|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin's Regular Press Conference on December 21, 2020|
CCTV: A ministerial meeting of JCPOA participants will be held today in virtual format. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will attend this meeting, as announced by the Chinese side last Friday. What's China's expectation for this meeting?
Wang Wenbin: The situation surrounding the Iranian nuclear issue is highly complex and sensitive. We hope that through today's foreign ministers' meeting, all parties will further consolidate consensus on preserving and implementing the JCPOA and the UN Security Council Resolution 2231, thus providing political momentum for the political and diplomatic settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue. China will continue to work with all parties and make unremitting efforts to safeguard the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and peace and stability in the Middle East.
Reuters: Many countries in Europe and elsewhere have stopped flights from the UK based on concerning news about the new strain of the coronavirus. Has China taken any measures to reduce flights from the UK?
Wang Wenbin: China has noted media reports on this. We will assess the situation carefully and handle it properly in a science-based manner to ensure the sound and orderly flow of people between China and other countries.
AFP: First, about US President Donald Trump's tweet on Saturday suggesting that China may be involved in the massive cyber attack on US government agencies, does the foreign ministry have any comment? Second, about the EU-China investment agreement. According to news reports, EU officials briefed ambassadors from member states that 95 percent of the deal has been wrapped up. Is there any update on the progress?
Wang Wenbin: On your first question, China is a staunch defender of cyber security and also a major victim of hacking. We stand firmly against and crack down on all forms of cyber attacks and crimes. We are opposed to politicizing and stigmatizing cyber security issues, which is not conducive to resolving hacking issues and will only weaken mutual trust between countries and affect normal cooperation in this sphere. On the issue of cyber security, the US, with its poor record, is in no position to point fingers at other countries. China has put forward the Global Initiative on Data Security. We hope all sides can work together to build a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative cyber space.
On your second question, the Chinese and European sides have maintained close communication over the investment agreement negotiation. This year, the two sides overcame the impact of COVID-19 and held ten rounds of negotiation, making important progress. Now the talks are in the final stage. We believe as long as both can accommodate the other side's concerns and meet each other half way, we will be able to achieve the targets set by our leaders.
Beijing Youth Daily: US President Donald Trump signed into law the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act previously passed by Congress. The law places stricter obligations on foreign companies listed in the United States to disclose information to U.S. regulators. Lawmakers say the act is mainly aimed at China. What is China's comment on this?
Wang Wenbin: Despite the Chinese regulatory authorities' efforts to carry out auditing and supervision cooperation with it, the U.S. side insists on signing into law the so-called the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, which contains discriminatory provisions against Chinese enterprises. China firmly opposes this move which is nothing but an unjustified political crackdown on Chinese enterprises listed in the United States. It will seriously hinder the listing of Chinese enterprises in the United States and distort the basic norms of the market economy that the United States has always touted. This will also deprive U.S. investors and the public of the opportunity to share the development dividends of Chinese enterprises and weaken the confidence of global investors in the U.S. capital market. At the end of the day, it will damage the international standing and reputation of the U.S. capital market.
We urge the U.S. side not to implement the discriminatory provisions of the Act concerning China, stop the erroneous practice of politicizing securities regulation, and jointly promote bilateral audit regulatory cooperation with the Chinese regulatory authorities on the basis of mutual respect, so as to provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory regulatory environment for enterprises from all countries, including China, to be listed in the United States.
Global Times: We noticed that despite the pandemic, the Belt and Road cooperation has been moving forward. For example, the annual meeting of the Advisory Council of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was held last Friday. In the meantime, a few still allege that the BRI leads to debt traps. Do you have any comment on this? What's China's expectations for future BRI cooperation?
Wang Wenbin: The Belt and Road Initiative is an initiative for international economic cooperation that aims to realize common development through connectivity. It has been warmly echoed and supported by the international community since it was first proposed seven year ago. So far over 100 countries and dozens of international organizations have signed more than 200 BRI cooperation documents, and a lot of major cooperation projects have flourished.
Despite the global pandemic, the growing BRI cooperation demonstrates resilience against risks and plays an important role in helping countries fight the virus, stabilize the economy and protect people's livelihood. The Health Silk Road, the digital Silk Road and a green Silk Road have all become new highlights.
This year, BRI partners held over 30 multilateral conferences via videolink, sending a positive signal of deepening BRI cooperation. At the annual meeting of the Advisory Council of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held last week, all sides commended the BRI cooperation and said it has supported multilateralism and the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
People with a sense of justice can easily tell right from wrong. Not a single BRI partner country has agreed with the claim of so-called "debt traps". Some developing countries are indeed facing repayment difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the world economic recession. The Chinese government has canceled interest-free loans owed by African countries due to mature by the end of 2020, which makes it the biggest contributor to the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative. As the debt structure shows, Africa owes most of its debt to multilateral financial institutions and commercial creditors in developed countries, who should join the debt relief efforts. The debt issue, in essence, is an issue of underdevelopment. We believe the BRI cooperation will help address the root cause of the debt issue as it contributes to infrastructure construction and industrialization in the countries concerned.
Prasar Bharati:China and Pakistan are conducting a month-long joint air force exercise which, as per the experts, is seen as China and Pakistan's larger strategic posture towards India and a matter of concern for India. What is China's position on this growing concern in India particularly when China has expressed apprehensions about India's Malabar exercise?
Wang Wenbin: As all-weather strategic cooperative partners, China and Pakistan have friendly exchange and cooperation in political, economic, military, security and a broad range of areas. We are committed to jointly upholding peace and stability in the region. The cooperation project you mentioned is a regular arrangement between Chinese and Pakistani militaries that doesn't target any third party. We hope it will be viewed in an objective manner.
China Daily: According to some media reports, the U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo and the U.S. embassy in Cuba are pressuring Cuba with so-called human rights issues and will use this as a premise to engage with Cuba. What's your comment?
Wang Wenbin: China always holds that the United States should respect Cuba's sovereignty and independence, stop its blockade and sanctions on Cuba, and stop interfering in its domestic affairs. We are firmly against politicizing human rights issues or applying double standards on such issues. We oppose wanton criticism of and gross interference in other countries' internal affairs with human rights as a pretext. We believe the United States should seek normal relations with Cuba based on equality and mutual respect, which is in line with the fundamental interests of both countries and peoples and is conducive to maintaining peace and stability in Latin America.
Bloomberg: I just want to go back to the cyber security attack in your earlier answer. Do you deny involvement in the cyber attack as suggested by President Trump over the weekend?
Wang Wenbin: What I want to make clear is that the U.S. accusation on the cyber attack are frivolous and self-contradictory and is driven by the political agenda to smear and shift the blame to China. We resolutely oppose such practices.
The United States has long been politicizing cyber security issues and spreading disinformation with no concrete evidence to slander China, taint China's image and mislead the international community. Such words and deeds are inconsistent with the international standing of the United States. We hope it will take a more responsible stance on cyber security issues.
The Paper: It has been reported that Ezra F. Vogel, a prominent China expert in the United States and professor emeritus at Harvard University, died on December 20 local time, aged 90. Does China have any comment?
Wang Wenbin: Professor Vogel is a renowned expert on China in the United States and an old friend of the Chinese people. We are deeply saddened by his passing and extend sincere condolences to his family. Professor Vogel dedicated tireless efforts to promoting communication and exchange between China and the United States and to enhancing the two peoples' mutual understanding. His contributions to China-US relations will not be forgotten.
Beijing Daily: Belarus has been on the receiving end of sanctions from some countries and international organizations since the end of its presidential election. What is your comment?
Wang Wenbin: Belarus' presidential election is its internal affair. The Chinese side firmly supports Belarus in safeguarding its national independence, sovereignty, security and development and opposes external forces sowing social division and stoking turmoil in Belarus. China consistently opposes the unjustified use or threat of unilateral sanctions in international relations. We are confident in the capacity and wisdom of the Belarusian government and people to deal with their own problems and restore political and social stability.
Shenzhen TV: Tropical Cyclone YASA made a destructive landfall in Fiji on December 17, leaving severe damage in its wake. Has China offered any disaster relief assistance to Fiji?
Wang Wenbin: China and Fiji are comprehensive strategic partners. China expresses its sincere condolences to Fiji over the heavy losses caused by Cyclone YASA.
The Chinese side responded with swift emergence assistance after the disaster struck Fiji. The Red Cross Society of China donated 100,000 U.S. dollars to Fiji Red Cross Society. This emergency humanitarian assistance has been reported by Fijian media as the first foreign disaster-relief donation through bilateral channels. On top of that, the Chinese government has decided to offer another 200,000 U.S. dollars in emergency humanitarian assistance to the Fijian government. Further assistance will be provided in accordance with the situation on the ground and the needs of Fiji. We believe that the Fijian government and people will emerge from the disaster and rebuild their lives soon.
AFP: This is regarding a New York Times article published on December 19 which talked about Chinese censorship during the early days of the coronavirus outbreak. Does the foreign ministry have any comments or response?
Wang Wenbin: I already talked about relevant matters many times. I will just briefly lay out the facts, which, I hope will be respected by all.
After COVID-19 broke out, China notified the WHO of the epidemic, shared the genome sequencing of the virus, carried out international cooperation of epidemic prevention and control experts, all at the earliest time possible. China established strict information release mechanisms, making sure epidemic information was released in a timely, open and transparent manner. Strict regulations were adopted to prevent delayed reporting, under-reporting and cover-up of cases. Wuhan began releasing epidemic information from December 31, 2019 and gradually increased the frequency. On January 3, 2020, China started sending regular timely updates to WHO and other countries, including the US. On January 21, the National Health Commission started releasing national epidemic information of the previous day on its website and new media platform on a daily basis. At the same time, provincial health authorities released local information of the previous day on a daily basis. From February 3, the English version of the NHC's website started updating data in sync. The timeline is clear and the facts are plain. They can stand the test of time and history.
Some Western media's claim that China held back information about the pandemic is just baseless. It is because the Chinese government put life and people front and center and took the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough prevention and control measures that we became the first to bring the situation at home under control and achieve resumption of work and production. China's economy resumed positive growth in the second quarter and realized stable recovery and growth, standing as the only major economy with positive growth this year. We hope certain media outlets and agencies can respect facts and science and cover China and its fight against COVID-19 in a fair and unbiased manner instead of spreading disinformation.
Xinhua News Agency: Reuters reported the other day that Chinese hackers attacked the AU headquarters and mentioned a report by France's Le Monde two years ago on China bugging the AU headquarters. Do you have a comment?
Wang Wenbin: The spokesperson of China's mission to the AU already responded to the false media reports. The preposterous allegation of "China bugging the AU headquarters" is fake news 100 percent, and has been rejected by the AU Commission and the African people including many state leaders.
I'd like to stress that China-Africa cooperation will not be disrupted by innuendos and the strong bond of friendship will not be weakened by disinformation. In June this year, at the joint initiative of President Xi Jinping and African leaders, the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 was held, which adopted a joint statement, sending out a strong signal of China and Africa jointly supporting multilateralism and fighting COVID-19 and setting a good example for international anti-epidemic cooperation. At China's most trying moments, the AU, African governments and people offered valuable support. After the epidemic broke out in Africa, China provided many batches of supplies, sent anti-epidemic expert teams to 15 countries, signed debt suspension agreements with 12, waived repayment of interest-free loans due to mature by the end of 2020 for 15 countries, and honored its commitment to start construction on the African CDC ahead of schedule within the year. China and Africa have been rendering each other support and trust on issues concerning core interests and have safeguarded the collective interests of developing countries.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of FOCAC. China overcame difficulties caused by the pandemic and fully implemented the outcomes of the FOCAC Beijing Summit, with priorities given to health, resumption of work and production, and livelihood, offering important support for Africa's efforts to fight COVID-19, stabilize the economy, and protect livelihood. Indeed, the China-Africa comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership has withstood the test of the pandemic and added a new historic chapter.
Friendship is the main theme and practical cooperation is ongoing in China-Africa relations. Now China is accelerating efforts to foster a new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other. African countries are going all out to implement the first 10-year plan of the AU Agenda 2063 and are about to launch the African continental free trade area. A historic opportunity has presented itself to China-Africa relations. China will continue to uphold the principles of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith and pursue the greater good and shared interests and work together with Africa to make good preparations for next year's FOCAC meeting. We will seek greater synergy between our development strategies, deepen practical BRI cooperation, encourage Chinese businesses to expand investment in Africa, increase import from Africa, create highlights in such areas as FTA, digital economy, poverty-alleviation and climate action, and bring China-Africa cooperation to new heights.
China News Service: According to media reports, with the facilitation efforts of parties including Saudi Arabia, President al-Hadi of Yemen announced the formation of a new government on the night of December 18 local time. Do you have a comment?
Wang Wenbin: China welcomes the formation of the new Yemeni government and appreciates the positive role played by Saudi Arabia and relevant sides. We believe this is an important step in implementing the Riyadh Agreement and hope parties in Yemen will take this as an opportunity to properly resolve disputes through sustained dialogue and consultation, advance the political transition process and restore stability and normal order to the country at an early date.