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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning’s Regular Press Conference on April 12, 2024

2024-04-12 20:47

At the invitation of Premier Li Qiang of the State Council, Federal Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz will pay an official visit to China from April 14 to 16.

At the invitation of Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Central African Republic Sylvie Baïpo-Témon will pay an official visit to China from April 14 to 16.

CCTV: The leaders of the US, Japan and the Philippines held their first trilateral summit in Washington on April 11, and issued a Joint Vision Statement after the summit. We noted that despite the US’s previous claim that this summit and the US-Japan-Philippines cooperation “is not aimed at” China, the Statement discussed the South China Sea issue at length, blamed China on the East China Sea issue and contained irresponsible comments on the Taiwan question. What is China’s comment?

Mao Ning: We noted this. I would like to make the following points:

First, China strongly opposes the practice of bloc politics by relevant countries. We firmly oppose any acts that stoke and drive up tensions and harm other countries’ strategic security and interests. We are seriously against forming exclusive groupings in this region. Japan and the Philippines have every right to develop normal relations with other countries, but they should not introduce bloc confrontation into this region, still less engage in trilateral cooperation at the expense of other countries’ interests. To know whether the trilateral summit and cooperation is truly not aimed at China, the answer is right there in the trilateral statement. What else could it be if it’s not a smear and attack against China?

Second, the Taiwan question is purely China’s internal affair. Resolving the Taiwan question is a matter for the Chinese ourselves that no one can interfere. The biggest threat to cross-Strait peace now is the separatist activities of “Taiwan independence” forces and external connivance and support for them. If relevant countries truly care about cross-Strait peace and stability and want the world to be safe and prosperous, they should uphold the one-China principle, unequivocally oppose “Taiwan independence” separatist activities, and support China’s reunification. This is the right way to ensure peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. No one should underestimate the will and capability of the Chinese people to safeguard our sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Third, China has indisputable sovereignty over Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands and Nanhai Zhudao. Our activities in the East China Sea and South China Sea are lawful, justified and beyond reproach. China does not accept relevant countries’ groundless accusation and deliberate smears against us on the East China Sea and South China Sea. China does not accept the illegal arbitral award on the South China Sea or any unilateral moves based on the award. The situation in the East China Sea and the South China Sea is generally stable. Certain countries keep seeking backing from non-regional countries as they infringe on China’s sovereignty and rights and make provocations at sea. What they have done has escalated the tensions. Certain country outside the region keeps fueling the flame and stoking confrontation. This is flagrant. Let me stress once again that China will firmly guard its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests and we remain committed to properly settling bilateral maritime issues through dialogue and consultation with countries directly concerned. And we resolutely oppose non-regional countries meddling and sowing discords to escalate the situation. 

CCTV: I want to follow up on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit to China. Could you share with us the program of the visit? How does China view the current China-Germany relations? What’s China’s expectation for the visit? 

Mao Ning: During German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit to China, President Xi Jinping will meet with him and Premier Li Qiang will have talks with him. The two sides will exchange their views on bilateral relations and issues of mutual interest.

Over the past 50-plus years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, China and Germany have enjoyed robust bilateral relations, frequent high-level exchanges and deepening practical cooperation. China always views Germany as its important partner of mutually beneficial cooperation and supports Germany in playing a more important role in Europe and the wider world. China and Germany have benefited from each other’s development which has contributed to the welfare of both peoples. The two countries have steered China-EU relations on a steady and sustained course and injected more stability to the world.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the China-Germany comprehensive strategic partnership. China stands ready to work with Germany and take this visit as an opportunity to enhance mutual understanding and trust and deepen practical cooperation in line with the principles of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefits and seeking common ground while shelving differences to further advance bilateral relations and jointly contribute more to global peace and prosperity.

Global Times: It’s reported that the US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said yesterday that Secretary of State Blinken in telephone conversations with Director Wang Yi and high-level officials of other countries asked relevant countries to urge Iran not to escalate. Can you brief us on the telephone call? Will China take measures to put pressure on Iran?

Mao Ning: On the evening of April 11, Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the phone at US request. Secretary Blinken shared the US views on the current situation in the Middle East. Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China strongly condemns the attack on the Iranian Embassy in Syria. He stressed the inviolability of the security of diplomatic missions and that Iran and Syria’s sovereignty must be respected. This round of escalation is the latest spillover of the Gaza conflict. The pressing need now is to bring an end to the conflict as soon as possible. China calls on parties to the conflict to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2728, put in place an immediate ceasefire and halt the humanitarian crisis. China will continue to view the issue based on its merits, play a constructive role in resolving the Middle East issue and help deescalate the situation. The US in particular needs to play a constructive role.

TASS: Today marks Russia’s Cosmonautics Day, 12 days away from China’s Space Day. In recent years, Russia and China have stepped up exchanges and cooperation on aerospace and signed agreements on several projects, including an MOU on the joint construction of a lunar station. How would the Foreign Ministry comment on the cooperation potential of the two countries in this area, and what is your view on the prospect of the two countries engaging in space exploration at bilateral and international level?

Mao Ning: China values its space cooperation with Russia. In recent years, our two sides have had good cooperation on projects such as the International Lunar Research Station which contributes to socioeconomic development and sci-tech innovation in both countries.

Space exploration is humanity’s common endeavor. China is committed to the peaceful exploration and use of outer space. We are ready to have international space exchanges and cooperation with Russia and other countries on the basis of equality, mutual benefit, peaceful use and inclusive development.

Reuters: This is related to Japan Prime Minister Kishida’s speech to US Congress yesterday. He said that Americans should not doubt the US’s indispensable role in world affairs. He also said that the biggest challenge the world faces comes from China and that China’s current external stands and military actions present an unprecedented and greatest strategic challenge. How does the Foreign Ministry respond to these remarks?

Mao Ning: China strongly deplores and firmly opposes Japan’s remarks. We have lodged serious representations to Japan. I would like to stress that China is always a force for world peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of international order. China is committed to peaceful development and a national defense policy that is defensive in nature. China has never initiated a war and does not pose a threat to any country. The US and Japan have been ganging up and stoking bloc confrontation. This is the real challenge facing peace and stability in the region.

Japan’s militarist past, marked by devastating wars of aggression and brutal crimes against humanity, brought untold suffering on this region and beyond. Japan needs to seriously reflect on its history of aggression, respect the security concerns of its Asian neighbors and stop hyping up so-called security threats in the region to find pretext for making breakthroughs in its military strength, so as not to further lose the trust of its Asian neighbors and the international community.

China News Service: Severe droughts induced by El Niño have recently hit many countries in southern Africa with a relatively huge impact on their food production. Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and some other countries declared a state of emergency or disaster, and called for international food assistance. What’s China’s comment? Is China planning to provide assistance?

Mao Ning: China has been closely following the recent severe droughts and food shortages in southern Africa. We are collecting and preparing emergency food assistance to over 20 African countries such as Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia. We will seek to provide more food aid to the best of our capabilities in the future in light of the developments on the ground and the need of relevant countries.

Agriculture and food security is an important part of China-Africa friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation. Last August, President Xi Jinping announced the Plan for China Supporting Africa’s Agricultural Modernization at the China-Africa Leaders’ Dialogue. He said China will help Africa expand grain plantation, encourage Chinese companies to increase agricultural investment in Africa, and enhance cooperation with Africa on seed and other areas of agro-technology, to support Africa in transforming and upgrading its agricultural sector. China will continue working closely with Africa to deliver the above mentioned plan and deepen agricultural cooperation, and will support Africa in capacity-building on food security. We also call for more international attention to the droughts and food shortages facing the African countries and we urge the global community to consider providing them with food assistance as soon as possible and help African countries develop agriculture and better ability to achieve food self-sufficiency.

Bloomberg: Can you tell us a little bit more about the call between Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Antony Blinken?

Mao Ning: I have nothing more to add.

NHK: Some Chinese media reported that the Director General of the Asian Department of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs met with Chief Minister of the Japanese Embassy in China regarding US-Japan-Philippines leaders’ summit. Would you give us some more details of this meeting today?

Mao Ning: As I have learned, China has lodged serious representations to Japan on the negative elements concerning China in the US-Japan leaders’ talks and the US-Japan-Philippines leaders’ summit. On the meeting you mentioned, let me check with my colleagues and get back to you.

CCTV: According to a report by the Boston University Global Development Policy Center, China has mainly focused on fossil fuels instead of renewable energy in its energy investment in Africa over the past 20 years. China needs to stop writing off investment in Africa’s green energy and advance Africa’s energy transition. What’s your comment?

Mao Ning: I noted the research report and hope the center will conduct a comparative study by releasing the data on how other countries galvanize Africa’s energy transition and help its socioeconomic development. I want to stress that China has firmly supported Africa’s sustainable development. Green development is not just a focus of the eight major initiatives and nine programs announced at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and implemented by both China and Africa. It’s also an important area of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation between China and Africa.

In fact, China has implemented hundreds of projects on clean energy and green development in Africa. The installed capacity of photovoltaic power plants built by Chinese companies and Africa totaled over 1.5 gigawatts. China has set the pace in international green cooperation with Africa. In Morocco, the NoorⅡ and III solar-thermal power plants built by a Chinese company have provided clean energy to over one million Moroccan households and weaned the country off its long-standing dependence on electricity imports. In South Africa, the De Aar Wind Power Project invested and built by a Chinese company has provided local households with a steady supply of 760 million kWh of clean electricity per year. The project has met 300,000 households’ electricity demands, and cut 619.9 thousand tonnes of carbon emissions. In Uganda, the last unit of the Karuma Hydroelectric Power Station built by a Chinese company has been connected to the grid and generated electricity not long ago. This biggest hydro-power station in Uganda will increase the country’s installed capacity by close to 50 percent, save 1.31 million tonnes of raw coal and cut 3.48 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year which is equivalent to planting 1.5 million trees.

Green energy cooperation between China and Africa has lit up numerous homes in Africa at night and shone Africa’s way to sustainable development. China will continue expanding cooperation with Africa on renewable energy, energy conservation and emissions reduction, and helping Africa accelerate energy transition and develop in a green, low-carbon and high-quality way.

Bloomberg: US President Biden has said that he is committed to deepening maritime and security ties with Japan and the Philippines. He has said that China has been behaving aggressively at least in the US’s eyes, especially around the Second Thomas Shoal. Biden has said that the US will respond to Chinese attack on the Philippines should this occur. Can you give me some comments on US President Biden’s commitment to deepening maritime and security ties with Japan and the Philippines?

Mao Ning: What the US said is a serious mischaracterization of China. China strongly deplores and firmly opposes this vicious accusation. I would like to stress the following:

First, China has indisputable sovereignty over Nanhai Zhudao, including Ren’ai Jiao, and the adjacent waters. China also has indisputable sovereignty over Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands. China’s actions in the South and East China Seas are consistent with international law, and they are justified, lawful and beyond reproach.

Second, there has never been any problem with regard to freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea. We firmly oppose relevant countries flexing muscles and acting like bullies in the South China Sea. And we are certainly opposed to relevant countries infringing on China’s sovereignty, security and development interests under the pretext of freedom of navigation and overflight.

Third, the so-called arbitral award on the South China Sea is illegal, null and void. China’s territorial sovereignty and rights and interests in the South China Sea shall under no circumstances be affected by the award.

Fourth, relevant countries, out of selfish interests, join countries outside the region and serve as their pawns to contain China. Our message to these countries: recent history tells us that eventually pawns will easily be abandoned.

Fifth, the US clings to the Cold War mentality and often threatens other countries with its bilateral alliance treaties. Such moves seriously violate the UN Charter and undermine regional stability. China will never waver in its commitment to upholding its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests and working with regional countries to safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Reuters: Major US airlines and aviation unions on Thursday urged the Biden administration to pause approvals of additional flights between China and the United States. They cited ongoing anti-competitive policies of the Chinese government. Multiple industry associations told the US government to pause these flights until American workers and businesses are “guaranteed equality of access in the marketplace”. What is the Ministry’s response to this?

Mao Ning: I’d refer you to competent authorities on the specific question. More broadly, to increase direct flights between China and the US was something agreed between the two presidents in San Francisco. It will help promote exchanges and mutual understanding between the two peoples.

AFP: First, it’s reported that Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Zhao Leji had talks with member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea Choe Ryong-Hae in Pyongyang on April 11. Zhao Leji said that China is willing to intensify exchanges and cooperation with the DPRK’s legislative body to take the traditional friendship and cooperation between China and the DPRK to a higher level. What does “intensify exchanges with the DPRK’s legislative body” mean? Second, during the visit, will the two sides arrange a meeting between the leaders of the two countries to be held later this year?

Mao Ning: It means literally to intensify exchanges between legislative bodies. On your second question, I have no information to share.

Bloomberg: Did Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Secretary of State Blinken talk about the South China Sea on that call?

Mao Ning: The two foreign ministers may have exchanged views on other issues of mutual interest, but I do not have the specific information on that.

Reuters: The Environmental Justice Foundation said in a report that Chinese fishing fleet is responsible for systemic illegal fishing and human rights abuses in countries bordering the southwest Indian Ocean. How does the Ministry respond to these findings? Will there be any actions taken by the Chinese authorities to look into what was reported?

Mao Ning: China attaches great importance to the protection of ecological environment and workers’ rights and interests. We follow a “zero tolerance” policy towards violations of laws and regulations, and make sure that crew members receive the working conditions and remuneration they deserve in accordance with the law. We oppose false allegations and smears which have no factual ground at all.

Shenzhen TV: We learned that 27 Chinese nationals have been safely evacuated from Haiti on April 11. Can you give us more details?

Mao Ning: After the security situation deteriorated in Haiti, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs together with relevant government agencies and local governments in China instructed our missions overseas to closely follow the situation, get timely updates on all Chinese nationals in Haiti, and do everything they can to protect their safety and organize orderly group evacuation. With concerted efforts, after 24 Chinese nationals were safely evacuated on March 22, another 27 Chinese nationals were safely evacuated to the Dominican Republic yesterday. So far, all Chinese nationals willing to leave Haiti have been safely evacuated. During that process, we also helped a Philippine national to safely evacuate from Haiti.

Bloomberg: A top US Treasury official called on the world’s largest creditors to take coordinated and decisive action to address the generational challenge of poor nations. In particular, this criticism was aimed at China which is the largest lender to emerging markets. Does the Foreign Ministry have any comment on the US Treasury official’s claims that the world’s largest creditors including China should take coordinated and decisive action?

Mao Ning: On your specific question, I’d refer you to the competent Chinese authorities. Let me say broadly that China attaches great importance to the debt issues facing developing countries. We have followed the principle of equal-footed consultation and mutually beneficial cooperation to help developing countries ease their debt burden and grow sustainably. 

Bloomberg: Just to go back to a recent interview by India’s Prime Minister Modi where he seemed to be calling for peaceful ties with China and said that the two countries need to urgently address the prolonged situation at their borders. How can we understand the recent comments made on both sides in terms of the border issue? Is there some kind of improvement in ties between India and China? What’s the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s view on Prime Minister Modi’s recent comments?

Mao Ning: China and India are in close communication through diplomatic and military channels to address issues related to the border situation, and have achieved positive progress. China believes that a sound and stable relationship is in the interest of both China and India. We hope that India will work with China to place the boundary question appropriately in bilateral relations and manage it properly, and put the relationship on a sound and steady track. 

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