|Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on April 20, 2020|
CCTV: In his recent Qiushi Journal article entitled "Unity and Cooperation Are the Most Powerful Weapon for the International Community Against the Disease", President Xi Jinping wrote about his support for cooperation with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Can you talk a bit more about China's cooperation with the foundation in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic?
Geng Shuang: President Xi's important article in Qiushi Journal entitled "Unity and Cooperation Are the Most Powerful Weapon for the International Community Against the Disease" elaborates the Chinese government's position and propositions in advancing anti-epidemic international cooperation with a vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind.
The virus is a common enemy of all mankind. To combat the pandemic and restore economic growth requires the concerted efforts of all countries, including China and the US.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a partner in China and the international community's fight against COVID-19. Since the pandemic broke out, Chinese science institutions and the Gates Foundation have carried out cooperative research on pathogenesis, prevention and treatment. Recently, the Gates Foundation announced a new donation to support R&D in diagnostic tools, treatments and vaccines, support WHO and other international organizations in strengthening international cooperation on epidemic prevention and control, and oppose using this pandemic for stigmatization. We appreciate and welcome that.
At present, the pandemic is still spreading rapidly around the world. China is ready to continue to work with the international community, including the Gates Foundation, to strengthen cooperation in epidemic prevention and contribute to the well-being of all as well as global public health security.
CNN: US president Trump said on Sunday that the US still wants investigators to go to China to investigate the coronavirus outbreak and the two sides are discussing this. He also said on Saturday that China could face consequences if it was "knowingly responsible" for the coronavirus pandemic. Last Friday, two US lawmakers introduced a bill that would allow Americans and local governments to sue the government of China for misleading WHO and causing the global spread of COVID-19. What is your response?
Geng Shuang: I'll answer all your questions together.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, in an open, transparent and responsible spirit, China has taken the most comprehensive, rigorous and thorough measures to contain its spread and conduct international cooperation. In this process, China has made tremendous sacrifices, accumulated valuable experience, and made significant contributions to the global response. The international community bears witness to and applauds China's efforts and progress.
The virus is a common enemy to all mankind and may strike anytime, anywhere. Like other countries, China is also a victim, not a perpetrator, even less an accomplice of COVID-19.
In the face of major public health crises and infectious diseases, the international community should stand in solidarity and work together, not resort to mutual accusation or demand retribution and accountability. As I recall, there has never been any precedence of the latter.
Did anyone ask the US to offer compensations for the 2009 H1N1 flu, which was first diagnosed before breaking out on a large scale in the US and then spread to 214 countries and regions, killing nearly 200,000 people? AIDS was first reported in the US in the 1980s and then swept across the world, causing untold sufferings to countless victims. Did anyone come forward and ask the US to be held accountable? In addition, Kishore Mahbubani, a professor at the National University of Singapore, said in an interview the other day that the financial turmoil in the US triggered by the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 turned into a global financial crisis. Did anyone ask the US to take the consequences?
The US must understand that their enemy is the virus, not China. The international community can only defeat the virus by pulling together. Attacking and discrediting other countries will not save the time and lives lost. We hope that those on the US side will respect facts, science, and international consensus, stop attacking and blaming China for nothing, stop making irresponsible remarks, and focus instead on fighting the epidemic at home and promoting international cooperation.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation: The Australian Foreign Ministry Marise Payne has called for an investigative mechanism and inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus and the global response including here in China. She also said her level of concern about transparency in China is at a high point. Does the foreign ministry have any comment?
Geng Shuang: Australian Foreign Minister Payne's remarks are not based on facts. China is seriously concerned about and firmly opposed to this.
Since the outbreak began, China has always acted in an open, transparent and responsible manner and taken a series of resolute, timely and forceful measures. It lost no time in reporting the outbreak to WHO, shared the genome sequence of the virus with other countries, and carried out international cooperation on epidemic prevention and control among experts of different countries, which has won plaudits from the international community. Any doubt about China's transparency is not only inconsistent with the facts, but also disrespectful of the tremendous efforts and sacrifices of the Chinese people.
The Chinese side has repeatedly stressed that the issue of the origin of the novel coronavirus is a serious question of science that should be studied by scientists and medical experts. We hope that the Australian side can treat this issue in an objective, scientific and scrupulous manner. I stated China's position on this while answering the question from CNN.
We hope that Australia will do more things to deepen China-Australia relations, enhance mutual trust and help epidemic prevention and control in both countries, rather than dancing to the tune of a certain country to hype up the situation.
China Review News: The police in Hong Kong arrested 14 people, including Jimmy Lai and Martin Lee, for organizing and participating in unlawful assemblies. US Secretary of State Pompeo, Australian Foreign Minister Payne and British Foreign Office spokesperson issued statements in response to their arrest, saying that they are closely following the case, that they are concerned about this arrest of pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong, and that the right to peaceful protest is protected in both the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law. Do you have any comment?
Geng Shuang: Regarding the lawful arrest operation conducted by the Hong Kong SAR police, a handful of Western politicians are piling unwarranted criticism and even demanding the withdrawal of charges. They are blatantly interfering with Hong Kong's affairs and flagrantly trampling on Hong Kong's rule of law and judicial independence. We strongly condemn and firmly oppose that.
Hong Kong upholds the rule of law. No one is above the law. Smearing or distorting the police force's law-enforcement activities shall not be allowed. I stress once again that Hong Kong is China's special administration region, and its affairs are entirely domestic affairs that brook no foreign interference. We urge the relevant sides to earnestly respect Hong Kong's rule of law and judicial independence, stop bolstering anti-China rioters, and stop interfering in China's internal affairs.
TASS: French professor Luc Montagnier, a recipient of Nobel Prize in medicine in 2008, said Saturday at an interview on television, that the coronavirus, as he assumes, has been engineered in the lab and contains some genes of human immune deficiency virus. I wonder if China has any comment on this?
Geng Shuang: The origin of the virus is a matter of science that should be left to scientists and medical professionals. It should not be politicized.
It is the established general opinion of WHO and scientists and professionals in public health in the vast majority of countries that there is no evidence showing the virus came from a lab.
CRI: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview on April 17 that China "didn't put information out into the international space as they're required to do in a timely fashion". What is your comment?
Geng Shuang: Recently, some US officials have made repeated attempts to denigrate China's prevention and control efforts, trying to muddy the waters and find a scapegoat for their poor domestic response. But a lie is a lie no matter how many times it is repeated, and China has exposed their lies with facts and actions.
We advise these US officials to focus on their domestic prevention and control efforts instead of desperate scapegoating, which only makes their incompetence more conspicuous. The blame game will not help ease the situation in the US, but will seriously interfere with the anti-epidemic cooperation between China and the US and damage bilateral relations.
China Daily: US White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro said during a recent interview that the Chinese hid the virus behind the shield of the World Health Organization, and hoarded personal protective equipment which they are now profiteering from. Do you have any comment?
Geng Shuang: Since the outbreak of COVID-19, in an open, transparent and responsible spirit, China has been providing timely updates to WHO and the international community, engaging in international cooperation and providing support and donation to other countries to the best of its capacity. This is a fact witnessed by all.
It is even more ridiculous to say China hoards personal protective equipment. Navarro's lies will simply crumble at the following facts of China's assistance to the US. According to the incomplete statistics from Chinese customs, from March 1 to April 17, China provided the US with 1.864 billion masks, 258 million pairs of gloves, 29.19 million surgical protective suits, 3.13 million goggles, 156 invasive ventilators and 4,254 non-invasive ones. The American people all commend China for the convenience offered for US procurement and the donations the Chinese people provided to the US.
We urge Navarro and his like to stop spreading rumors and shifting responsibilities. They should be focusing on fighting the virus at home.
Shenzhen TV: Lately President Trump, Secretary Pompeo and other US officials have claimed on many occasions that COVID-19 originated from a lab in Wuhan and investigations should be conducted. I wonder if you have a comment?
Geng Shuang: As we have repeatedly stated, the origin of the virus is a matter of science that should be left to scientists and medical professionals. It should not be politicized.
It is the established general opinion of WHO and scientists and professionals in public health in the vast majority of countries including the US that there is no evidence showing the virus came from a lab.
Yesterday head of the Wuhan Institute of Virology rejected the false US comments in an interview. He stressed that the institute is run on a set of strict management rules and that the US allegation is pure conjecture without a shred of evidence or logic. There is zero infection within the institute and the entire staff are now devoting themselves to research projects. The irresponsible spreading of conspiracy theories by certain US individuals will do nothing but disrupt research work and damage cooperation between Chinese and American scientists.
We urge these people to respect facts, science and international consensus. They need to realize that their enemy is not China, but the virus. Their most urgent task at hand is to focus on domestic control efforts and strengthen international anti-pandemic cooperation, instead of attacking and smearing China to deflect attention and shift the blame.
TASS: According to Xinhua, Sun Lijun, Vice Minster of Public Security of China, was put under probe and being investigated for serious violations of discipline and law. According to state media, Sun Lijun was member of the central government's working group which was dispatched to Hubei in the first month of the epidemic. He was working in Hubei in February and March. Is this probe due to his work in Hubei?
Geng Shuang: Regarding the discipline review and supervision investigation of Vice Minister of Public Security Sun Lijun, the Chinese authorities already released information. I have nothing to update you at the moment.
AFP: A United Nations report found that North Korea sharply increased trade in coal and oil products last year despite UN sanctions so this is apparently done with the help of China's shipping industry. I wonder if the foreign ministry have any comment on that?
Geng Shuang: I think my colleague took a similar question last week, so I won't elaborate on it. On the implementation of DPRK-related UN resolutions, China has been earnestly fulfilling its international obligations and dealing with relevant matters in accordance with the resolutions.
Reuters: Vietnam has said China's claim to have established administrative units on islands in the South China Sea seriously violates Vietnam's sovereignty. What's your comment on this?
Geng Shuang: Following the approval of the State Council, Sansha City of Hainan Province has established two districts, Xisha District and Nansha District. This is China making administrative division adjustment within the scope of its sovereignty. It is conducive to improving and enhancing Sansha City's administrative management and promoting the coordinated development of the city's economic growth and environment protection.
China has sovereignty over the Xisha and Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters, and sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the relevant waters and the seabed and subsoil thereof. In accordance with domestic laws and regulations, the Chinese government has selected and published the names of some islands and reefs of the Xisha and Nansha Islands as well as the seabed of waters under its jurisdiction. This is what we do regularly in accordance with law to improve marine management, which also accords with international law and international practices.
China firmly opposes Vietnam's words and actions that undermine China's sovereignty and rights and interests in the South China Sea, and will continue to take necessary measures to firmly safeguard China's sovereignty and rights and interests.