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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on February 2, 2024


2024-02-02 19:02

At the invitation of Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi, Swiss Federal Councillor and Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis will visit China from February 6 to 7 and the two sides will hold the third round of China-Switzerland Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue. 

China News Service: You just announced Swiss Federal Councillor and Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis will visit China. How does China view the current China-Switzerland relations? What does China expect to achieve through the visit?

Wang Wenbin: China welcomes Swiss Federal Councillor and Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis to visit China and co-chair the third round of China-Switzerland Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue.

Switzerland is one of the first Western countries to recognize New China. In the past 74 years since China and Switzerland established diplomatic ties, the two countries have set a fine example of friendly cooperation between countries of different social systems and different sizes at different development stages. We have forged the China-Switzerland cooperation spirit featuring equality, innovation and win-win results. In 2016, President Xi Jinping and the Swiss leader established China-Switzerland innovative strategic partnership, and provided important strategic guidance and charted the course for the future growth of bilateral relations. Premier Li Qiang made a successful official visit to Switzerland last month, during which the two sides reached a series of common understandings on enhancing mutually beneficial cooperation across the board between China and Switzerland. China hopes that the new round of strategic dialogue will be an opportunity for the two sides to better implement the common understandings reached between leaders of the two countries and bring bilateral relations to a new level.

The New York Times: Do you expect the Presidents of China and the United States to hold a phone call this spring or in the coming months?

Wang Wenbin: Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Wang Yi held meetings with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. The two sides agreed that the two heads of state will maintain regular contact to provide strategic guidance to bilateral relations. We hope that the US will work with China in the same direction, implement the common understandings and the vision between the two heads of state at the summit meeting in San Francisco, overcome obstacles and steer clear of disruptions for the steady growth of China-US relations. As regard to your specific question, I have no information to offer.

CCTV: The Venezuelan government announced that it will hold commemorations on February 2 to mark the 25th anniversary of the inauguration of former President Hugo Chávez to his first presidential term. What is China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: China noted the reports about the relevant commemorations to be held by the Venezuelan government. We congratulate the Venezuelan government and people on their achievements in upholding independence and self-determination and actively exploring a development path fit for their national conditions over the past 25 years, and believe that Venezuela will achieve new, greater success in national development.

TV Asahi: It’s reported by Japanese media that the Japanese government requested China to explain a Chinese buoy floating in waters within its exclusive economic zone near the “Senkaku Islands.” What’s your response to Japan’s request?

Wang Wenbin: The Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands are China’s inherent territory. China does not accept the notion of the so-called “Japanese Exclusive Economic Zone.” To my knowledge, the buoy that you mentioned was originally placed in the waters near the Yangtze River estuary and drifted away owing to technical failure. The two countries are communicating with each other on it. 

Shenzhen TV: The opening ceremony of the China-ASEAN Year of People-to-People Exchanges was held in Fuzhou city of Fujian Province this morning. Can you share more with us?

Wang Wenbin: This morning, the opening ceremony of the China-ASEAN Year of People-to-People Exchanges was held in Fuzhou city of Fujian Province. Premier of the State Council Li Qiang sent a congratulatory letter to the opening ceremony. State Councilor Shen Yiqin attended the opening ceremony, read Premier Li Qiang’s congratulatory letter and delivered remarks. Deputy Prime Minister Kikeo Khaykhamphithoune of Laos, the rotating chair of ASEAN for 2024, read the congratulatory letter of Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone and delivered remarks.

Premier Li Qiang noted in the congratulatory letter that China and ASEAN countries are connected by mountains and rivers, share similar cultures and enjoy time-honored friendly exchanges. The two sides jointly contributed to the diverse and rich Asian culture, and created splendid civilizations. The Southeast Asia region has been an important hub on the Maritime Silk Road since ancient times. In his seven voyages to Southeast Asia and onward, the Chinese navigator Zheng He left behind stories of friendly exchanges and economic engagement between China and Southeast Asian countries. The China-ASEAN comprehensive strategic partnership is now showing a sound momentum of growth, with fruitful outcomes of cooperation in various areas and continued new progress in the building of a China-ASEAN community with a shared future.

Premier Li Qiang noted that as President Xi Jinping pointed out, to ensure that the tree of China-ASEAN friendship remains evergreen, the soil of social support for our relations should be fertile. China hopes to work with ASEAN countries and take the opportunity of the China-ASEAN Year of People-to-People Exchanges as an opportunity to act on the Global Civilization Initiative, advocate Asian values featuring peace, cooperation, inclusiveness and integration, enhance mutual understanding and build closer bond between the over 2 billion people of the two sides, foster a closer China-ASEAN community with a shared future, and build a peaceful, safe and secure, prosperous, beautiful and amicable common home.

Political dignitaries from ASEAN countries attending the event spoke highly of the fruitful outcomes of the development of ASEAN-China relations, and expressed their willingness to work with China to hold a successful ASEAN-China Year of People-to-People Exchanges, deepen mutual understanding and friendship, enhance solidarity and cooperation, enrich the ASEAN-China comprehensive strategic partnership, promote people-to-people exchanges and mutual learning between civilizations in the region, boost post-COVID economic recovery and rebound of the tourism and culture industries, and realize common development and prosperity of the region.

Over 300 ASEAN countries’ political dignitaries, diplomats in China, heads of friendly organizations and representatives from various fields including the economic sector, think tanks, media outlets and sister cities attended the event. Before and after the opening ceremony, a number of events were held and will be held, including the launching and award presenting ceremony for the logo of the China-ASEAN Year of People-to-People Exchanges, the China-ASEAN spring fair, China-ASEAN book and art exhibition and Fujian intangible cultural heritage exhibition, themed activities on youth, women and tea culture, and concerts. These events will mark a good start for the Year of People-to-People Exchanges and the two sides will jointly hold more than 200 activities throughout the year, which will form a new trend of people-to-people exchanges among the over 2 billion people in China and ASEAN countries, facilitate interactions at all levels and in all sectors, and fully deepen trade and investment cooperation. China stands ready to work with ASEAN to implement the Global Civilization Initiative, foster a closer community with a shared future for China and ASEAN countries and contribute to advancing human civilization featuring harmony and inclusiveness.

Reuters: President Biden on Wednesday appointed John Podesta as the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. Before the appointment, Podesta once said that the US should restrict China’s lock on strategic minerals. What’s China’s comment on his appointment? How will it affect China-US relations?

Wang Wenbin: China congratulates Mr. John Podesta on his appointment. Climate change is a global challenge that requires concerted effort of all countries. The two Presidents during their meeting in San Francisco reached important common understandings on working together to address the climate crisis. The two sides have launched the Working Group on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s and worked together for a successful COP28. China stands ready to work with the US and the rest of the world to make further contribution to the global response to climate change with concrete actions.

On Mr. John Podesta’s remarks you mentioned, we’ve repeatedly said that we should not set barriers to restrict normal economic and trade cooperation. We hope that all sides will follow the principles of market economy and WTO rules, and provide a fair, open, just and nondiscriminatory business environment for the normal operation of companies from all countries.

The New York Times: The Washington Post reported that Russia had imported more than USD 20 million worth of high-tech precision tooling from Taiwan that can be used in the production of advanced drones. What’s the Foreign Ministry’s stance on this?

Wang Wenbin: I am not aware of that, but I know that Russia stays committed to the one-China principle and firmly opposes “Taiwan independence.” 

Beijing Youth Daily: The China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) recently released a survey on China’s business environment for foreign-invested companies in the fourth quarter of 2023. Among the 600 foreign-invested companies surveyed, nearly 70 percent are upbeat about China’s market over the next five years and companies surveyed are increasingly satisfied with China’s business environment. What’s your comment? 

Wang Wenbin: The report on China’s business environment for foreign-invested companies in the fourth quarter of 2023 shows that over 90 percent of foreign-invested companies surveyed rated China’s business environment as “satisfied” or above and over 90 percent of them think that the Chinese market is attractive. Among those surveyed, about 93 percent expect the profit of their investment in China to remain at the current level or increase in the next five years, up by 5.8 percentage points from the previous survey. We also noted that a recent report released by the American Chamber of Commerce shows that half of US companies surveyed see China as the top or among the top three global destination for investment, up by 5 percentage points compared with 2022. All these show that foreign-invested companies in China are upbeat about the future performance of the Chinese economy and confident in China’s market.

Recently the IMF upgraded its forecast for China’s economic growth in 2024, revised the 2024 world economic outlook up to 3.1 percent and believes that China’s accelerated economic recovery serves as an important driver for global growth.

China embraces investments from businesses of all countries with open arms, and will continue to foster a market-oriented, law-based and world-class business environment to share with the world the new opportunities brought by Chinese modernization and pursue common development.

Global Times: On January 31, the Philippine National Security Adviser Eduardo Año in a statement criticized China’s stance and proposition on the issue related to Huangyan Dao. What’s China’s comment?

Wang Wenbin: Huangyan Dao is China’s inherent territory. China has indisputable sovereignty over the island and its adjacent waters. China exercises sovereignty and jurisdiction over Huangyan Dao in a continuous, peaceful and effective manner.

The territory of the Philippines is defined by a series of international treaties, including the 1898 Treaty of Peace between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Spain, the 1900 Treaty between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Spain for Cession of Outlying Islands of the Philippines, and the 1930 Convention between His Majesty in Respect of the United Kingdom and the President of the United States regarding the Boundary between the State of North Borneo and the Philippine Archipelago. Huangyan Dao is beyond the limits of Philippine territory. It is inconsistent with international law for the Philippines to claim sovereignty over Huangyan Dao on the grounds of its comparative proximity to Philippine territory, or claim sovereign rights and jurisdiction on the grounds that Huangyan Dao is within the Philippine exclusive economic zone.

It needs to be stressed that the South China Sea arbitration is completely a political manipulation by the Philippines in order to gain illegal interests. The award is illegal, null and void. China does not accept or recognize it, and will never accept any claim or action based on the award. China’s sovereignty and rights and interests in the South China Sea shall under no circumstances be affected by the illegal award.

CCTV: In his article in Foreign Affairs, CIA Director William Burns said that “CIA has committed substantially more resources toward China-related intelligence collection, operations, and analysis around the world—more than doubling the percentage of our overall budget focused on China over just the last two years,” and CIA is “hiring and training more Mandarin speakers while stepping up efforts across the world to compete with China, from Latin America to Africa to the Indo-Pacific.” What’s your comment?

Wang Wenbin: China is committed to a path of peaceful development. China’s development represents opportunities for global development and the growth of the force for world peace. As the head of the largest spy agency in the world, William Burns openly told everyone that US spies are everywhere. Thank him for reminding us. China will take precautions as usual and will not allow the US to get its way through illegal moves.

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