice. It poses no threat to any country and is not for others to judge. We urge the Japanese side to quit playing up regional tensions, stop inciting and fueling bloc confrontation, and act on its stated desire of building a constructive and stable relationship with China.

Global Times: It was reported that in recent days, the ROK main opposition Democratic Party of Korea organized a “Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Contaminated Water Release Response Team” to visit Japan to convey their deep concern to the Japanese side over the release into the ocean of nuclear-contaminated water from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. Many Japanese people held rallies to oppose the Japanese government pushing forward the discharge plan, saying that such moves threaten the health of the people of Japan as well as the rest of the world. What is your comment? 

Wang Wenbin: We have noted the reports. China has repeatedly expressed grave concern over and strong opposition to the Japanese government’s decision to discharge the nuclear-contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea.

The nuclear-contaminated water had direct contact with the reactors’ cores melt during the Fukushima nuclear accident. It 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. 

According to provisions in general international law and UNCLOS, Japan has the obligation to take all possible measures to prevent pollution of the environment, the obligation to notify and fully consult with states likely to be affected, the obligation to assess and monitor the environmental impact, the obligation to take precautions to minimize hazardous effects, the obligation to ensure transparency, and the obligation to engage in international cooperation.

However, the Japanese side has been shunning its responsibilities and obligations under various pretexts. Without fully exploring potential options, it decided on the ocean discharge plan out of selfish interests, shifting the risks to other countries and the rest of humanity. This is extremely irresponsible. 

We once again urge Japan to take seriously the legitimate concerns of the international community and the Japanese people and dispose of the nuclear-contaminated water in a way that is safe and consistent with international obligations, international safety standards and international good practice, including by duly studying other options than ocean discharge, instead of shifting unforeseen risks to the international community. Pending consensus with neighboring countries and other stakeholders as well as relevant international agencies through full consultation, Japan must not start the ocean discharge process.

NHK: Japan’s Diplomatic Bluebook calls China an important neighbor. But citing China’s external attitudes and military moves, it also describes the country as posing the “biggest strategic challenge”. Do you have any comment? 

Wang Wenbin: China is firmly opposed to Japan’s using such platitudes to smear and discredit China, play up the so-called “China threat” and interfere in China’s internal affairs. We urge Japan to correct its wrongdoing, stop inciting and creating bloc confrontation, earnestly abide by the post-war international order and basic norms governing international relations, fulfill its obligations under international law, and act on its stated desire of building a constructive and stable relationship with China.

Dragon TV: Recently, the Memphis Zoo in the US held a farewell party for the giant panda Ya Ya, whose health conditions have been on the mind of many internet users in China. Do you have any updates on the giant panda’s return to China?

Wang Wenbin: Based on what we have learned from relevant authorities, according to the giant panda collaborative research agreement between the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens and the Memphis Zoo, their cooperation expired on April 7. The Memphis Zoo held a farewell ceremony for the giant panda on April 8. The US Fish and Wildlife Service will issue an export license for Ya Ya and Le Le in accordance with required procedures after the comment period ends on April 12. The Chinese side has made full preparations for the return of Ya Ya and will coordinate more closely with the US institutions concerned to complete a pre-departure health evaluation and send the giant panda safely home as soon as possible once the export permit is issued.

At present, an expert from the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens and two technicians from the Beijing Zoo are now working with the Memphis Zoo on the caring of the giant panda and they have got a general understanding of the daily care of Ya Ya. The overall condition of the giant panda is relatively stable except for the fur condition caused by skin disease. The Chinese side has already made preparations to welcome Ya Ya home in terms of quarantine sites, living quarters, feeding plans, medical care and feed supplies.

AFP: It’s about the recently-concluded PLA drills around Taiwan. Taiwan’s defense ministry says it has detected nine Chinese warships and 26 aircraft around the island today even after the drills had officially ended. Can you explain why the ships and aircraft are still there? 

Wang Wenbin: We have made clear China's position on this question. Let me stress again that China stands ready to take resolute measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Let me also add that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory and there is no such thing as “Taiwan’s defense ministry”. 

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