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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on October 31, 2023

2023-10-31 20:07

Bloomberg: There are reports in the media that China’s Public Security Minister Wang Xiaohong is holding talks in Myanmar. Do you have any information on the reason and content of these talks? What is China’s assessment of the offensive in northern Myanmar?

Wang Wenbin: China is closely following the conflict. We urge relevant parties to cease fire as soon as possible, settle differences in a peaceful way through dialogue and consultation, avoid escalation of the situation, and take effective steps to ensure security and stability at the China-Myanmar border. As for the visit you asked about, I’d refer you to competent Chinese authorities.

Hubei Media Group: It is reported that the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel in Bangladesh, contracted to and constructed by Chinese companies, has officially been inaugurated. This is yet another good outcome of Belt and Road cooperation between China and Bangladesh. Would you like to comment on this?

Wang Wenbin: We congratulate Bangladesh on the inauguration of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel. It is the first underwater tunnel in South Asia and will further enhance connectivity between Bangladesh and neighboring countries. This is another vivid example of how Belt and Road cooperation benefits partner countries and promotes common development. We believe that this tunnel and other projects like the Dasherkandi Sewage Treatment Plant will contribute to the economic and social development of Bangladesh and the well-being of the people.

Not long ago, China successfully held the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. President Xi Jinping announced eight major steps China will take to support joint pursuit of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation in his keynote speech. The forum achieved 458 outcomes. China will work with partner countries, take implementing the outcomes of the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation as an opportunity to usher in a new stage of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. By doing so, we can contribute even more to the common effort of global modernization featuring peaceful development, mutually beneficial cooperation and prosperity for all.

Kyodo News: The Beijing Xiangshan Forum was concluded today. During the forum, did Chinese and US participants have any exchanges?

Wang Wenbin: On the Xiangshan Forum, please refer to information released by China’s competent authorities.

RIA Novosti: Tomorrow China will assume the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council for November. Does China plan to propose any resolution on the situation in Israel and Gaza during the presidency? 

Wang Wenbin: On the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, China always stands on the side of fairness and justice, condemns and opposes all moves that harm civilians and violate international law. China is committed to working with the international community to help end the fighting, ensure the safety of civilians, promote humanitarian assistance, prevent an even worse humanitarian disaster from happening, and strive for a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian question. China will work relentlessly to this end in the UN Security Council.

China Daily: On October 30, the Fijian government announced its withdrawal from being a party to a China-related joint statement issued by some Western countries in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly at its 78th session. Do you have any comment?

Wang Wenbin: At the general debate on human rights issues held by the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly at its 78th session, over 100 countries spoke up in various ways in support of China’s just position. The scale of the support shows once again that the international community is fair-minded on issues like this. A handful of Western countries sought to use human rights as a pretext to interfere in China’s internal affairs and hold back China’s development. That is not popular with the international community and will not succeed. 

We noted the Fijian government’s announced withdrawal from being a party to a China-related joint statement issued by some Western countries in the UN General Assembly Third Committee. Fiji’s decision shows the spirit of independence and reflects the purposes of the UN Charter and the basic norms governing international relations. China welcomes that decision. 

AFP: Yesterday, Canada banned WeChat on government-issued mobile devices, citing security risks. What is the Foreign Ministry’s response?

Wang Wenbin: WeChat is a social media platform run by a private company. The Chinese government keeps asking our companies to strictly abide by local laws and regulations in doing business overseas. The Canadian government, without providing any hard evidence, issued the ban against a Chinese company in the name of protecting data security. This is a typical move of overstretching the concept of national security and abusing state power to suppress the companies of a particular country. China firmly rejects this. We hope Canada will abandon ideological bias, uphold the principles of market economy, and provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese companies.

CCTV: After the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the Palestinian-Israeli situation with the majority in favor at an emergency special session on October 28, Israel said they “reject outright” the UN call for a ceasefire in Gaza. Israel’s Permanent Representative to the UN called the resolution a “shame”, saying that “Israel will continue to defend itself.” What is China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: The UN General Assembly resolution calls for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities”, compliance with international law, protection of civilians, and rescinding of the order to evacuate northern Gaza. The resolution also “rejects any attempts at the forced transfer of the Palestinian civilian population.” This reflects the strong call from the overwhelming majority of countries in the world.

For too long, Palestinian territories have been under illegal occupation. For too long, the Palestinian people’s right to independent statehood has been overlooked. And for too long, their basic rights have received no fundamental guarantee. This is the root cause of the cycle of conflict between Palestine and Israel. Such historical injustice must not continue. 

All countries are entitled to the right of self-defense. But that right should be exercised on the basis of observing the international law, the international humanitarian law in particular and protecting the safety of civilians. All lives are precious. Palestinian lives need to be protected just as the lives of people in any other country. The pressing priority now is to fully implement the UNGA resolution, stop the fighting, prevent further deterioration of the situation and avert an even worse humanitarian disaster.  

History tells us that the use of force will never bring lasting peace and violence for violence will only lead to a vicious cycle of revenge. Only by pursuing common security can there be sustainable security. Only by observing the international law can international fairness and justice be upheld. Only through political settlement can all parties’ legitimate security concerns be fundamentally addressed. The fundamental way out of the Palestinian question lies in the implementation of the two-state solution and in Palestine and Israel living peacefully side by side.

China will continue to make relentless effort for a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian question at an early date.

Reuters: It appears that the Baidu and Alibaba Gaode maps do not immediately show Israel unless people search for the country on those maps. Is there a reason that these platforms don’t identify Israel on their maps? Has China asked these platforms that provide map services to remove Israel? Also, does China still recognize Israel as a sovereign state?

Wang Wenbin: I believe you are aware that China and Israel have a normal diplomatic relationship. As for your questions, the relevant country is clearly marked on the standard maps issued by the Chinese competent authorities, which you may refer to.

Bloomberg: A question on Sri Lanka, is China willing to share its in-principle debt agreement, between its EXIM bank and Sri Lanka, with the IMF or the nation’s official creditors? Has progress been made towards a more concrete deal on this debt? How far have negotiations come along on the China Development Bank debt restructuring negotiations with Sri Lanka?

Wang Wenbin: As an official creditor, the Export-Import Bank of China tentatively agreed with Sri Lanka on the debt treatment. The Sri Lankan side has released relevant information. China will continue to support Chinese financial institutions in actively consulting with Sri Lanka and maintaining friendly communication with other creditors and jointly play a positive role in helping Sri Lanka navigate the situation, ease its debt burden and achieve sustainable development.

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