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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on May 16, 2023

外交部-新闻司

Bloomberg: We understand that Special Envoy Li Hui is traveling to Ukraine, Poland, France, Germany and Russia. We are wondering if you can confirm he is currently in Ukraine and what the rest of his schedule looks like for this trip.

Wang Wenbin: We have provided information on Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Eurasian Affairs, Ambassador Li Hui’s visit to the five countries in Europe. We will share more details about the visit in due course. Please check back for updates.

CCTV: The China-Central Asia Summit will soon be held in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province. It was in Central Asia that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was first announced and countries in the region and China have shared fruitful outcomes in their high-quality BRI cooperation over the past decade. Could you share more information on the cooperation between China and Central Asian countries under the BRI? What is the significance of this summit to advancing the high-quality BRI cooperation for China and Central Asian countries?

Wang Wenbin: In September 2013, President Xi Jinping announced the initiative of the Silk Road Economic Belt during his speech in Kazakhstan. Central Asia thus became where the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was first proposed and a pacesetter for connectivity.

Over the past decade, President Xi Jinping has maintained close exchanges with the heads of state of the five Central Asian countries. They personally mapped out the blueprint for high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, reached important common understandings on connecting the BRI with the development strategies of Central Asian countries and provided strategic guidance for China-Central Asia Belt and Road cooperation.

Over the past decade, we have jointly implemented a number of major projects which has benefited the region and its people in various ways. The China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Border Cooperation Center and the China-Kazakhstan Logistics Base in Lianyungang have been completed, providing a gateway to the Pacific for Central Asian countries. The Chinese-built tunnel of the Angren-Pap railway line, the longest tunnel in Central Asia, saved local residents the trouble of climbing through the mountains or taking a detour via neighboring countries. The China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan (CKU) highway has become an important international transportation route that runs smoothly through the region’s mountainous terrain. Four-fifths of the China-Europe Railway Express trains run through Central Asia. They are a steel caravan for the Eurasian continent. Last year, the total trade volume between China and Central Asian countries hit a record high of $70 billion. These tangible outcomes lay a solid foundation for the two sides’ continued commitment to mutual respect, good neighborliness and friendship, mutual support in times of difficulties and win-win cooperation.

The China-Central Asia Summit will soon be held in Xi’an. The summit will expand the common understandings among China and Central Asian countries and galvanize efforts from both sides to stay at the forefront of high-quality BRI cooperation. We believe that the summit in Xi’an, where the ancient Silk Road began, is set to reinvigorate the millennia-old trade route and herald a promising outlook for China-Central Asia cooperation. The summit will contribute to an even closer China-Central Asia community with a shared future.

Yonhap: It was reported that member of the ROK national football team Son Jun-ho has been under criminal detention since May 12 by the Public Security Bureau of Chaoyang city, Liaoning Province. The ROK Consulate General has requested consular access. What’s the foreign ministry’s position? 

Wang Wenbin: We have learned that an ROK citizen has recently been put under criminal detention by public security authorities in Liaoning Province in accordance with the law on suspicion of taking bribes as a person who is not a functionary of a State organ. China is a country under the rule of law, handles relevant cases in accordance with the law and protects the legal rights and interests of the individual concerned. Public security authorities of Liaoning Province have sent consular notification to the ROK Consulate General in Shenyang and will provide necessary facilitation for ROK consular officials to perform their consular duties.

Beijing Daily: According to reports, US Ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety held a press conference on May 11, accusing the South African government of “providing weapons” to Russia last December based on US intelligence. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa issued a statement on May 12, responding that the US Ambassador to South Africa should “apologize unreservedly to the Government and the people of South Africa” for his statement and the country protests against it. The US on multiple occasions accused China of providing “lethal aid” to Russia. What’s your comment?  

Wang Wenbin: The US needs to reflect on its responsibility on the Ukraine issue and stop coercing other countries to pick sides and smearing others. We believe that most countries would like to see a peaceful settlement of the Ukraine crisis instead of more arms sales and actions that fuel the flames such as what the US has been doing.

China News Service: The third China-CEEC Expo opens today. What’s your comment on and expectation for the Expo?

Wang Wenbin: The third China-CEEC Expo opens today in Ningbo and will end on May 20, serving as one of the most practical platform for cooperation under the framework of China-CEEC cooperation. So far, the Expo attracted around 3,000 exhibitors, up by 30% compared with the second Expo. The number of companies from Central and Eastern European countries exceeds 400. Over 100,000 people are expected to participate in this Expo. Important institutional events in various fields under the China-CEEC cooperation framework will be held on the sidelines of the Expo, including the Meeting of China-CEEC Business Council and the China-CEEC Dialogue on Customs, Inspection and Quarantine Cooperation, boosting China-CEEC exchanges and cooperation on all fronts.

China stands ready to share development dividends, promote more practical cooperation results and realize mutually beneficial cooperation with Central and Eastern European countries. We wish the China-CEEC Expo a full success.

People’s Daily: According to reports, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders have agreed on plans to introduce bans in their countries on assault-style weapons to curb spikes in gun violence and weapons smuggling in the region at a security meeting held not long ago in Trinidad and Tobago. Participants also called on the US government to take effective measures to stop the flow of US firearms to the Caribbean. What’s China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: We have noted relevant reports. At this CARICOM security meeting, several leaders drew attention to the increase in gangland violence, bolstered by the availability of high-powered, military-style weapons smuggled mostly from the US. This shows that the rampant endemic gun violence in the US has become an epidemic spreading beyond the border and wreaking havoc in neighboring countries.

The US ranks first in the world in terms of civilian gun ownership and per capita gun ownership. The carnage of frequent mass shootings in the country is simply shocking. The US’s chaotic firearms management not only inflicts suffering on the American people, but also poses serious risks for security in the Caribbean. According to Interpol, guns are responsible for over 70% of murders in the Caribbean. Data from the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives shows that about 80% of the firearms involved in cases across the entire Caribbean region are from the US. According to official data from The Bahamas, over 90% of the firearms seized in the country can be traced to the US.

These facts prove that the US is both the source of illicit firearms trafficking and the root cause of public safety woes in Caribbean countries. The US blames other countries for domestic drug abuse, while pretending not to notice the scourge caused by illicit flow of US firearms into neighboring countries – another typical case of US double standard.

We call on the US to face squarely its endemic gun proliferation issue, step up to its responsibility, and take measures to stem the illicit export of firearms at the source, instead of shunning the issue and even watching it spill over to other countries.

CCTV: It was reported that the government of Uzbekistan announced to launch pilot projects in all states to promote China’s experience in poverty reduction. What’s China’s comment? 

Wang Wenbin: In recent years, thanks to the personal guidance and efforts of leaders of the two countries, poverty reduction cooperation between China and Uzbekistan generated fruitful results, becoming a highlight in all-round cooperation between the two countries. The government of Uzbekistan decided to launch pilot projects in all states to promote China’s experience in poverty reduction. It shows that Uzbekistan attaches great importance to China’s experience. President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan will attend the China-Central Asia Summit and pay a state visit to China in two days. Leaders of the two countries will chart the new course for poverty reduction cooperation and inject new impetus for poverty alleviation in Uzbekistan.

Ending absolute poverty marks a milestone in improving Chinese people’s livelihood, a historical achievement in protecting human rights in China and a splendid chapter in human progress. While the poverty reduction accomplishment is achieved by China, the benefits it brings belong to the world. It provides China’s solution to bolster the global efforts in poverty alleviation and contributes China’s strength to building a community with a shared future for mankind. China stands ready to work with all countries around the world to enhance poverty reduction experience sharing and cooperation and contribute our fair share to building a beautiful world of common development free from poverty.

CRI: According to reports, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called out China and Russia in an interview on May 15, saying that unilateral changes to the status quo with might won’t be allowed and that the G7 Hiroshima Summit will send out a strong message on this to the international community. What’s your comment?

Wang Wenbin: As the host of the upcoming G7 Summit, Japan has been stoking and creating bloc confrontation, which undermines the interests of the region. China firmly opposes it.

What Japan has done – referring to the same narrative over and over again and trying to smear its neighbors – can only be explained by its need to deflect attention to its own and actual attempt to unilaterally change the status quo. In international legal instruments such as the Potsdam Proclamation and the Cairo Declaration which constitute the legal basis of the post-war international order, it is stated that Taiwan’s return to China is an important component of the post-WWII international order. However, some in Japan have been doing all they can to whitewash the history of aggression, honor the militarists and justify their crimes. They even claim that “Any contingency for Taiwan is a contingency for Japan”. Isn’t this the definition of “changing the status quo”?

If Japan is truly against “unilateral change to the status quo”, one thing it can do is to stop those within Japan trying to turn back the wheel of history, draw serious lessons from the history of Japan’s militarist aggression, recommit itself to the post-war international order and adhere to the one-China principle and the spirit of the four political documents between China and Japan. 

Global Times: In his remarks on the 2022 Report on International Religious Freedom on May 15, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused China of committing “genocide” against predominately Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang. What’s China’s response?

Wang Wenbin: The remarks by the US side lack factual basis and distort China’s ethnic and religious policies. These remarks are entirely driven by ideological bias with no respect for truth or rationality. We do not accept it and categorically reject it.

The Chinese government protects citizens’ freedom of religious belief in accordance with the law. People of all ethnic groups in China are fully entitled to the freedom of religious belief as prescribed by law. In China, there are nearly 200 million religious believers, over 380,000 clerical personnel, about 5,500 religious groups and over 140,000 places of worship registered for religious activities, including about 24,000 mosques in Xinjiang alone.

The “genocide” allegation is nothing but an egregious lie propagated by the US side. During the past 60-plus years since the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region was established, the region’s economy has grown 160 times. Its Uyghur population expanded from 2.2 million to about 12 million, and average life expectancy there increased from 30 to 74.7 years. Xinjiang enjoys social stability, economic development, ethnic solidarity, religious harmony and rising living standards. In recent years, more than 2,000 government officials, religious personnel and journalists from over 100 countries and international organizations have visited Xinjiang. After the trip, they spoke highly of the region’s stability, development and prosperity, and expressed understanding and support for its counter-terrorism and de-radicalization efforts. People with insight in many countries, including the US, have shared the true picture of Xinjiang and spoken up for justice in an objective voice. Despite these facts, the US has kept peddling disinformation about Xinjiang to use it to contain China and find a pretext to keep China down. The international community can see this clearly.

We urge the US to face up to and reflect on its own problems, respect the facts and truth, stop applying double standard, and stop using the so-called human rights, religious and ethnic issues to meddle in China’s internal affairs. The attempt of using the so-called human rights and religious issues to hold back China’s development is doomed to fail.

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